Red Bank Catholic's Haley Stamberger enjoyed two Top-5 finishes at the recent Monmouth County Swim Meet. Courtesy photo
Red Bank Catholic's Haley Stamberger enjoyed two Top-5 finishes at the recent Monmouth County Swim Meet. Courtesy photo
" Before my races or nights before my big meets, I pray to God for my teammates and myself that we will be able to perform to the best of our abilities and that we will be safe. "
Red Bank Catholic junior Haley Stamberger has emerged as one of the top swimmers in Monmouth County and the Shore Conference. It’s probably a good thing, however, that she knew at an early age there were heated pools, or she may never have had a career.

“I remember my first time in the pool,” Stamberger said. “I was probably about four when I got into swimming. I remember being a little uneasy and nervous, but I was never scared of the water. Although I do remember being scared of how cold I was going to get and my lips turning purple.”

Stamberger survived the elements and has gone on to be an outstanding competitor at both the club and high school level. She began swimming for the Plainfield Country Club summer league team at age 5. That fueled her love for the sport, and she moved to Westfield YMCA and Atlantic Club before joining the Red Bank YMCA at age 9.

The Brielle resident is still with Red Bank, which is the same club her RBC coach, Kim Torres, swam for. She was part of a national championship team with the YMCA, and has consistently made the Top 8 in the 50 free every year in the state meet and at Rutgers’ prestigious Holiday Classic.

Thus far at Red Bank Catholic, her biggest highlight came as a freshman when her 200 free relay team of herself, sister Ainsley Stamberger, Kelly Smith and Paige Miro won the All Shores Award. Her highest Shore Conference Meet individual finish was eighth in the 50 freestyle. 

On Jan. 5, Stamberger produced her best finishes to date in the Monmouth County Meet, where she finished fourth in the 50-yard freestyle in 25.17 and fifth in the 100 free in 56.04.

“In all honesty, I was expecting to do a little better in my races at counties, but I’m not upset with my performance,” Stamberger said. “Based off of where I am in training right now, I think those times put me in a good place in the middle of this swimming season.”

Sprints are Stamberger’s strong point, specifically the 50. Her top times in the 50 and 100 are 24.12 and 53.09, both set at the 2019 Short Course YMCA Nationals last year.

She is not limited to sprints, however.

“This is my first year coaching her, so I’m just starting to get to know her,” Torres said. “She’s a very well-rounded swimmer. Sprints are her main event, and she did exceptionally well at Monmouth Counties. I expect her to do well at the Shore Conference meet.”

The coach feels her versatility is enhanced by the fire Stamberger has burning within.

“She’s definitely very competitive,” Torres said. “I think she’s an extremely hard worker. Some swimmers will come to practice and say, ‘I’m sore, I’m tired.’ Haley makes no excuses. She just says, ‘I come here; I’m gonna win; I’m gonna try my hardest.’

“She’s definitely a very good asset, a very good role model,” Torres added.

In addition to a competitive spirit and talent, Stamberger is also fueled by placing her trust in the God who provides such talent.

“Faith does play a role in my life,” Stamberger said. “Before my races or nights before my big meets, I pray to God for my teammates and myself that we will be able to perform to the best of our abilities and that we will be safe. I do believe God guides me through my races and always allows me to keep going even when I don’t think I can anymore.”

Stamberger will keep that faith as the season moves along as she looks to do well in the Shore Conference and state meets this year. Most likely she will be doing the 50 and 100.

“They are definitely my best events,” she said. “One of the main keys to doing well in a short freestyle race is controlling your breathing. When you take a breath it slows you down, so when you limit this you go faster.

“Another thing is getting your adrenaline pumping and being excited. Having a little bit of nerves help your arms and legs move as fast as they possibly can, which is another key in short freestyle races.”

Not to mention, all that movement keeps the body warmer and stops the lips from turning blue.