They just keep studying (and swimming).
SJC Long Island women’s team for the fifth consecutive semester was named a College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Division III Scholar All-America Team.
“It makes me proud to be part of St. Joseph’s College swim team and to be recognized along with other hard-working, head-strong teammates,” said Catherine Peralta, a Sachem North High School alumna who will be a senior at SJC Long Island this fall. “It means so much to the team and me to be able to be distinguished among numerous other competitive schools in our division.”
With a 3.75 GPA for the spring 2018 semester, the women’s swim team placed in the top three out of 173 Div III programs, and finished ninth out of all NCAA swimming programs.
A lot of different ingredients go into the recipe for success, and we seem to have all of them right now as a team.” —Coach Chris Brandenberger
The Key to Success
“All the girls on the team work very hard to get the times they want and the grades they want,” said team captain Samantha Mullman, a Massapequa High School graduate who has been swimming since the age of four. “It is not always easy, but in the end it is good to be able to say we have a Scholar All-American team. Being honored for our hard work and dedication allows us to know we are doing well as student-athletes.”
Mullman, a nursing major who holds two individual school records and two relay school records, knows the importance of finding a balance between academics and athletics.
“It’s something a lot of student athletes, like myself, struggle with,” the 20-year-old Massapequa, New York, resident said. “I encourage them to get a planner and plan out each day. Take five minutes in the morning to write down what they want to accomplish. That is something that has helped me the most as a student athlete. Also, I tell them to utilize the Academic Center. I have gone once a week since my first semester, and it has helped me very much.”
Finding a Support System
Peralta, a biology major with a minor in chemistry and mathematics, is no stranger to juggling her busy schedule. In addition to class and swimming, she’s a a member of SJC’s Biology and Chemistry clubs, and she volunteers for the Central Islip-Hauppauge Ambulance Service. She is also enrolled in an EMT course to better understand the health field.
“The best way to achieve a balance is to have supportive teammates, coaches, friends and family,” said the 21-year-old Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, native, who’s been a competitive swimmer since seventh grade. “Without them, I don’t know if I would be where I am today. All of these people have helped me no matter what the situation was, and for that I’m grateful.”
Peralta owns two times on the team’s all-time top 10 lists — in the 500-yard Free and 200-yard Fly.
To become a CSCAA Scholar All-America Team, the college’s swim team must have a 3.0 GPA or higher.
A Caring Coach
“It’s part of how we’re trying to build our program for the future,” the swim team’s coach Chris Brandenberger said. “We want our student-athletes to have an outstanding academic and athletic experience when they come to St. Joseph’s College. This team of girls is showing they are great role models at St. Joseph’s College, and that’s important.”
Brandenberger became aquatics director and head coach of the women’s swim team at SJC Long Island in 2017. Prior to joining the athletics department at SJC, he served as head coach of the Fort Belvoir Swim Team in Alexandria, Virginia, where he developed Junior Olympic qualifiers and finalists since May 2014.
“I think all the student-athletes at St. Joseph’s College know our coaching staff and athletics department are willing to provide whatever support necessary to allow our student-athletes to succeed both academically and athletically,” said Brandenberger, who enjoyed a successful swim career at the University of Maryland and Ward Melville High School.
“A lot of different ingredients go into the recipe for success, and we seem to have all of them right now as a team.”