Halfway through its season, the Greenwich High School boys swimming/diving team finds itself in a very familiar situation – undefeated and cruising toward another perfect regular season.
The Cardinals, winners of eight consecutive State Open and CIAC Class LL team titles and 51 FCIAC championships over the past 52 seasons, kept its unbeaten 2022-2023 season going with a highly impressive triumph against visiting Ridgefield on Friday in a meet featuring numerous eye-opening times.
Greenwich upped its record to 5-0 with a decisive 117-68 win over a strong Ridgefield squad, one of its rivals in the FCIAC. Coach Terry Lowe’s Cardinals won nine of the meet’s 12 events on their way to victory.
“I couldn’t be more delighted with how we swam,” Lowe said. “This was a big win against a very good team. We have good balance. The three relays shows we have the ability to go for all three and in the championship meets that what you want.”
Indeed, the Cardinals registered speedy times in winning all three relay events and received a boost from its senior captains throughout the meet, held at Greenwich High School. Liam Flaherty and Aiden Bucaria won two individual events apiece for the Cards.
Flaherty, a senior captain, won the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:55.94, then finished first in the 100-yard backstroke (53.46) for GHS. Ridgefield’s Max Wolfenden placed an extremely close second in the 200 IM (1:55.96), while teammate Derek Yim was the runner-up in the 100 backstroke (55.73).
“The 2 IM was close down to the wall, right down to the finish,” Flaherty said. “So, I have to work on the freestyle to see if I can get back faster. The season has been going great so far. I’ve been training hard. It’s great to see people break out of their comfort zones and do races they don’t normally do.”
Greenwich’s depth was on display throughout the meet, which saw each event be hotly contested.
“It’s a tough meet and we were a little stressed, but we came out on top and that was great,” Flaherty said. “Everyone put in the work. I’m in a good place to drop, taper – these are all solid times for the midseason.”
Bucaria, a senior captain, earned the meet’s top time in the 100-yard freestyle, clocking in at 47.21, then won the 100 breaststroke in 59.66. Max Wolfenden of Ridgefield placed second in the 100 freestyle (48.45) and Tigers teammate Shaun Li was the runner-up in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.27). Greenwich junior Kegan Clark took third in the 100 freestyle (48.53) and teammate Luke Mendelsohn was the third-place finisher in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.53).
“Coming into this, we knew Ridgefield was going to be one of the most challenging meets of the season,” Bucaria noted. “All week, we had exams, but we all stayed focused. We all came to practice each day and still worked hard and we clearly showed that in the pool.”
The meet commenced with Flaherty, Bucaria, Evan Belmont and Noah Barrett combining to win the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:37.92. In the 200-yard freestyle, the Tigers received a first-place finish from Jack Clancy, who touched the wall in 1:43.38. Cardinals senior captain Felix Flakstad finished second with a time of 1:46.39, followed by Clark (1:47.66).
Barrett, a sophomore, was the 50-yard freestyle winner for the Cards, posting an impressive time of 21.99 seconds. Ridgefield’s Matthew Weiner finished second in the race (22.31), while GHS senior captain Evan Belmont was third (22.73).
“I really enjoyed today’s meet,” Barrett said. “I got some good times in and I got to see some good swims. I feel good about my time in the 50-freestyle. It shows an improvement for me and I’m ready for the end of the season to see how it goes.”
Barrett also had a second-place finish in the 100 butterfly (53.86), which was won by Ridgefield’s Matthew Weiner (51.97).
On the 1-meter diving board, Cardinals senior Jayden Satir scored 242.10 points, which was good for a first-place effort. Satir was consistently in all six rounds of the diving competition. Teammate Jacob Winston, a junior, finished second with a score of 217.65. The Cardinals have a powerful diving squad, which also features senior standout Whitaker Grover, who didn’t dive against Ridgefield. Grover is the defending CIAC State Open diving champion.
“The season is going great, I am here every practice, putting in the work and I’m trying to keep upping my degree of difficulty,” Satir said. “It is pretty high, but I want to get it higher. Our diving team is very strong. They have all improved so much this year since last year, which is great to see.”
Clancy finished first for the Tigers in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:39.63 and GHS senior captain Felix Flakstad was second in 4:50.73. Mendelsohn took third in the race in 1:02.53.
Belmont, Flakstad, Clark and Barrett teamed up to win the 200-yard freestyle relay against the Tigers in 1:28.73. Flakstad, Clark, Flaherty and Bucaria gave GHS a winning performance in the 400 freestyle relay (3:12.19).
“With winning all three relays and having a lot of fast swims from the younger and older guys, it was a good meet for our team,” Bucaria said. “We all put some fast times up.”
Greenwich competed against non-conference rival Fairfield Prep today in Fairfield. The Cardinals are in action against FCIAC opponents Danbury and Norwalk/McMahon next week, as they continue their march toward another undefeated regular season.
“Our goal is the same every year,” Bucaria said in reference to the team vying for the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open titles. “We’re not slowing down.”