Already a team record-holder in five events, Meghan Lynch hopes to break several more marks for the Greenwich High School girls swimming team this season, but she may have to do so at regular-season dual meets.
The Cardinals, who traditionally contend for the State Open, Class LL and FCIAC titles, have a modified schedule this fall due to safety guidelines attached to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a condensed regular-season schedule and a postseason that is yet to be determined, dual meets may be the top for swimmers and divers to shine.
“Hopefully, we have a couple of big meets at the end, even if it’s not like states,” said Lynch, a senior tri-captain, who will continue her swimming career at Stanford University in 2021. “We never know if our next meet is going to be our last meet, because of the situation involving COVID, so I guess we are treating every meet bigger. I want to get more records, so maybe I can get them at dual meets.”
Lynch, a three-time all-America performer in the 200-yard individual medley, is Greenwich’s record holder in the 200 freestyle, 200 IM, 100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke and was part of a record-setting 400 freestyle relay. She aims to break the school record in the 50 freestyle and 500 freestyle this season. Greenwich, which opens its season with a home meet against FCIAC West Region foe Stamford/Westhill on Friday, would have had its sights set on winning the triple crown — the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open championships.
“It’s tough to see the season shortened,” said GHS coach Lorrie Hokayem, who guided the Cards to a second-place finish at the Class LL and State Open and FCIAC Championships in 2019. “This is one of the deepest teams that we’ve had here at GHS.”
With a wealth of talent returning from last season’s squad and a group of freshman who should immediately contribute, Greenwich is primed to score points in each event, which will have added significance this year, since the postseason is a question mark.
“We’re working very hard, so we’re going to make the most of the season that has been put together by the CIAC and FCIAC,” Hokayem said. “Right now we’re just focused on dual meets and we’re hoping that the FCIAC comes up with a good proposal that allows us to have a good championship meet with the FCIAC West Region. Hopefully, it gets put together with the rest of the FCIAC virtually. That would be a great way to end the season.”
In-person meets will have a different look this season. Spectators are not allowed, swimmers/divers will wear masks until they are ready to compete in an event and members of each team will swim in consecutive lanes (no alternate lanes by team).
“We are excited about the season and ready to make it happen safely in person,” Hokayem said. “This is one of the toughest teams we’ve had with a phenomenal senior class.”
Lynch, Samantha Ennis and Julia Lucey captain the squad, which was the runnerup to Cheshire at the 2019 Class LL and State Open Championships.
Earning all-America, All-State and All-FCIAC honors, Lynch produced a junior season that saw her win the Class LL title in the 200-yard individual medley in an all-American and state-record time of 1:59.13. She also won the 200 IM at the State Open and placed second in the 100 breaststroke at the Class LL and Open competition (1:02.44, all-America Time at State Open).
“Meghan is definitely one of the best swimmers that GHS has ever had,” Hokayem said. “She’s been a great leader by example for four years here, she’s a state record-holder in the breaststroke and IM and she has her sights set on a few other events this year.”
A versatile swimmer, Lynch, will also spark the Cardinals in the relay races, most likely the 400 freestyle (first 2019 State Open, Class LL) and 200 medley.
“The team, it’s really good this year, we have a bunch of fast freshmen and new swimmers, which is exciting and everyone has been swimming really well in practice,” Lynch said.
Ennis, an All-State, All-FCIAC Team selection a year ago, placed second in the 100 backstroke at last season’s Class LL competition (56.26) and was third in the race at the State Open (56.74). She also led off Greenwich’s winning State Open and Class LL 200 medley relay squad, which Lynch also swam on.
“The talent that we’ve seen from a lot of our swimmers with the depth we have is something we haven’t seen in a while,” Ennis said. “So I’m really excited to get the chance to spend time in the water together. We’re really lucky to have a season.”
Ennis knows the Cards have the potential to post impressive times each meet.
“We are all going for it every practice and every meet,” Ennis said. “Every chance we get to compete, we are going to make the most of.”
The 500 freestyle and 200 IM are among some of the events Lucey will test her swim skills in. She’s enjoyed her role as one of the captains during unprecedented times.
“It’s been different, we aren’t doing a lot of our team-bonding activities, like team dinners,” Lucey said. “But it’s still really exciting, this is my fourth year, so helping to lead the team is nice. For a while, we didn’t know how it was going to look, whether we were going to be doing virtual meets or in-person, but we have our in-person meet scheduled for Friday, so we are excited to have that experience.”
Indeed, the meet couldn’t come sooner for the Cardinals.
“I haven’t competed in a meet since late February or March, so it’s really exciting,” Lucey said. “We are looking forward to competing and seeing how we do.”
Added Ennis: “For a season like this at this point, we are trying to be safe and get everyone to participate in a meet, so we can get (the) best times.”
Junior Caterina Li, sophomore Victoria Liu, Isabella Malchow (junior) and sophomore Daisy Decker are among some of the returners from last season’s successful squad. Li competed on Greenwich’s championship 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay, while qualifying for the State Open in the 200 IM.
Liu represented GHS at the State Open in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle and was also a member of the 400 freestyle relay. Malchow made her mark in the backstroke.
On the 1-meter diving board, the arrival of Annie Bingle, will ignite the Cardinals’ group of divers. A two-time all-America performer, Bingle competed for Greenwich Academy, the previous two seasons. She placed second at the 2019 NEPSAC Championships and the FAA Championships.
AT THE HELM: Hokayem took over Greenwich’s swim program in 2014 and has since led the Cardinals to four State Open championships, five Class LL titles and two FCIAC crowns.
SCHEDULE: Westhill/Stamford, home Friday, 5:30 p.m.; New Canaan, Oct. 9, home, 5:30 p.m.; Darien, Oct. 16, home, 5:30 p.m.; New Canaan, Oct. 24, away; Darien, Oct. 28, away; St. Joseph, Westhill/Stamford, Nov. 4, home.
CAPTAIN’S COMMENT: “It’s so sad this is my last year on the team,” Lynch said. “I remember being a freshman thinking I had a lot of time left. I’ve always enjoyed the team aspect of competing for a high school team.”