Greenwich’s boys swimming team wasn’t able to add to its expansive collection of CIAC Class LL and State Open titles the past two seasons, since they were shortened due safety guidelines involving the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is especially looking forward to hopefully, having a traditional season with several postseason meets this winter.
“The only year I swam past FCIACs was my freshman year and it was an incredible experience and I want everyone to have that experience,” said Greenwich senior tri-captain Ryan Jee, who swam on the Cardinals’ 2018-2019 squad that won the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open championships as a freshman. “There’s no way to describe it, no better feeling.”
The Cardinals, who captured the FCIAC championship for the 50th time in 51 years last season, of course have their sights set on claiming another conference title, then winning both the Class LL and State Open championships this season.
“Our bar is always set at having an undefeated season, winning FCIACs and winning states as well,” GHS tri-captain Mic DiLascia said. “Of course, as usual everyone should be getting their personal-best times this year.”
Greenwich is certainly off to a good start on its quest to accomplishing its first goal on its list – an undefeated season. Showcasing their impressive depth, the Cardinals improved their record to 3-0 with a 133-53 victory against a solid Norwalk/Brien McMahon team on Monday.
On their way to the win, the Cardinals won 10 of the meet’s 12 events against their FCIAC foe. Guided by legendary coach Terry Lowe, who has coached the team to 50 FCIAC championships, Greenwich began the season with recent road victories over conference rivals Darien and Ridgefield.
“We have a lot of depth,” Jee said. “I feel really good about the team and it feels good to win our first home meet. We have a lot of depth in every event and I feel good about the season.”
Monday’s meet against Norwalk/McMahon began with Greenwich’s 200-yard medley relay team of Justin Jacob, Aiden Bucaria, Jee and Matthew Hake combining for a winning time of 1:39.64. Norwalk/McMahon placed second in 1:42.27. Greenwich’s 200 freestyle relay of Jee, Liam Flaherty, Luke Mendelsohn and DiLascia earned a first-place finish (1:31.75) and the Cardinals finished the meet with a victory in the 400 freestyle relay (Flaherty, Mendelsohn, DiLascia, Bucaria, 3:22.42).
“The relays are good, they are the type of times we expected this time of the season,” said Lowe, whose Cardinals have won the State Open and Class LL meet every year it was held since 2013. “All three relays look like they have nice balance.”
In the first individual event, the 200-yard freestyle, Flaherty, a junior transfer from Fordham Prep, won the race with a time of 1:49.32. DiLascia placed second for Greenwich in 1:52.70, followed by teammate Alex Khilko, a junior, (1:55.22).
The 200-yard individual medley saw Jee touch the wall first in 1:58.28. Senior David Ponce, who is in his first season on the squad, was the runner-up for GHS in 2:03.87, while teammate Felix Flakstad, a sophomore, was third (2:05.96).
“We have new additions of David Ponce and Liam Flaherty and David is a senior they are both great additions,” DiLascia said. “So, it adds a lot of depth to our team and makes practices more competitive as well.”
Said Lowe: “They (Ponce, Flaherty) give us a lot of versatility and have made a big difference early.”
Bucaria, a junior, was the 50-yard freestyle winner (22.95), while teammates Kegan Clark (23.83) and Jon Bergbaum (24.06) were second and third, respectively, in the race.
In diving action, Whitaker Grover, the defending FCIAC champion, placed first on the 1-meter board Monday, totaling 297.90 points over six rounds. Consistent throughout, Grover drew high scores on all of his front and back dives.
Diving was competitive Monday, as Norwalk/McMahon’s Ben Bradley, a junior, earned a score of 287.70 points, good for second place. Greenwich’s Jayden Satir, a junior, was third with a score of 256.28.
“Diving is our ace in the hole, we have very good divers,” Lowe said. “And there was really good diving competition today against Norwalk.”
Junior Kalen Anbar won the 100 butterfly race for Norwalk/McMahon with a time of 52.64 seconds and Flaherty finished second in 54.15, followed by Bucaria (55.33). DiLascia took first in the 100 freestyle (49.93), while Jacob, a senior tri-captain, was second (51.89).
Jacob is continuing his family’s Greenwich High swimming legacy. His father, a 1980 Greenwich graduate, swam for Lowe and was one of the captains of the team.
“It feels great, not only being a leader on the team and representing the Cardinals, but also my dad swam here in 1980 and was a captain,” Jacob said. “So to be able to see my name up there with him, it feels great and it’s a great experience. It shows what a great coach he (Lowe) is.”
Norwalk/McMahon junior Giancarlo Colistra took top honors in the 500 freestyle (5:04.89), while Cardinals senior Hunter Dauer was second (5:12.26). Anbar gave Norwalk/McMahon a first-place finish in the 100 backstroke (52.53), followed by Ponce (54.28) and Jacob (54.86). In the 100 breaststroke, Jee was the winner, clocking in at 1:03.01 and Hake finished second (1:05.36).
In Greenwich’s 111-72 road win against Ridgefield last week, Flaherty won the 200 IM (2:10.25), Ponce was the 50 freestyle winner (25.10), Grover was first in diving (280.10) and Ponce touched the wall first in the 100 freestyle (55.34).
“That was a roller coaster of a meet,” Jee said. “It was in meters, so it was a little bit of a change for us, but I think we adapted and we came out on top. We had some good swims and fought all the way to the end.”
Said Jacob: “I really like how we swam at Ridgefield. Being a team that’s expected to win and be on top, sometimes you can get lazy and if you go into a meet like Ridgefield and we don’t go out there with spirit, it’s really easy for them to sweep us under the rug and just get a win. So, the spirit that we have on the team and how bad everyone wants to win is great.”
Indeed, the captains are embracing their increased roles this season.
“It feels great to be a captain to show the younger freshmen and sophomores a good example,” said DiLascia, who also one of the captains the school’s water polo team this past fall.
“I’m looking forward to helping the underclassmen on the team mature and teach them what I’ve learned over the years,” Jacob said. As I’ve gotten older and been on the team longer, I’ve learned it’s less about individual achievements and more about the team. I’ve shifted those over to focus on the team and making sure everyone is doing their best.”