GIRLS SWIMMING: Lyman Hall quartet surpasses expectations and powers into State Open

GIRLS SWIMMING: Lyman Hall quartet surpasses expectations and powers into State Open

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WALLINGFORD – The Lyman Hall girls swimming and diving team was still fired up at practice on Thursday after a fifth place finish in the CIAC Class M championship meet.

Highlighting Wednesday night’s showing at Southern Connecticut State University was the 200 medley relay team that placed second with a season-best time of 1:53.22 after qualifying at fourth place.

“It was fun with that relay starting it off like that,” Lyman Hall coach Donna Neary said. “They were very close to a school record and we were all shocked. They did so well. They went out and they swam aggressive, which is what I wanted. Now they all have All-State status.”

On that relay were junior Kristie Driscoll, senior Nicole Cislo, sophomore Faith Gambardella and junior Sarah Beverage.

Driscoll starts the action in the backstroke. Cislo keeps it going with the breastroke. Gambardella does the butterfly. Beverage is the anchor in the freestyle.

The same quartet swam to their seed and registered a fifth-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay. The girls were just off a school record with their time of 1:42.77.

“The 200 free relay missed the school record by two tenths (of a second),” said Neary. “But they will get a chance to break that on Saturday.”

Saturday is the final chapter of the season: the State Open at Yale.

“We’re not far off from the school record in the 200 medley relay,” Neary said. “It would be nice to go after that one, too. Yale is a fast pool and it’s a great atmosphere. The 200 free relay will be our last swim and if we can end on a school record, that would be pretty cool.”

Neary said everyone does their part in the relay success.

“Kristie is doing backstroke. She did 500 and backstroke last night and she also did breaststroke,” Neary said. “Faith had our fastest split in the butterfly. That’s why she swims butterfly and she did her fastest by a lot yesterday. She also could do backstroke. They could be interchangeable. Sarah’s 50 time is the fastest 50.They all fit into their niche. They all get a long very well together and have a good time.”

Beverage said the Trojans swam with desparation Wednesday night.

“We all knew this might be our last meet and we had to put everything into it. We all really wanted it,” Beverage said. “We were explosive last night. We were just off of our records. Everyone had great times.”

Cisclo, the lone senior of the four, said she just fed off the atmosphere on the deck.

“I was shocked when I got out of the pool after my breaststroke and I saw we were right behind North Haven,” said Cislo, referring to the team wound up winning the medley. “I don’t think I’ve ever cheered so loud in my life. I just love the relays because of the vibe and energy. Everyone has to put in the effort. We are all so close and we have known each other since we were little kids and have such a close bond. We have become a family.”

Gambardella said she wasn’t expecting the Trojans to move all the way up to second.

“I think that we were just looking to do our best and see what we could do and I think we surprised ourselves,” Gambardella said. “We feel like we were doing everything we were supposed to do to get second. I could defeintely feel the energy throughout the pool deck. It was just really exciting and it made me swim even faster. That relay at the beginning of the meet got me really excited. We all get along and we have been working on all of the specifics to get it perfect.”

Driscoll said she likes leading off and setting the tone for the team.

“I like to try to get us ahead and them sit back and watch and cheer for them,” Driscoll said. “It was all a blur. Everyrone was just screaming and yelling. It was a great season. We all have such a fun time and we just love it so much.”

Individually, all four girls competed in a championship heat. Beverage was fourth in the 50 freestyle and Gambardella was fourth in the 500 free. Cislo came in fifth in the breaststroke. Driscoll placed seventh in the backstroke.

Neary said she is proud of the effort her swimmers put forth.

“Saturday is the icing on the cake and if they can get the school record that would be the cherry on the top,” Neary said.

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