McLaughlin and many of her Cougars teammates spent the weekened competing in the three-day CeraVe Invitational at Rutgers University.
A day later, Chatham took on Morristown and, although experiencing a touch of fatigue, was victorious, 120-50, on Tuesday, Jan. 17 to push its record to 10-0.
"We swim for this," said McLaughlin, the senior quad-captain who prevailed in the 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter freestyle and was on two winning relay teams. "We fight for every place and take each meet as a challenge. We don't take anyone for granted."
Another senior captain, Julia Harrigan, said the Cougars "are never fully rested" and are "always swimming and always practicing."
The Cougars still seemed to be in elite form. They showed no signs of weariness and certainly didn't lack energy.
Several Chatham swimmers took first place in multiple events. In addition to McLaughlin, sophomore Jess Gorham was a double winner, taking the 200-meter IM and the 100 backstroke. So was Regan Kology, tops in the 50-meter freestyle and 400-meter freestyle. Kara Miller-Radest took the 100-meter butterfly. The Cougars swept the 200-meter IM and the 400-meter freestyle.
The relay teams also were victorious. McLaughlin, Katie Buchser, Alyssa Raiola and Harrigan swam the 200-meter medley. Miller-Radest, Buchser, Harrigan and McLaughlin teamed up for the 200-meter freestyle relay.
"This is definitely a good meet," Cougars coach Karen Gaba said. "We think of Morristown as a rival. We want to perform and do well here. We've got so much depth even though a lot of great swimmers were lost to graduation."
Buchser, a senior, noted the importance of depth.
"The fourth and fifth swimmers can make all the difference," Buchser said.
Gorham felt Chatham did an excellent job against a team it needed to be wary of.
"We were coming off the big meet over the weekend," Gorham said. "We did a lot of swimming. We're all pretty tired but still had decent times."
Junior Jenny Allocco, now part of the "A" lineup after dropping her times, lauded the freshmen - Charlotte Morrissey, Kelly Horan and Katie Harrigan - for their efforts.
"The older girls are really dedicated to the sport," Gaba said. "They've taken the freshmen and underclassmen under their wings. We've been trying to find the freshmen events so they can be significant next year."
The Colonials are not only young but have been dealing with injuries and illnesses. Morristown has not competed in a meet yet with all of its swimmers available and Tuesday was no different. This time, its top distance swimmer, Gabrielle Ferrara, sat out with a sinus infection.
"Everyone is stepping up," Colonials coach Donna Gelegonya said. "We're doing about as I expected. It's a bit of a rebuilding year. We get better every meet. When we get healthy, we'll be even better."
Rachel Emodi, Emilie Breslin and Lindsey Giostra finished in the top three in several events. Emodi was second in the 100 freestyle (1:03.95) and third in the 200 freestyle (2:20.91). Breslin was third in the 50 freestyle and Giostra was second in the butterfly (1:10.77).
Morristown's 200 medley relay team, comprised of Lindsay Ellerthorpe, Giostra, Emodi and Casey Hasenbein, took silver.
Ellerthorpe, Lauren Cataldo and Brielle Barnard, all seniors, have been key contributors. Breslin, along with fellow freshmen Erin Hession and Julie Gomez, are swimming well, too.
Allocco has much respect for Morristown and considered the meet a tough one.
"Morristown is so close," Allocco said. "They're a pretty big deal. We all know each other and that makes it fun."