After being the runner-up at the Naugatuck Valley League Swimming Championships the past two seasons, Seymour was second to none at this year’s league meet.
Winning nine events, the Wildcats swam to their first NVL title since 2007, amassing 819.5 team points at Kennedy High School in Waterbury last week.
Naugatuck placed second (748), followed by last year’s champion Woodland Regional (699), Sacred Heart (658.5) and Watertown (597).
“Winning the title felt great,” Seymour senior standout Sierra Cripps said. “My freshman year and the past two years we got second. The past two years, we lost by not many points. It has been really hard, because we don’t have divers on our team.”
Despite not being able to gain diving points, the Wildcats made up for it by making their mark in each swimming event at the NVL finals. Cripps won two individual events and was named the NVL’s Most Outstanding Swimmer.
She placed first in the 50-yard freestyle in a meet and league record time of 23.93 seconds.
“That was the first time I have ever been under 24 in the 50 freestyle,” the Seton Hall University-bound Cripps said. “Seeing 23 on the board was crazy.”
Following a short break, Cripps was in the pool again, competing in the 100 butterfly. She claimed the first-place medal in the event in a meet/NVL time of 56.36.
“Swimming back-to-back events is a challenge, but they are my two best events,” Cripps said. “I spent a lot of time in between warming down and tried to take it one race at a time.”
Sophomore Kaitlyn McClusky won the NVL title in the 200 freestyle (2:02.47) and 500 freestyle (5:27.85) for the Wildcats. Sophomore Olivia Velleco garnered two first-place medals for Seymour, winning the 200 individual medley in 2:12.73 and the 100 breaststroke (1:09.21). Elizabeth Brown of Sacred Heart finished first in the 100 freestyle (56.67), while Julia McCarthy from Torrington took the top spot in the 100 backstroke (1:00.59) at the NVL finals.
Seymour started the meet with its foursome of sophomore Kelti Johnson, freshman Mckenna Haynes, Cripps and junior Ania Mrozik winning the 200 medley relay in a meet-record time of 1:53.11
“We were pumped up for that relay and we were telling each other that we could make a statement right here,” Cripps said. “Being able to perform well in all of our relays shows we are an all-around strong team.”
Seymour also won the league title in the 200 freestyle relay (1:42.90) and the 400 freestyle relay (3:51.22).
“Swimming good at trials was important and to our success and we wanted to make sure our underclassmen knew that it was just as important as the finals — every meet counts.”
GAMBARDELLA, PANARONI HONORED
Angela Gambardella of North Haven and Emma Panaroni of Hamden each received recognition for the impressive seasons they have produced for their respective teams.
Panaroni received the Southern Connecticut Conference’s Division II Swimmer of the Year Award, while Gambardella earned the SCC’s Division I Swimmer of the Year accolades.
A junior, Gambardella has excelled in each event she has competed in for North Haven, especially the 100-yard breaststroke and 200 individual medley, which saw her top the competition at the SCC Championships at Southern Connecticut State University.
Gambardella swam the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.29 and clocked in at 2:06.63 in the 200 IM at the SCC finals. Selected as the Most Outstanding Swimmer of the Meet, Gambardella was also a part of North Haven’s winning 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams at the conference championships.
Following a standout regular season, Panaroni, a sophomore, had strong peformances at the SCC Championships. Panaroni placed third in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 59.59. In the 200 freestyle, she had a sixth-place finish in 1:59.
Maddie Bergin, North Haven: The sophomore touched the wall first in the 50 freestyle (23.99) and 100 freestyle (52.89) at the SCC finals.
Sienna Breton, Cheshire: Breton, a senior, claimed the 1-meter diving title at the SCC Championships, totaling 462.45 points.
Elizabeth Brown, Sacred Heart: Brown won the 100-yard freestyle title at the NVL Championships, clocking in at 56.67. She also placed second in the 100 backstroke.
Sierra Cripps, Seymour: The senior was the 50 freestyle champion (23.93) and 100 butterfly (56.36) winner at the NVL Championships for Seymour, which captured the team title. Cripps set meet and league records in both events and was named the Swimmer of the Meet.
Kelsey DeJesus, Watertown: DeJesus, a senior, claimed the first-place medal in the 1-meter diving event at the NVL Championships. She tied her meet/conference score from last year with 575.45 points.
Angela Gambardella, North Haven: A junior, Gambardella was the 200 individual medley (2:06.63) and the 100 breaststroke (1:03.29) winner at the SCC championship meet. She was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Performer for the second straight year.
Rylie Giles, Ridgefield: Was the 500 freestyle champion at the FCIAC finals in 5:05.49.
Marissa Healy, Staples: The senior established an FCIAC record in winning the 100-yard butterfly in 54.91 at the finals. She also took the first-place medal in the 50 freestyle (23.29).
Kaitlyn Holmes, Darien: A freshman, Holmes took a close second in the 100 breaststroke at the FCIAC finals (1:07.03).
Louise Kim, Shelton: The senior placed second in the 50 freestyle (24.18) and 100 freestyle (53.13) at the SCC meet.
Jenna Leonard, Ridgefield: Captured the 100 breaststroke title at the FCIAC Championships in 1:06.47.
Meghan Lynch, Greenwich: A sophomore, Lynch broke her own record in winning the 200-yard individual medley at the FCIAC Championships, touching the wall in 2:01.55. Lynch also won the 100 freestyle (51.34).
Jordan MacDonald, Foran: Finished a very close second in the 100-yard butterfly at the SCC finals (57.81).
Kaitlyn McClusky, Seymour: McClusky, a sophomore, had first-place finishes in the 200 (2:02.47) and 500 (5:27.85) freestyle events at the NVL Championships.
Julia McCarthy, Torrington: The sophomore was second in the 200 IM in the conference championships (1:00.59).
Ania Mrozik, Seymour: A junior, Mrozik finished a close second in the 100 freestyle (56.67) for Naugatuck Valley League champion Seymour at the league finals.
Kayla Mendonca, Daniel Hand: At the SCC meet, the junior registered a first-place finish in the 100 backstroke in 57.36.
Sophie Murphy, Cheshire: The sophomore won the 200-yard freestyle title at the SCC Championships wit a time of 1:56.07.
Norah Rome, East Haven/Cross: A freshman, Rome showcased her skills in the distance events at the SCC finals, placing first in the 500 freestyle in 5:05.06 and taking second in the 200 freestyle (1:56.21).
Julia Stevens, Cheshire: Stevens, a junior, helped lead the Rams to the SCC team title, winning the 100 butterfly (57.44) and finishing second in the 200 IM (2:10.75) at the conference’s championship meet.
Anna Turner, Ridgefield: Was the FCIAC champion in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:57.29.
Olivia Velleco, Seymour: The sophomore captured the first-place medal in the 200 IM (2:12.73) and 100 breaststroke (1:09.21) at the NVL finals.
Greenwich’s 400-freestyle relay: The quartet of Emily Warner, Hannah Seward, Jenna Handali and Meghan Lynch set an FCIAC record in winning the event in 3:31.28 at the conference finals.