A coach’s first meet, or game, with a new team usually includes some nervous moments. Especially when a coach begins his or her tenure with a squad synonymous with success.
Such was the case for Cheshire High School girls swimming coach Dave Modzelewski, who started his first season at the helm by watching his team post victories against Mercy and Sheehan in a double duel meet last week.
Modzelewski replaced Dan Mascolo, who guided the Rams to six straight SCC titles and a regular season duel meet record of 62-2 over six seasons.
“I had some butterflies going into our first meet of the season,” Modzelewski said. “It was really relieving to get it over with. I had many conversations with past coaches and former swimmers on the team before the season and of course, I know the parents on the team and I knew we were ready to race, so that gave me confidence.”
The Rams’ first-year coach has also been aided by the squad’s experienced athletes, including senior captains Ellie Murphy and Elli Haskes
“I was impressed with how the seniors took the lead, showing the underclassmen how things run and where to go during the meet,” Modzelewski said. “Our captains did a good job of leading the team during the meet. I was also impressed with our freshman. Overall, the team was confident.”
Once the Rams’ season-opening meet against Mercy and Sheehan commenced, Modzelewski’s squad showcased their skills. Junior Julia Stevens won the 500-yard freestyle in 5:06.79.
“Julia and I had been talking a couple of days before it happened and we discussed where she should be and she blew that away,” Modzelewski said. “That was one of the best swims. Julia is a lane leader in our top group and she’s always setting an example and leading the way.”
Sophomore Nora Bergstrom produced winning results in the team’s opening meet (200-yard freestyle 1:58.30).
“Nora is one of the new swimmers to the team and I didn’t really have many times on her, but I knew she is a really good swimmer,” Modzelewski said. “A 1:58.3 at this point of the season very good.”
Jillian Stevens (sophomore, 100 backstroke, 1:02.47) and Haskes (50 freestyle, 26.02) were among some individual winners for the Rams (3-0) in last week’s season-opener. In the squad’s 96-80 victory against Hamden on Monday, sophomore Sophie Murphy (50 freestyle, 25.29), senior Esther Han (200 freestyle, 2:02.15) and senior Sammi Grenon (100 butterfly, 1:02.47) were some of the individual winners.
“We have depth and talent, so the team’s goals are the same as they have been in the past,” Modzelewski said. “Maybe we can take it a step further.”
GREENWICH MAKING WAVES AGAIN
Greenwich, the defending State Open, Class LL and FCIAC champion, has won its first three meets, defeating Danbury, Glastonbury and Wilton.
In the Cardinals’ win against Wilton, the meet wasn’t decided until the 400-yard freestyle relay. Sophomore Meghan Lynch has won two events in the last two meets for Greenwich. She took first in the 200 individual medley (2:06.57) and 100 freestyle (52.33) against Wilton.
Greenwich’s divers, led by seniors Maddie Muldoon and Annabelle Pollack have been on point.
“Our seniors and some of our veteran swimmers are leading the way with some good times at the beginning of the season,” GHS coach Lorrie Hokayem said. It’s nice to see our freshman and sophomores putting up some great times and our divers have been fantastic.”
GLASTONBURY GAINING EXPERIENCE
Suzie Hoyt, Glastonbury’s coach, expects her team to improve as the season progresses. The Tomahawks produced solid results in their loss against Greenwich.
“We are a very young team, we have 39 athletes and 13 are freshmen,” Hoyt said. “We’re trying to see where everyone fits — it’s like a puzzle each year to see what spots they will fill. We’ve already had lots of state qualifying times, so we’re in a good spot at the beginning of the season.”