Brown following in mother’s footsteps
PROVIDENCE – Lincoln High freshman Sadie Brown entered these Bay View Invitational Swimming Championships just after high noon Saturday not knowing what to expect from her fellow competitors.
She did, however, learn about the meet’s prestige – and what it would mean to excel at it – long beforehand, as her mom had competed and (more than) succeeded at this same event approximately two decades before.
And for the same school.
Her mother just happens to be former state champion/R.I. Aquatic Hall of Famer Beth Iacobucci, who graced this area with numerous titles at this and other championship meets during her tenure at LHS.
Brown didn’t mention exactly her mom’s advice, but she apparently took it to heart. The smallish but congenial LHS newcomer mustered a stellar sixth in the 200-yard individual medley (2:17.39) and ninth in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:11.63) to propel the Lions to 52 points and a 12th-place finish in a field of nearly 30 teams at Brown University’s Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatic Center.
“It feels good; I’m very proud of myself for how well I swam,” the shy Lioness stated. “In the 200 IM, I came in seeded sixth and that’s where I finished, which is great. I felt a little tired – that’s why I was off my best time by a second or so – but I wanted to swim well. I had heard how big this meet was.”
She admitted being mighty tired following her 100 breaststroke, and that her 1:11 clocking was well off her lifetime best. Head coach Tom DiIorio knew why.
“We had to swim against Wheeler on Thursday night and Barrington (Friday) night (in dual meets), so I knew coming in the girls would be swimming tired,” he offered. “I just told them to swim their best, try to do their best times and not to get disqualified.
“I also said that I knew how difficult it was to swim back-to-back, but that stuff happens; you just have to do it, and I thought Sadie and a lot of other kids battled through that fatigue.”
Cumberland junior Caroline Shen didn’t swim as fast as she had hoped, though she had a pretty good reason why. She had been suffering from a cold/flu over the past several days, but admitted she expected more from herself after placing a disappointing 11th in the 50 freestyle (25.98) and seventh in the 100 freestyle (57.04).
The good news for Shen? She anchored both the sixth-place 200 freestyle relay team (also consisting of senior tri-captain Cammy Cronin, freshman Chelsea Friedland and junior Kheara Zito), which posted a season-top time of 1:46.59; and the seventh-ranked 400 freestyle relay (Cronin, frosh/kid sister Catherine Shen and Zito), which with a 3:59.39 clocking added another winter-best time.
The elder Shen mustered a 50 split of 25.34 in the 200 race and 57.15 at the 400 distance, helping the Clippers top LHS for 10th with 85.5 points.
North Kingstown stunned the field to win the meet crown, courtesy of 272 points. Wayland, Mass. placed second with 249, while defending Ocean State champ Barrington took third exactly 50 behind.
La Salle notched fourth (171), “host” Bay View fifth (166), Weston, Mass. sixth (157), Hopkinton, Mass. seventh (143), East Greenwich eighth (141.5) and Prout ninth (92).
The Crusaders edged McGarry’s bunch by a scant 6.5 points.
“I’ve been pretty sick; it’s my lungs, my sinuses, and I just feel tired,” Caroline noted after the 200 freestyle relay. “I don’t know what it is exactly, but no matter how much sleep I get, when I wake up, I’m still exhausted.
“Aside from that, I still think I could’ve swum faster,” she continued. “I think I have a lot left to work on, like my technique my (timing with) breathing, starts and turns, etc. This shows what I have to work on. When I’m at practice, and my coach tells me I have to work on this or that, I have to try to fix it. I believe I have to do more of that.”
CHS mentor Rod McGarry felt Shen was being too hard on herself, but credited and admired her mindset.
“I thought, given her circumstances, she had a good meet, a very inspiring and inspired meet,” he stated. “I always tell the kids, ‘We don’t use excuses. We use explanations as to how we swam, what we did well and what we need to work on.’
“I tell them we have to assess the swim, but we also have to take into consideration the health and well-being of the athletes,” he added. “The whole team knows Caroline is sick and fatigued, as well as a few others. I had asked Caroline if she wanted to sit this meet out and rest up, get stronger, but she wasn’t going to have any part of that.
“She insisted on participating in every event in which she was entered; you know, she’s a very selfless girl. She was going to do everything she could to help the team put points on the board, and I think she inspired a lot of our girls. Caroline set an example and was a rallying point, especially with the 200 free relay. She’s the one who got them to think, ‘Let’s step up and go after this one!’
