Fall sports

Greenwich girls swim team tops Darien to finish the dual meet season undefeated

Going undefeated in the dual meet season, then winning the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open titles are among the Greenwich High School girls swimming team’s lofty goals this fall.

Well, the Cardinals met one of their goals today with a victory against a team it had circled on its schedule – FCIAC rival Darien.

Celebrating its Senior Day, Greenwich capped an undefeated dual meet/regular season, defeating Darien, 106-80, in an intense, championship caliber meet held at GHS.

With the triumph, the Cardinals finished their regular season with a record of 9-0.

“It was an exciting meet,” Greenwich coach Brendan Heller said. “Darien is a very good team and very well coached and they obviously come in here and they bring their ‘A’ game, so it was fun. It was a good test going into the postseason for us and I was very happy with how the team stepped up. It was Senior Day, so they brought it all together.”

Besides competing against Darien, a team the Cardinals will have to contend with to reach their postseason goals, GHS drew added inspiration from testing its skills on Senior Day.

“It was awesome, it really felt like we did the whole meet as a team,” said Emma Robinson, one of the Cards’ four senior captains. “It felt like we all swam and dove together. Every event, we were behind the blocks or on the sides cheering for each other.”

Greenwich and Darien swimmers cheer on their teammates during a meet held on Oct. 20, 2021 at Greenwich High.

Said Greenwich’s Bella Malchow, also a senior captain: “Senior Night is great, we’re doing a ceremony right now and our senior class is so close, we’ve grown up together. The whole team atmosphere is great, so it was very fun today to keep our attitude up and keep cheering. It’s a great end to the dual meet season.”

The Cardinals won eight of the 12 events today on their way to completing their regular season undefeated. Greenwich’s 200-yard medley relay team of freshman Sena Bozkurt, Michelle Weissler, senior Caterina Li and sophomore Payton Foster combined for a winning time of 1:50.18 to start the meet. Darien was second (1:51.77). Foster produced two individual first-place finishes, winning the 200-yard individual medley (2:07.30) and the 500 freestyle (4:58.29).

“It was a really, really tough meet,” Foster said. “Practice was so awesome, we’ve been training so hard knowing Darien was going to come in strong. It was really fun to be out there once again, with my teammates.”

Payton Foster helped the Greenwich girls swim team top Darien on Oct. 20, 2021.

Darien sophomore Miller Ward finished second in the 200 IM (2:09.69), followed by Cardinals sophomore Sydney Jee (2:13.25). In the 500 freestyle race, Ward was the runner-up (5:12.67). Senior Maggie Sedlak of Darien took first in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:59,32, while Robinson finished second (2:01.24).

“I swam 2 free and 5 free today and I have been swimming these events throughout the season,” Robinson said. “They were my best times today, but I was excited to go out there and race.”

Li, also one of the Cards’ senior captains, took top honors in the 100-yard butterfly, clocking in at 59.33. Emily Kalvaitis of the Blue Wave was a close second in 59.86 and Greenwich’s Natsu Nishizawa placed third (1:02.63). The 100-yard breaststroke race saw Weissler give GHS a first-place finish, followed by Jee (1:09.52) and Li (1:11.57).

Li was also part of Greenwich’s winning 200 freestyle relay, which included junior Daisy Decker, Robinson and sophomore Sofia Wang.

“It was really hard racing three races in the second half, but I was so happy with how energetic the team was and it brought me up and it was great racing,” Li said. “We have a long history with them and it’s really nice to race one of the best teams in the FCIAC and it was fun racing them and setting us up for a good FCIAC.”

Sofia Wang won the 100 freestyle for Greenwich in its meet against Darien.

The Cardinals held a 44-34 lead on Darien after placing first and third in the 1-meter diving event. Junior Javiera Garcia provided another winning effort on the board for the Cards, earning a score of 253.12 points after six rounds.

Junior Lilly Wurm was second (222.37) for Darien and Greenwich senior quad-captain Esme Merrill took third in the diving competition (217.65).

“We’ve had a diving team of state champions for years now and just being on the pool deck with such amazing people pushes you to do better and reach new height and greater dives,” Merrill said. “We’re very happy to have each other.”

Indeed, Merrill couldn’t have asked for a more fun experience during her senior year.

“My senior season has been the perfect culmination of four years,” Merrill said. “I’ve spent it with the same people. It’s definitely been energetic. Everyone is here to do their best and everyone knows the value of this team. So being here and watching everyone grow up and continue to improve has been so much fun.”

Greenwich defeated Darien in a meet featuring two undefeated FCIAC swimming/diving powers.

Junior Natalia Ferranto of Darien was the 50 freestyle winner (26.23) and Wang took second for Greenwich (25.46), followed by Bozkurt (25.72). Wang won the 100 freestyle in 55.03 and Malchow touched the wall first in the 100 backstroke for the Cardinals, who led 89-68 after the backstroke race.

Greenwich’s next challenge is the FCIAC Championships, which it will host.

“I’m very proud of our efforts today,” Malchow said. “Darien is amazing, we knew they were going to be strong, but I think all of our effort has been paying off and I’m really excited for the championship season.”

“We’re all training super hard and pushing each other in practice and I think we’re going to have some great times at the championship races,” Robinson noted.

Olivia Baine, Annie Bingle, Paulina Finz, Francesca Kim, Olivia Knapp, Caterina Li, Bella Malchow, Lindsay Muldoon, Evangeline Norman, Daniela Pompa, Lauren Priest, Emma Robinson and Sophia Sichtnik are the Cardinals’ seniors that were recognized on Senior Dday.

“I’m really happy right now with how our team is doing,” Foster said. “It’s such a great group of girls and we push each other hard during practice. It was awesome to come here and do so well.”

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