History Of The Jersey Gators
The Jersey Gators program originally started as the Cranford Aquatic Club (CAC) in 1983. CAC had a total of about 50 swimmers when Coach Lou Petrozziello started there in his first head coaching position. In 1985, CAC merged with a club training at Newark Academy and the team became known as the Gator Aquatic Club (GAC). After two years of confusion at the nationals with all the clubs calling themselves Gators, the name of our club was permanently changed to the Jersey Gators in 1987.
The Olympic Trials in 1988 is where the Jersey Gators gained national recognition when 4 Jersey Gator swimmers were enetered and all 4 performed very well. In 1989, Coach Petrozziello was appointed as a U.S. National Team Coach. He met many world class swimmers who were interested in the Jersey Gators and some eventually came to swim for the Jersey Gators. In particular, the Jersey Gators team was well known in the Soviet Union. When Alex Savtchenco, a Soviet national team member, swam for the Jersey Gators, it was the first time in U.S. swimming history that a Soviet swimmer became a member of a U.S. swim team. Shortly afterward the team merged with the Sussex-Warren Aquatic Club (SWAC) coached by Ed Dellert, who had just come out of a one year retirement. The Jersey Gators name was retained because of the national recognition and scholarship opportunities. The merger was a reunion of sorts for the two coaches who had coached together in 1980 and 1981. At Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA, Coach Dellert with his assistant, Coach Petrozziello, finished a shocking 4th place at the YMCA Nationals.
The Jersey Gators presently operates at the Cranford Pool and Fitness Center in Cranford, NJ and is guided by Lou Petrozziello.