SWIMMING: Bracco faces test in 100-yard butterfly

Wes Watt

It is a little late in the year for butterflies. But butterflies are all that junior swimmer Nick Bracco is thinking about this week. As he’s preparing to move from the backstroke to the butterfly event Saturday.

Bracco placed last season in the National Independent Championships in the 100-yard butterfly, and he said that experience would give him confidence going into this meet.

Coach Bill Powell said the move is to counter the strong pair of seniors in Zach Hansen and Danny Brzozowski that Wisconsin-Green Bay will bring into Preston Center for the team’s first home meet of the season.

“He will have his hands full,” Powell said. “Nick is the kind of kid that will rise to the occasion.”

But Bracco is not expected to face the twosome alone, because across the rope will be junior Alex Handley.

Handley finished second in the 200-yard butterfly last weekend, but his second place time is just .59 seconds off Hansen’s first-place time.

In the diving event, Western may struggle as divers Kirk Scimone, Jarred Reardon and Michael Laake are still injured and unable dive. That leaves only three divers for the Tops to take to the boards.

Junior diver Andy Ray will be one of the three divers charged with the carrying the extra weight. But despite the loss he said the diving scores can play a factor.

“Even with three divers injured, we still think we can compete,” Ray said. “You don’t have them to fall back on.”

Powell said the injury stricken unit won’t cost Western the match because its strength in one event will collect a voluminous amount of points: freestyle.

In its opening meet last weekend the team took first, second and third in the three freestyle events. The Toppers were able to take second, third and fourth, then first and second in the other freestyle events.

Powell said the freestyle event is a vital part of his team strategy Saturday. Because of their depth, Powell said they can be successful.

“If you don’t have freestyle, you’re in a world of hurt,” Powell said.

Because Saturday’s meet is a men’s competition, they have extended the meet to sixteen events. But freestyle will stick with the usual five events.

Powell said he does not expect the length of the meet to play a part in the outcome. He said the freestyle events should be enough to propel Western to a marginal victory.

Bracco said the event would not be easy, but it should be a good experience builder for the Toppers.

“This weekend is a good change for all of us,” Bracco said. “It gives us a chance to move some people around.”

Reach Wes Watt at [email protected]