Greenwich High

Greenwich boys swimming team cruises to another State Open championship, behind a wealth of impressive performances at Yale University

Photo courtesy of Trudy Clark: Greenwich High School’s boys team gathers after winning the team title at the CIAC State Open Swimming Championships on March 18, 2023, at Yale University in New Haven.

The first team title at the State Open Championships for Greenwich High School’s boys swimming squad came in 1973 and since then, numerous victories have followed, 36 to be exact.

Championship No. 37 was earned Saturday by the Cardinals, who have produced unprecedented success in the sport in Connecticut since coach Terry Lowe took over the program in 1967. Saturday marked the first time the CIAC State Open Swimming Championships was held at Yale University’s Kiphuth Memorial Exhibition Pool since 2019 and though the team is entirely different, the Cardinals program picked up right where it left off since its last appearance at the historic venue.

Winning five events, while displaying its superior depth, Greenwich won the team title at the 50-team State Open, amassing an eye-opening 636 points, before a spirited crowd at Yale’s Kiphuth Pool. The victory was Greenwich’s ninth straight at the State Open and 37th overall under Lowe’s tutelage.

Ridgefield was the runner-up, finishing with a team score of 393, 243 points behind the Cardinals. New Canaan placed third in the team standings (263), followed by Fairfield Prep (235.5) and Norwalk-McMahon (231.5).

Greenwich enjoys a final dip in the pool after winning the State Open. Click to watch.

“It’s always a special feeling and this year was no different, in fact, it’s probably better,” Greenwich senior captain Aiden Bucaria said of winning the State Open team championship.

Bucaria won the 100-yard breaststroke title and was part of the Cardinals’ championship 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich’s Aiden Bucaria displays the State Open Championship plaque that Greenwich won.

“It was amazing to see how far we’ve come,” said Greenwich senior captain Liam Flaherty, who helped spark the Cardinals with several standout performances at the championship meet. “This is the end and it’s great to ride it out with these guys. I loved seeing all the races and camaraderie at the end. Seeing some of the underclassmen go best times is always great to see.”

The State Open began in familiar style for the Cardinals. Like last season, Greenwich started the championship meet by winning the 200-yard medley relay. Flaherty, Bucaria, senior Evan Belmont and sophomore Noah Barrett combined for a winning time of 1:33.30. Norwalk/McMahon placed second (1:35.89) and New Canaan finished third in the 200 medley relay (1:35.83).

Greenwich’s Noah Barrett anchors the team’s winning 200 medley relay. Click to watch.

“Our relay did really well,” said Barrett, who concluded his first season for the Cardinals. “We got some impressive times from our captains and I was so happy to finish off the relay.”

Indeed, Barrett’s first season on the squad was one to remember. He enjoyed competing at Yale’s Kiphuth Pool for the first time.

“It’s amazing, I’m so glad that my first year on the team I’m able to experience this,” Barrett said. “It’s a wonderful atmosphere, I like the competition and the pool. It feels so good to finally be here.”

Photo by David Fierro: Noah Barrett helped spark Greenwich at the CIAC State Open Swimming Championships at Yale.

“The 200 medley relay – that was awesome,” added Flaherty. “It was exhilarating, I was really happy with that. We all had great splits. That’s a best time for us, so I’m really happy with that.”

Greenwich’s first individual win at today’s State Open occurred when junior Kegan Clark captured the gold medal in the 100-yard freestyle. Clark, who finished second in the event at the Class LL Championships with a time of 46.58 seconds, lowered his time to 46.19 to win the Open title. Benjamin Fraser of Amity Regional was the runner-up in the 100 freestyle (46.61) and New Canaan’s Deacon Mascarinas finished third (47.00). Barrett took fifth for GHS (47.58).

“It felt amazing, the past two years, that’s all I’ve been looking forward to, the 1 free, after my brother did it,” Clark said. “I had a mindset goal to try to win that junior year and I couldn’t be happier.”

Photo by Trudy Clark: Kegan Clark of Greenwich swims the 100 freestyle during the State Open Championships.
Keegan Clark swims to victory in the 100 freestyle. Click to watch the video.

Greenwich added to its more than 200-point lead on second-place Ridgefield when Bucaria earned the gold medal in the 100-yard breaststroke, clocking in at 56.29 seconds. Senior Kalen Anbar of Norwalk/McMahon placed second with a time of 56.93. Greenwich senior Luke Mendelsohn was ninth in the race (59.12).

“I’ve always had high goals for my breaststroke,” Bucaria noted. “Winning the race again felt awesome.”

Photo courtesy of Trudy Clark: Aiden Bucaria excelled at the CIAC State Open Championships for Greenwich.

Bucaria also won the 100 breaststroke at this week’s Class LL Championships (55.45). Coach Lowe’s Cardinals put the finishing touch on the State Open Championships and their perfect season by edging out rival Ridgefield in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Greenwich’s Aiden Bucaria wins the State Open 100 breaststroke title.

In one of the most exciting races of the Open, Clark, junior Felix Flakstad, Flaherty and Bucaria posted a winning time of 3:05.38 in the 400-yard freestyle relay. A blink of an eye behind them was Ridgefield (3:05.49).

“All of us knew how badly Ridgefield wanted to win that,” Flakstad said. “We just showed that our dominance is so deep across the entire team and like coach Lowe said, that 400 free relay is a good mark of a winning team.”

