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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

RSA and Felician University's Women's Swim Team

Submitted by Felician University and Mike Lazarra

Felician University will add the sport of women's swimming to its intercollegiate athletics program beginning with the 2022-23 academic year, director of athletics Ben "JR" DiNallo announced today.

Women's swimming will become Felician's 15th varsity intercollegiate sport, including its ninth for women. It will be the Golden Falcons' fourth offering during the winter athletics season.

Felician will practice and host meets at the Rutherford Swim Association. The RSA is located less than one mile from Felician's Rutherford campus, one of the University's two campuses in Bergen County, New Jersey.

"We are looking forward to women's swimming becoming our 15th intercollegiate athletics program," DiNallo said. "This is an exciting addition to our athletics offerings, especially in being the first member of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference to sponsor the sport."

DiNallo also revealed the inaugural coaching staff for the Felician women's swimming team. Ken Berk of Franklin Lakes has been named the head coach. A member of the NJSIAA Hall of Fame, Berk guided the boys' and girls' swim teams at Rutherford High School to numerous division titles over a career spanning more than two decades. He retired from high-school teaching and coaching in 2015 and became the age-group coach, and later the head coach, of the Wyckoff YMCA Sharks. The club has multiple Junior National qualifiers and state record holders, and a consistent top 20 national ranking, under his watch.

A 1987 graduate of William Paterson College, Berk began his coaching career with the Pioneers. He was on staff as both WPC teams qualified for multiple NCAA Division III National Championship meets and garnered Metropolitan Swim Conference and All-America recognition. He received an M.S. degree from Ramapo College in 1999.

Berk will be assisted by Mike Lazzara and Chris Dunn, both of Rutherford. Lazzara, the RSA's chief executive officer and along with Dunn its co-founder, is a USA Swimming-certified and an American Swimming Coaches Association Level 3-certified swim coach. He is the co-head coach of the Rebel Aquatic Club, based in Rutherford. After swimming for two seasons at William Paterson University, Lazzara earned a B.A. degree in child advocacy and policy from Montclair State University in 2013. He owns an M.A. in education and teaching certification from Saint Peter's University, conferred in 2015.

Dunn was a three-year member of the men's swimming and diving team at The College of New Jersey, earning New Jersey Athletic Conference All-Academic honors each season. A USA Swimming certified coach, he is the co-head coach of the Rebel Aquatic Club. He earned a B.A. in political science in 2015 from TCNJ, from which he is pursuing an MBA, and is the chief financial officer of the RSA.

"I am excited about this challenge," Berk said. "I have always coached and advised my athletes on the concept of building their lives wisely. Your life today is the result of your attitudes and choices in the past, and your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitude and the choices you make today. I hope to bring these principles to our new program at Felician."

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