"We are just so thrilled for Connor, words can't describe the love and joy. We can also feel the encouragement and hear the screams of support from the Knights of Columbus and throughout the Two Rivers. It makes a difference. Thank you all. Way to represent!" Olympian swimmer Connor Jaeger's dad
Connor Jaeger came in sixth Saturday in the 1,500 meter freestyle Olympic finals. He did not get a medal, but "he's sixth in the world and that's great! He'll be back in four years, you wait and see — he'll qualify for more than one event then." Jaeger family friend Michael Goione.
They came from everywhere to gather at the auditorium of Olympian swimmer Connor Jaeger's alma mater and watch their hometown hero and friend swim in the 2012 Summer Olympic finals.
"Everybody loves Connor, loves their hometown and loves their hometown hero!" said event organizer Kathy Walsh, addressing the crowd before the start of the event. "Go Connor!"
It was a group of flag-waving, cheering friends in a packed R-FH auditorium.
Friends from Jaeger's swim club at home, Central Jersey Acquatic Club (CJAC) and high school buddies were thrilled.
Jaeger family friend and fellow swim mom Robbie Matthews told Patch the story of how when Connor first joined the club to swim his mom, Bernadette, told her that she wondered about "the whole swim thing" and if he would continue.
Days before the family left for London, Matthews said she had lunch with Bernadette and reminded her of that moment. Bernadette's answer, Matthews said: "Can you believe I said that?!"
Cut to minutes before the swim. "I can't imagine how Bernadette feels now!" Matthews said, holding a flag and donning a CJAC T-shirt with Jaeger's name, Olympics logo, a flag and "University of Michigan" lettered on the back.
Matthews said that CJAC organized a fundraising drive to get Connor's coach, Corrina Weinkofsky, to London to see him swim. "Dana (Connor's sister) said she swore she could hear Weinkofsky's distinctive 'Go Connor!' screams all through the race yesterday. Weinkofsky was known as one of the fastest women distance freestyle swimmers in the USA when, in 1980, President Jimmy Carter canceled the Olympics and her shot at a medal.
"She's there with Connor now, and it's so nice to know," Matthews said.
"I've been friends with Connor since sixth grade," said Mike Caracappa. "He's the best. I hope we'll be friends forever. Go Connor!"