Is there a better high school sports dynasty in the state of Connecticut than the Greenwich High School boys swimming team?
It certainly does not appear so.
How many high school programs in the state have won 52 conference championships over the past 53 seasons? The answer to that question, of course, is none.
Well, that’s what Greenwich’s boys swimming/diving team has accomplished since it began its FCIAC success streak back in 1971. Since then, the Cardinals have claimed conference title, after conference title, their latest coming Friday night at their home pool.
Displaying its dynamic depth, Greenwich won four events, produced numerous impressive swims, amassed 498 points and won the FCIAC team title for an astounding 52nd time in 53 seasons.
Ridgefield was the runner-up in the team standings (295 points), followed by Norwalk/McMahon (288), Staples (262) and New Canaan (206) at the 11-team conference championships. Fairfield Ludlowe/Ward co-op (205 points), Westhill/Stamford (136), Wilton (131), Darien (114), Trumbull (46) and Danbury (24) rounded out the remaining teams that competed in the FCIAC Championships, which as always, was well attended.
Greenwich legendary coach Terry Lowe, who has witnessed the team win a pool full of FCIAC, Class LL and State Open championships over the years and received FCIAC Coach of the Year honors Friday night, knew his squad, once again, rose to the occasion.
“It was a wonderful county championship for us,” Lowe said. “We accomplished everything we hoped to accomplish in terms of the times the kids had. We know we were a non-shaved team and we know we are saving the best for last, but we had some beautiful swims today.”
Aiden Bucaria, a senior captain, who will continue his swimming career at Boston College next season, finished first in two individual events and was part of the Cardinals’ championship 200-yard medley relay.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our team,” Bucaria said. “We have put in the work this year a lot. Practices were hard, there were times a lot of us wanted to pause a little bit, but we kept pushing through. The season started off well, we’re in an amazing spot right now. All the younger guys dropped crazy times, the older guys dropped times as well.”
As has been the case in a number of seasons in the past, the Cardinals finished their 2023 regular season, going 11-0.
“More than any other team, we train the hardest,” GHS senior captain Liam Flaherty said. “During February break, when people go away, we stay here. We have double practices every single day. We’ve got weights, sleds – everything is tailored to racing.”
Staples senior Parker Lenoce was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Swimmer/MVP. Lenoce, who will swim at Princeton University next season, won the FCIAC title in the 100-yard backstroke, registering an All-American time of 48.78 seconds – which was also an FCIAC record time. Ridgefield’s Kieran Smith had the previous FCIAC mark in the event with a time of 49.32 in 2018.
“The 100 backstroke was definitely a special race, coming off the relay and winning with my boys,” said Lenoce, who led off Staples’ winning 200-yard freestyle relay squad. “This was a great meet with great energy, I’m just happy I was able to get the job done today with the boys.”
Flaherty of Greenwich placed second in the 100 backstroke (51.81 seconds), followed by Eric Huang of New Canaan (53.24 and junior Hudson Jang from Westhill/Stamford (53.49).
“In the 100 back, was really trying to work the underwaters today, I wanted to get as much as I could underwater, because that was a big part of the race,” Lenoce noted. “Coming down the stretch, I was just seeing what I had left. Breaking the record was really great to see, I’ve been working on my 100 back, so it’s great to see the work pay off.”
The meet commenced with Flaherty, Bucaria, senior Evan Belmont and sophomore Noah Barrett combining to win the 200 medley relay in 1:33.89. The Cardinals won the event at the FCIAC finals a season ago in 1:35.03.
“That was a big win for us in the 200 medley,” Flaherty said. “We are in a good place, our relays are looking solid. We have yet to shave, so there’s room for us to improve. It was a really good showing, setting us up for the rest of the championship season.”
Staples was second in the 200 medley relay (1:34.44), followed by Norwalk/McMahon (1:35.50). From the outset, it was apparent that it was going to be a fast FCIAC Championships, with impressive times throughout the meet.
“As you can see the quality of the swimming was fantastic, it was a very fast meet.” Lowe noted. “The top three or four was top heavy. There were very high quality swims.”
In the 200-yard freestyle, Lenoce claimed the first-place medal, clocking in at 1:39.29. Wreckers teammate Riley Twiss, a senior, took second (1:40.04), while Ridgefield junior Jack Clancy finished third (1:40.20). Greenwich junior Felix Flakstad finished fourth in 1:43.74, followed by Ridgefield’s Shaun Li (1:44.37) and junior Kegan Clark of the Cardinals (1:46.10).
The 200-yard individual medley FCIAC title went to Norwalk/McMahon senior Kalen Anbar, who touched the wall in 1:51.96. Flaherty earned the second-place medal for GHS (1:54.13) and Ridgefield senior Max Wolfenden was third (1:54.85). Luke Mendelsohn, a sophomore, took fourth for the Cardinals (1:57.53), while Derek Yin (Ridgefield junior, 2:01.79) was fifth and Greenwich senior Alex Khilko placed sixth (2:02.92).
“I feel Like I put on some good performances in my races,” Flaherty said. “This year was a lot faster than last year. There was much bigger competition especially from Staples, who had a big breakout meet today.”
