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Photo Courtesy: Ron Schwane

Brunswick’s swimmers exceed expectations

By: Brad Bournival

Obtained From: The Gazette

Lizzy Gehlmann take a bow. Not only were you the first swimmer to make state as an individual at Brunswick (in 2013), you’re also the only girls school record — besides diving — still around since Vince Colwell took over the program last season. While the 50-yard freestyle mark (53.08) still stands tall, everything else has been smashed by a group of Brunswick girls that have done even more than they thought possible.

“This was far beyond anything I expected,” Jenna Vance said. “I couldn’t imagine this many girls making it to the state meet and making it in as many events as we did. It’s awesome. “I think it’s the mindset of the team. We try our hardest every day. We know what we’re working toward and put all our effort towards it.” Jake Lowe will be the only boy competing for the Blue Devils at the Division I State meet when he dives on Thursday. After that, he’ll sit back and watch a record number of qualifiers have at it for the Brunswick girls.

Cassandra Pasadyn (100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 medley relay, 400 free relay), Vance (100 breaststroke, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay), Vanessa Pasadyn (200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 free relay), Nikki Eyssen (200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 free relay), Felicia Pasadyn (200 individual medley, 400 free relay) and Bri Costanzo (200 free relay) will all be in Canton. “Those girls work so hard,” Colwell said. “They really want it. We sat down at the beginning of the year with goals. We give them the tools to get them there and they take over. “Two years ago, I would have been surprised at this. I knew these girls had the talent, but to be third in the district meet, I wouldn’t have imagined it.” Based on last weekend’s performance at the Northwest District, they could do even more damage at state.

Cassandra Pasadyn will come in as the fifth seed in the 100 back with the 200 medley relay seeded ninth. Those two events alone have Brunswick headed to C.T. Branin Natatorium looking for more. “It definitely snowballs,” Colwell said. “When you see the girls you’re training with accomplish those things, you start believing in yourself even more. It unlocks the potential they’ve always had. “It changes how you look at the meet. We’re no longer at a point where you’re just happy to be there. It changes your attitude when you’re on the deck. Last year was a learning experience and I told them that so this year we could take advantage of it.” There’s an air of confidence going in as well. The medley relay won in a school-record time (1:46.72) at district. It wasn’t the only relay record falling, as the 200 free (1:39.48) and 400 free (3:34.36) set standards. Cassandra Pasadyn also set records in the 100 fly (56.92), 100 free (52.88) and 100 back (56.08), which she won.

A lot of that is hard work, but some of it goes to Colwell, who saw a budding program when he took over in 2014 and has turned it into a viable contender. “He’s always there for you and is always pushing,” Cassandra Pasadyn said. “It is the hard work you put in, but he gives you the guidelines to do it. That helps because you never get down on yourself. He never brings you down. It’s always move on to the next race.” Vance is one of Colwell’s biggest supporters and will be making her second trip to state under his guidance. “He just cares so much about us as a team and cares so much for the sport,” she said. “He puts forth great energy, which is really supportive and helpful.

Having somebody giving you positive feedback shows they believe in you. That’s so important. Having somebody believe in you gives you that extra oomph.” It’s not just about setting new goals either. It’s about moving up. The Swim Strong club team was founded in Strongsville in 2008. Colwell jumped on board in 2010 and brought it to Brunswick when he took over the program. As for the Blue Devils, they lose only Vanessa Pasadyn and Vance to graduation after this weekend. “It’s great. Having the underclassmen achieving so much,” Colwell said. “Having Nikki, having Cassandra, having Felicia, having Bri Costanzo come so far, we’re reloading. We don’t even have to rebuild. Vanessa and Jenna are a huge loss, but with those girls seeing what those other girls have done, we just keep building.”