The championship meets are what high school swimmers plan their respective seasons around. It’s when they prepare themselves to swim their fastest and register times that draw the most attention to their talents.
Unfortunately, for the members of teams in Connecticut, they won’t have the opportunity to go for All-America, or personal-best times.
The CIAC announced that it would cancel its remaining state tournament events on Tuesday, due to the coronavirus outbreak, signaling the conclusion of the boys high school swimming season.
The Class LL trials was scheduled to take place Saturday, with the finals slated to be held on March 17. The Class L, M and S trials were also supposed to be held on Saturday and their finals were also going to be contested next week. The State Open Swimming Championships was going to once again, be held at Yale University.
Like all sports, whichever team wins the title is, of course, significant, but in swimming, the individual times of each competitor is especially important.
“It’s a shame that we are not going to have a state meet — a shave and taper meet — where the swimmers can try to get All-America times,” Greenwich High school coach Terry Lowe said. “We have several kids that were looking forward to these meets and were going for All-America times for college acceptances. This is the time of year they look forward to — the championship meets. It’s the time of year for them to really come forward, step up and swim super times. I feel for them.”
Each season, numerous swimmers from Connecticut have qualified for the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association Boys High School All-America List in almost every event. A good portion of those swimmers over the years have posted their All-America times at the State Open, or respective class meets, when they are competing their optimum level.
“I am not shocked, but I am sad,” Lowe said. “I knew the state was going to be cautious and to not allow for any risk at all. On top of that, we were not even sure if Wesleyan, or Yale could open their facilities at this point.”
Currently, in-person classes and activities have been canceled at Wesleyan and Yale has limited classes to online. Additionally, most school districts across the state have closed as well.
Lowe said he and a lot of FCIAC coaches were hoping they can have a non-CIAC meet, where they can gather at Greenwich High and try to achieve All-America times.
“We have the pool and the timing system to have it, but that request is unlikley to be met,” he said. “I would like to have something so we can submit All-America times.”
Greenwich has captured the State Open and Class LL titles every season since 2013.
“This is a team that was going to dominate the state championships, so it is hugely disappointing for us to not have that opportunity,” Lowe said.
Xavier was also one of numerous schools that had swimmers primed to make their mark in the postseason.
“Our guys had their eyes on getting All-American relay times,” said Xavier coach Ronnie Vaughan, whose squad had an undefeated dual meet season and won the SCC team title. “It’s a shame that All-American opportunities are going to be taken away from some kids. In swimming, your times are who you are. These meets are opportunities for them to show colleges what they can do at championship meets against great competition.”
The state meets are also events where school records are typically broken, or personal-record times are achieved.
“It’s too bad we couldn’t have had just have one meet, where we could have gotten times, it would have been great,” Vaughan said. “I feel for the kids.”
The Class L meet would have been one to watch, with Xavier, Darien, New Canaan and this season, Ridgefield and Fairfield Prep moving down to Class L from LL.
“I had been talking back and forth with Emmanuel Lanzo (Ridgefield coach) about how exciting this meet was going to be,” Vaughan said. “Now the season will end open-ended.”
Coach Martha Phelan’s combined North Haven/Guilford/North Branford/East Haven which celebrated its inaugural season, was going to compete in the Class LL Championships.
“I’m not a doctor and don’t have an opinion on what went behind the reason,” Phelan said. “But I do have children in the medical profession and they believe canceling the tournaments was the right thing to do. The reason why is what may happen down the road if the correct precautions are not taken.”
Still, Phelan knows opportunities for her athletes to shine were lost.
“I looked at the psych sheets for the Class LL meet and our team was positioned to do well,” Phelan said. “Our core group was expected to finish strong at states. That’s where best times usually come, at all the state events. It’s tough, but like I told my team, this is like life, where they will encounter disappointing moments.”