“Did they ever!” Another spark, to no one’s surprise, happened to be Cronin, who earned 10th in the 100 butterfly with a lightning-quick/PR 1:04.40. She also joined freshmen Chelsea Friedland and Catherine Shen and senior tri-captain Caitlyn Longest on the 11th-place 200 medley relay (campaign-best 2:02.92).
As the butterflyer in that event, she managed a 50 split of 28.28, as well as “dead-start” splits of 27.14 and 1:00.39 in the respective 200 and 400 free relays, to cap quite a memorable outing.
“I feel really good about how I did here because it’s my senior year, and of course you want to have a great season,” Cronin grinned. “I swam well, so I’m gaining confidence. I feel like, based on this, the rest of the season will be my best yet, with the amount of strength, training and confidence I’ve gained.”
Brown happened to be the lone individual placement for Lincoln, yet did nail down top-16 finishes in all three relays. The quartet of junior Amanda Allen, Brown, sophomore Melissa Pierce and senior captain Lily Jacobson registered a winter-top time of 2:02.74 (a satisfying .18 ahead of the rival Clippers), while the contingent of senior Emma Gianetti, Pierce, junior Anna Vygoder and senior Natalie Jorge snared 13th at the 200 freestyle distance (1:55.62).
As for the 400 free relay, the foursome of Brown, Allen, Gianetti and Jacobson took 12th in 4:10.10.
Both DiIorio and McGarry didn’t hide the fact that they were thrilled by the improvement of kids who didn’t gain a top-16 (or scoring) placement. Heading that list: CHS senior captain Olivia Barboza, who fashioned easily the best individual performance of her life in the 100 butterfly.
She may have placed 24th in the pool of 54 swimmers, but she hustled to a career-best clocking of 1:11.60.
It’s been quite the few weeks for Barboza, as she was selected the R.I. Interscholastic League’s Female Athlete of the Month (for December), not to mention her school’s Student of the Month.
“The success rate of our girls was far beyond what I expected, either in this meet or at this point of the season,” McGarry said. “We had a lot of kids drop time; they either made state-qualifying standards or did lifetime bests. We want to do the same thing moving forward.”
BAY VIEW INVITATIONAL SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS At Brown University Team standings – 1. North Kingstown 272; 2. Wayland, Mass. 249; 3. Barrington 199; 4. La Salle 171; 5. Bay View 166; 6. Weston, Mass. 157; 7. Hopkinton, Mass. 143; 8. East Greenwich 141.5; 9. Prout 92; 10. Cumberland 85.5; 11. Classical 52.5; 12. Lincoln 52; 13. Moses Brown 51; 14. Lincoln School 47; 15. Smithfield 46; 16. Narragansett 39; 17. Cranston East 38; 18. Toll Gate 36.5; 19. Portsmouth 34; 20. South Kingstown 24; 21. (tie) Chariho, Wheeler 23; 23. North Providence 13; 24. Cranston West 11; 25. (tie) Middletown, Johnston 2.
200y medley relay – 11. Lincoln (Amanda Allen, Sadie Brown, Melissa Pierce, Lily Jacobson) 2:02.74; 12. Cumberland (Chelsea Friedland, Catherine Shen, Cammy Cronin, Caitlyn Longest) 2:02.92.
200y individual medley – 6. Sadie Brown (L) 2:17.39. 50y freestyle – 11. Caroline Shen (CUMB) 25.98. 100y butterfly – 10. Cronin (CUMB) 1:04.40. 100y freestyle – 7. Car. Shen (CUMB) 57.04. 200y freestyle relay – 6. Cumberland (Cronin, Cat. Shen, Kheara Zito, Car. Shen) 1:46.59; 13. Lincoln (Emma Gianetti, Pierce, Anna Vygoder, Natalie Jorge) 1:55.62.
100y backstroke – 16. (tie) Friedland (CUMB), Emily Aliotta (Class.) 1:06.08.
100y breaststroke – 9. Brown (L) 1:11.63.
400y freestyle relay – 7. Cumberland (Cronin, Zito, Cat. Shen, Car. Shen) 3:59.39; 12. Lincoln (Brown, Allen, Gianetti, Jacobson) 4:10.10.
Lincoln’s Amanda Allen, above, and St. Raphael’s Morgan McCann, below, were among the Blackstone Valley’s top female swimmers at Saturday’s Bay View Invitational at Brown.