Fairfield Ludlowe/Warde co-op senior Nathaniel Taft showed his speed in winning the 50 freestyle in 21.19 seconds. Close behind him were Norwalk/McMahon junior Mike Kvashchuk (21.52) and Barrett of the Cardinals (21.74).
Greenwich entered the swimming portion of the FCIAC Championships with a significant boost in points over its competitors, thanks to standout performances on the 1-meter diving board at Thursday’s conference diving finals.
Whitaker Grover, a senior, captured the FCIAC diving championship for the fourth straight season for the Cardinals, totaling 560 points over 11 rounds of diving. Norwalk’s Ben Bradley finished second at the diving finals (538.35) and Greenwich senior Jayden Satir placed third (457.55).
“Our divers were outstanding that was the icing on the cake for us,” Lowe said. “We will miss Whitaker, a four-time FCIAC champion. “Our diving strength is going to be a big boost for us as we go into (Class) LLs and the (State) Open.”
Greenwich also received a seventh-place finish from Jacob Winston at the FCIAC diving finals (376.50 points). Grover, who will dive at Yale University next season, received the Jon Hahnfeldt Memorial Diving Award for winning the conference diving championship.
In an exciting finish, Twiss of Staples posted a victory in the 100 butterfly, recording a time of 50.38 seconds. “I really just wanted to get a win for my team and bring a win back to Staples,” Twiss said. “I’m more of a distance swimmer myself, so that first 50, I didn’t want to take it out too fast I wanted to stay patient, and stay composed throughout the first 50 and see what I could do the last 50. It worked, I got the job done. For us to come out here and show what this team is made of – I’m really proud of these boys.”
Ridgefield’s Matthew Weiner was a close second in the butterfly (50.84). Belmont had a sixth-place finish for the Cards in the 100 butterfly (53.06).
Bucaria’s first individual win for GHS came in the 100-yard freestyle. He posted a winning time of 46.41, edging Ludlowe’s Taft (46.44) and Norwalk/McMahon’s Kvashchuk (46.81). Clark of GHS was fourth in 47.71 seconds, while Barrett took seventh (47.83).
In the 100 breaststroke, Bucaria earned the first-place medal, clocking in at 56.81. Anbar (Norwalk/McMahon) was second (57.72), followed by Wolfenden (58.13).
“I really couldn’t ask for more out of my individual swims,” Bucaria said. “I knew how fast it was going to be, so being able to push myself and help them push me to go the times I wanted – I’m proud of myself, I did well.”
Cardinals sophomore Daniel Sichtnik posted a fifth-place finish in the 100 breaststroke, touching the wall in 59.97.
“Aiden is so tough,” Lowe noted. “That was a real challenge the 100 breaststroke. He always guts it out.”
Ridgefield junior Jack Clancy shaved a lot of time off his seeding time on his way to winning the 500-yard freestyle in an eye-opening time of 4:32.10.
Flakstad was the runner-up in the 500 freestyle for GHS (4:41.58).
“I’m very happy overall with the 200 and 500 free, I was close to two best times in both my individual events, only about one second off, which I’m really happy about for this time of the season,” Flakstad noted. “Jack Clancy was incredible.”
Khilko (4:56.64), freshman Jack Smith (4:59.82) and senior Alex Yu (5:05.28), placed 4-6, respectively, for Greenwich in the 500 freestyle.
Staples won the 200 freestyle relay title in 1:26.19, edging Greenwich (1:26.67) and Norwalk/McMahon (1:26.70). Clark, Belmont, senior Ioane Maglakelidze and Barrett competed in the 200 freestyle relay for the Cards.
The meet ended with Ridgefield’s Shaun Li, Wolfenden, Weiner and Clancy combining for a first-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay (3:07.33) – a school-record time. Greenwich’s Kegan Clark, Flakstad, Flaherty and Bucaria were second in 3:08.17.
“The relay, each of us had a great leg,” said Clancy, who anchored the 400 freestyle relay. “We just got faster and faster, I had a little bit of a lead – my teammates let me have a lead going into it and I was able to keep that lead, which was exciting. We got our high school record, so it was an exciting relay.”
The Tigers had their eyes on the 400 freestyle relay the whole meet. “We went for that, we had everything saved up for that one,” Ridgefield coach Ronald Vaughan said. “I could have sprinkled in our top guys in the medley and free, but I wanted to put it on the next tier of swimmers coming up. We wanted to see if we could get All-American time, we got consideration today and we broke our school record by three seconds, which is awesome.”
Up next for Greenwich is the CIAC Class LL Championships. The swimming trials are scheduled for March 11 and the finals will take place on March 14 at Cornerstone Aquatics Center in West Hartford. The Class LL Diving Championships will take place on March 9 at Middletown High School.
The State Open Swimming Championships is scheduled for March 18 at Yale University. The Cardinals have captured 37 State Open titles and have won the Class LL title the last eight seasons.
“Winning the FCIAC title never gets old, it feels great every season,” Bucaria said. “The goal is the same every year. Move on to win LLs, the State Open and we’d love to see everyone go best times and I think we definitely will.”
Categories: Greenwich High, Winter sports
RICHARD V BUCARIA I am breathless of what these kids were able to accomplish.
To think- I use to swim 8 lanes and was exhausted.
The kids have a right to be proud- to be champs at such a young age.
I am so honored to be AIDEN’s granddad,
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