Fairfield Prep graduated several top-tier swimmers from last season’s SCC championship squad, yet Richard Nolan, one of the team’s emotional leaders and “go-to guy”, as coach Rick Hutchinson, described him, returned. Coming off a junior season in which he finished second in the 200-yard individual medley (1:53.04) and fifth in the 100 breaststroke (59.80) at the CIAC Class LL Championships, Nolan has helped the Jesuits continue their successful tradition.
With one dual meet remaining before the championship portion of the season commences, Fairfield Prep sports a record of 7-2 — its losses coming against undefeated foes Greenwich and Xavier.
Prep has relied upon Nolan’s versatility to lead it in numerous events so far this season.
“I am swimming whatever coach Hutchinson needs me to do,” said Nolan, one of the squad’s senior captains. “Whatever fits best for the team and wherever I could help out.”
Said Hutchinson: “He’s been our go-to guy and we’ve sort of moved him around and had him swim in some of his secondary events.”
Hutchinson has a nickname for Nolan.
“I call him Doctor Nolan — he has a PhD in H20. He is very technical, his swimming IQ is very high. Richard thinks about all the details and I’ve learned some things from him as well. He loves everything about swimming and is a good teacher.”
Nolan, who also swims for his club team, the Westport Water Rats (based out of the Westport YMCA), will continue his swimming career at Villanova University’s Division I Big East program.
“I am really looking forward to going to Villanova,” Nolan said. “I visited a whole bunch of schools, but I felt no other place felt like home like Villanova did. When I visited the school, I noticed a really inviting environment and the teammates and coaches were awesome.”
Nolan’s visit to Villanova reminded him of the dynamic that exists on the Prep squad.
“We really have a brotherhood here at Fairfield Prep,” Nolan said. “We can lean on some guys for support and they can lean on me. I have learned so much from my coaches, teammates and captains. I have taken a big leap, thanks to the solid foundation Fairfield Prep has provided to me and I hope to expand upon this knowledge.”
Hutchinson has seen Nolan, who placed fifth in the 200 IM (1:54.26) and ninth in the 100 breaststroke (59.27) at the 2019 State Open, make significant strides each season.
“He is fine tuning all the time,” Hutchinson said. “He works on the little details, like turns. That is helping him move on to the next level. He takes his time working on a turn, or stroke technique and his in-season times are faster than in previous seasons.”
Nolan’s always positive attitude help inspire the team during the days of grueling training sessions.
“He is brimming with charisma, he bursts with energy,” Hutchinson said. “He enjoys helping to make our other swimmers better.”
Nolan, who began competing in the sport as a 7-year-old, has been a part of the Westport Water Rats program for five years. This past December, he traveled to Ireland to test his skills at the Irish Short Course National Championships.
“My dad was born and grew up in Ireland and I have dual citizenship, so I competed with the club team where my dad grew up, at the national championships,” Nolan said. “It was really good competition and it was nice to go over there to see what they were doing.”
He competed in the 200 breaststroke, 200 backstroke, 400 individual medley and 100 breaststroke at the Irish Short Course Championships, where he placed third in the 400 IM, fifth in the 200 breaststroke and 100 in the 200 backstroke.
“It was a five-day meet and when I came back, I had a whole new energy,” he said.
Prep has finished first in the team standings at the SCC Championships 15 straight seasons, yet it knows it will be especially challenged by Xavier in the upcoming conference meet. The trials are scheduled for March 2 at Cheshire Community Pool and the finals are slated for March 4 at Southern Connecticut State University.
“We have this SCC streak and we don’t intend to lose it any time soon,” Nolan said. “The whole SCC has grown, it is now competing with the FCIAC as one of the best conferences in the state. Xavier is strong, you can’t count out Cheshire and the North Haven/North Branford/Guilford co-op is really good.”
VERSATILITY A KEY DYNAMIC FOR DARIEN
Facing a challenging dual meet schedule each season, Darien knows it must have athletes that are well-versed in each event in the pool.
“We train all four strokes in practice with everyone and put our swimmers where they are needed in each meet,” Blue Wave coach Liz Blau said. “When your goal as a team is to place high at states, you have to be able to have many options with different swimmers.”
Darien placed second behind champion New Canaan in the team standings at the Class L Championships in 2019 and was eighth at the State Open. Adding more intrigue to next month’s Class L Championships is the addition of Fairfield Prep and Ridgefield to the meet. Prep and Ridgefield competed in the Class LL meet for numerous seasons, before moving to Class L this winter.
“It is going to be the best meet and fastest meet in the state,” Blau said. “It is going to be a lot of fun and it’s going to be a challenge for us and for them too.”
Leading Darien’s versatile swimmers is senior Connor Martin. At last season’s State Open Championships, Martin placed third in the 100 butterfly (50.89 seconds). He was second in the butterfly at the 2019 Class L finals (50.66) and was the runner-up in the 200 freestyle (1:42.96).
Martin has committed to swim at Bucknell University. He has also ignited the Blue Wave in the 500 freestyle race this season and is a key competitor in the relay events.
“He is doing a really good job for us, he always sets his sights high and his goals are lofty,” Blau said of Martin. “His training is outstanding.”
Senior Nico Clark (breaststroke, freestyle events), sophomore Ryan Roberts, sophomore Max Scalise, freshman Michael Mostofi, senior Scotty Tuck (200 IM) and sophomore Thomas Dupont are among some of Darien’s key contributors, who compete in several events.
Darien finished its dual meet season with a record of 8-2.
“We have a ton of kids, who can swim various events, which is a great problem to have,” Blau said. “I’m really impressed with our team’s sense of purpose. Every day they come ready to work and they encourage each other. My entire coaching staff are really excited to see how it’s going to pan out in the championship meets.”
A RECORD FOR MASUK’S BRIAND
Masuk senior Will Briand set a team record in the 100 freestyle in the squad’s meet against Pomperaug on Feb. 11.
Briand finished first in the 100 freestyle with a time of 49.44 seconds, breaking his own team record in the event.
BRUNSWICK SHINES AT EASTERN CHAMPIONSHIPS
After registering an undefeated regular season, Brunswick School began its postseason by placing fifth at the 29-team, 120th Eastern Interscholastic Swimming & Diving Championships, held at Franklin and Marshall College.
The Bruins finished with 427 team points. Phillips Andover Academy won the team title with 641 points. Brunswick’s 200-yard freestyle relay squad finished first. The 200 freestyle relay team of sophomores Lucas Hodgson, Alexander Hazlett, Gavin West and senior Marcus Hodgson combined for a school record and All-America consideration time of 1:22.28.
In the 200-yard individual medley, Hazlett captured the Eastern Interscholastic silver medal, clocking in at 1:48.89 — an All-America/school-record time.
The 200-yard freestyle saw Lucas Hodgson register a third-place finish in 1:38.82 — a school-record/All-America consideration time.
The Bruins’ 400 freestyle relay squad of Hazlett, Molloy, Lucas Hodgson and Marcus Hodgson finished third in an All-America consideration clocking of 3:02.54.