DARIEN — The CIAC State Open Championships, the Class L finals and the always much-anticipated meets against each other — those are some of the memories the seniors on the Darien and New Canaan swimming teams will take with them when they depart their respective programs.
The State Open and Class L championships won’t take place this fall, yet as Wednesday’s meet between the Blue Wave and Rams illustrated, there’s still plenty for these rivals to get psyched for.
The FCIAC squads are facing each other more than they have in past seasons, due to the modified schedule attached to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Blue Wave and Rams don’t mind, for their meets against one another bring out out the best in their teams.
“It’s a thrill being here and every time we go against Darien, because we have to get up and race,” Rams junior Skylar Mascarinas said. “It’s go time.”
Showcasing its depth resulted in a Senior Day victory for Darien, which swam to a 110-76 triumph against their FCIAC West Region foe. The Blue Wave also beat the Rams on Sunday.
Kendall Luecke, a Darien senior co-captain, reflected on the significance of being part of the Blue Wave program — one that captured the Class L and FCIAC team title in 2019.
“This program has meant so much to me these past four years,” Luecke said. “I have grown tremendously as a swimmer and a person in general. I’ve also made life-long friendships that I’m thankful for. There have been so many memorable moments.”
Competing on Darien’s 200 and 400-yard freestyle relays created such memorable moments. Luecke was part of Darien’s 200-yard relay squad that won the 2019 State Open title in an All-America time of 1:36.72 and also captured the Class L championship. She also combined with her teammates to win the 400 freestyle relay at both the State Open and Class L meet a year go.
Wednesday, Luecke and the Blue Wave continued their success in the relay events. She anchored the winning 400 freestyle relay (3:49.91), which included senior Hope Murray, junior Maggie Sedlak, sophomore Meg Erickson and senior co-captain Hope Murray.
“Any relay, especially the championship ones, will stick out in my mind,” Luecke said. “I’m so glad to train with so many great people the past four years. Hopefully, we’ll get back around that All-American time if we have a championship season.”
Sedlak was the 200-yard freestyle winner (2:02.49), followed by New Canaan’s Paige Volpe (2:02.87) and Darien teammate Gracie Spataro (2:03.78).
The 200 individual medley saw Erickson win the first of her two individual races. She touched the wall first in 2:15.77. Her second victory came in the 500 freestyle (5:21.19), while Sedlak was the runner-up.
“It was really a team effort, so I just put my head in the game and pushed through,” Erickson said. “Normally I swim the 500, so far it’s been pretty good for me so far this season and I’m happy with it.”
Ferranto, who placed fourth in the 50 freestyle at last season’s State Open, took top honors in Wednesday’s race, clocking in at 25.42 seconds. A blink of an eye behind her was her teammate Luecke (25.67), followed by Mascarinas, of New Canaan (26.77).
Charlotte Frank won the 1-meter diving event for New Canaan, which took place at the New Canaan YMCA on Tuesday. The Blue Wave held a slim 49-45 lead on the Rams after Murray posted a first-place finish in the 100 butterfly in 1:01.71. Emma Poloso placed a very close second for New Canaan (1:01.84).
“This team has been a huge part of my high school career,” Murray said. “This team, we do everything together and we work so hard. My oldest sister was on the team and I used to come and watch the meets and I was like, ‘I want to come and be a part of this.’”
Senior Olivia Golden gave the Blue Wave a first-place finish in the 100 freestyle, touching the wall in 56.44 seconds.
“I have been working hard to get to this point of my high school career and even though the season has been different, I am proud to be a part of it,” Golden said.
Ellie Park took second in the 100 freestyle for the Rams in 57.47. Maddie Haley, a New Canaan senior won the 100 backstroke (59.67), while Golden and Luecke placed second and third, respectively. The Blue Wave also received a winning effort from freshman Miller Ward in the 100 breaststroke (1:13.88).
“I was really pumped up today, I think the girls did an amazing job,” Rams coach Kat Munson said. “We swam Darien on Sunday, so we had back-to-back very competitive meets. We didn’t back off in practice Monday and Tuesday and the girls got up and raced well.”
Added Haley, who also placed third in the 500 freestyle Wednesday: “I definitely think we have some really challenging teams to go against in our region, but our team is stepping it up. They know that it’s hard and they are trying their best, so it’s paying off.”
Murray and her fellow seniors are savoring their final season with the squad.
“I’m really sad hat I am leaving,” she said. “This program means a lot to me, it’s different from any other team that I have been a part of. It will always have a special place in my heart.”