SWIMMING: Julia’s a jewel! Barto’s two golds lead locals at State Open

NEW HAVEN — She was not a No. 1 seed. But she was, without a doubt, the No. 1 area swimmer at Sunday’s State Open at Yale University’s Kiphuth Pool.

Re-introducing Miss Julia Barto of Cheshire High School.

The junior brought home two individual gold medals from the CIAC’s most elite meet, capturing the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke.

With a time of 2:03.05, Barto out-dueled Darien’s Miller Ward (2:03.62) and Hall’s Meghan Tiernan (2:03.75) in the 200 IM.

In the 100 backstroke, Barto touched in 56.57, which is a new Cheshire school record.

The backstroke was a local showcase. Three of the top four spots went to area girls. Lyman Hall senior Elise Richardson, the Class M champion, was third in 58.75. Cheshire sophomore Natalia Gajecki, the Class L champ, was fourth in 58.84.

In that Class L meet, swum Tuesday at Cornerstone Aquatics in West Hartford, Gajecki had edged Barto by 3/100 of a second as the teammates finished 1-2 in the backstroke. Five days later in New Haven, Barto cut .33 seconds off her time in the backstroke and 1.72 off her time in the IM, where she’d placed third.

Subtraction added up to two state crowns for the junior.

One of Barto’s senior teammates, Julianna Tyler, notched a pair of fourth-place finishes — in the 200 IM at 2:07.80 and in 100 butterfly at 57.09.

Cheshire senior Avery Potyrala, who claimed the Class L titles in the 100 and 200 freestyles, placed sixth in both events on Sunday. She swam a 53:37 in the 100 and a 1:54.49 in the 200.

Also finishing sixth Sunday was Southington’s Ella Nadeau in the 100 breaststroke. The junior’s time of 1:07.59 was just a smidge off the school-record 1:07.53 she’d recorded in the Class LL meet on Wednesday.

Lyman Hall junior Hailey Baker also qualified for the Open in the breaststroke. She was 14th in 1:09.11.

In all, area swimmers were represented in every event, including all three relays.

With a time of 1:47.57, Cheshire’s 200 medley relay of Gajecki, Barto, Tyler and Potyrala was second to Darien, reprising the same order of finish in the Class L meet.

The same four Cheshire girls were Class L champs in the 400 freestyle relay. On Sunday, they placed third in 3:33.44.

Southington’s 200 medley relay, seeded No. 7 after finishing third in Class LL in a school record 1:50.18, met its seed Sunday with a time of 1:51.11. The team featured Nadeau, fellow juniors Julia Laszewski and Veronica Okurowski, and senior anchor Alexis Strong.

For the Meriden Co-op, freshman standout Addison Markoja qualified for two individual events in her first State Open. She placed 14th in the 200 freestyle in 1:57.52 and 18th in the 500 free in 5:22.52.

Markoja also anchored the 200 medley relay (22nd, 1:56.96) behind sophomore Sarah Kim, senior Maddie Fitzgerald and junior Rylie Benigni as well as the 400 freestyle relay (18th, 3:45.53) behind Benigni, Kim and junior Kamryn Yepez.

In the team standings, Ridgefield, which had unseated defending champ Greenwich in Class LL, took the Open crown with 478 points. Class L champ Darien was runner-up at 388.5. Cheshire was third at 342.


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