The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Fairfield’s Bruno couldn’t be prouder of Young, Torres
For the past week, Fairfield University swim coach Anthony Bruno would wake up at around 5 a.m., sometimes before the crack of dawn, and immediately open his phone.
Careful not to let the light of the screen or any sound wake his eight-month pregnant wife, he’d bring up the online stream of the 2020 Paralympic swim events for live results.
He’d hold in his cheer and celebrate quietly as he watched his former top swimmer Colleen Young win two Paralympic medals and his current swimmer Matthew Torres win his first in his Summer Games debut.
“[I’m] just incredibly happy for them,” Bruno said this week. “Definitely, really proud of them.”
In her third Paralympics, Young, a top swimmer with the Stags from 2016-2020, won two medals, including her second bronze in the 100m Breaststroke. Torres, going into his junior year at Fairfield this fall, completed his Paralympic debut by winning the bronze in the 400-meter S8 Freestyle.
The two solidified their spot as Fairfield’s only Paralympic medalists, with Young becoming the first Stag to do so in 2016.
And while winning medals at the world stage is the ultimate goal, Bruno said he couldn’t be prouder of the two representing Fairfield and showing how paraswimmers can thrive coming from Division-I collegiate programs just like anybody else.
“It really does inspire people,” Bruno said. “It really does pull the team together and I think whether you’re an alumni or a current team member, I think they’re just proud that we’re doing that type of stuff here. … These guys [Young and Torres] have earned everything they’ve gotten.”
When Bruno arrived in Fairfield during the spring of 2017, one of the first athletes he met was Young.
Young, who had been to two Paralympics [2012 and 2016], invited Bruno to Colorado to watch her compete for a spot on Team USA’s paraswim team ahead of the World Championships. She told him about her goals, both collegiately and in paraswim, and her passion for competing in both divisions.
Learning about the world of paraswim and the process of making a Paralympic team inspired Bruno. He had been introduced to paraswim while competing collegiately for Springfield College alongside thenteammate, and later threetime Paralympic gold medalist, Justin Zook. But now as a coach, he wanted to do what he could to help paraswimmers like Young reach their goals.
“It’s something that stuck with me,” he said. “My first three years with Colleen gave me a much better foundation of paraswimming. …. That really opened up the door for me in terms of, ‘Hey, I’d like to get involved more with this.’ I’m certainly open to having more paraswimmers on the team. And I would say she paved the way here for making this a place that paraswimmers are interested in.”
Young’s passion for competing across both paraswim and within the MAAC Conference pushed her to become one of Fairfield’s all-time top swimmers. As a sophomore in 2017, she was the team’s leading scorer and helped the program win its first MAAC title. She set eight school records and was a seven-time MAAC champion.
During Young’s senior year, Torres, from Ansonia, joined the squad. At first, Torres, who graduated from Fairfield Prep in 2019, struggled to match the collegiate level of competition. Bruno said during the first few months that season, he swam at a level one compared to others on the team.