Greenwich’s Felix Flakstad had a standout meet for the Cardinals at the State Open Championships.

Bucaria, who will swim at Boston College next season, helped key the Cards in the 400 freestyle relay shortly after capturing the first-place State Open medal in the 100 breaststroke.

“That relay is always painful coming out of the breaststroke,” he said. “This year was electric. Everyone put their heart out in that relay and it was awesome. Bringing it right down to the wire that last relay was something crazy.”

Greenwich wins the State Open first-place medal in the 400 freestyle.

The 200-yard freestyle relay saw Clark, Belmont, senior Ioane Maglakelidze and Barrett combine to win the gold medal in a highly impressive 1:25.53. Norwalk/McMahon placed second in 1:26.60, followed by Ridgefield (1:26.93).

“We had a strong start from Ioane, a great continuation from Kegan and a strong finish for Belmont for me to finish off the relay,” Barrett said of competing in the 200 freestyle relay. “I just wanted to carry on what they started.”

Photo by Trudy Clark: Noah Barrett swims the freestyle for Greenwich at the State Open.
Greenwich’s Noah Barrett anchored the championship 200 relay.

The 200-yard freestyle State Open title went to Ridgefield junior Jack Clancy, who posted a time of 1:39.68. Senior Riley Twiss of Staples placed second (1:40.88) and Ridgefield senior Matthew Weiner was third (1:41.23). Flakstad had a fifth-place finish in the event (1:41.58) and Clark took sixth (1:42.91).

Daniel Hand junior Elliot Lee touched the wall first in the 200 individual medley (1:49.08) and Bucaria earned the silver medal, posting a time of 1:50.14. Greenwich scored a lot of points in the 200 IM, as Flaherty took third (1:51.94) and sophomore Luke Mendelsohn was fifth (1:53.45). Anbar finished fourth for Norwalk/McMahon (1:52.69).

“Elliot definitely gave me a chase here and going into it, I knew where Elliot would be and I was hoping to be near him,” Bucaria said of swimming in the 200 IM. “I’m proud of what I did there.”

Said Flaherty: “Aiden and I were training partners in the IM, we did it last year too. It went really well.”

Photo by Trudy Clark: Liam Flaherty swims the backstroke for Greenwich during the CIAC State Open Championships.

Newtown senior Peter Horan captured the gold medal in the 50 freestyle, winning the race in 20.71. Barrett placed second (21.06) and Belmont took ninth (21.77). Charles Kosinki, a Greenwich senior, was 13th (22.10).

“The 50 free, I ended up getting second and I feel like in general I had a great race,” Barrett noted. “It was a personal-best for me.”

The State Open Diving Championships was held Friday at Middletown High School. Greenwich senior Whitaker Grover finished third, totaling 542.75 points after 11 rounds of diving. Fairfield co-op junior Finn Moynahan won the State Open diving championship with a score of 546.60 and Norwalk/McMahon senior Ben Bradley finished second (544.90). Cardinals senior Jayden Satir was seventh on the 1-meter diving board (468.55).

Lee of Daniel Hand was the State Open champion in the 100 butterfly (49.51), while Staples senior Riley Twiss took second (49.99). In the 500 freestyle, Clancy gave Ridgefield a first-place finish (4:31.13), while Flakstad was the runner-up (4:36.49). Greenwich senior Alexander Khilko (4:50.15) finished 12th in the 500 freestyle.

“The 200 free was really good, I was 1:41 and the 500 free was also pretty good, it was just off my best time at 4:36.49 from LLs,” Flakstad said. “Overall, I was super happy.”

Photo by Trudy Clark: Greenwich earned another State Open swimming championship.

Horan of Newtown swam to a State Open record time in winning the 100 backstroke (48.91). Greenwich’s Alex Lewis had the previous State Open record of 49.08, set in 2014. Carson Raisner finished second in the backstroke, while Flakstad took fifth (51.72).

Greenwich’s State Open victory Saturday capped a season in which it finished undefeated during the dual meet season, won the FCIAC team title for the 52nd time in 53 years and claimed the Class LL team title for the ninth straight time.

“Everybody on this team has been working so hard all season with this one goal in mind and we came here and did the job to a ‘T’,” Flakstad said. “Starting with the medley relay, that set the tone for the entire meet and we just carried that through all the way to the end.”

Photo by David Fierro: Liam Flaherty finished his GHS swimming career with strong performances at the State Open.

Bucaria reflected on his memorable swim career at Greenwich.

“It was a great four years, maybe not a full four-year season, but spending every day with these guys after school – it’s been great,” he said. “Sometimes it goes by way too fast, but it’s been a great four years.”

Flakstad still has one season left with the Cardinals and he knows expectations will be high once again, next winter.

“I think we can go for the 10-peat next year, that will be nice,” Flakstad said. “I’m looking forward to going through the grind again with coach Lowe and Jimmy (Ramaley, assistant coach). It’s been a great season and I’m looking forward to next year.”

Photo by David Fierro: Kegan Clark displays the gold medal he earned by winning the 100 freestyle at the State Open.
Photo by Trudy Clark: Greenwich High School’s swim team celebrates in the pool with head coach Terry Lowe and assistant coach Jimmy Ramaley after they won the State Open championship.

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