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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton swimming brings home another state trophy

Jun 02, 2023 09:35AM ● By Jerry S. Christensen

A decade of hard work pays off as Hanna Sasivarevic becomes state champion in 200 freestyle. (Photo Amy Henderson-Nielson)

Brighton High School has a strong, successful swimming program and is consistently ranked among the top programs in the state. This year was no exception as the boys team brought home the 5A second-place trophy. The girls team took sixth in state.

This marks the 59th time that Brighton teams have produced a finalist swim team according to UHSAA records. Forty-seven of those finalist teams owned state titles (24 for girls swimming and 23 for boys swimming). This year's boys team added to the cache of 12 second-place trophies. The team was bested only by rival Skyline—a formidable opponent whose program has 29 state titles to its credit (16 girls titles and 15 boys titles). 

The standout individual swimmer, however, emerged from the Brighton girls team. Senior Hanna Sasivarevic won the 200 freestyle and took second in the 100 freestyle. Her mother, Subra Sasivarevic said, “Watching my daughter Hanna swim competitively for 11 years and progressively improving, dedicating 18-plus hours every week, facing challenges to reach her goals makes me so proud to be her mom.”

Amy Henderson-Nielson, another “swim mom,” puts it in literary terms. “Fatigue, sore muscles and bottomless snack choices equal familiarity to a swimmer. They own it and know the end result will get them a faster time to participate and accomplish goals in yearly high school state competitions. Parents watch with exhaling relief as their swimmer stretches toward the final  stroke of commitment. This is worth the early morning mumbles of good morning, ice packs, expense and tight schedules. On a personal side, the lingering hugs that reassure and offer comfort after a difficult meet or practice, car rides to and from practice where there may be conversation or not, but having time seems priceless in hindsight. These swimmers are bright, they embrace free time together and have an undoubted respect for their coaches.” 

Coach Todd Etherington received a familiar individual award, the 5A Swim Coach of the Year.  A Brighton swimmer himself, Etherington is a multi-year winner of this distinguished honor.  Characteristically, he defers comments about his award in favor of pointing out that Sasivarevic broke long-standing school records in her path to an individual state title—the 50 meter freestyle (last broken in 1988) and the 100 meter freestyle. Sasivarevic has signed to swim at Colorado Mesa University, he said. 

The boys team produced heroes of its own including the state champions in both the 200 and 400 freestyle relay events: Drake Doyle, Austin Partridge, Gavin Smith and Bridger Nielson. The lone senior on this exceptional relay team, Nielson, has signed to swim at the University of Missouri St. Louis. 

Supporting the Bengal wave at state with placement and points were:

-Hanna Sasivarevic, Lucy Kokeny, Andrea Zurias, Audrey Bradley second in 200 freestyle relay

-Audrey Bradley fourth in 200 freestyle 

-Drake Doyle third in 200 freestyle

-Austin Partridge seventh in 200 freestyle

-Benjamin Shiffman sixth in 200 IM

-Bridge Nielson third in 50 freestyle

-Gavin Smith sixth in 50 freestyle

-Gavin Smith seventh in 100 butterfly

-Hannah Sasivarevic second in 100 freestyle

-Drake Doyle third in 100 freestyle

-Bridger Nielson sixth in 100 freestyle

-Austin Partridge eight in 100 freestyle

-Audrey Bradley fourth in 500 freestyle

-Ethan Bangerter eighth 500 freestyle

-Laun Barnard sixth in 100 backstroke

The Brighton swim team has a strong sense of camaraderie and team spirit. Swimmers are encouraged to support and motivate one another, and the team regularly participates in community service and team bonding activities.

“Parents watch 100,000 hours of swimming (meets) to see their kid swim for a total of five hours over the years. It’s awesome to see those seconds count and their hard work pay off,” said Tiffany Smith, swimmer Gavin Smith’s mother. λ