Defeating an opponent it hasn’t beaten in a long time is one of the signs of a team that’s clearly on the rise.
The Norwalk/Brien McMahon boys swimming team, which has displayed significant improvement for several seasons, is in such a position.
Following its victory against Danbury last week, Norwalk/McMahon sports a record of 6-1, with victories against foes they fell short against in the past. Coached by Marco Minnocci, Norwalk/McMahon has topped Staples and New Canaan on their way to their six-meet winning streak.
“I think it was about two decades since we beat Staples,” said Minnocci, whose squad defeated the Wreckers on Jan. 15. “New Canaan was another close meet, which we won and we hadn’t beaten New Canaan since 2002.”
Minnocci’s team still have five dual meets remaining, before it competes in the much-anticipated postseason meets and they’ve garnered plenty of momentum with their recent success.
“The team was excited after they beat Staples and New Canaan,” Minnocci said. “We knew there was a shot to win, but we had to show up and be on our “A” game. They were all nervous and I spoke to them beforehand, telling them every single lap was going to count. To win against those teams shows that our program has grown a lot in the past 10 years. New Canaan is a strong team and I think it is going to be a huge confidence-booster for the guys going forward and hopefully, we can place well in dual meets.”
After their season-opening loss to Ridgefield, Norwalk/McMahon posted wins against Amity, Trumbull, Staples, Hamden, New Canaan and Danbury.
“I would say the last 10 years we have been slowly rising,” Minnocci said. “The program has grown in numbers and talent. Over the past several years, the kids have trained year-round and have made significant improvements.”
Against Staples, senior captain Christopher Dauser won the 50 and 100-yard freestyle races for Norwalk/McMahon. Henry Velazquez, also a senior captain, placed first in the 200 and 100 freestyle events and was part of the team’s winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay squads against Staples.
Freshman Kalen Anbar helped lead the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams to victory against the Wreckers, while Velazquez (200 freestyle, 100 butterfly) and Dauser (50 freestyle, 100 backstroke) won their respective events versus New Canaan.
Norwalk/Brien McMahon placed a strong sixth in the team standings at the CIAC Class LL Championships in 2019 (303 team points) and were 13th at last season’s State Open (149.5 team points).
Velazquez placed seventh in the 100 butterfly (52.24) and was 14th in the 200 freestyle (1:44.63) at last winter’s State Open. He was sixth in the butterfly at the Class LL finals (52.28) and took fifth in the 200-yard freestyle (1:44.26).
“Henry and Chris have been standouts in each meet,” Minnocci said. “They are great leaders as well.”
Freshman Benjamin Bradley, the brother of 2019 State Open and Class LL diving champion Kevin Bradley, has led Norwalk/McMahon on the 1-meter diving board so far this season, along with junior Peter Soares.
“He has been a significant point-scorer,” Minnocci said of Benjamin Bradley. “The diving component is important and we have scored a lot of points in diving.”
Minnocci and the Norwalk/McMahon athletes know being part of the FCIAC prepares them for the postseason.
“The FCIAC is incredibly tough,” Minnocci said. “The upperclassmen know there are very talented athletes in the FCIAC. They know they need to step up and race, no matter what the results may be.”
Norwalk/McMahon has meets against Wilton, Darien, Westhill/Stamford, Greenwich and Fairfield Ludlowe/Warde, before turning its attention to the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open Championships.
“We are hoping to finish among the top-four at LLs and I would like to see the team place in the top-10 at the State Open,” Minnocci said. “In order to do that, we are going to need a lot of athletes qualify for the Open meet.”
ADAMS DIVES TO RECORD
Senior Evan Adams set a school diving record for Farmington in the team’s recent meet against Hall. Adams amassed 283.45 points, a school record over six dives on the 1-meter board.
Last season saw Adams finish 12th at the State Open diving competition with 412 points. He placed third in the Class M meet in 2019 (411.35 points).
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