By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington girls swimming and diving took on the best Class LL had to offer on Wednesday with the goal of pushing as many Lady Knights into Saturday’s state open as possible.
To get to Wednesday night’s meet, held at Southern Connecticut State University, Southington swimmers first took to the pool at East Hartford High School on Nov. 10 for the trials. The top Lady Knight seed to emerge from trials was the 200 medley relay, which was fifth. Meghan Hammarlund, Julie Duszak, Maddie Symecko and Sarah Meade combined to finish the relay in a time of 1:52.32.
The 200 medley relay was one of seven Top 10 seeds earned by Blue Knight swimmers during trials. Hammarlund and Duszak each boasted two Top 10 seeds while Sarah Meade added one. The 200 freestyle relay team was also a Top 10 seed.
“We had a really successful trials meet [Nov. 10] at East Hartford, and we did what we wanted to do,” said coach Evan Tuttle, “which was to put in our races to get across to the Class LL finals.”
Hammarlund entered the finals seeded sixth in the 100 backstroke (1:00.68) and ninth in the 100 butterfly (1:00.84). Duszak was seeded seventh in the 50 freestyle (24.95) and 10th in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.62). Meade was seeded 10th in the 50 freestyle (25.30) and the 200 freestyle relay of Duszak, Gianna Perugini, Anny Moquete and Andie Nadeau was seeded 10th (1:45.14).
The 400 freestyle relay of Hammarlund, Maddie Symecko, Julia Holland and Andie Nadeau was seeded 11th (3:52.69). Meade also advanced to the finals in the 100 backstroke (seeded 15th, 1:02.18). Nadeau moved on in the 500 freestyle (19th, 5:26.04) and 200 freestyle (20th, 2:01.95).
Southington already had team points on the board before Wednesday’s championship meet began. On Nov. 7, Elizabeth Beaulieu competed in the Class LL state diving meet at Middletown High School and finished 13th with 313.35 points.
“Lizzie did incredible. She’s had a great year, but she really stepped up at the state meet,” Tuttle said. “For diving, it’s all one day. Trials and finals is one day, and if you’re having an off-day, sometimes that can do it. But she was on. She was aggressive. She was confident, and she did great.”
Beaulieu was 25th and missed the finals by one spot in 2017. The improvement in 2018 comes from the hard work and dedication of Beaulieu and her diving coach Jan Zagorski, who Tuttle said is “truly an invaluable asset.” Zagorski also works with the boy divers in the winter.
Southington knew it was up against some tough competition in Class LL such as Greenwich, Staples and Ridgefield, just to name a few. That’s okay with the Lady Knights.
“That’s where we want to be though,” Tuttle said. “We want to be competing against the best, because that’s where we think we belong.”
Check out next week’s edition for a story about the class and state open meets.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com