Shelton girls swimming coach Tom Jurzynski is a realist.
In the preseason, he believed his team would be a better postseason team than regular season dual-meet team.
“While we probably won’t be on the level of Cheshire, Lauralton Hall and Amity, I feel like we can compete with the rest of the league,” Jurzynski said. “A top five finish at the SCC championship meet is the goal.”
Jurzynski isn’t surprised his team has started 2-0 with wins over Law and Hamden. What has impressed Jurzynski in his team’s early start to the season is its early development. The Gaels produced solid efforts in their first two meets as the toughest part of the Gaels’ schedule approaches with Southern Connecticut Conference rivals Lauralton Hall (Tuesday), Cheshire (Sept. 29) and Amity (Oct. 6).
“In all honesty, the 2-0 start doesn’t surprise me,” Jurzynski said. “No disrespect to the teams that we have swam so far, but they are teams that we anticipated on beating. What really has me thrilled is the way we have been swimming so early in the season.
“We are definitely on the right track. We have a tough schedule coming up and while we may not beat the top teams I definitely think that we can be a dangerous opponent for anybody. We are still a pretty young team but it is a hard-working group who won’t be intimidated by anything.”
Among the top swimmers for the Gaels has been junior Simona Visinski who recently broke her school record in the 200 individual medley (2:14.23). Other top swimmers include sophomore distance swimmer Alyssa Bretan and sprint freestylers Louise Kim, Emma Parkes and Caitlin McGuire. The team captains are Katie Barber (freestyles/butterfly) and Jade Serrano (freestyles/breaststroke).
“As a whole, the entire team has been great thus far,” Jurzynski said. “Our relays have already turned in times that we didn’t do until the postseason (last season). Even the girls who are just high school season swimmers and don’t swim year round are ahead of where they were at this point last season. We are off to a great start and are looking forward to a great October and November.”
Jurzynski said the early success is great. But the success hasn’t provided extra confidence because the swimmer’s confidence in their ability has always been there.
“One thing I don’t have to worry about with these girls is confidence,” Jurzynski said. “They are a group that really loves swimming with each other yet at the same time they can be competitive with each other. They are a talented and tough group that aren’t scared or intimidated by anything.
“With that being said, all of our training is geared with an eye to the postseason. Don’t get me wrong, having a great dual meet record is nice and we have some dates circled on the calendar. But we don’t want to lose track of the long-term goal, which is the postseason. The postseason is a focus that I have been instilling in these girls since they’ve come into the program.”
Jurzynski said the Gaels “are shooting for success” in both the CIAC State Open and CIAC Class LL championship meets.
“The goal is not just to get to the postseason but be competitive as well,” Jurzynski said. “We have swimmers (swimmers listed above) and relays that I feel can do that. Our best finish at the State Open meet in our history is 13th and that is something we can attain this season.”
SCC’s Big 3
The consensus among girls swim coaches in the Southern Connecticut Conference is that, as usual, Amity, Cheshire and Lauralton Hall are the teams to beat in the league with their depth and talent.
The regular-season dual meet SCC title will likely come down to the matchups among these three powerhouse teams. So when do they face off against each other?
On Oct. 10, Lauralton Hall will host Amity at 7 p.m. at Foran High pool in Milford, Amity will host Cheshire on Oct. 13 at the Orange Community Center Pool in Orange at 7:20 p.m., and Cheshire will host Lauralton Hall on Oct. 17 at the Cheshire Community Pool at 7 p.m.