Following a victory at the FCIAC Championships, Greenwich High School’s girls swimming team has its sights set on title No. 2 this season.
That would, of course, be the CIAC Class LL championship.
Producing strong performances at the Class LL preliminaries this past Saturday, Greenwich is one of the teams to beat at Wednesday’s Class LL finals, which is scheduled to take place at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven at 6 p.m.
“We had 18 girls compete and all 18 made it back for at least one race in the final, most of them two,” Greenwich coach Brendan Heller said. “We have 13 races in the A final, 13 races in the B final and four races in the C final, so we are stacked up pretty well. We set ourselves up to be successful at the finals in our prelim races, which is the name of the game. So we’re pretty happy about that.”
Finishing the FCIAC championship meet with a flurry, Greenwich won the team title at the conference meet with 405 team points. Therefore, the Cardinals entered this past Saturday’s Class LL preliminaries with plenty of momentum and hope to continue to soar in Wednesday’s finals. The CIAC Class LL Championships also serves as a qualifier for Sunday’s State Open Championships at Yale University.
“Winning the FCIAC championship – it was was a great confidence-boost and we were really proud,” Heller said. “The fact that we won by 65 points, after only being ahead by eight with three events to go – it was good for our confidence.”
Ridgefield and Glastonbury are among some other teams that are expected to contend for the Class LL team title, after turning in impressive performances at the preliminaries. Staples also should make its mark, especially in the relay events. Greenwich last captured the Class LL team championship in 2018. They won the Class LL title every year from 2010 to 2018.
The Cards are seeded first in the 200-medley relay. At the Class LL preliminaries, Payton Foster, Sophia Sichtnik, Sena Bozkurt and Michelle Weissler combined for a first-place time of 1:49.20, earning the top seed for Wednesday’s finals at Southern Connecticut State University. Amity is seeded second (1:50.18), followed by Hall (1:50.50).
“If we could start out by winning the medley relay again that would be prime for us,” Heller said. “So we want to start the meet out that way.”
Foster heads into the Class LL finals seeded first in the 200-yard individual medley and 500-yard freestyle. She posted the meet’s top time in the Class LL preliminaries with a time of 2:03.72. Trumbull senior Lauren Walsh is seeded second (2:03.91) in the 200 IM. Sophomore Sydney Jee (2:11.46, seeded eighth), Weissler, a freshman (2:12.47, seeded ninth) and senior Caterina Li (seeded 10th, 2:12.51) will also represent the Cardinals in the 200 IM at the Class LL Championships.
Senior Emma Robinson (ninth seed, 5:18.80), junior Samantha Ings (5:27.68) and Evangeline Norman (senior, 5:36.95) will compete in the 500 freestyle for the Cards.
“Payton Foster had great prelim swims to follow up on the FCIAC Championships,” Heller said. “She is the top seed in the 500. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is in striking distance of the state record – Class LL. She won the 200 IM (Class LL preliminaries) for the top seed. Walsh has senior strength, if Payton can hang with her it will be exciting.”
Robinson is seeded eighth in the 200 freestyle after clocking in at 1:15.16 in the race at the preliminaries and teammates Annabelle Guarnera, a sophomore (1:59.42) and junior Daisy Decker (2:00.03) are seeded ninth and 10th, respectively. Glastonbury’s Avery Kudlac (1:53.58) and Ridgefield’s Keira Giles (1:55.98) are the top two seeds going into the Class LL finals.
In the 50-yard freestyle, Cardinals sophomore Sofie Wang earned the a spot in the ‘A’ finals by placing seventh at the preliminaries with a time of 24.96 seconds. Teammates Daniela Pompa (senior, 26.36), Tess Furno (sophomore, 26.44) and Natsu Nishizawa (sophomore, 27.14) also qualified for the Class LL meet. Staples freshman Annam Olasewere won the event at the Class LL preliminaries, touching the wall in 23.15.
Li enters the championship meet seeded fourth in the 100 butterfly, after posting a time of 56.71 at the trials. Nishizawa will also swim the butterfly in the finals. Glastonbury’s Avery Kudlac is seeded first in the butterfly (56.71). Her twin sister Riley Kulac has the top-seeded in the 100 freestyle (51.72), Annam Olasewere is seeded second (52.53) and Wang is seeded third (53.38). Guarnera, Decker and Pompa are also going to race in the 100 freestyle for GHS.
“Ridgefield is still very tough,” Heller said. “Glastonbury was lights out at the prelims and they are going to be very tough. We’re doing a great job of staying focused on what we have to do and following it to a ‘T’. Hopefully, we can keep taking care of business.”
The Cardinals received a significant boost in the team points department by their divers going into the Class LL meet. Senior Annie Bingle placed second on the 1-meter diving board at the LL finals (461.80), junior Javiera Garcia was fourth (414.80), senior Esme Merrill finished seventh (357.85) and Mackenzie Newi (sophomore, 337.90) placed 10th, giving Greenwich key points.
“We did great in diving and diving has added valuable points for us all year,” Heller said. “Our divers have been outstanding all season.”
Weissler, a freshman, had a second-place finish for Greenwich in the 100 breaststroke at the LL preliminaries (1:05.69). Walsh of Trumbull is the top seed (1:03.21) and Greenwich’s Jee (1:06.86) and Sichtnik (1:09.04) are seeded fourth and ninth, respectively. Bozkurt (59.33) and senior Isabella Malchow (59.50) are the third and fourth seeds, respectively in the 100 backstroke.
“We want to have our best meet of the season and get as many as we can into the State Open,” Heller said. “Southern Connecticut State University is a good environment for racing. If we’re competing pretty well and winning tight races in our meet Wednesday night, then we’ll feel good going as we wait around to see who makes the Open.”