DARIEN — The seniors on the Darien boys swimming and diving team have delivered plenty of memorable moments during the past few seasons, from individual gold medals to a state championship two seasons ago.
One thing they hadn’t accomplished, however, was defeating rival New Canaan in a dual meet.
Ridding their team depth, the Blue Wave pulled away from the Rams over the final five events and scored a decisive 113-73 victory Wednesday at the Darien YMCA.
For Darien, which remained perfect at 4-0, the win was a long time coming.
“We’ve never beaten New Canaan before,” senior co-captain Connor Martin said. “Every year it’s been really close and we’ve fought our hardest, but we didn’t win. With a big senior class this year, everyone wanted to come in and go out with a win.”
“That’s really big and I’m really proud of them,” Darien coach Liz Blau said. “They wanted it bad and they knew it wasn’t going to come easy. We lost (to New Canaan) by a slim margin in states last year, so my boys were fueled by that and they did great.”
Martin had the biggest day for Darien, as he had a hand in four Blue Wave wins. He was first in the 200 freestyle (1:49.04) and 500 freestyle (4:58.12), and also anchored the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
Thomas Dupont won two individual races: The 50 freestyle (23.19) and 100 breaststroke (1:03.43), and was also part of the 200 freestyle relay.
For New Canaan, the loss was the second straight to open the season, although the Rams have faced two FCIAC powers in Greenwich and Darien. New Canaan had won the Class L championship with a large senior class last winter, and is contending with relative inexperience this season.
“Last year we graduated a huge class, not just in numbers, but also in points,” New Canaan coach Kat Munson said. “Every single one of our graduates was a state finalist, so no matter what you have after that, it’s hard to come back from that. Coming into this meet today, we told them they’d have to learn how to swim tired and Darien did a better job of that then we did.”
The Rams actually matched the Wave’s win total with six victories in the 12 events. George Moore, a senior co-captain, won the diving competition, which took place Monday at the New Canaan YMCA, and another senior co-captain, Patrick Colwell, won both the 200 individual medley (2:00.07) and 100 butterfly (54.04).
Junior Gianfranco Pozzolini was also a double-winner, taking first place in the 100 freestyle (50.80) and the 100 backstroke (56.22).
The Rams’ 400 medley relay team of Pozzolini, Bart Codd, Colwell and Sumner Pellegrini won the opening race in 1:40.58, as New Canaan kept it close in the early going.
The Rams were within six points of the lead at 58-52 after seven events, including a sweep in diving.
However, the Blue Wave began to pull away in the 500 freestyle, as Martin led a sweep of the top three spots. Ryan Roberts (4:59.94) was second, and Hayden Puff (5:14.29) was third, as Darien outscored the Rams 13-3 in the event for a 71-55 overall edge.
The Wave went on to outscore the Rams 55-19 over the final five races. Dupont, Nico Clark, Griffin Trygg and Martin won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:32.48; and Dupont won the 100 breaststroke in 1:03:43, with Clark second in 1:03.81.
The Wave then put the exclamation point on the victory by putting up the three fastest times in the 400 freestyle relay. Max Scalise, Scotty Tuck, Trygg and Martin won that race in 3:25.80.
Darien assistant coach Jessica Barnes said the Wave came into its own at the meet.
“We have a lot of new faces, but today was the moment where they finally came together,” Barnes said. “They’re more cohesive going forward and today was a big day for us team-building wise.”
Despite the loss, Munson has been happy with the team energy her Rams have shown.
“What I really like is that even though we have so many kids who are brand new to the sport or very young, our veteran swimmers, our top dogs, are equally invested in how those kids are doing as they are in their own races,” Munson said. “I really like that dynamic and sometimes it’s really good to remind yourself of where you came from and be humbled by that.”
SWIMMER OF THE MEET
Connor Martin, Darien. The Wave senior co-captain won all four events in which he competed, taking first in the 200 and 500 freestyles and swimming the anchor leg on the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
“We only have three captains, but we certainly have a good amount of kids, seniors, on this team, who are definitely qualified to be captains. We also have a great junior and sophomore class, and I think when these sophomores are seniors, they’re going to be miles ahead of where we are right now.” — Darien senior co-captain Connor Martin