In the 19 years Fran Pfeiffer has coached the Lauralton Hall girls swim team, he has been blessed with talent. The Crusaders have always had a winning regular-season dual-meet record in his tenure and that winning trend has continued in 2013.
The defending Class S champions began the season 7-0 before a tough meet with South-West Conference foe Weston on Friday. Weston, one of Lauralton Hall’s top obstacles for repeating as Class S champion, came away with 99-82 win.
“Our goal is to certainly try to repeat as Class S champions, but it might be an uphill climb competing against so many good teams,” Pfeiffer said. “But anything can happen in a championship meet. Lauralton has a cadre of age group swimmers (experienced upperclassmen), as do most teams. They impact the other girls to train in the off-season.”
The Crusaders are led by Register All-Area standout Mary Spillane, whose specialties are the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 backstroke. Other impact swimmers are seniors Megan Collins, Autumn Katz, Ambur Sheffield, Katie Brennan, Audrey O’Donnell, Madison Meyer and diver Olivia Parise. Among the many underclassmen making an impact are sophomores Kaitlyn Joy, Dakota Meyer, Shannon Buttling, Meredith Miller and Meghan Hill and freshman Haleigh McLaughlin
“I have 12 seniors this year who have driven this team for four years and have led us to a state championship and a second place (2011). Mary swims everything well, but has leaned toward the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke.
“Among our surprises this year are (sophomore) Julia Spillane (Mary’s sister), who has shown an abillity to swim any stroke at a moment’s notice and perform well. Shannon Buttling is a good sprinter who has moved up to the 100 butterfly and made state qualifying time. Another sophomore, Dakota Meyer, has improved immensely this year as well.”
The Crusaders have two regular-season meets left before the SWC meet, first with Stratford on Thursday and then Pomperaug on Tuesday, both at Foran at 7 p.m. The SWC meet will be held at Masuk — the diving championship begins Oct. 30 and the swim championships will be Nov. 2.
Pfeiffer prefers to stay out of the limelight and give the credit to his swimmers for both his longevity and success. He has a 180-35 career record, is the reigning CIAC girls swim coach of the year and was nominated for National Girls High School Coach of the Year last season. Pfeiffer-coached teams have won three Class S titles (2012, 1999, 1998) and a Class M crown (1996).
“I have had the good fortune of coaching at Lauralton Hall, which seems to attract those girls with great swim backgrounds,” Pfeiffer said.
Trojans get first two wins
Lyman Hall earned its first two wins of the season last week with a 93-90 victory over Law and 90-68 victory over East Haven.
Lyman Hall coach Chris Foglio believes a solid work ethic, the right mindset and consistent improvement were among the keys to last week’s success.
“Over the past year we have been working on facilitating a growth mindset after reading the book ‘Mindset’ by Dr. Carol Dweck,” Foglio said. “The main idea behind the book is to believe that things don’t have to be the way they are, but through hard work we can achieve more.”
Lexie Tangredi was one of the many top contributors in the two wins, dropping 6 seconds in her 100-freestyle time in a win against Law and posting a sub-30-second time to win the 50 freestyle against East Haven.
Other contributors this season have been Holly Driscoll, Rachael Stone and Amber Albe. Vikki Wall and Kiersty Neeman compete in both diving and swim events.