Maddie Bergin produced quite an introduction to her senior season on the North Haven girls swimming team, breaking a 13-year school record in the 100-yard butterfly during the squad’s recent season-opener against Hand.
“Breaking the 100 butterfly record had always been a thought in my mind,” said Bergin, who registered a time of 59.07 seconds in the 100 butterfly, breaking Alex Czaplicki’s mark of 59.30 set in 2007. “The race went well, I have been working hard on not just being a sprint freestyler, so I felt like all my hard work would pay off. I was very happy with my time.”
Record-setting swims didn’t stop there for Bergin, however. The very next meet against Cheshire she broke North Haven’s 200-yard freestyle record, posting a time of 1:53.92 to shatter Jamie Falco’s mark of 1:56.78 which was established approximately 15 years ago.
“I have been pacing myself and have also focused on swimming the distance events,” said Bergin, who has starred on the North Haven squad since her freshman season. “I’ve been working hard on competing in that event.”
Holding school records in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly, Bergin next had her sights set on breaking the program’s mark in the 500-yard freestyle race,
Bergin next had her sights set on breaking the program’s mark in the 500-yard freestyle race, which she did on Thursday against Amity.
She broke the school’s 500 freestyle record by posting a time of 5:05.08 on Thursday. The previous record in the 500 was established by Katie Armitage in 1995 (5:07.01).
Sprint events, distance races, relays, Bergin has excelled in each event she’s competed in during her distinguished high school career.
“Over the years, I’ve tried to become more versatile,” said Bergin, who also holds North Haven records in the freestyle leg of the 200 medley relay and was part of the program’s record-setting 200 freestyle relay.
Bergin, who placed third in the 50-yard freestyle (23.90 seconds) and fourth in the 100 freestyle (52.31) at the 2019 State Open, will soon have an opportunity to showcase her versatility at the collegiate level. In May, she made a verbal commitment to continue her swimming career at Fordham University. A Division I program, the Rams compete in the Atlantic-10 Conference.
“Fordham was my dream school, so to give my verbal commitment lifted so much weight off my shoulders,” said Bergin, who was the 50 freestyle (24.01) and 100 freestyle winner (52.31) at last year’s Class M Championships. “It has everything that I want in a college. I have talked to the team members, they are so welcoming and nice — I’m really excited about joining Fordham’s swim team.”
One of North Haven’s senior captains, Bergin sees herself racing in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle races at the collegiate level.
“Maddie is in such a great place,” said North Haven coach Martha Phelan, who guided the team to the Class M team title in 2019. “She has a great scholarship to go to Fordham, so having that out of the way, she’s totally enjoying the season. Maddie is fearless. She trains really hard and seems to be in a place where I don’t even need to tell her what to do anymore. She is on autopilot.”
GETTING HER START
The bond Bergin and Phelan share dates back to when Bergin was a 7-year old. Bergin joined Phelan’s Hamden Hall Aquatic Club team at the age of 7 and for the past four years has competed for both Hamden Hall and North Haven under Phelan’s tutelage.
She initially swam at Ridgetop Club — a summer pool club — as a youngster, before joining Hamden Hall Aquatic Club.
“When I started swimming, I was swimming for Martha’s daughter, Colleen Delaney at Ridgetop Club,” Bergin said. “She recommended me to swim with Martha at Hamden Hall. I was 7 years old and had never done competitive swimming. Martha welcomed me and she has been my rock ever since. I would not have achieved what I have so far without Martha.”
Having the same coach for both her high school and club team is an asset Bergin believes.
“It is definitely beneficial to me,” she said. “She knows what I need to do to get better and she is understanding of everyone’s abilities. Martha has helped me over the years with my freestyle and she’s taught me how to love other events as well. I’ve started to love the butterfly even more thanks to her.”
Phelan has enjoyed seeing Bergin’s significant development in the pool each year.
“It’s a joy to coach her, she’s what every coach would want in a swimmer,” Phelan said of Bergin. “She’s positive, she’s kind and I’ve had the good fortune of coaching Maddie in high school and my club team since she was 7 years old. It’s very emotional for me to see her flourish the way she has, then soon go on to swim at the collegiate level. It’s what I prepared her for and what she has worked for.”
ALWAYS IN TRAINING
Like most competitive swimmers, Bergin, who earned All-SCC, all-state and GameTimeCT.com All-State honors last season, follows an active training regimine. When high school is in session, she practices with North Haven for two hours after school and with Hamden Hall Aquatic Club from 5 a.m.-6:30 a.m. each day. Following the high school season, she continues her training at Hamden Hall Aquatic Club throughout the year two hours per day.
“Maddie’s determination is very impressive,” Phelan said. “Not many kids can talk about splits and really understand the concept. Maddie in training, really understands pace work and what splits I need her to do. It’s like a coach’s dream.”
Not being able to swim during a several-month span when pools in the state were closed due to COVID-19 safety guidelines was a daunting prospect for competitive swimmers.
“That lasted about three months, which was very hard for me,” Bergin said. “I would do workouts from home. We did all we could do keep ourselves fit and moving. It was definitely hard not being in the water. My biggest fear was that it would affect my ability in the fall season. I have definitely worked hard to get back to where I was before quarantine.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the high school swim season has a different look for squads across the state. In the SCC Conference, most of the teams are holding virtual meets. A virtual dual meet entails two teams swimming at their own pool on the same day. Race results are tabulated and the meet is scored.
“Virtual meets have definitely been very different,” Bergin said. “We have to learn to race the clock, not other opponents in the pool with us. Through these unprecedented times, our team is thriving. Everyone on our team is swimming to the best of their abilities. My fellow captains and I try to motivate the team as much as we can. We want to make our mark during our senior season. Knowing we only have a few chances, because the season is short, we want it to end well.”
Indeed, Bergin has extracted special memories from each of her four seasons on the North Haven team.
“Freshman year I was nervous my first day of practice, but I got through it and worked hard,” she said. “We were runner-up at the state (Class M) championship and I made friends on that team that I’ll always have. Sophomore year we had new members of the team, which are now my best friends. We were also runner-up that year, which lit a fire for our team to win a state championship.”
Last season saw North Haven capture the Class M championship, amassing 622 points. Besides winning the 50 and 100 freestyle Bergin anchored the Class M winning 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay.
“Winning the team’s first ever state championship last year was the single greatest achievement we had,” Bergin said. “Martha motivated us every single day, reminding us what we were working for. Completing our goal at the end of the season and winning the state championship was unreal.”
Since her freshman year, Bergin has been an SCC All-Academic Team selection. Last year, she was chosen for the USA Swimming Scholastic All-America Team.
She lists English and history as her favorite subjects.
“In the past, I took AP language and composition and U.S. history and civics — I like learning about interesting events around the world.”
Bergin plans on majoring in communications at Fordham and aspires to work in the journalism industry as a news anchor.
She appreciates the academic opportunities North Haven High School provides to its community.
“North Haven gives students many opportunities to take so many different classes,” she said. “The school caters to what every student wants. I have so many different options to choose from, which is so nice. All of my teachers have been very caring and helpful throughout the years.”
Bergin is also grateful to her parents Ellen and Chris for their support and her coaches Ken Pierson and Maria Zinoni at Hamden Hall Aquatic Club.
“I wouldn’t be here today without my parents and great coaches,” she said.
With her shortened senior swim season almost over, Bergin will enjoy her final team moments.
“I definitely think this season is all about being unified as a team,” Bergin said. “We have all been there for each other and we are continuing to focus on supporting each other.”