Glastonbury High School senior Brooke Sowka said she wouldn’t know what to do without swimming.
So, Sowka decided to follow Dory’s advice from Finding Nemo to ‘just keep swimming’ by committing to compete with the Friars of Providence College for the next four years.
“I’ve always known I wanted to swim collegiately,” stated Sowka. “I couldn't imagine not swimming in college because I have done it for so long and it’s such a big part of my life.”
Despite always knowing she wanted to swim at the next level, Providence wasn’t on her radar until she visited the campus.
“I liked the coaches and the atmosphere of the school,” said Sowka. “On my official visit, I met the whole team and it just felt really right.”
During her time at GHS, Sowka was a versatile swimmer that head coach Suzie Hoyt praised for her work ethic, calling her “incredibly coachable.”
“When she’s in the pool she is working her hardest to get to where she wants to be,” added Hoyt, who recalled seeing
Sowka’s passion for the sport as early as her freshman year. “She has always had that drive and she is very encouraging to the other girls.”
During her time at GHS, Sowka excelled at both mid and long distances, recently placing 4th overall at the Class LL state finals in the 500 freestyle this past fall.
She was also part of a pair of record-breaking relay teams at GHS, teaming with Avery Kudlac, Riley Kudlac, and Annika Paluska to break the GHS pool record in the 200 Medley Relay with a time of 1:51.30 in 2020. This past fall, she joined the same trio to break the school record in the 400 Freestyle Relay with a time of 3:28.00.
Sowka said the 400 free relay event was her favorite because it had “the best energy.”
“It is the last event at the meet and everyone is so tired,” stated Sowka. “You have to give all that you can and there is so much adrenaline because everyone is so excited.”
Sowka and the 4x4 relay team peaked in their final conference finals, winning the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) East title in the event, beating the runner-up from East Catholic High School by over 30 seconds. As a team, the Guardians would win the conference for an 11th straight season.
Sowka, who also swam for Laurel East Hartford YMCA (LEHY) club team in the offseason, said the unique, welcoming nature of the team at GHS is what she will miss the most.
“It’s a different environment. We are all so close and we would motivate each other to get through practice and in meets,” added Sowka, who has embraced the year-round commitment to the sport.
“When I was really little it was something to do for fun and I didn't want to do it as my main sport, but I’ve grown to love it,” said Sowka, who first started swimming at age six. ”Now that I have been doing it for so long, even if I have a two-week break between seasons or if I can’t practice because I’m sick, it feels weird. I’m always excited to go back and I don’t like being away for that long.”
Sowka will have plenty of time to devote to the sport in Rhode Island when she joins a program at Providence that competes in the Big East Conference, featuring powerhouse Villanova, who have won nine straight conference titles.
The Friars are led by head coach John O’Neill, who has been leading the swimming and diving program for over three decades, and assistant coach Margaret Howe, who recruited Sowka to the school.
“I’m excited to put more focus on swimming, I will be practicing so much more and there are so many more resources I can use as a college athlete,” said Sowka, who will study finance. “It will be a lot more intense than I’m used to, but I can’t wait.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin