Corey Gambardella completed his exceptional high school swimming career in triumphant fashion last week by winning the 100-yard butterfly at both the Class LL and State Open championships, while recording the fastest time in state history with his performance at the Open.
Gambardella, a senior at Guilford High School who’s competed with the Branford-Guilford boys’ swimming and diving squad for the past three seasons, took first in the 100 butterfly with a time of 49.08 seconds at the Class LL State Championship, which took place at Wesleyan University on March 13. Gambardella’s time bettered his mark of 50.23 from the Class LL Trials and was two seconds faster than runner-up Ben Feldman of Westhill-Stamford, who swam a 51.66. Gambardella also placed second in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:41.28 at the Class LL meet.
Five days later, Gambardella swam both events at the State Open Championship at Yale University’s Kiputh Pool and prevailed in the 100 butterfly with a state record time of 48.14 seconds. Gambardella defeated runner-up James Huang of Simsbury (48.75) and eclipsed the mark of 48.32 set by Greenwich’s John Montesi at last year’s State Open for the fastest butterfly time in the history of Connecticut high school swimming. Gambardella additionally finished third in the 200 freestyle behind a mark of 1:39.49 at the Open.
Whenever a record is broken at Kiputh Pool, the time from that performance continuously flashes on the scoreboard. So right after Gambardella touched the pad for his wire-to-wire victory in the butterfly, he knew that he had achieved his goal of breaking the state record in the event.
“It’s been a really long time coming for me to have this record,” said Gambardella. “It’s been three years of high school swimming and three State Open Championships to finally work my way up to the top, and it’s just really exciting.”
Gambardella, who’s also claimed victory four times at the SCC Championship during high school career, additionally expressed how proud he was of his 400 freestyle relay for its performance during last week’s two postseason meets. The team of senior Aleandro Hanaj, freshman Aidan Henry, senior Alek Karosas, and Gambardella recorded a time of 3:23.33 at the Class LL Championship to finish in 11th place and claim the 24th and final spot for the State Open. Then at the Open, the quartet moved up eight spots from its seed by placing 16th with a mark of 3:19.59. Gambardella’s two individual performances, combined with the 400 freestyle relay’s showing, resulted in 78 points for Branford-Guilford that put the team into 22nd place out of 49 squads at the State Open Championship.
At the Class LL meet, Branford-Guilford scored 154 points and finished 12th out of 21 clubs. Henry posted a time of 4:56.06 and came in 14th place for the 500 freestyle and finished 24th in the 200 individual medley with a 2:08.18. Karosas took 19th in the 100 backstroke (58.34) and was 24th for the 50 freestyle at 23.75.
The 200 medley relay of Karosas, senior Kyle Boucher, Henry, and Hanaj finished 14th with a time of 1:48.65, while the 200 freestyle relay quartet featuring Boucher, sophomore Andrew Orce, sophomore Abdalla Syed, and Gambardella finished 17th at 1:38.98.