NEW HAVEN - Brookfield's Kate O'Leary had every right to be exhausted and every reason to just cruise home in the 200-yard freestyle.
But then the Bobcat senior looked up into the stands, saw her family and her coach and thought: "This one's for you."
O'Leary posted back-to-back All-State efforts at the Class S state meet, leading the Brookfield 200 medley relay team to a first-place finish and minutes later following it up with a second-place showing the 200 freestyle at Yale's Robert Kiphuth Memorial Exhibition Pool on Wednesday.
"I just looked up and saw my Dad and he gave the same little smirk he always does," O'Leary said. "So I said to myself, 'Hey, I'm just going to go all out.'"
And O'Leary delivered All-State back-to-back efforts not once, but twice.
The senior added a third All-State performance by taking third in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.91 and then delivered a dynamite anchor leg to help the Bobcats' 400 freestyle relay team take second with a time of 3:43.29.
O'Leary's big day led Brookfield to a sixth-place finish with 354 points. She also topped her 2006 campaign, when O'Leary earned All-State honors in the 100 breaststroke, 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle relay as a sophomore.
East Catholic won the state title with a score of 663. Lauralton Hall was second with 503, Weston was third with 458 and Seymour was fourth with 452.
New Fairfield finished in fifth place with a score of 401.
The Rebels were led by Danielle LePrine's sixth-place effort in the 200 IM, a sixth-place finish from the 200 medley relay team of
and a fourth-place finish by the Rebels 200 freestyle relay team of
, Mark and LePrine.
"The girls swam very well," New Fairfield coach
said. "We've got eight freshmen out here today, so we've very young. I'm very pleased with their effort."
Joel Barlow also concluded a sensational year, finishing 13th with 161 points and having its 200 freestyle relay team of
Julie Anna Werfelman
come in sixth with a time of 1:49.36.
But the night belong to O'Leary and she didn't wait until the 200 freestyle to get going.
After Brookfield fell behind early in the 200 medley relay - the meet's opening event - O'Leary erased a half-a-body-length lead and the Bobcats cruised home, winning by a full body length.
The 200 medley relay team of
(backstroke), O'Leary (breaststroke),
(freestyle) finished in a time of 1:52.97.
"I love swimming with these girls," said O'Leary, who is considering swimming in college at Fairfield, Lafayette and UConn. "We are best friends and to perform like this (at states) makes all those practices worth it."
The practices also seemed to help O'Leary's endurance as the Brookfield star took second in the 200 freestyle - the meet's second event - with a time of 1:56.66 just minutes after finishing the 200 medley relay.
"In this atmosphere, the momentum of everything takes over," O'Leary said. "I didn't even think about (being fatigued). I just threw everything I had into the swim."
She obviously had plenty left as she came back later to take third in the breaststroke - the 11th event - and rallied the 400 freestyle relay team of Librizzi, Magin and Marrese into second in the 12th and final event.
But O'Leary wasn't swimming for awards Wednesday. She was giving everything for her teammates, her family and her coach, Brookfield's
. "They've always been there to support me," O'Leary said. "They've been at every meet and helped me through the tough times. Coach Reiff is the best coach I could ask for."
And in Reiff's eyes he couldn't ask for better swimmers.
"We are a small team, but the girls all came to swim today," Reiff said. "I'm walking out of here happy as heck."
And Reiff used a little coaching magic to get his team ready Wednesday.
Prior to the meet, the veteran coach read his team a motivational poem titled "The Man in The Glass."
The results were obvious.
Librizzi grabbed third in the 100 butterfly, posting a time of 59.48, and came in eighth in the 200 IM.
Magin also delivered a ninth-place effort in the 50 freestyle with a time of 26.23 and Marrese was seventh in the 100 butterfly, finishing in 1:01.30.
The Rebels 400 freestyle relay team of LePrine, MacSwan, McSwan and Murtha ended the meet impressively with a seventh-place finish.
New Fairfield also got solid showings from LePrine, who came in 10th in the 100 butterfly and Poole, who was 12th. Mark also grabbed 12th in the 50 freestyle and MacSwan was 10th in the 100 freestyle.
Mark and MacSwan also finished ninth and 10th, respectively, in the breaststroke.
For Barlow, having the 200 freestyle relay reaching the top heat was a major achievement for a rising program.
"It was a lot of fun to be in this environment," Kelly said. "We were a little worn down tonight. I think we could have performed better, but I'm really happy with the season. We made took some great strides."
TEAM SCORES: East Catholic 663; 2. Lauralton Hall 503; 3. Weston 458; 4. Seymour 452; 5. NEW FAIRIFELD 401; 6. BROOKFIELD 354; 7. Watertown 265; 8. St. Joseph 262; 9. Holy Cross 243; 10. Sacred Heart 225; 13. JOEL BARLOW 161.
NOTES: New Fairfield freshman diver Shawna Herter and sophomore
finished 10th and 11th, respectively, last Friday for the Rebels. Weston's Christina Brasco won the Class S diving competition. The State Open will be held at Yale's Robert Kiphuth Memorial Exhibition Pool on Saturday at noon. Beth Magin, Kate O'Leary, Kathleen Marrese and Heather Librizzi combined to win both the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay at the SWC meet on Oct. 29. The four also earned All-SWC First Team honors. O'Leary also finished first in the 100 breaststroke and second in the 200 freestyle at the SWC meet. Magin also took second in the 50 freestyle and Librizzi was second in the 100 butterfly at the SWC Championship. Erica MacSwan's second-place in the 100 breaststroke was New Fairfield's best individual effort at the SWC. New Fairfield finished third as a team at the SWC behind first-place Pomperaug and runner-up Lauralton Hall. Brookfield was fifth and Joel Barlow was 10th.