A sign that a team hasn’t lost to a league opponent in a long time is when its coach actually has to research the last time it was defeated.
Seymour girls swimming coach Patrick DiCaprio did the research and learned the last time the Wildcats dropped a dual meet against a league foe was when Sacred Heart (Waterbury) emerged victorious in October of 2014.
Since then, Seymour has gone undefeated in dual meets spanning parts of six seasons and has lost just twice overall during that era.
The Wildcats have finished unbeaten the past three seasons, including a perfect 9-0 record this fall.
“For our seniors last season, it was a big deal for them to go undefeated in the league for four years,” DiCaprio said. “The team is aware that we’ve been undefeated in the league for a while, it is one of their focal points.”
Entering the season, Seymour had some events to fill in its lineup, due to the graduation of several standouts, including Sierra Cripps — an All-State, All-NVL performer, who is continuing her swimming career at Seton Hall University’s Division I program. Sophia Velleco and Katrine O’Leary are a pair of freshmen, who have helped spark the Wildcats in a variety of events in their first season on the squad and have enabled the team to maintain its winning ways.
“We have a strong freshman class, they have helped fill in the void from the seniors, who were great for us for several seasons,” DiCaprio said. “Between Sophia and Katrine, they might set four team records in the postseason.”
Especially successful in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke events, Sophia Velleco has flourished in a variety of races for the Wildcats.
“She is a very versatile swimmer,” DiCaprio said of Velleco. “I can put her in any event and she can handle it. She knows what she has to do and understands that dual meets prepare you for the postseason meets — the NVL, states and State Open — she gets the big picture.”
Sophia Velleco’s older sister, Olivia is a junior on the squad, who has excelled in each event she’s competed in. Olivia Velleco holds the school record time of 1:08.50 in the 100 breaststroke.
“Olivia is a very intelligent athlete,” DiCaprio said. “She realized even before the year was over last year she would have some holes to fill in the butterfly and she worked on her butterfly during the summer. Her underwaters are fantastic and when she goes, the excitement level of the team skyrockets.”
Like Olivia, Sophia Velleco made the cut for state tournament (Class S) in all eight individual events. DiCaprio knows she’s primed for a productive postseason as a freshman.
“She has been around swimmer her entire life, so she understands that you may not have your best performance every time out there,” DiCaprio said. “Between her brother (a former swimmer at Seymour) and her sister, she has witnessed the NVL meet several times, so she knows what the environment is like. It is loud, noisy and energized and I think she’s set up for great success.”
O’Leary has ignited the Wildcats in the sprint freestyle events and has also performed well in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly when called upon.
“I have yet to coach such a pure sprinter,” DiCaprio said of O’Leary. “She can kick a 25 in the pool faster than most girls — she moves water. She moves so fast and is putting up impressive times. The first meet of the season, she swam the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly and she put up times that would have won the NVL meet in both events.”
Last season saw Seymour finish first in the team standings at the NVL Championships for the first time since 2007, amassing 819.5 points. The Wildcats are seeking a repeat performance at next week’s NVL Championships.
“In all eight individual swimming events, we have at least two athletes seeded in the top heat,” DiCaprio said. “It should be a good meet for our team.”
Captained by seniors Jackie Pereira and Ashley Sirowich, both of whom have contributed in the relay races, the Wildcats have also been guided by juniors Kelti Johnson and Kaitlyn McCluskey and sophomores McKenna Haynes and Grace Parkosewich.
In 2018, Seymour placed third in the team standings at the CIAC Class S Championships and was 15th at the State Open Championships.
“With the make-up we have, this might end up being the highest ranked team at the State Open in our program’s history,” DiCaprio said. “I believe we have the potential to be a top-10 team at the State Open.”
DARIEN CAPS UNDEFEATED REGULAR SEASON
Darien put the finishing touch on its undefeated dual-meet season with a 95-75 win over visiting Fairfield Warde last week. The Blue Wave, who honored their 14 seniors during the meet, finished the regular season with a record of 9-0 for coach Marj Trifone.
Prior to defeating Warde, the Blue Wave topped Ridgefield, 101-85, in one of its most competitive meets of the season.
Senior Julia Servas (238.30), freshman Lilly Wurm (226.35) and senior Emma Hunter (198.51) finished 1-2-3, respectively, for the Blue Wave on the 1-meter diving board against Ridgefield.
Sophomore Maggie Sedlak posted a first-place finish in the 100-meter butterfly (1:08.39) and junior Olivia Golden took first in the 100 backstroke (1:06.39) for Darien, which also won the 200-meter relay in 2:07.52.
FIT TO BE TIED
One of the best meets of last week occurred when FCIAC rivals Staples and Ridgefield met. The host Wreckers and Tigers, both of whom should make their mark in next week’s FCIAC Championships, dueled to a 93-93 tie.
Ridgefield’s Rylie Giles won the 200-meter freestyle with a time of 2:08.85, then finished first in the 400 freestyle (4:43.33). Esme Hunter gave Staples two individual first-place finishes, winning the 200-meter individual medley (2:28.12) and the 100 backstroke (1:05.67).
Hannah Seward touched the wall first in the 50 freestyle (27.42) and 100 butterfly (1:03.66) for the Tigers and Katie Whitaker of Staples won the diving event (219.05). Jessica Qi (Staples) had a first-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle (1:00.53) and was second in the 200-meter freestyle (2:12.61).
In the meet’s final event, the Tigers won the 400 freestyle relay in 4:06.08 and the Wreckers placed second (4:09.77).
NORTH HAVEN, SANTACROCE END DUAL-MEET SEASON IN STYLE
North Haven finished its dual-meet season with a record of 9-2, following its 94-79 win against Shelton this past Friday. The nine wins are the most ever for North Haven, according to coach Martha Phelan.
During North Haven’s regular season finale against Shelton, senior Ava Santacroce broke her own school diving record, finishing in first place with a total of 246.65 points.
“We are now moving to the postseason and I’m hopeful to continue our quest for a historic season,” Phelan said.