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Article Published December 20, 2018
Rome Swims to Tremendous Success as a Freshman
PJ Foti, Sports Writer

Norah Rome made quite a splash in her freshman year with the East Haven-Wilbur Cross girls’ swimming and diving team. Norah scored plenty of points for the Yellowjackets this fall and capped off the campaign by turning in excellent performances during the postseason. Norah took first place in the 500 freestyle at the Southern Connecticut Conference Championship, after which she placed second in the event at the Class LL State Championship.

Norah is an East Haven resident who attends the Sound School in New Haven. She comes from a family that has a vast background in swimming. Norah believes that gaining so much experience in the water at an early age played a major factor in her achievements this season.

“I’ve been swimming competitively since I was seven. My mother [Anna] swam on the East Haven team in high school, and she used to swim club for East Haven. We had a pool in the backyard, and my dad [Matthew] and her used to put me in the pool all the time. That’s where I got the basics,” Norah says. “In the center of East Haven, there’s a club team that I signed up for, and that’s where I started training for competition, and have been doing that for seven years now.”

Norah is primarily a distance swimmer with her club team, the SoCo Aquatic Club. While she also competes in the individual medley and the backstroke, Norah says the distance freestyle events are where she’s at her best. Norah excelled in both the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle for Head Coach Leanne Boisvert’s squad at the high school this year.

“When I first met Coach Boisvert, I told her I was a distance swimmer, and my best events were the 200 and 500 free,” says Norah. “She wanted me to swim my best events, because that’s where I’d score points, so I stuck to those events.”

Coach Boisvert notes that Norah came into 2018 with a clear-cut plan about what she wanted to accomplish. As the year went on, it became more and more apparent that Norah was on her way to having a special freshman season. Boisvert was particularly impressed with how hard Norah worked to trim her time in the grueling 500 freestyle.

“Since her first day on a high school team, Norah has been thinking and talking about the 500. When we first met her, she told us that her goal for the year was to end the season around five minutes. Within those first few weeks of getting to know the girls on the team and their abilities, it was clear that Norah was knowledgeable and gifted,” Coach Boisvert says. “During the first few meets, Norah was consistently swimming a 500 around 5:30. After every swim, she would get out and talk to us about her progress and where we could find ways to improve. Norah’s determination to drop time was a clear motivator with every practice and meet we had.”

Norah’s dedication paid off at the SCC Championship, where she finished first in the 500 freestyle by swimming a time of 5:05.86. It was a huge achievement for Norah to win the event, especially since she was competing against many talented upperclass athletes with postseason experience. She made the All-SCC Team by virtue of her victory.

“I was shocked I got first and won,” Norah says. “I just felt very relieved I got first.”

Norah improved her time in the 500 to a 5:04.70 during her second-place finish at the Class LL State Championship, garnering All-State distinction in the process. She went on to take 10th in the event at the State Open Championship. Norah also turned in a great postseason showing in the 200 freestyle by claiming second at SCCs, ninth in Class LL, and 22nd at the State Open.

Coach Boisvert says that Norah shined her brightest under the spotlight in the championship meets.

“During the postseason, it was clear that Norah was ready to compete on a larger scale. An amazing thing happens when you have so many competitive swimmers alongside each other. There is a drive to push harder...and the girls swim faster than ever before to outswim their strongest competitors,” says Boisvert. “Practice after grueling practice, meet after exhausting meet, Norah showed her determination and drive, in and out of the water. With every new set we designed for her, she found her focus and pushed to make the most out of it.”

Norah consistently swam great times in the 500 throughout the year, but felt a little extra wind in her sails when the time came to compete in the postseason.

“There was a switch that I turned on to get faster. My times fluctuated, but I was stuck around 5:30 until championship season,” says Norah. “It was difficult, because I was going up against a lot of seniors, but I told myself it’s all about my time—not my age. I used that as my motivation.”

Norah appreciates all the encouragement that she’s received from her teammates, her coaches, and her family this year. Norah knows their support had a heavy hand in her success as a freshman, and she’s looking forward to three more seasons swimming with the Easties.

“Everyone was very supportive throughout the season. It was an overall happy and supportive team. Everyone tried to get better and, even if we didn’t do our best times, our coaches were always there with a smile and happy we put in effort,” Norah says. “They all helped me get to my goals. I think that was the biggest part of my season—always knowing they were there.”