When Brandt Nigro took over as Girls Head Swimming and Diving Coach at Brookfield High School (BHS) in 2009, he set his sites on building a strong program with a team that could compete year in and year out. The program has continued to improve each year, with some of the best girls swimming seasons BHS has seen to date. This season, with a solid mix of experienced swimmers and some talented newcomers, the Lady Bobcats have their focus set on a team goal of trying to win at SWC Championships this year.
“We’ll be ready for some great competition in 2012,” Coach Nigro said. “The SWC is a strong conference with Newtown and Lauraleton Hall as probably the teams to beat this year... and of course Pomperaug, who has won the last four straight, will be tough again this year with their size and depth.”
The Lady Bobcats appear to be built for the long haul in 2012. While they may be a young team with just three seniors, that won't keep them from being very competitive.
Brookfield returns many of last years top swimmers — all who played key roles on a team that finished third in the SWCs and fourth in Class M States.
“Our team will stay focused on the end of the season meets as our main priority,” Nigro said. “Dual meets are exciting and fun, and we always show up and give it our all, but as a team we understand the immensity of trying to compete for an SWC title, something that has never been done in Lady Bobcat history, and we’ll keep our eyes set on that over everything else.”
Last year, Brookfield had strong performances from up and down their roster. At the SWC Championships, 13 of their 19 swimmers earned points during the championship event, keeping them in strong contention throughout the meet. The team pushed reigning champion Pomperaug to the limit and, despite having no divers all year, came up just 1 point short of runner-up Newtown.
Maddy Smart was named the Most Outstanding Swimmer of the SWC Championship for an amazing second straight year (she owns the SWC records in the 50 Free, 100 Free and 200 Free). The 200 Freestyle Relay team finished first and the 400 Freestyle Relay team finished second. Additionally, Katie Dixon, Stephanie Ferrarie, Anna Brown and Sam Palicz all joined Smart by earning points in four different events. Megan Contarino, Jackie Letizia, Kelly Lappin, Andrea Jelaska and Anna Fernandez all contributed critical points to the team’s performance as well.
Brookfield also competed well at the Class M State Finals, swimming to fourth place without assistance from a diver.
Smart led the way, winning two individual events (200 Free and 100 Free) earning her a spot once again on the All-State Team. Strong performances from Palicz, who placed third in the 100 Backstroke and set a new BHS record and Ferrarie, third in the 500 Free, earned them both a spot on the All-State Team.
The overall fourth place team finish was just that — a team effort — with the 400 Free Relay team finishing in second place earning All-State Team recognition (comprised of Smart, Brown, Palicz and Ferrarie).
For 2012, Brookfield will be led by three Senior Captains: Smart, who competed at the Olympic Trials in the 100-meter freestyle over the summer and won the Class M State Champion title in both the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle last season; Letizia, a strong competitor in the 100 Butterfly and 200 IM, events she has consistently scored key team points; and Jelaska, a strong 200 and 500 freestyler. These three seniors will look to lead a Bobcat team to its best season yet.
Other top returning scorers for Brookfield include a strong and deep junior class, comprised of Brown, Dixon, Fernandez, Lapin, Marilyn Duong, Sam Russo, Ferrarie and Palicz. Lone and versatile sophomore swimmer Megan Contarino is another key team contributor. Rounding out the team is a new pipeline of freshmen swimmers: Rachel Brown. Ali Bowers, Carly Palicz, LeAnna Murphy and Brie Wurst complete a talented freshmen swimming class.
Last year, the diving team had to deal with life without any divers — not this year. For 2012, the team has four new divers: Ana Kavenaugh, Francis Greico, Kat Brooks and Dana Sherr, who will look to balance out the team by competing for much needed points and opportunities in the diving competitions.
For the last several years, the Lady Bobcats have had one of the strongest teams in the SWC but have yet to win a SWC or Class M Championship. For 2012, everyone is focused and poised to put in the hard work and dedication for a truly great season.
Brookfield kicks off their season on Wednesday, September 12 with a tri-meet against New Milford and Stratford at 7 p.m. at The Canterbury School in New Milford.