Sacred Heart Greenwich swimming/diving team captures team title at FAA Championships; Greenwich Academy places a close second in exciting meet

Contributed photo: The Sacred Heart Greenwich swimming and diving team gathers with the trophy after winning the team title at the FAA Swimming Championships, recently, at Hopkins School in New Haven.

The Sacred Heart Greenwich swimming/diving team’s success story began in early December when it defeated Canterbury School on the road and victories followed at an impressive pace since then.

The Tigers proceeded to post a perfect 15-0 regular season record, then continued their success in the postseason by topping six other squads in what was their biggest victory to date at an event they had their sights set on competing all season – the FAA Championship.

In the closest FAA championship meet in the history of the event, Sacred Heart Greenwich won the team title at the seven-team meet, amassing 485 team points. Greenwich Academy, the defending FAA champion, which had won the league swimming title the past five seasons, finished second one mere point behind Sacred Heart, totaling 484 points at the championship meet, held at Hopkins School on Feb. 11.

Host Hopkins School placed third in the team standings with 387 points, followed by School of the Holy Child (251) and Masters School (167), Hamden Hall Country Day School (151) and Greenwich Country Day School (57).

“It was exciting to have great competition and fight hard for each point,” Sacred Heart senior standout swimmer Alexandra Bastone said. “When we came out with the win, it was super rewarding.”

With each meet Sacred Heart won this winter, it gained momentum and confidence heading into the championship portion of the season.

Sacred Heart Greenwich posted numerous top-three finishes on the way to winning the FAA team title.

“We recently finished our dual meets undefeated, 15-0 and with each meet, we had every member of the team not only learn how to tackle their events, but learn what it meant to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and truly love the sport,” Bastone noted.

The FAA Championships began with the 200-yard medley relay and Greenwich’s Academy’s foursome of Bryce Gold, Charlotte Milligan, Brielle Gold and Rory Keller posted a winning time of 1:49.09. Sacred Heart’s Julia Pujadas, Victoria Mordaunt, Lauren McCauley and Irene Robredo combined for a second-place finish with a time of 1:55.62.

Bastone gave SHG its first individual win at the FAA finals, winning the 200-yard freestyle in 1:53.42. Maddie van der Weijden of Greenwich Academy was the runner-up (2:04.64), while teammates Maryan Guzmman (2:07.84) and Jane Laberton (2:08.37) took sixth and seventh, respectively. For the Tigers, Irene Robredo (2:08.72) and Annika Wise (2:17.85) finished eighth and ninth, respectively in the 200 freestyle.

“Alexandra Bastone is always willing to do whatever she needs to to help the team,” Sacred Heart coach Keegan Reed said. “She is reliable and I know that whatever event she is in, she’s going to put in 100%, not only for herself but for the team, so we can have the best outcome possible.”

Like her teammates, Bastone was entered the league championship meet with a positive outlook.

“My mindset going into FAAs was just like the rest of the team: have fun, swim fast and don’t get caught up by the time,” Bastone said. “At the end of the day, swimming is a fulfilling, yet frustrating sport, as it’s easy to get consumed by your time and that that represents preparation.”

Photo courtesy of Greg Horowitz: Sacred Heart Greenwich excelled at the FAA Swimming/Diving Championships at Hopkins.

In the 200-yard individual medley finals, Keller earned the first-place medal for GA, clocking in at 2:13.07. McCauley took third for Sacred Heart, posting a time of 2:18.18, while Salma Thomas finished fifth (2:20.04) for the Gators, while Sacred Heart’s Julia Pujadas (2:22.49) and GA’s Lily Lyons (2:22.66) were eighth and ninth in the 200 IM. Aitana Ross of the Tigers took 10th (2:27.89).

The 50-yard freestyle finals saw Mordaunt garner the gold medal with a time of 24.47 seconds, giving the Tigers 20 important points. Sacred Heart teammate was second in 25.65, while teammate Emma Robredo finished fifth (26.61). Ellie Holden, representing Greenwich Academy, placed seventh in 26.81 seconds.

“Victoria Mordaunt had an incredible meet this weekend,” Reed said. “She had a great breaststroke split in the 200 medley relay to start off the meet. When she came out from the start of the 50 free in such a big lead, I was holding my breath to see what time she would get. I knew it was going to be good, but was not expecting over half a second drop from her best time.”

