Before the championship meets each season, the Greenwich High School boys swimming team leaves the cold winter weather behind and travels to a warm destination.
During its winter break from school last week, Greenwich went to Aruba for the second straight season, and while that sounds like a luxurious vacation, the trip was mostly about business.
For numerous seasons, the Cardinals have taken a training trip during their week-long winter break from school to get primed for the postseason meets and as their dozens of State Open, Class LL and FCIAC championships indicate, they’ve usually returned to Greenwich ready to make their mark.
Coached by Terry Lowe, Greenwich went to the Olympic Training Center in Puerto Rico for more than two decades, but Hurricane Maria caused destruction at the site and it has still not been renovated. So the Cardinals found a new venue to train — Aruba’s Pisina Olympicio Roly Bisslik.
“It had a 10-lane, 50-meter long-course pool that was open for our use for two workouts a day,” said Lowe, whose squad spent nine days in Aruba. “The kids were unbelievably responsive to everything we asked them to do.”
The training trip came at an opportune time for the Cards. They finished the regular season with a record of 9-1, but their lone loss occurred in their final meet against rival Ridgefield. The host Tigers completed a 10-0 season with an impressive 114-71 win over the Cardinals — a defeat that left GHS humbled a bit.
“We may have been just a little overconfident, but Ridgefield had a very strong meet,” Lowe said. “It was a reminder that we have a lot of work to do to contend with teams like Ridgefield.”
While in Aruba, the defending State Open, Class LL and FCIAC champion Cardinals became refreshed and got into the proper mindset.
“Our team had an opportunity to be focused on the sport for nine days,” Lowe said. “Besides swimming, a lot of team bonding took place between workouts. They shared meals together and were able to talk a lot together as a group.”
Along with Ridgefield and Greenwich, a group of teams should be in contention for the State Open and class titles.
“The team knows they will be challenged by a lot of different teams in the state and they have to rise to the occasion to meet those challenges,” Lowe said. “A sense of urgency is needed to contend with these teams, and our team knows it.”
The FCIAC trials take place Tuesday at Greenwich High, followed by the conference finals Thursday, also at GHS. The Cardinals are hoping to keep their championship tradition going. They have won the State Open and Class LL championships the past six years.
“We’re determined to defend our titles, but at the FCIAC meet, there is also that balance of finding out what our best lineup is for the state meet,” Lowe said. “You win those meets by earning a lot of top-four spots in each event.”
Greenwich enters next week’s FCIAC Championships well-represented in each event. Senior Stephan Todorovic, one of the Cards’ most consistent swimmers, has flourished in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard butterfly this season and has performed well in in the relay races (200 medley, 400 freestyle).
Junior Charlie Clark (200 freestyle, 100 freestyle) brings strength to the freestyle events, while brothers Jack and Ryan Jee have each turned in productive seasons.
Jack Jee, a junior, and Ryan (freshman) have each been successful in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke, while sophomore Nick Malchow (50, 100 freestyle), senior Niki de la Sierra (50, 100 freestyle), freshman Mike Merson (50, 100 freestyle), Justin Jacob (freshman 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly), James Pascale (sophomore, 500 freestyle) and Nick Todorovic (sophomore 500 freestyle) have posted solid times in their respective events throughout the season.
The Cardinals have benefited from their efforts of their divers at the postseason meets in seasons past.
“We’re looking to score solid diving points,” Lowe said. “We have a good group of divers and diving points have really been important to us in the big meets.”
Sophomore Joel Satir, senior Michael McNulty, junior Logan Barnett and sophomore Aidan Kriskey have sparked the diving corps.
“We may not have the No. 1 guy in the state in each event, but we have a lot of high-quality swimmers and a lot of depth,” Lowe said. “Our depth has to be a factor in helping us defend our FCIAC, LL and Open titles. It’s important for us to get three or four people in each event at these meets and amass the points needed to win. Also, we have three excellent relays, which are capable of really helping our team.”
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE HERE
The FCIAC Swimming Championships are scheduled to begin with Tuesday’s trials at Greenwich High School. The FCIAC finals are slated to take place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Greenwich High. Westhill will host the FCIAC diving finals on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The SCC Championships start with Monday’s trials at Cheshire Community Pool. The finals of the SCC Championships are scheduled to be held at Southern Connecticut State University on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The conference’s divers will gather for the finals at Sheehan High School on Friday.
In NVL action, the conference trials are set for Tuesday at Kennedy High School. The NVL finals will be held on March 1 at 4:30 p.m. at Kennedy High.
The SWC finals are slated to take place at Masuk on March 1 at 5 p.m.
Matt Balcerzak, Shelton: Gave Shelton two winning efforts in its 94-71 win vs. Hamden, placing first in the 50 freestyle (24.44 second) and 100 butterfly (1:01.70).
Aleksej Cupic, Seymour: Cupic posted first-place finishes in the 200 freestyle (1:41.49) and 500 freestyle (5:25.51) for Seymour in its 90-80 win vs. Oxford. He also competed on the team’s winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.
Jack Crocamo, Seymour: In Seymour’s victory against Oxford, Crocamo touched the wall first in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:14.83 and won the 100 breaststroke (1:06.16). He was also part of the team’s first-place 200 medley relay squad (1:55.61) and 200 freestyle team (1:36.71).
Donald Frost, Xavier: Won the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly races for Xavier in its 108-72 triumph against Middletown.
Christian Farricker, Brunswick: Farricker was fourth in the 100 butterfly at the Eastern Interscholastic Championships, registering an All-American consideration time of 49.63 seconds.
Ethan Godfrey, Glastonbury: Amassed 294.80 points on the 1-meter diving board for Glastonbury, which prevailed against Amity, 95-80.
Ian Harker, Hall: Produced winning performances in the 100 butterfly (55.33) and 200 individual medley (2:06.66) for Hall in its 95-81 loss against Conard.
Marcus Hodgson, Brunswick: Hodgson finished third for the Bruins in the 100 butterfly at the Eastern Interscholastic Championships at Franklin & Marshall College last week in an All-American consideration time of 49.23 seconds. He also placed ninth in the 100 freestyle in a school-record time of 45.26 (All-American consideration).
Thomas Kehoe, Fairfield Prep: Kehoe was the diving winner in the Jesuits’ victory against Amity, earning 264 points.
McAllister Milne, Glastonbury: Milne won the 200 freestyle (1:41.49), then finished first in the 500 freestyle (4:42.27) for Glastonbury, which beat Amity, 95-80.
Edward Platonov, Milford: Finished first in the 100 freestyle in 49.79 seconds and was the 100 breaststroke winner (1:08.89) in Milford’s 100-83 defeat against Lyman Hall/Coginhaug.
Tyler Wenzel, Middletown: Wenzel took top honors in the diving event for Middletown in its loss against Xavier. He earned a total of 294.30 points.