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Meet the New Jersey high school swimmer heading to the Summer Olympics in Paris

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Meet the New Jersey high school swimmer heading to the Summer Olympics in Paris


BLACKWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — 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.

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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.

“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.

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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. 

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New Jersey

New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor testifies for government in Sen. Bob Menendez prosecution

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New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor testifies for government in Sen. Bob Menendez prosecution


New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor says Sen. Bob Menendez sought to discuss the prosecution of a New Jersey real estate developer with him before recommending him to be nominated as U.S. attorney after Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election.



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NJ officials on unruly teens: Parents are part of the problem

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NJ officials on unruly teens: Parents are part of the problem


⚫ A hearing was held in response to a chaotic Memorial Day Weekend at the shore

⚫ Officials say teens have no respect for authority

⚫ They blame rules that handcuff police, as well as parents


Just this Monday night, two weeks removed from the holiday weekend, authorities in Wildwood had to respond to a rental property that had countless minors crammed inside, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.

And when the crackdown occurred, the partiers were unfazed.

“They’re just so brazen, it’s hard to comprehend,” said Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano.

Summer hasn’t officially launched, and officials along the shore have already had enough with unruly teenagers.

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Safety concerns along the coast were the focus of an online hearing on Wednesday, run by Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland. The hearing was prompted by a series of issues in multiple shore towns over Memorial Day Weekend.

“Perception can become reality,” Testa said. “We do know that our towns are, in fact, safe, but there’s a perception that they’re becoming increasingly unsafe.”

State Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland (top left) hosts a virtual hearing about safety concerns in shore towns. (Facebook screenshot)

State Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland (top left) hosts a virtual hearing about safety concerns in shore towns. (Facebook screenshot)

Over the holiday weekend, a 15-year-old was stabbed in Ocean City, as officials in Seaside Heights dealt with the panic caused by false claims of a shooter. Wildwood was forced to declare a state of emergency because the city didn’t have enough manpower to respond to all the calls for help.

Who’s to blame?

“The problem is, we have juveniles who believe that they can’t get in trouble for anything they do wrong,” said Ocean City Councilman Jody Levchuk. “There is a major youth issue.”

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SEE ALSO: NJ gas prices deliver a pleasant surprise ahead of summer

Levchuk, along with a number of officials who made comments during the virtual hearing, said the uptick in uncontrollable behavior has coincided with rules put in place in 2020 by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration that hamstring law enforcement’s ability to discipline teens.

In essence, the rules scrap fines for juvenile offenders and suggest that locking up a minor should be a last resort. Warnings and stationhouse adjustments are favored over putting an offense on one’s record.

Levchuk said the Jersey Shore should be seen as a place for one to let loose, but actions such as shoplifting are unacceptable.

“Several years ago, 80% would cry if they got caught. Today, they laugh,” Levchuk said.

New Jersey 101.5 has reached out to Gov. Murphy’s office for a response to the remarks made during the hearing.

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Officials also placed blame on the parents of the teens who are openly breaking laws — many are unaware of their child’s whereabouts, and/or also seem unaffected by a law enforcement response.

“Parents need to equip their children with how to behave properly,” Levchuk said. “They need to explain to them that there are consequences to their actions. Now, they may not be legal consequences … here in New Jersey, but there absolutely should be consequences at home.”

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Battleship New Jersey offering rides onboard for return to Camden

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Battleship New Jersey offering rides onboard for return to Camden


Battleship New Jersey offering rides onboard for return to Camden – CBS Philadelphia

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Tickets for the 3-hour trip aboard the historic ship will run you $3,000.

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