In the 100-yard butterfly, Bryce Gold was the winner (57.51 seconds), Mordaunt finished second (58.96), followed by McCauley (third place, 1:00.39) and Maryan Guzman (Greenwich Academy, fifth place, 1:02.13).

The FAA diving championships was held before the swimming portion of the league championships. Greenwich Academy’s Grace Wu claimed the FAA diving title, earning 494.35 points over 11 rounds of diving on the 1-meter board.

Grayson Ford was second in the FAA diving finals for GA (410.25) and Sacred Heart’s Emma Beatty took third (372.40), followed by teammate Catherine O’Brien (350.30). Ellie Perkins (Greenwich Academy, fifth, 329.80), Abigail Schmidt (Greenwich Academy, 327.35, sixth), Victoria Sacco, Sacred Heart Greenwich, seventh, 314.25), Catie Davitt (Sacred Heart, 278.80, 10th). also had top-10 diving finishes for Sacred Heart and Greenwich Academy.

Brielle Gold was second in the 100-yard freestyle (54.15) for the Gators and Jane Cary of Sacred Heart finished third (54.41). Emma Robredo had a fourth-place finish for the Tigers in 57.01 and Maddie van der Weijden (GA) took fifth (57.30). Ellie Holden (Greenwich Academy, 58.47), Charlotte Milligan (Greenwich Academy, 58.47) and Laurel Cary (Sacred Heart, 59.86) were sixth, seventh and 10th, respectively.

Contributed photo: Sacred Heart Greenwich celebrates its victory at the FAA Swimming Championships.

“It’s great to have some young team members doing so well this season,” Reed said. “Emma Beatty and Lauren McCauley are both in ninth grade. I’m looking forward to having three more years with them on the team. As an eighth-grader, Laurel Cary had some big time drops at FAAs scoring some key points for the team. I look forward to having the three of them coming up through the program.”

Bastone showed her speed and endurance in winning the FAA title in the 500-yard freestyle (4:55.94), giving her team 20 significant points. Keller finished second (5:11.13), while Irene Robredo of SHG was third (5:29.42) and GA’s Lily Lyons placed fourth (5:42.51). Ross and Tigers teammate Emily Shull were sixth and 10th, respectively, in the 500 freestyle.

“This season, I have been mainly swimming the 200 free, 500 free, 200 free relay and 400 free relay,” Bastone said. “Although I swim for a club team all year round, representing my school is very important to me and being a part of this team was a great way for me to end my high school swimming career.”

The 200 freestyle relay race was especially special for Sacred Heart, as Mordaunt, Emma Robredo, Jane Cary and Bastone teamed up to win the championship in a school record time of 1:40.65 – accumulating 40 points for their team.

In the 100-yard backstroke, Bryce Gold placed first in 58.46, while Pujadas (1:03.28) and Laurel Cary (1:06.13) were second and third for the Tigers. Sacred Heart secured the FAA team championship with a winning effort in the final event of the meet – the 400-yard freestyle relay. McCauley, Emma Robredo, Jane Cary and Bastone combined for a winning time of 3:38.50.

“Going into the final relay after the breaststroke, we were down by five points to Greenwich Academy,” Reed said. “While nerves and excitement increased, the 400 freestyle relay of McCauley, E. Robredo, J. Cary, and Bastone focused and kicked it into high gear as they raced for the win and achieved the win with a team record time of 3:38.50. That win gave us the Championship by one point.”

Greenwich Academy, which received a first-place finish in Brielle Gold in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.84), placed second in the 400 freestyle relay (3:41.88).

“Co-captains Laura O’Connor and Jane Cary created a supportive and motivating environment for the team throughout the season that carried into FAAs,” Reed noted. “The best part about high school swimming is the team atmosphere where everyone is cheering each other on and is excited for every race your team is swimming. With their leadership, the team thrived at FAAs.”

Up next is the NEPSAC Swimming Championships, which is scheduled to be held at Phillips Andover Academy on March 4 and 5.

“As a senior at Sacred Heart Greenwich, I could not be more proud of how hardworking every single member of this swim team has been this season,” Bastone said. “I think the team was excited to perform (at the FAA Championships) and more importantly, have fun. We suited up for the first time all year, which we plan to do for our NEPSAC meet and I think by doing this, it was a good practice for New England Championships.”

“I know going into New Englands, we can all take what we learned from our dual meets and FAA’s and dial in on our approach to an event,” Bastone continued. “I look forward to hitting my specific goal times and also contributing to the relays. I am so excited to watch the team continue to grow and challenge themselves for years to come.”

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