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Lady Wildcats make "Splash" at post-season meet

BHS Swim team takes 12th place at Girls' Invitational

   The Splash Classic held at Plainville High this past Saturday is the unofficial state championship for girls competing in the boys swim season. Eighteen teams competed with athletes representing girls who participate in other Fall sports than swimming and in Bethel's unique case, field only a boys' team. Tough qualification standards make for the honor to swim at Splash and Avon High continued their dominance taking a team first place overall. Bethel finished 12th, along with local teams like SWC rivals Joel Barlow (10th) and Danbury High (16th). Bethel's boys provided the largest cheer section of any team as well as the most decorative body painting to root for their teammates (despite spelling Yvonne as "Ivan".)

Event 1 200 yard medley Relay: Bethel's A team of senior captains Aiden Ford (back) and Molly Nichols (breast) along with juniors Cara Bernardo (fly) and Lindsay Guercio (anchor leg free) took 10th place with a strong 2:22. The Bethel B team of Katie Joseph, Gwen Gallagher, senior Yvonne Palacios with Amanda Basso swimming a great anchor leg finished 6th among the B squads.

Event 2 200 yard Freestyle: Bethel's strongest event with nine girls qualifying saw Aiden Ford take 18th with a 2:28. Junior Molly Gallagher, coming back from a mid-season injury, took 22nd and Cara Bernardo with a 27th place finish.

Event 4 50 yard Freestyle: The sprint is one of the most exciting races and fielded over 60 competitors at this year's Splash. Junior Helen Belato, who in the past few weeks has posted incredible times, took a head-to-head tie for 21st place with Avon's Jordan Politz at an impressive 29.59. Sophomore Juliana Bell, who along with captains Ford and Nichols qualified for a team high four events, took 33rd nipping out teammate Molly Gallagher by .02 seconds. Lindsay Guercio, coming off a great junior year, took 41st.

Event 5 Diving: Sophomore Sydney Johnson took 17th place overall with a 142.20 score as she prepares for the post-season requirement of moving from 6 dives used for head-to-head meets to the 11 dive championship program. Another of BHS top divers, Julia Morton, who was 15th in the SWC last year, also qualified for Splash but is out with a season ending injury.

Event 7 100 yard Freestyle: Helen Belato swam to one of the best finishes of the day with a strong 17th place with her season best 1:06 time. Swimming in her third event of the day already, Guercio took 42nd overall with a 1:12.50.

Event 8 500 yard Freestyle: With a tough standard to keep the field down, the twenty lap distance race saw Bethel finish very strong with Juliana Bell (16th) and Molly Nichols (17th).

Event 9 200 yard Free Relay: Fielding three teams in the sprint relay, Bethel A (Belato, Bell, Guercio and Molly Gallagher) took 12th overall with a 2:01. Bethel B (Basso, Bernardo, Gwen Gallagher and senior Yvonne Palacios) finished at 2:10 and Bethel C filled with future stars (junior Theresa Vlash, Joseph, sophomore Brianna Paiva and freshman Jennifer Palacios) gained valuable racing experience finishing at 2:18.

Event 10 100 yard Backstroke: Competing in her fourth Splash championship in the 100 Back event, senior captain and academic superstar Aiden Ford took 15th with a near personal best of 1:16.92. Bernardo took 25th with a 1:24.53.

Event 11 100 yard Breaststroke: Also competing in her fourth Splash championship in her signature event, captain Molly Nichols took 13th place with a 1:22 time. Nichols prepares this week for this Friday night's SWC Boys championship at Masuk as she qualified with a 1:20 time.

Event 12 400 yard Free Relay: The event that best represents the strength of a team the 4x100 yard relay saw the Bethel A team finish 7th overall. Juliana Bell led off with a 1:12 leg, Molly Gallagher followed with a 1:10 collecting a few places back. Reliable Aiden Ford swam a 1:06 third leg to get within the top ten and Bethel's top swimmer of the day, Helen Belato, finished with her season best 1:05.01 anchor leg to lead Bethel to the 14 point earning top finish. The Bethel B team of Nichols, Vlash, Jennifer Palacios and Brianna Paiva also finished 7th among B squads. Junior Theresa Vlash swam her fastest 100 yards of the season with a 1:16, knocking off an incredible 5 seconds off her previous best time.

Also qualifying for Splash but not competing on Saturday were senior fourth year star and invaluable team leader Serena Coons, who swam a 1:11 in the 100 Free and sophomore speedster Svetlana Sjoblom, who qualified for the 50 Free and 100 Free.

   The Wildcats swimming post-season continues with the SWC Diving Championships this Wednesday at Masuk, SWC Championship this Friday at Masuk and the JV Invitational Championship on Saturday at Pomperaug.

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