Record-breaking Raekwon Noel turns attention to Paris Olympics

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The Summer Olympics in Paris are now a little more than six weeks away, and a student in South Jersey is going for the gold.

Raekwon Noel feels most at home in the water, and the 18-year-old glides across the pool with ease. He started swimming at 4 years old, and ever since, Noel says he’s been chasing a dream.

“I was so excited to even start, like, learning the basics of kicking and throwing your arms, but I would never believe this where I am at now, so definitely a dream come true for sure,” Noel said.

Originally from Guyana in South America, Noel and his family moved to New Jersey in 2021.

This week, he’s graduating from Highland Regional High School in Blackwood after shattering school records. Now, Noel is looking to become one of the top swimmers in the world.

“That’s every kid’s dream as a kid to be an Olympic champion, and I really want to be that,” he said.

“He’s tall and lean and when he hits the water it’s just smooth,” said Tom Gratton, who is the swim coach at Highland.

Gratton said Noel not only helped the school win back-to-back conference titles in 2023 and 2024 but he’s also known as the team’s biggest cheerleader.

Noel is a talented middle-distance swimmer

“Giving words of wisdom and encouragement at meets, cheering people on, he’s also kind of the team photographer. He’s always taking pictures and really celebrating everyone’s little achievement,” Gratton said.

Now, Noel’s school is cheering him on after he became the first student in Highland’s history to qualify for the Olympics.

Next month, Noel will be competing on the world stage in Paris swimming for Guyana. He admits he’s a bit nervous, but also excited and proud.

“It’s going to be an honor to represent my country, and in my heart, I’m representing Highland as well as New Jersey, so I’m really excited,” Noel said.

The senior has also signed a letter of intent to swim at Indiana University. Noel said he plans to major in biology with the goal of becoming an orthodontist. (CBS Philadelphia) 

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