GREENWICH — Meghan Lynch talked about setting her sights on breaking school records in certain events during the Greenwich High School swimming team’s dual meets this season, since postseason meets are a big question mark in this new, modified season.
Friday, in a meet that couldn’t come soon enough for the Greenwich and Westhill/Stamford squads, Lynch didn’t waste any time in meeting some of her goals.
In the first meet of a season that will long be remembered for its differences due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lynch produced the same impressive results her teammates have become accustomed to watching.
Lynch broke the school-record that was previously set in 2004 in the 500 freestyle and tied the team mark in the 50 freestyle in Greenwich’s 107-42 victory over Westhill/Stamford.
Lynch won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:52.25, breaking Keira Heath’s 2004 team record (4:55.44). She placed first in the 50-yard freestyle in 23.89 seconds, tying a team mark.
“The 50 free is hit, or miss,” Lynch said. “I was happy I tried it, hopefully, we can keep having meets and I can always move faster. The 500 was fun. I knew I had 20 laps to do it. I suited up, because I didn’t know if I had more meets. Hopefully, I’ll have more chances to go faster.”
Following COVID-19 safety guidelines, athletes wore masks, until they approached the starting blocks and were ready to race. They also spread out while watching the action and practiced social distancing throughout. Swimmers from each squad also swam in consecutive lanes — there was no alternate lane swimming. Westhill/Stamford swam in lanes 1-4, Greenwich raced in lanes 5-8.
“I think everybody’s a winner today,” Westhill/Stamford coach Rick Lewis said. “Getting back to a more normal situation and being able to compete, that’s what it’s all about. Winning or losing the meet isn’t the real issue in this environment. To be able to race in person is a win for everyone today.”
Greenwich, Westhill/Stamford, New Canaan and Darien each compete in the FCIAC West Region and will face each other twice.
“We don’t want to go virtual, not when you go can in-person meets,” Lewis said. “I’m real happy with the division. I get to swim in person all the time, we get good facilities and the girls get to do something that’s more normal. Hopefully, everyone is smart and we get through the whole season and there’s a really meaningful season.”
Added Lynch: “There was a little less energy, because there wasn’t a crowd and we were wearing masks, but other than that, it felt pretty normal and having another team here was nice.”
Rob Lewis, Rick Lewis’ brother, was one of the meet’s officials. Among his responsibilities was making sure the athletes adhered to the safety guidelines.
“Social distancing and wearing a mask those are the main things,” Rob Lewis said. “If I see something I will remind them, I did that once regarding masks. So far, I have done two meets and they have been really good. I’m glad that we are doing what we can to have the swim meets.”
The opening race of the new-look season saw Greenwich win the 200 medley relay in 1:52.68. The Cardinals also placed second (1:56.67). Payton Foster was the 200 freestyle winner for Greenwich, posting a time of 1:54.59. Westhill/Stamford’s Maya Watson was the runner-up in the 200 freestyle (2:02.09) and took third in the 500 freestyle (5:27.76).
“We were unsure at the beginning of the season if we were going to have a season at all, so it’s super, super amazing that we are allowed back into the pool, we’re really grateful for that,” Watson said of starting the season. “It’s definitely more complicated, because we have to follow the COVID regulations, but we don’t mind so much, we’re just so grateful to be back in the pool. It’s really not all that different, besides masks and social distancing.”
Watson is also looking forward to facing such powerhouse swim programs.
“We’re definitely up against some of the best schools in Connecticut,” Watson said. “But we’re excited for the challenge.”
Freshman Sydney Jee touched the wall first in the 200 individual medley for the Cards (2:17.88), while teammate Samantha Ennis, a senior, placed second (2:18.82), Lynch followed that up by notching a record-tying performance in the 50 freestyle.
Foster registered a winning effort in the 100 freestyle (54.45) for Greenwich, which also won the 200 freestyle relay race (1:41.04.). Caterina Li had a second-place finish in the event (55.21).
On the 1-meter diving board, Annie Bingle took top honors. Bingle, making her first appearance for the Cardinals, after diving for Greenwich Academy the previous two seasons, totaled 255.39 points. Hannah Chuckas was second for Westhill/Stamford, which also received a second-place finish from Anna Edwards in the 50 freestyle. The 100 breaststroke saw Jee post her second first-place finish.
“It was a great meet all around, everybody comes out a winner today by being able to swim the meet in person,” Greenwich coach Lorrie Hokayem said. “The kids got up on the blocks and we had some really good races.”
As for Lynch’s records?
“She had two great swims and it’s always nice to see a goal realized and I’m happy for her and both of them were great swims.”