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Gardner High team wins 15th straight swim championship; Coach credits team's leadership.

Byline: Jay Gearan

CAMBRIDGE - The orange and black championship banner hanging above the deep end of the Greenwood Memorial Pool will soon have another year stitched to it.

For the 15th straight season, the Gardner High girls swim team captured the state championship last Sunday.

At the Greenwood Pool, the home of the Wildcats, 2008 will be added to the consecutive years beginning with 1994.

Among the 28 teams competing at Harvard University's Blodgett Pool, Gardner won with a 253 point total, 110 points better than runner-up North Andover. Barnstable was third with 135 points.

The Wildcats captured gold medals in two relay events, senior co-captain Lindsey Hagens won the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 breaststroke, and junior Tina Belletete, as she did a year ago, won the 500 freestyle in leading Gardner to another state title, an incredible repeating success story since 1994.

Said coach Don Lemieux, "I'm really proud of this team, especially the seniors. I can't say enough about their leadership."

"I think if we train hard and come back next year with the same type of dedication, we could possibly win next year, too," said Belletete.

Talk about Sweet Sixteen.

From the opening event, the 200 medley relay, the Wildcats showed their superiority, splashing to a first place finish. Belletete, captains Hagens and Kondrotas and senior Eve Barnard finished in 1 minute, 52.47 seconds, more than three seconds faster than the runner-up team from North Andover.

The Wildcats followed the opening relay with four of the top 9 places in the next event, the 200 freestyle. Freshman Anna MacKay placed second, Belletete third, senior Shanon Lambert fifth and sophomore Kerry Dewey ninth.

In the 100 butterfly, Gardner got outstanding performances from junior Danielle Sekurski, who finished ninth, and senior Kelsey Dewey, 13th. Sophomore Vanessa L'Heureux placed eighth in the 200 IM.

After the meet's eighth event, the 500 freestyle won by Belletete, the Wildcats had a 79-point lead over second-place Barnstable at the time.

The 500 was dominated by Wildcat swimmers as Kondrotas was second, MacKay third and Kerry Dewey fifth.

In the 200 relay the Wildcats, seeded fourth, bolted to a first-place finish as Barnard, MacKay, Lambert and Hagens led the way.

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Kerry Dewey, left, and Vanessa L'Heureux dry their hair after a race at Harvard's Blodgett Pool in the state championships.

PHOTOG: JAY GEARAN
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 28, 2008
Words:395
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