With Kate Hazlett registering first-place finishes and All-American times, and numerous competitors achieving personal-best performances, Greenwich Academy once again, couldn’t be beat at the NEPSAC Division I Swimming & Diving Championships.
Winning eight events, Greenwich Academy continued its championship reign in the NEPSAC, claiming the winner’s trophy for the third consecutive season.
The Gators garnered the title in convincing fashion, totaling 409.5 team points at the NEPSAC Division I meet, held at Deerfield Academy. Phillips Academy was the runner-up (278), followed by Deefield Academy, Hopkins School (212) and Choate Rosemary Hall (203).
Hazlett, one of GA’s senior captains, won the 50 and 100-yard freestyle titles and was part of the team’s championship 200 and 400-yard freestyle relay squads in the final meet of her esteemed career.
“Finishing off the season was so sad, I can’t believe my time on the team is over,” Hazlett said. “The other captains were sad to see the season end too. But it was great to finish the season on that note. Winning the championship again — there was no better way for us to finish the season.”
The two-day championship meet, which concluded on Sunday, featured 12 girls NEPSAC schools.
“At a meet like that, everyone is spending a lot more time at the pool over a two-day span,” GA coach Michael Sabala said. “It’s quite difficult to stay powered up, hydrated, focused and rested. Our team did a great job of staying ready to perform. They were very supportive and we had a ton of best times, which was very exciting.”
Hazlett continued her dominance in the 50-yard freestyle. She won the event in an All-American automatic time of 23.09 seconds. Sydney Kang of Phillips Exeter Academy was second (23.64). The Harvard University-bound Hazlett also recorded a time of 23.06 in the preliminaries.
“I love the 50 freestyle, it is a race where you don’t have to think about anything,” Hazlett said. “I just wanted to have fun since it was the last time I was swimming it for the team. I got on the blocks, smiled and had fun racing. I did that for both the finals and the preliminaries.”
The previous four seasons saw Hazlett win the 50 freestyle at the NEPSAC finals, as she set New England and meet records along the way.
“Kate had another legendary performance,” Sabala said. “It was a great way for her to wrap up a storied high school career. We were honored to have her as part of the program for five years.”
The NEPSAC meet began with Sophia Moore, Ashley Hu, Kate Brush and Madeleine Holden winning the 200-yard medley relay for GA in 1:46.28.
“Last year we won one relay, this year we won all three, which was thrilling,” Sabala said. “We scored more points at this meet than we did last year, which is surprising. Doing so well at the preliminaries the day before really helped us.”
Michalik, a sophomore, touched the wall first in the 200 freestyle for GA, posting a time of 1:50.94 — a lifetime best time. Caroline Pennington, a sophomore, took fourth for the Gators in the event (1:55.00).
In the 200 individual medley, freshman Hutton Saunders had a third-place finish for GA with a time of 2:07.03 (personal-record time). Sydney Winters of Suffield Academy won the event in an All-American consideration showing of 2:03.27.
Brush, who also served as one of the senior captains, was fourth in the 100 butterfly (58.33, season-best time), which was won by Niki Pelletier of Deerfield (57.49).
Hazlett’s second first-place medal of the meet came in the 100 freestyle, where she clocked in at 50.52 seconds. Samantha Scott of Choate Rosemary Hall was the runner-up (51.22).
“Throughout the entire meet, I received a lot of competition,” Hazlett said. “I had a bunch of teammates in that race and some of my club teammates in that race too. Similar to the 50 freestyle, I just went out there and tried to have fun swimming next to my teammates. It was a fun way to finish off the season.”
Ava Hamblett of Hopkins captured the 500 freestyle title (4:58.84), while GA sophomore Caroline Pennington placed second (5:00.83) and Brush finished fourth (5:09.68).
Moore, a junior was the 100 backstroke champion (56.74), Michalik finished third (57.87) and senior Emmy Sammons (59.71) took ninth. Hu, a sophomore, was the runner-up in the 100 breaststroke for the Gators (1:06.09) Winters of Suffield was the winner (1:03.30). Emmy Sammons also provided leadership as one of Greenwich Academy’s senior captains.
Avery Sammons, Moore, Michalik and Hazlett claimed the first-place medal in the 200 freestyle relay 1:36.21 and Moore Brush, Michalik and Hazlett ended the meet by winning the 400 freestyle relay in 3:30.21.
“That last event, the 400 freestyle relay was so much fun,” Hazlett said. “Being able to swim that last leg for the team is something I won’t forget. Kate (Brush) and I were getting really sentimental before that race.
I’m so proud of our team. There were so many lifetime best times over the course of the weekend. I saw so many of our swimmers go faster than they ever had before.”