By Chuck Frye
---- — CAMBRIDGE — With a long history of success, Andover grabs a lot of the headlines where swimming is concerned.
Sarah Broderick was determined to claw her way into the spotlight.
The Haverhill High senior fulfilled her lofty goals at yesterday’s Division 1 state meet by repeating as 50-yard freestyle champion and adding a title in the 100 backstroke.
She joined Andover’s Maggie D’Innocenzo and Chelmsford’s Caitlin Sheridan as the only double winners in the meet.
“That was my goal going in,” Broderick said. “I had tough competition so I knew it was going to be rough. I’m just happy it turned out the way I wanted it to.”
“Sarah was absolutely fantastic,” said Hillies head coach Rick Battistini. “She stepped up and raced great in the 50 free, then her effort in the backstroke was just amazing.”
A fast start gave Broderick all the adrenaline she needed.
“I started doing pretty well in the backstroke in the (200 medley) relay,” said a humble Broderick, who turned over the lead to her teammate after that initial leg as the Hillies finished third. “That got me excited and pumped up for my other races.”
After holding off state 100 freestyle record-setter Virginia Burns of Brockton to win the 50, then edging Methuen’s Rachelle Gauvin to take the 100 backstroke, Broderick surged from the blocks for a two-second lead after her initial leg in the 400 freestyle relay. Haverhill came in fourth in the day’s final event.
“In the relays, every single time out we try to break the school record,” said Broderick. “That’s what we say to ourselves, and (yesterday) we broke the medley record and I think the 400 freestyle record, too, so it worked out.
“I’m really satisfied with all four years of my high school career. I’m just so happy that I did so well.”
And Broderick will have more shots at glory after accepting a partial scholarship to complete at UNH next fall.
When asked if she discussed her immediate future with her college coaches, Broderick smiled and said, “I’m probably going to be in the sprint races. It’s what I like to do.”
And it’s what earned her two state titles.
Joy through the pain: After a physically and emotionally draining season, Haverhill’s Rick Battistini enjoyed a successful finish.
“We had our best season in 10 years, since we tied Andover in a dual meet to break their streak,” the head coach said. “The girls trained incredibly hard and were tremendously dedicated. Then to come in here (at the state finals) and have almost 100-percent lifetime bests ... it’s one of the biggest thrills of my career.”
Among the quality efforts of his athletes, he also had praise for assistant coach Greg Steinberg as he propped up the Hillies program while Battistini battled challenges outside the pool.
“Greg did a great job while I was out (for two weeks) dealing with an injury, and he stepped up when my dad passed away the day before the sectional tournament. He helped out a lot and he’s THE best assistant coach in Massachusetts,” said Battistini.