Fall sports

Greenwich girls swimming team placed a strong second at the Class LL finals; State Open Championships next for Cardinals

Contributed photo: Greenwich High School’s girls swim team was all smiles after posting an impressive second place finish in the team standings at the CIAC Class LL Championships on Nov. 16, 2022, in West Hartford.

Receiving numerous impressive performances, Greenwich High School’s girls swimming team once again, made its mark in a big way at the CIAC Class LL Championships, which was held this past Wednesday at Cornerstone Aquatics Center in West Hartford.

The Cardinals, who entered the Class LL finals having won the team title at the meet 10 of the last 11 times it was held, placed a solid second in the team standings, in what coach Brendan Heller described as a “growth year.”

“This was a big growth year for us to go out and take second in the state’s largest division – that’s exciting for us,” said Heller, whose squad features a lot of underclassmen.

Ridgefield, which recently won the team title at the FCIAC Championships, captured its first Class LL championship, finishing atop the team standings with 761 points. Greenwich placed second in the 19-team Class LL Championships with 627 points, followed by Glastonbury (483 points). Ridgefield’s victory marked the first time a team other than Greenwich or Cheshire claimed the Class LL title since New Canaan won it in 1978.

Contributed photo: Greenwich’s girls swimming team gathers after excelling at the CIAC Class LL Championships.

“It was awesome, we hung with Ridgefield a little bit,” Heller said. “We were only down by nine points going into the 100 butterfly. We only had six kids back from the state championship meet from last year and we had 15 kids score last night, so the future is bright.”

The Class LL Championships also served as a qualifier for today’s State Open Championships, which takes place at Yale University with a starting time of 2 p.m. Greenwich won the State Open team championship in 2021 and is aiming for a top-five finish in the standings today, which will see Ridgefield, Glastonbury, Darien and Cheshire also vying for top spots.

The Cardinals’ main highlight at the Class LL Championships came during the meet’s first event – the 200-yard medley relay. The quartet of junior Annabelle Guarnera, junior Sydney Jee, freshman Melissa Geiger and senior Daisy Decker combined for a winning time of 1:49.16 in the 200 medley relay, giving the team 60 important points.

“That was very exciting, because we didn’t win any relays at FCIACs and we knew that Ridgefield and Staples were pretty fast in the freestyle relays, so we took our shot in the medley,” Heller said. “We were happy that we were able to pull it out.”

“That was huge for the team and it was a momentum-boost for the team, especially with so many first timers making it to the state finals, to see our team go out and win the first race of the meet – we showed that we were ready to go out and have a good night,” Heller continued.

Contributed photo: Greenwich’s girls swimming team gathers around the plaque after placing second at the Class LL meet.

Greenwich is seeded fourth in the 200 medley relay in today’s State Open Championships. Darien is seeded first (1:46.59). In the 200-yard freestyle at the Class LL finals, Decker had Greenwich’s best finish, placing 11th in 1:55.81. Sophomore Annam Olaswere won the 200 freestyle title with a time of 1:47.96.

“I was definitely happy with the 200, I broke my time of 1:56, it took three years to do that,” Decker said. “Overall, I was thrilled with how I swam and it was great to win that medley in the first race.”

Decker and Guarnera will compete in the 200 freestyle at today’s State Open. In the 200-yard individual medley at the Class LL Championships, Jee earned the silver medal, clocking in at 2:09.48. Ridgefield’s Riley McGerald claimed the first-place medal with a time of 2:09.08.

“I think it was amazing, I think everyone did so well and gave it their all,” Jee said of the Class LL finals. “As a team, we came together and used each other to build up our confidence and give it our best. I was really excited to swim and for the first time in the season, shaved and tapered.”

Sophomore Emma Stehmann placed 11th for GHS in the 200 IM. Jee is seeded 10th in the 200 IM in today’s State Open. At the Class LL meet, Wesley Wales, a freshman, finished fifth for the Cards in 24.69 seconds. She’ll race in the event today at Yale at the State Open. Kathleen Murray of Fairfield Ludlowe won the event in 23.44.

Sydney Jee is one of 11 swimmers that will represent Greenwich today at the State Open.

“Wesley Wales come up huge, she went a lifetime best and just keeps getting faster,” Heller said. “She did awesome.”

The Class LL Diving Championships was held on Nov. 10 at Sheehan High School. Junior Ava Vranos finished fifth on the 1-meter diving board for GHS at the Class LL Championships, totaling 389.90 points. Senior Javeira Garcia was seventh (386.85) and junior Elizabeth Scharff was eighth (381.30). The State Open Diving Championships was held this past Thursday. Vranos posted an eighth-place finish (389.90), Garcia placed 10th (386.85) and Scharff was 12th (381.30). Kaitlyn Maggio, a New Canaan senior captured the State Open diving title (511.35).

Geiger had Greenwich’s top finish at the LL finals in the 100 butterfly (fifth, 1:00.27), while teammate Garyn Finz, a sophomore, took 11th (1:00.45). Geiger will represent the Cards in the butterfly in the Open.

Wales was seventh in the 100 freestyle race at the LL finals, posting a time of 54.06. She’ll race again in the event at today’s State Open competition. Decker (5:12.88), Geiger (5:19.39) and senior Samantha Ings (5:19.54) were fifth, ninth and 10th, respectively for GHS in the 500 freestyle at the Class LL competition. Decker and Geiger will race today at the Open in the event.

“I definitely want to break 5:12 in the 500, but overall, I’m happy with where I am this season,” said Decker, who is looking forward to competing at Yale for the first time.

“I think it’s going to be a great meet and I’m excited about going to a new pool,” she said.

In the 200 freestyle relay, Wales, Jee, Stehmann and junior Tess Furno combined for a fifth-place finish at the Class LL championship meet (1:40.67). Ridgefield won the race in 1:35.62. Greenwich is seeded ninth in the 200 freestyle in the Open.

Daisy Decker will represent Greenwich’s swim team at the State Open in several events.

Finz was 12th in the 100 backstroke at the LL finals (1:03.76), while Jee (1:06.48) and Stehmann (1:09.68) were third and seventh, respectively, for the Cards in the 100 breaststroke. Jee is the No. 6 seed in the backstroke in the State Open.

“Everyone was cheering and everyone was excited for everyone at LLs,” Jee said. “I think we did amazing, considering we’re a very young team. So, getting second place was amazing.”

Wales, Decker, Geiger and Guarnera were fourth in the 400 freestyle at the LL competition (3:38.50). They head into today’s State Open seeded sixth in the race.

“The environment was fun and exciting,” Heller said of the Class LL Championships. “We brought a lot of energy and that helped our team perform well.”

The atmosphere should also be electric at today’s State Open, which will have a very large crowd.

“I’ve never swam there, so I’m really excited,” Jee said. “My older brothers (Ryan and Jack, past members of Greenwich’s boys swim team) had a chance to swim there, so I’m happy to follow in their footsteps.”

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