Published July 31. 2013 4:00AM
Branford resident Todd Parker starred for the East Haven swim team from 1983 to 1986 and will be inducted into the Yellowjackets' Alumni Association Hall of Fame in November.
"It's definitely an honor, without a doubt," says Todd. "It came as a pretty good surprise. I thought it would never happen."
Todd began competitive swimming when he was 11 and was heavily involved with the New Haven Swim Club's Connecticut team during his junior and senior seasons at East Haven. He competed in all four strokes with butterfly being his best event. Todd holds East Haven's record in the 100 fly (57.6) and was also the Class L champion in the event, as well as being a part of the All-Housatonic and All-State teams.
"It's one of the toughest events and, when I got into that rhythm of the stroke, it wasn't that difficult for me," says Todd. "The key to that stroke was if you have a lot left on your last lap, then you're going to place pretty well. I just got that rhythm going. I did work hard, obviously, but I kept it as smooth as possible."
After graduation, Todd went to Southern Connecticut State University to study business management and was a four-year member of the Owls' swimming program. The yardage of the butterfly was upped from 100 to 200 yards, which made Todd's workouts that much more intense, enough to the point where, upon graduating, he decided to leave the pool.
"Swimming all those years, I just put it down for a while," says Todd. "I had my own business going doing landscaping so I had a lot of hard work going on there."
After an eight-year hiatus, however, Todd decided it was time to get back in the pool.
"I just decided one day that I needed to get back to doing something to stay active so I decided to get back in at that point. It was torture for the first month or so, but I just swam through it, kept going, and now, if I don't do it, it just doesn't feel right," says Todd, a member of the New Haven Fire Department the past six years. "I tried my share of running here and there, but it doesn't do it for me, so I just stick with the pool."
When he swims, Todd normally goes for about a mile-sometimes more if he's feeling ambitious-and every year he competes in open-water swims. In 2007, Todd placed in the top five for his age group in the Dave Parcells Open Mile Swim at Madison Surf Club and, more recently, finished in the top three the last two years in the event that's been moved to Lake Quassy.
Another way Todd uses swimming to keep active is by playing underwater rugby at the former East Haven High School swimming pool. He was recruited to play by Jose Bedova, who is the coordinator of all programs at the pool.
"Todd told me he was a swimmer and I talked to my boss and he remembered Parker, saying he was one of the best," says Bedova. "This guy's is a good swimmer. He's fast and has great lungs."