Excelling in Saturday’s preliminaries, Greenwich Academy put itself in prime position to contend for another New England swimming team title.
And when the finals began on Sunday, the Gators brought their performances to an even higher level.
Winning seven events and posting numerous other top-10 finishes, Greenwich Academy won the team title at the NEPSAC Division I Championships for the fourth straight season Sunday at Hotchkiss School.
GA totaled 377 team points, followed by runner-up Suffield Academy (322), Phillips Academy (283.5), Choate Rosemary Hall (198) and Loomis Chaffee School (165).
“The team had a fantastic day of final competition,” Greenwich Academy coach Michael Sabala said. “In combination with our diver’s performance on Wednesday, it was further proof of the 2020 team being one of the better GA teams in recent memory.”
Hotchkiss (161), Deerfield Academy (152), Phillips Exeter Academy (151), Hopkins (144) and Sacred Heart Greenwich (131.5), rounded out the top-10 squads at the championship meet.
Sophia Moore’s final meet as a member of Greenwich Academy’s squad was one to remember. The senior, who will continue her swimming career at Yale University, captured the first-place medal in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke races. She also led off GA’s winning 200-yard medley relay team and anchored the team’s first-place 400 freestyle relay squad.
“Sophia is super well-liked by her teammates and shares her skills and talents with our team,” Sabala said. “The younger swimmers really admire her.”
Moore touched the wall first in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:05.37. Claire Fu of Phillips Exeter Academy was second (2:07.38), followed by Cristin Earley of Hopkins School (2:07.42).
Hutton Saunders, a Greenwich Academy sophomore, finished fourth in the 200 IM (2:08.50), followed by teammate Ashley Hu, a junior, (2:10.19).
In the 100 backstroke, Moore registered a winning/All-American consideration time of 55.60 seconds. Mary Howley of Milton Academy finished second in 57.67.
The NEPSAC Division I Championships began with GA’s 200 medley relay team of Moore, Hu, freshman Brielle Gold and sophomore Madeleine Holden finishing first in an All-American consideration time of 1:45.09, giving the Gators 40 significant points.
GA also scored a lot of points in the 200-yard freestyle, with junior Claire Michalik garnering the first-place medal (1:52.10) and sophomore Elizabeth Xia winning the event’s B final (ninth-place overall, 1:57.02).
Sacred Heart Greenwich freshman Alexandra Bastone placed fourth overall in the 200 freestyle, clocking in at 1:52.82.
In the 50 freestyle, sophomore Avery Sammons placed sixth overall for GA (24.44), while Holden won the B final — good for a ninth-place finish overall(25.06). Samantha Scott of Choate Rosemary Hall was the race’s winner (23.66).
Greenwich Academy entered the meet’s finals with 33 points, thanks to divers Annie Bingle and Grace Wu.
Bingle, a sophomore, finished second on the 1-meter diving board totaling 446.05 points. Wu followed with a third-place finish for the Gators (423.45). Sydney Bluestein of Deerfield Academy edged Bingle for the NEPSAC diving title (446.35). Sacred Heart Greenwich senior Piper Van Wagenen was eighth on the 1-meter board (299.15).
The 100 butterfly saw Michalik earn the fourth-place medal with a time of 56.75. Gold was the B final winner, placing ninth overall in 58.66. Sydney Kang (Phillips Exeter Academy, 55.00) won the race.
Sammons (53.81) and Holden (54.10) were fourth and fifth, respectively, for GA in the 100 freestyle, which was won by Scott of Choate in 51.88.
In the 500 freestyle, Bastone gave Sacred Heart a first-place finish. She recorded an All-American consideration time of 4:55.81.
Greenwich Academy sophomore Hutton Saunders was seventh in 5:13.89, while Sacred Heart eighth-grader Rory Keller won the B final (ninth overall, 5:14.89).
The 200-yard freestyle relay was the second of three relay races the Gators won at the championship meet.
“The relays are highly visible and a lot of fun,” Sabala said. “There’s good competition within the team to get a chance to compete on the relay teams and they love racing together.”
Sammons, Michalik, Holden and Saunders combined to win the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:37.34. Right behind them was Suffield (1:37.65).
Hu claimed the gold medal in the 100 breaststroke, touching the wall in 1:03.99. She posted her lifetime best time in the preliminaries a day earlier, posting a time of 1:03.88.
The Gators put the finishing touch on their NEPSAC victory by winning the 400 freestyle relay. Sammons, Michalik, Saunders and Moore put together a winning time of 3:32.10. Sammons’ split of 53.52 was her lifetime best time.
“This is the third time that I’ve coached GA to the championship and it was the most competitive meet of the three,” Sabala said. “Suffield and Andover were very strong teams and based on the preliminaries, it was remarkably close heading into the finals. Our team made big gains on the rest of the field in day two.
It was a complete team effort and it was a privilege for me and our diving coach Dylan Korn and assistant coach Kasia Sawicz to work with this team. It was great to see our athletes gain on their standings from the preliminaries.”