Council Rock North girls swimming strokes way to 15th straight win over CR South (PHOTO GALLERY)

Council Rock North’s North’s Katie Erlandsen swims the 200 IM in Lady Indians’ 15th straight win over sister school CR South Feb. 3 at the CR North natatorium.   (John Gleeson – 21st-Century Media)

NEWTOWN – When the Council Rock School District split 15 years ago, many thought it would water down their fabled swim program. As evident in this year’s big season finale, the opposite happened. Instead of one monster program, Suburban One League (SOL) opponents are now faced with two Council Rock juggernauts.

Going into the showdown, the North and South boys teams sported 4-1 records, having both lost to two-time defending champ, Pennsbury. Both girls squads carried unblemished 5-0 marks into the big meet. A victory by either team would give them an advantage in the upcoming Feb. 18 conference championships.

One of the Lady Indians’ young stars, Ellie Brandbergh, sensed the meet’s importance. “South is one of our biggest rivals so we just wanted to go into the meet strong. Our coach (Greg Parker) had a meeting with us and said he believed in us a lot.”

The coach’s faith was based on the plethora of talent his squad possesses as well as the momentum they held having won the first 14 encounters between the sister schools. Still, there was an air of nervous tension filling the CR North natatorium in Newtown. As a freshman, Ellie’s jitters were understandable.

“I felt pretty good. We were all tired from so many practices throughout the week. I felt pretty nervous going in, but I was excited.”


The nerves quickly turned to productive energy as the Indians’ medley relay team consisting of Julia Goroshko, Katie Erlandsen, Ellie, and Jacqueline Rounsavill finished first in a time of 1:51.83.

This same quartet will represent Rock North in the districts. According to Ellie, “We’ve qualified for the districts. We’ve swum together all year. It’s the fastest swimmers in each stroke. We’ve really developed a strong bond.”

The Indians continued to rack up points with Victoria Wengler, Maggie Roberts and Paige Schluchterer sweeping the 200 free and Goroshko, Rounsavill and Lauren Bracey taking first, second and third, respectively, in the 50 free.

South kept the score close when Jenna Fox captured first in the 200 IM. Yuna Huh took third in the same race. After the Golden Hawks’ Phoebe and Emila Shaya placed first and second in the diving event, the score was a close 43-32 in favor of North.

As the athletes prepped for the second round of the swim events, Coach Parker encouraged his charges. “He said it was going to be a close meet and to go hard in the races. He said the second, third and fourth places would matter.”

Ellie followed her usual routine as she prepared for the first post-diving event, the 100 butterfly. “I try to forget about being nervous and focus on my races. I plan my race and how I’m going to pace myself and try and save energy for the end. I warm up during the 10-minute break. I stretch a lot behind the block and get pumped up.”

The strategy worked as Ellie took second in the 100 butterfly just three-tenths of a second behind South’s Yuna Huh. She then captured first in her favorite event, the 100 backstroke, a race she has already qualified in for districts.

“Backstroke has always been my best stroke. The key is using your walls and keeping your tempo up.”

Rock North cruised to their 15th straight rivalry win, taking first in five of the final seven events. Goroshko won the 100 free, Wengler took the 500 free, the 200 free relay team of Goroshko, Brandbergh, Bracey and Rounsavill captured gold, and Rousavill won the breaststroke.

The entire Indian squad was pleased with the 108-75 conquest, “We were really happy, especially for our seniors winning their final North/South meet. We were happy with the outcome because we were nervous coming in.”

The Golden Hawk boys gave South a split for the day, taking their meet by a 112-93 score. Multiple winners for the Hawks were Greg Roytman (100 free and 200 free), Josh Belder (200 IM and 200 medley relay), and Ian Palau (100 backstroke and 200 medley relay).

With the regular season over, Ellie and the rest of the Council Rock North armada will set sail for the SOL championships and then the districts. “We have to win the SOLs, which is a meet with everyone in the league. Most of the people on the team taper. I’ll taper a few days before the SOL meet, just to rest because our main focus will be districts.”

Undoubtedly, both the Indians and the Golden Hawks will show that the Council Rock swim program is strong as ever.

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