Fortn and Arel lead Lady Trojans to 2nd place
Winning the Class S championships was on the Weston girls swim team's radar going into Tuesday's meet. Working against Weston was defending champion East Catholic's depth where it fielded three swimmers in three events, the maximum four in two events, and had three swimmers in the top heat in one event and two in the top heat in three events.
East Catholic parlayed its strength and won its third straight Class S title with 579 points in the 30-team field on Tuesday at Wesleyan University, beating the second place Lady Trojans (498), who had only three people in three events.
"I think we did great," said Weston coach Tom Grace. "It's tough because it's hard to anticipate what other teams have from year to year but I thought the girls did great from September to Tuesday night."
Lady Trojan senior captain Danielle Fontaine said, "I'm really proud with what was accomplished this season. We came a long way."
Weston won the Class S title in 2006 and going in, looked poised to wrest the title away from the Lady Eagles because the team appeared to be stronger in some areas than it was three years ago. Despite falling short, Grace and his captains were pleased with the team's performance.
"It's disappointing going in with the strong team we had and not win it, but we swam smart, we swam hard and we swam well," said Grace. "It's like facing Pomperaug at SWCs, they are big and we have to deal with it."
"Going in, we expected more, but we never gave us and the freshman stepped it up," said Lady Trojan senior captain Shelby Fortin. "Getting second place is exciting and I can't ask for more."
Senior captain Christina Brasco said, "There wasn't anything we could do. East Catholic had so many people. Everyone did what they were supposed to do and I'm proud of them."
Fortin had a record-breaking performance, setting the Class S record in winning the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:50.21.
"Going in, I wasn't seeded first but I was hoping to get first," said Fortin. "To break the record was icing on the cake."
Junior Karen Bottger (2:00.29) took fifth in the 200-free.
"It felt great to make the top heat and help win points for the team," said Bottger. "I had Shelby Fortin in the heat and I tried to keep up with the crowd."
Not only did Fortin set a Class S record in the 100-yard freestyle, she set an overall state record (50.74) as well, even though she wasn't the top seed going in.
"I wanted to win it and winning the class and state record was exciting," said Fortin. "Winning the 200 pumped me up for the 100. I won it every year since freshman year and I wanted to win it all four years."
Fontaine (58.57) took 13th and junior Lauren Garner (1:01.04) was 19th.
"I worked hard all year for it," said Brasco. "It felt great and I'm glad I was able to do it."
Junior Victoria Arel (5:13.24) captured the 500-yard freestyle.
"I made sure I took it out fast and I kept my pace," said Arel.
Bottger (5:22.59) also earned All-State for the first time in an individual event by grabbing third place in the 500-free. Freshman Olivia Clark (5:34.09) took ninth.
"I worked on pacing sets in practice and I tried to keep up with my competition," said Bottger. "I went for it."
Arel (2:17.35) took sixth in the 200-yard individual medley and sophomore Katherine Angelides (2:26.38) was 17th.
"I worked on my weakest stroke, the breaststroke, and I made sure I didn't fall behind," said Arel.
Fontaine was in the fastest heat in the 50-yard freestyle and placed eighth (26.50). Although freshman Alessandra Edgar (26.24) was slightly faster than Fontaine, she settled for ninth because she was in the second fastest heat. The captain swam a 26.59 at trials, earning a berth in the top heat while Edgar swam a 26.75 at trials.
"I'm very happy with the finish," said Fontaine. "I never swam in the top heat before and it felt good to make it."
Clark took fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:11.14). Freshman Lydia Sykes (1:03.70), Angelidis (1:06.64) and Edgar (1:09.55) were 17th, 19th and 23rd in the 100-yard backstroke. Sophomore Catie Ledwick (1:08.93) was 19th in the 100-yard butterfly.
Weston normally wins its relays at Class S but took two seconds and a sixth in them. The 200-yard freestyle relay team of Edgar, Fontaine, Bottger and Fortin (1:42.09) took second and were .09 seconds behind East Catholic. Bottger, Fontaine, Arel and Fortin carried the 400-yard freestyle relay team (3:42.18), .33 short of East Catholic. The 200-yard medley relay team of Angelidis, Clark, Ledwick and Edgar (1:59.01) placed sixth.
"They were both [200-free and 400-free relays] very close races but we had best times in them and it was exciting," said Fortin.