BY SAMANTHA ELLIOTT
Twenty-five years ago, the Grosse Ile swim team was a one-woman show. Current Coach Jerry Bringard coached his daughter on that team before she went on to be a three-year All American swimmer at Hillsdale.
Fast forward a few years and Bringard is still on the pool decks with a slightly larger team that is making a name for itself as the years go on.
The Red Devils took to the waters on Sept. 29 at the inaugural Downriver Classic at Allen Park. There, Grosse Ile finished second with 246 points behind first-place Trenton which finished with 310.
Roosevelt was third with 182 points and Woodhaven (164), Carlson (162), Riverview (121), Allen Park (112), Lincoln Park (31) and Huron (28) rounded out the teams.
Junior Jamie Benson led the way on the day with a dominating four-gold medal finish; the most of any swimmer at the meet. Individually, she won both the 50 free (25.03) and the 100 fly (1:02.34). She then paired up with teammates Andrea Blanzy, Alyssa Lauth and Anna Finazzo to take the 200 free relay.
The team edged rival Trenton by 33 hundredths of a second to finish with a pool record of 1:54.05.
“That was sort of a grudge match,” Bringard said. “At the Wayne State relays at the beginning of the year, we had beaten them in the medley, but lost by a whisker in the 200 free.
At the Downriver Classic though, the Red Devils took both.”
Benson, Blanzy and Finazzo teamed up with Kathleen Christnagel to edge Trenton by 75 hundredths of a second with a finish of 1:44.17.The relay swimmers went on to finish with strong individual days as well. Lauth finished second in the 100 breast (1:11.69) as well as fourth in the 200 IM (2:27.38). Finazzo was fourth in both the 100 free (58.53) and the 50 free (26.18) and Christnagel was sixth in the 200 free (2:10.51) and third in the 100 free (58.52). Blanzy finished sixth in the 500 free (5:51.65) and seventh in the 200 free (2:11.52), and Christnagel and Lauth teamed with Emma Hutchison and Zoe Neilson to take fourth in the 400 free relay (4:10.16).
Individually, Hutchin-son finished eighth in the 100 back (1:13.39) and ninth in the 100 free (1:02.17) and Neilson was seventh in the 100 breast (1:17.82). Abbey McNeill rounded out the top-10 Grosse Ile finishes with an eighth-place finish in the 200 IM (2:35.19). On the diving board, Sara Cook led the way with her second-place finish of 330.10 points and Allie Grave finished fourth with 299.05 points.
Bringard was most pleased with his girls’ team efforts at the invitational and thrilled to continue to own the 200 free for the fourth consecutive year.
Currently the Red Devils sit on a 7-1 record after a loss to a tough Milan team and have five swimmers who have made state meet cuts with their times and Bringard hopes to have a few more with close times make the