PREP SWIMMING JFK's Bertuzzi eyes state again
The senior has also received a scholarship to swim for YSU next season.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
WARREN -- Warren John F. Kennedy High's Becky Bertuzzi was getting ready for morning swim practice last January when her state tournament dreams hit a slight snag.
"I wasn't paying attention and I bumped into a wall," she said. "I dislocated my elbow and then it popped back in itself."
In a matter of seconds, her season was in jeopardy.
"I was out for about a week and I'm kind of a worrisome person," Bertuzzi, now a senior at JFK, said. "It was about three weeks before sectionals and I wasn't sure it was going to heal in time. I was really worried."
At first, she wasn't able to use her arm in the pool -- no small problem for a swimmer -- but did what she could to keep up her heart rate and stay in shape.
"I was a little slower at first and I didn't have a great time at sectionals," said Bertuzzi, who was trying to qualify in the 200-yard freestyle. "But the week between sectionals and districts, we tapered [cut back on training] and at districts I ended up with the best time of my life."
And when she saw her time?
"I was really, really, really excited," she said.
Had to wait for results
Her time wasn't good enough to automatically qualify her, so she had to wait until the next day to see if she could get an at-large bid.
"I was in about the 10th at-large position, so I didn't know until that Sunday after the district meet if I had made it," Bertuzzi, who had qualified for state as a freshman with one of JFK's relay teams, said. "It was really, really gut wrenching. I kept checking the Internet and they hadn't posted them yet and I didn't know if it was good enough.
"When I found out, it was a big load off my chest."
Bertuzzi didn't make it out of the preliminary heat at the state meet, but she had accomplished her main goal of just getting there.
Six months later, she accomplished another goal -- earning a scholarship to swim at Youngstown State.
She'll work with YSU swimming coach Jackie Bak, who coached Bertuzzi during her sophomore and junior years in Penguin Swimming -- the area's USA Swimming club team.
"During that time she went from being an average swimmer to one of the top swimmers in the area," Bak, who is also an Olympic assistant coach for Team USA, said. "She just keeps getting better."
Felt comfortable with YSU
Bertuzzi also considered Wittenberg, Kenyon and West Chester, but wanted to stay local. She often swims meets at Beeghly Center and after meeting YSU's swim team, she knew she had found her new home.
"The team gets along so well and I really liked working with Jackie," Bertuzzi said. "She's the best coach I've ever had."
Bertuzzi also wanted to stay close to her family. Her mother, Debi, has multiple sclerosis and is one of a large group of family members who watch her swim at high school meets.
Bertuzzi's immediate goal is to return to this year's state meet, but she brings more to YSU than just talent. She is also JFK's salutatorian.
"We really stress academics and being a real well-rounded individual and I think she'll fit right with us," Bak said. "She's just an all-around good person."