The following is fifth in a series about former BPS athletes currently playing their sport in college.
Former Boston Latin Academy swimmer Tim Connolly came to Latin Academy head coach Mark Thomas in the seventh grade as what Thomas described as “a peanut.” Now with his freshman season of swimming at Bentley University under his belt, Connolly’s transformed from a “peanut” to the school’s record holder for the 200 backstroke.
Connolly “cracked” the previous record in last years North East 10 Conference championships with a blazing time of 1.54.56 seconds. He notes it as a very memorable moment of his young career at Bentley.
“I finished at the wall, looked up and everything finished and accumulated at that moment,” Connolly said in a recent interview. “It was like my entire swimming career coming together. It felt awesome.”
Aside from breaking the record, Connolly helped the Falcons take first place in 6 out of 9 meets and capture second place in that Northeast – 10 Conference Championships this past year. Connolly attributes his recent success in collegiate swimming to solid support from his experience at Latin Academy.
“Swimming at BLA with Mark really helped me when I started swimming at Bentley,” Connolly said in a recent interview. “Especially when preparing for back - to - back meets and just being part of a cohesive team.”
Connolly was a senior captain of his Latin Academy squad of sixty swimmers in 2012, where his experience as a 6 year veteran and solid relationship with longtime coach Thomas helped with his transition into collegiate sports.
“One thing I always admired in Timmy was how he benefitted in the atmosphere at BLA, and how its carried over to Bentley,” Thomas said. “When he was first starting off he really admired the older kids and it was clear that he wanted to be the best he could while he was here.”
Even during Connollys rookie season at Bentley, Thomas kept up with his former swimmer’s progress in the water. During a Latin Academy vs. Waltham meet held at Bentley last winter, Connolly even made an appearance and caught up with his old coach.
“Mark has over 30 years experience and knows a ton of people,” Connolly said.
“He helped me realize the different day to day process between collegiate and high school swimming. He was always very positive and supportive of me.”
Bentley swimming coach Mary Kay Samko also reflected Connolly’s improvements in the water this past year. She talked especially highly of his drive to get better each and every day.
“I didn’t expect such success to happen when he first came to us in September,” Samko recalled. “But as the season progressed, it was his goal to set the school record, and he went out and did it.”
Connolly is also the first leg for the Falcons in both the 200 and 400 team medleys, where Samko praises how he sets the tone for the rest of the team.
This summer Connolly lives in his hometown of Dorchester where he trains as a member of the Weymouth Whales swimming club.
As a student - athlete, Connolly notched a solid 3.0 G.P.A in his first year at a competitive Bentley University, and he hasn’t forgotten his Boston Public School roots.
“For all the BPS athletes now, no activity or sport is out of your reach," Connolly recalled. "There are people out there who will help you in the BPS community. No matter what activity or sport you want to participate in, you can do it.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.