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Past, Present Come Together at Norwalk Swim Meet

NORWALK, Conn. – The Marie Corridon Mortell swim meet Saturday at Norwalk High School featured Fairfield County boys and girls 10-and-under who represent the champions of the future.

As much as the meet is about the present and future of area swimming, it is also about  the sport’s past. It is named after the only Norwalk athlete ever to win an Olympic gold medal. Mortell won hers in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay at the 1948 London Olympics. Three of Mortell’s daughters attended Saturday's meet and brought with them their mother’s gold medal and other memorabilia. The Olympic champion died in 2010.

The meet is run by Zeus Swim Club and coach Omar Cruz, who named the competition in Mortell’s honor last year. Teams from Greenwich, Stamford and Darien were among those competing. Mortell's daughters Sheila Stolarski, Kate Mortell and Margaret Montesi attended.

“This meet means a lot to our family,’’ Weston’s Stolarski said. “It’s really important to us. It’s a great idea that Omar had to honor her.”

Mortell was the most accomplished swimmer ever to come out of Norwalk. She won the national championship in the 100 freestyle in 1948 and again in 1950. The U.S. freestyle relay set an Olympic record in 1948 in London, which hosts the event again this year.

“It’s important to keep that history alive,’’ Stolarski said. “When she was living, people would call her every four years like clockwork. It’s nice to have an event where she can remembered every year.”

Seven of Mortell’s grandchildren are keeping the family’s swimming tradition vibrant in the pool. So does Stolarski, who was a multiple masters champion last year. More than anything, however, the meet promotes physical activity and teaches children that it’s possible to achieve their dreams.

“The sport is becoming so popular,’’ Stolarski said. “It’s great to show kids it’s possible. It’s all about trying to inspire kids to do their best in everything they do. They learn a lot just by trying.”

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