NEW HAVEN—Over the course of a year (31,556,926 seconds to be exact), six-tenths of a second might not seem to matter.
For Bunnell High junior swimmer Rosemery Nieto, it’s all that mattered.
Last year, as a sophomore, Nieto finished fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke at the Class L state championship swim meet, missing out on All-State honors by .61 seconds.
On Wednesday night, inside the hot-and-humid Hutch Natatorium on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University, Nieto made every second count.
By the time all was said done, by the time nearby North Haven was announced as the state Class M champs, Nieto had two medals around her neck, two school records added to her wake and one All-State honor as this time around she took third place in the event.
“Well, I kind of swam how I’ve been swimming all season and it worked out for me,” Nieto said. “I don’t think I did anything different. Today was the day I wanted to peak, but coach says State Opens is always the cherry on top.”
In addition to placing third in the 100 breast (a school-record 1:06.06), Nieto broke her own school record in the 100 butterfly (1:00.94), finishing ninth. She won the B-flight heat, and her time would have placed her seventh if she had been swimming in the championship flight.
She also swam for two Bunnell relay squads.
“Rose was Rose,” Bunnell coach Adam Fielding said. “For the past three weeks, we’ve been saying, ‘It’s Rose time,’ She knows. She had four very good swims tonight.”
The night began in the very first heat of the very first event as the Bunnell 200 medley relay team got to compete with arch-rival Stratford in the next lane.
The Bunnell squad—featuring Grace Browne, Alix Agathos, Amaya Davis and Julia Baldowski—won the heat in 2:07.36, which was three seconds faster than its seed time.
Stratford wasn’t far behind in 2:11.06, more than a second faster than its seed time, as well.
“It was great to start that relay with Bunnell in the same race,” said Stratford’s Claire Noccioli. “I really pushed us. I mean we got to swim them on Senior Night, but this is like a totally different atmosphere.”
While Noccioli was the lone Stratford swimmer to compete individually (she was 16th in the 100 breaststroke), Bunnell had a handful of swimmers take part in individual events, in addition to the relays.
Taylor Niemiec was 17th in the 200 free (2:07.13); Victoria Zottoli was 21st in the 100 free (1:00.31), and Lili Dowell was 19th in the 500 free (5:51.16) while Alix Agathos was 24th in the same event (5:59.49). Agathos was also 23rd in the 100 breast (1:15.79).
“It wasn’t perfect. We had a couple of hiccups,” Fielding said. “But overall, we were fast. We were really prepared, and we went really fast.”
The relay teams did especially well.
Bunnell’s 200 free relay team (Niemiec, Zottoli, Dowell and Nieto) placed sixth with a time of 1:46.71.
The same foursome competed in the 400 free relay and was 12th overall in 3:58.01.
Stratford’s 200 free relay (Noccioli, Ceili Roberts, Evita Shein, Leah Foito) placed 16th in 1:56.03 while the Red Devils’ 400 free squad (Foito, Ceili Roberts, Ciara Roberts, and Sarah Shein) were 19th in 4:31.20.
“Absolutely, I’m very happy. All of our relays dropped time,” said Stratford coach Laura Roberts said. “I get to keep six out of the seven girls I brought today, so it’s a nice start to next year having those six strong swimmers coming back.”
Likewise, the Bulldogs have a host of swimmers coming back for another year, as well.
“We’re still young,” Fielding said. “Everybody here today, minus two girls, are underclassmen. The good thing is we’ll put in work all year and be ready to go in August again.”
The Bulldogs finished 13th as a team with 161 points, one of its best showings during Fielding’s tenure at Bunnell.
“We all did incredible,” said Nieto, who after Saturday’s State Open will be counting the seconds to her senior season.
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