By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knight swimming and diving team capped off their season by tying Brookfield for 32nd out of 51 teams in the state open at Yale University in New Haven on Saturday, Nov. 19. Southington advanced four swimmers in three events and set some school records along the way.
Southington tied for 36th at last year’s open. Greenwich won the open for the second-straight year, followed by Ridgefield and Weston.
NOV. 19—Olivia Fournier broke her own school record in the 50 freestyle (24.79) by moving up a few spots from her seeded time to finish 14th.
“I really just wanted to swim under 24.5 because I wanted to make nationals,” said Fournier. “I knew that my start was kind of slow before, so I knew that I had to work on that. I’ve been working on my start this whole week, and my time dropped more because of that.”
The swimming pool in the Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale University is one of the few facilities in the area that has wedges on their starting blocks, which were a credit to helping Fournier get off to good starts in her races.
“It’s a big advantage,” said Tuttle. “They really gave her some extra leverage on that block so she could get off the block a little faster and improve her starts. That has always been an area of focus for improvement, and having those starting blocks there was obviously an advantage for her.”
Fournier also earned a best time in the 100 freestyle (54.01), moving up a couple spots to finish 18th.
“I just wanted to swim fast,” the junior swimmer said. “I wanted to go under 54, but I guess that 54.1 is okay. It’s a best time for the season.”
Fournier later joined teammates Julia Mularczyk, Kerry Buchanan, and Hannah Olsen in the 200 freestyle relay (1:42.95) to move up a spot and take 19th, breaking a school record as well. Fournier led off the relay and reset her own 50 freestyle record with a split of 24.69. She might have just missed the YMCA national championship as an individual swimmer in the 50 freestyle race, but her split in the relay did not deny her a chance to move on and compete in that event for a second-straight year.
“I went into it knowing that I had to go faster than what I did in the regular 50 freestyle because I didn’t like my time,” said Fournier. “I wanted to give everything I had, so I just hauled.”
Class LL Championship
NOV. 16—Earlier in the week, Southington traveled to Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven to compete at Class LL swimming championship. The Knights placed 12th overall out of 20 teams, which was two spots better than last year’s finish. Every Southington swimmer posted best times in the meet.
Tuttle said that his girls love swimming at Southern Connecticut, and automatically, just being at that facility puts them in the right mindset.
“We’ve been doing the right things in practice, working hard, pushing ourselves in taper, and getting the most out of those workouts,” said Tuttle. “But we really rise to the occasion on the big stage. We know that we’re surrounded by the best of the best here, and we embrace that challenge wholeheartedly. We prove it time and time again that we absolutely deserve to be here with the best in the state, and we proved that once again this year.”
Greenwich won the Class LL title for the seventh-straight year, and Ridgefield finished as the runner-up for the second-straight year, followed by Staples.
Fournier advanced to the open by finishing 11th in the 100 freestyle (54.03) and 13th in the 50 freestyle (24.82), breaking her own school record in the 50 freestyle. Fournier also advanced to the state open by teaming up with Olsen, Mularczyk, and Buchanan in the 200 freestyle relay (1:43.12), finishing 10th and breaking a school record as well.
“I feel like every time we’re at this pool and in this meet at the Class LL finals, we’re breaking school records and having out-of-this-world relay performances,” the coach said. “Last year it was the 400 free breaking the school record, and this year it was the 200 free.”
Southington finished the regular season at 8-2 overall (5-0 home, 3-2 away), 6-2 in the South Region, and 3-2 in the South White Division. Tuttle said that the Knights had a great season, in terms of success, but he also said that it’s hard not to think about next season. Southington will lose 17 seniors to graduation after this season.
“Those 17 seniors have been so vital to this team for four years,” said Tuttle. “But I know that we have a strong freshmen class coming in next year. Olivia Fournier and her other junior teammates this year are going to be seniors next year leading this team. I have confidence that we’ll continue to be successful and pick up right where we left off.”
The state open marked the end of the fall campaign.
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