We have updated our Privacy Notice and Policies to provide more information about how we use and share data and information about you. This updated notice and policy is effective immediately.

GIRLS SWIMMING: Go, go, Gajecki! Cheshire junior takes Open crown in backstroke

NEW HAVEN — Cheshire junior Natalia Gajecki was golden at Yale’s Kiphuth Pool on Sunday afternoon, capturing the 100-yard backstroke at the girls swimming State Open.

Gajecki clocked in with a time of 56.44 to beat Greenwich junior Sena Bozkurt by .19 seconds.

Gajecki’s time also broke the school record of 56.57 that teammate Julia Barto had set in winning the backstroke at the 2022 State Open.

This year, Barto swam the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle, the events she won in Class L. At the Open, Barto finished second in both, swimming a 2:01.58 in the IM and a 4:55.22 in the 500.

It was the career finale for Barto, an All-American. Also capping solid four-year careers were Ella Nadeau of Southington and Hailey Baker of Lyman Hall.

Nadeau was fifth in both the 200 IM (2:08.76) and 100 breaststroke (1:06.13) on Sunday. She had set school records in both events — 2:08.12 in the IM, 1:05.62 in the breaststroke — with fourth-place showings in Class LL.

Baker, the Class M breaststroke champion in 1:07.23, placed 18th in her signature event Sunday with a 1:09.01.

While the seniors exit, the next wave of top area swimmers moves to the fore led by Maloney’s Addison Markoja and Sheehan’s Isabelle Hodum. Both girls end their sophomore seasons holding the distance freestyle records with their respective programs.

Markoja lowered both her Meriden Co-op records Sunday when she swam a 5:07.62 placing sixth in the 500 freestyle and a 1:54.77 placing seventh in the 200 free, the event she won at the Class L meet.

Hodum’s Sheehan records — 1:59.27 in the 200; 5:20.66 in the 500 — came at the Class S meet. Hodum was 21st in the 200 (1:59.76) and 24th in the 500 (5:29.67) at the Open.

Cheshire had the highest team finish Sunday, placing third behind champion Greenwich and runner-up Ridgefield.

Gajecki added a sixth-place finish in the 100 butterfly (58.69) to go along with her backstroke title.

She was also on the 400 freestyle team that placed third in 3:35.21. Barto, junior Julia Tejeda and freshman Annabelle Superchi joined Gajecki on that relay.

Cheshire’s two other relays also did well:

■Superchi and fellow freshman Gabrielle Williamson teamed with Barto and sophomore Vanessa Anderson to place fifth in the 200 freestyle (1:40.56).■Gajecki, Williamson, junior Carly Cahill, and senior Grace Hanke were seventh in the 200 medley (1:51.04).

All three of Southington’s relays also made it to the Open. Two of them placed 10th — the medley and the 400 free.

Nadeau and Julia Laszewski swam on both. They were joined by fellow senior Veronica Okurowski and sophomore Alex Szczepanik on the medley (1:51.56) and by junior Mariam Labadze and senior Kyra Nguyen on the 400 free (3:42.39).

Southington’s 200 free relay team of Labadze, Okurowski, Nguyen and Szczepanik finished 19th (1:44.55).

Individually, Okurowski was 13th in the 100 fly (59.82) and Laszewski was 23rd in the 100 free (56.00).

The Meriden Co-op’s 200 freestyle relay team of Markoja, junior Sarah Kim and seniors Kamryn Yepez and Rylie Benigni made the Open grade and placed 15th in 1:43.76.

Kim qualified individually in the 100 backstroke and followed up her fourth-place finish in Class L with 13th-place time of 1:00.73 at the Open.

Lyman Hall’s Open-qualifying relay, the 200 medley, was 22nd in 1:55.97. That team featured Baker, juniors Meredith Loughlin and Jessica Rinaldi, and sophomore Grace D’Amico.

D’Amico was 22nd in the 100 backstroke (1:02.31).

Cheshire’s individual qualifiers, along with Gajecki and Barto, included Tejeda, Superchi, Williamson, Hanke and Cahill.

■Tejeda placed 11th in 500 freestyle (5:13.64) and 18th in the 200 (1:58.68).■Superchi was 17th in the 200 free (1:58.52) and 16th in the 100 free (55.06).■Williamson debuted with an 18th in the 50 free (25.19), Hanke was 20th in the IM (2:15.92) and Cahill took 21st in the 100 free (55.77).


More From This Section