For the Brookfield High School (BHS) swimming and diving team, 2012 will be a season to remember. Under Coach Brandt Nigro, the Bobcats posted their finest season in school history, with a first-ever 1st place finish in the SWC Championship followed by a runner up finish in the Class M State Championships.
Looking back, this season has been special in so many ways. During the dual meet season, Brookfield defeated perennial powerhouse Pomperaug and Newtown with impressive wins over long time SWC rivals. The team finished the regular season 9-2, but each swimmer knew that served merely as a springboard for a much larger goal: an SWC Championship and a shot at a state title.
Class M State Championships (Wesleyan University, Nov. 13)
Branford may have won the Class M state title Tuesday night, but the Bobcats came away champions in their own rite by placing 2nd, securing the runner up position for the first time ever in school history. The Lady Bobcats held off several strong challenges all night to claim runner-up honors, with Wethersfield placing 3rd.
After capturing its first SWC title, Tuesday night proved to have even more memories in store for the Bobcats. Samantha Palicz was the lone swimmer in the meet to win two individual titles — winning the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 backstroke — and Maddy Smart won the 100 freestyle while setting the Class M record.
In the last event of the evening, Brookfield’s 400 freestyle relay team (Rachel Brown, Steph Ferrarie, Palicz and Smart) capped off the meet in style with a state record-setting performance and 1st place finish.
"It's amazing," said Palicz, a junior. "It's just so surreal, first of all, that our team was able to pull off a runner-up, because that's something we've been working toward for so long. And that, on top of the SWC’s, is just the shining moment of the entire season. To win both my individual events is just insane."
Palicz won the 200 IM by more than five seconds in 2:12.83. After the first two legs of the race — the butterfly and the backstroke — she led by more than three seconds. She stretched that lead to four seconds on the breaststroke leg, and extended it even more in the freestyle.
Palicz then won the backstroke in 58.11, finishing less than four-tenths of a second off the Class M record.
Brookfield took three of the top eight places in the backstroke, with Anna Brown taking 3rd (1:01.27) and Megan Contarino placing 8th (1:04.22). That performance catapulted the Bobcats into 2nd place to stay.
Smart won the 100 freestyle with a record time of 51.17 seconds (breaking the previous Class M record she herself set in 2010).
Brookfield’s 400 freestyle relay team punctuated the night for their team by with something truly amazing — winning the final event in a Class M State record time of 3:34.81. The team of Rachel Brown, Ferrarie, Palicz and Smart made history.
"I told the girls right before the swim that that might be a once-in-a-lifetime relay for this program, with Maddy being a senior and the strong freshman and junior classes all there," Nigro said. "I said, if you guys do these times, we'll have a shot at a state record, and they all went faster than what I told them."
Brookfield also took two of the top eight places in the 200 freestyle, with Rachel Brown placing 3rd and Ferrarie 6th. Ferrarie also placed 3rd in the 500 freestyle and R. Brown placed 6th in the 100 butterfly. The Bobcats' 200 medley relay team (Anna Brown, Ally Bowers, Anna Fernandez and Katie Dixon took 5th. Brookfield's 200 freestyle relay team of R. Brown, Dixon, Ferrarie and Smart finished a strong 3rd.
2012 has seen the culmination of remarkable achievements — all in a season of “firsts” for a special group of young women:
- 1st ever SWC Championship;
- 1st ever “runner up” at M Class State Championships;
- Record breaking 1st place relays;
- Record breaking/high point scoring for multiple Bobcat swimmers.
In the SWC’s, the Bobcats finished in 1st place amid the 12 SWC teams by holding off runner-up Lauralton Hall and 3rd place finisher Newtown. The four-year reign of host Pomperaug ended (finishing 5th).
"This was our goal since last year," said Nigro. "We knew we could have a big year!”
TOP SWC SCORES & HIGHLIGHTS
200 Yard Medley Relay: 3rd place (Anna Brown, Ali Bowers, Jackie Letizia and Katie Dixon)
200 Freestyle: Rachel Brown (1st); Steph Ferrarie (3rd)
200 Individual Medley: Samantha Palicz (2nd)
50 Freestyle: Maddy Smart (1st — breaking her own SWC record)
100 Freestyle: Smart (1st); R. Brown (2nd)
500 Free: Ferrarie (3rd)
200 Free Relay: A terrific team effort paid big dividends as R.Brown, S. Palicz, A. Brown and Smart took 1st place - and set yet another SWC record
100 Yard Backstroke: Brookfield shined amid a record-setting field with Palicz (3rd), A. Brown (4th) and Contarino (5th). The “3-4-5 finish” added key points to the Brookfield lead
400 Free Relay: The meet culminated with R. Brown, S. Palicz, Ferrarie and Smart obliterating the competition, setting an SWC record and taking 1st by over 11 seconds!
Senior and captain Maddy Smart broke 2 SWC records (both of which she held previously) in the 50 and 100 Freestyle.
Smart was named the SWC “Swimmer of the Meet” for the 3rd time in her high school career