- Dear Abby
- Games & Puzzles
- Events & Exhibits
- Food & Drink
- Arts & Music
- Movies & TV
New Haven - Jessica Hespeler finished her 100-yard freestyle at Saturday afternoon's State Open swim meet and looked up at the scoreboard.
Best career time. Check.
Wave to her parents. Check.
Then she looked again.
"The diving board was in my way, I didn't see the '1' next to my name," said Hespeler, a Ledyard High School senior. "I actually didn't know I won. I wasn't expecting that at all."
Hespeler won two State Open events for the second straight season, capping her successful career with wins in the 200 freestyle (1 minute, 50.75 seconds) and the 100 (51.58).
Hespeler won the 200 at last week's Class M meet, but was third in the 100 behind Brookfield's Madeline Smart and E.O. Smith's Siobhan Dale. Smart was second Saturday (51.62) and Dale third (51.86).
"The second half of the race is my strongest," said Hespeler, who swam in lane 5. "My last 50 I had a really strong split coming back. I just got out there and went for it.
"I could see the girl in lane 4, who had been ahead of me the whole race. I just started sprinting."
Hespeler committed recently to swim next year for Virginia Tech, receiving a partial scholarship.
She was one of two swimmers to win multiple events at the Open, joining Olivia Leunis of Darien (200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke). Darien won the meet with 548 points. Ledyard was 22nd with 56 points.
Waterford sophomore Asia Langley was sixth in the 50 freestyle in 24.37 seconds and eighth in the 100 freestyle in 52.99.
"It was just an awesome meet," said Hespeler, who last year won State Open titles in the 200 and 500 freestyles. "My whole family came. My brother came. Girls from my team came. My grandparents. My parents. It was good to have the support."