The South Windsor High girls swimming and diving team remained undefeated with a thrilling 95-91 victory over previously unbeaten Conard on Friday at the Star Hill Family Athletic Center in Tolland.
Indeed, despite having won eight of the first 11 events, the Bobcats were actually trailing the Chieftains entering the final race - the 400 freestyle relay.
Needing a victory in that event to remain unbeaten, the South Windsor High team of Jenny Belanger, Michelle Robidoux, Kate Niemiec and Lauren Branscombe touched out in 3:51.07, a full second ahead of Conard’s top team (3:52.07).
When the meet's final score was announced, the Bobcats erupted in cries of joy on the pool deck. It also marked the second straight year that South Windsor (7-0) defeated Conard (6-1) by four points or less in what has become a nice rivalry in a short period of time.
“We only beat them by two points last year,” South Windsor head coach Heather Lodge said. “So it was just as close last year. We obviously expected it to be very close again.”
One wouldn’t have thought so just based on the number of events the Bobcats won - nine out of the 12.
Branscombe, in addition to her heroics on the 400 free relay team, also won the 200 free (2:04.77) and 100 free (56.62), as well as anchored the winning 200 free relay (1:44.24).
Allie Romanowski also had an impressive meet, winning the 50 free (25.41), 100 breaststroke (1:14.76), and swimming legs on the winning 200 free relay (1:44.24) and 200 medley relay (1:56.13) teams.
Robidoux, in addition to swimming a leg in the decisive 400 free relay, won the 100 fly (1:00.74) and swam a leg for the victorious 200 medley relay team.
Christine Lenkeit was a double winner - swimming a leg of the 200 medley relay, as well as claiming the 500 free (5:29.74).
What Conard lacked in the fastest overall swimmers, it more than made up for in depth, frequently taking second, and third once South Windsor touched out first.
In addition,the Chieftains swept the diving event, with Shannon Bouvier (180.15), Jackie Palermo (157.57) and Madison Soucey (156.67), placing first, second and third, respectively.
In addition, Clara Capone won the 200 individual medley (2:17.93) and the 100 backstroke (1:03.57).
Lodge acknowledged that it took one of South Windsor’s best efforts to win Friday.
“Everybody had awesome swims,” Lodge said. “I think every single girl who swam made a difference. We couldn’t have done it without every single swimmer. We had a great day.”
All of which sets up an eagerly anticipated showdown this Tuesday with - who else? - Glastonbury, which is also undefeated.
“We know Glastonbury is going to be the hardest,” Lodge said. “This is a perfect setup for Glastonbury, because we know what kind of competition is out there.”