Greenwich sent 18 swimmers into Wednesday night’s CIAC Class LL Championships at Southern Connecticut State University and it certainly capitalized on its superior depth.
With their athletes posting impressive performance in each event, the Cardinals captured title No. 2 of their season – the Class LL championship.
Amassing 785 points, Greenwich won the team title at the Class LL finals. Ridgefield placed second (610), followed by Glastonbury (581) in the ultra-competitive 19-team meet.
“We had a lot of fun tonight,” said Greenwich first-year coach Brendan Heller, whose team recently won the FCIAC championship. “It took 18 swimmers and four divers to do it and we had this marked on our calendar as a night we wanted to make pretty special and it was.”
The victory marked Greenwich’s first Class LL title since the 2018 season. Greenwich claimed the Class LL championship each year from 2010-2018.
The Class LL finals began with Greenwich’s 200-yard medley relay team of sophomore Payton Foster, freshman Michelle Weissler, senior Caterina Li and freshman Sena Bozkurt winning the race with a time of 1:47.14 and giving their team 60 important points. Amity finished second in 1:49.12.
In the 200-yard freestyle, senior captain Emma Robinson gave Greenwich a fifth-place finish, clocking in at 1:56.85. Cardinals junior Daisy Decker was ninth (1:57.04) and teammate Isabella Malchow, a senior captain, placed 10th (1:57.78). Sophomore Annabelle Guarnera was 13th in 1:59.68 for Greenwich, which scored plenty of points in the event, that was won by Glastonbury junior Avery Kudlac (1:52.25).
“A lot of freshman and sophomores competed in their first state championship and they rose to the occasion,” Heller said. “The three captains were incredible – Li, Malchow and Robinson all earned All-State honors and I couldn’t be more proud to see them have the performances they had tonight.”
Foster earned the bronze medal in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:03.60. Trumbull senior Lauren Walsh won the race, registering a time of 2:01.57. Cardinals sophomore Sydney Jee finished a strong eighth (2:09.75), followed by Li (ninth place, 2:08.25) and Weissler (2:10.45).
The 50-yard freestyle saw Staples freshman Annam Olasewer claim the gold medal, touching the wall in an eye-opening 22.67 seconds. Sophomore Sofie Wang had a seventh-place finish for the Cards in the race (24.76). Glastonbury junior Riley Kudlac was the runner-up (23.36).
Greenwich entered the meet in prime position to win the Class LL title, after its divers combined to earn 91 significant points at the Class LL diving finals last week at Middletown High School. Senior Annie Bingle placed second (461.80 points), junior Javiera Garcia was fourth (414.80), senior captain Esme Merrill finished seventh (357.85) and sophomore Mackenzie Newi was 10th (337.90).
In Wednesday night’s Class LL 100-yard butterfly title, Li placed fourth for the Cards in 57.28. Bozkurt had an eighth-place showing (59.19), while teammate Natsu Nishizawa, a sophomore, finished 13th (1:00.86). Kathleen Murray, a Fairfield Ludlowe sophomore, captured the Class LL title in the 100 butterfly with a time of 55.80.
Annam Olaswere of Staples earned top honors in the 100 freestyle, winning the event in 50.14. Glastonbury junior Riley Kudlac took the silver medal (51.07) and Wang finished fifth in 53.28. Decker was 13th (55.12) and Guarnera finished 14th (55.74).
Foster showcased her distance swimming talents to the state, winning the 500-yard freestyle title in 4:58.56, giving Greenwich 30 more points to its total. Robinson had a ninth-place finish (5:11.94) and teammate Samantha Ings, a junior, was 12th (5:24.42).
“Payton Foster was our only individual gold, yet we won by over 100 points, which goes to show the strength of a complete, deep team,” Heller said. “I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish.”
Decker, Bozkurt, Guarnera and Wang combined for a sixth place finish for GHS in the 200 freestyle relay (1:40.91), which was won by Staples (1:35.75). Malchow claimed the third-place medal in the 100 backstroke, clocking in at 59.18. Bozkurt finished fifth in 59.74, while Cardinals senior Sophia Sichtnik was 12th (1:04.58). Aislin Farris of Enfield-Somers won the LL title in the 100 backstroke (56.74).
Walsh was the 100 breastroke Class LL winner (1:02.69) and Weissler was the runner-up in 1:05.35. Right behind her was Jee (1:05.78). Sichtnik posted a seventh-place finish (1:08.02) and GHS sophomore Helena Kennedy was 12th (1:10.82).
In the 400 freestyle relay, Foster, Robinson, Li and Wang combined for a sparkling third-place finish in 3:29.61. Staples won the race in 3:28.54.
Besides being a championship meet, the Class LL finals served as a qualifier for the State Open Championships, which is scheduled to be held Sunday at Cornerstone Aquatics Center in West Hartford. The State Open meet is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.
“There are so many great swimmers and teams throughout the state, so we’re looking forward to the challenge of Sunday’s State Open,” Heller said.