NEW CANAAN — It may not have the hype of the Turkey Bowl, but make no mistake, when the New Canaan Rams and Darien Blue Wave swimming and diving teams clash, the competition is just as intense.
The rivals delivered another thriller on Wednesday as the Rams pulled away in the second half of the meet for a 102-84 victory at the New Canaan YMCA. New Canaan led by 10 points before clinching the win during the penultimate event, the 100 breaststroke.
“This is definitely a meet we’ve been looking forward to all season,” New Canaan senior co-captain Jake Ritz said. “Especially in the last week or two, we’ve all been getting really excited and even a little nervous for this. Throughout the years, Darien has always been our toughest competitor and this year is no exception. We really focused on getting everyone on their ‘A’ game and getting them more than excited to swim their hearts out.”
Even with New Canaan (3-2) picking up 10 wins and leading from start to finish, the meet was close throughout. Six of the 12 events were scored 8-8.
“They swam great,” Darien head coach Liz Blau said of her team. “I’m very happy with them, very pleased, and they’ve been training hard. They had a hard workout this morning and they are just doing great.”
Ritz, senior Michael Kotlyar and junior Patrick Colwell each had a hand in four wins for New Canaan. Ritz won the 200 freestyle (1:46.06) and 500 freestyle (4:49.18), Kotlyar won the 50 freestyle (22.07) and 100 breaststroke (1:01.95), and Colwell won the 200 individual medley (2:02.55) and the 100 freestyle (48.65).
The Rams also won all three relays, with Darien finishing second and third each time.
For the Blue Wave (6-2), senior co-captain Spencer Erickson won the 100 backstroke in 55.38, and junior Connor Martin won the 100 butterfly in 52.96.
The meet turned in diving, as New Canaan swept the top three places to turn a two-point edge into a 45-33 advantage.
Junior diver Jackson Camporin scored 265.35 to win, edging classmate George Moore (263.65) in second. Connor Cloud (243.35), another junior, finished third.
“One thing that I’ve seen this year is an amazing cohesiveness between the swimming and diving teams,” New Canaan head coach Kat Munson said. “It’s hard because we swim in a different pool than they dive in, so they don’t spend a lot of time together. But the support between the two has been beyond what it’s been in years past. The swimmers know in the second half of the meet they need to capitalize on the lead the divers just got for us.”
New Canaan’s advantage was 77-63 when Darien closed the gap to 83-73 after a strong showing in the 100 backstroke. Following Erickson’s win were junior Scotty Tuck (57.38) in third, and senior Nick Giotis (58.59) in fifth.
The Rams responded by taking three of the top four places in the 100 breaststroke to seal the win. Kotlyar won the race, with sophomore Strider Bennett (1:05.53) in third, and junior Bart Codd (1:06.84) in fourth.
New Canaan put the exclamation point on the victory by taking first place in the 400 freestyle relay. Seniors Richard Ettinger and Brian Harrell teamed with Colwell and Ritz to win in 3:19.80. Darien seniors Erickson, Connor Zielinski, and Karl Wadleigh, with the junior Martin, were second in 3:26.26.
“That was great,” Ritz said of the final race. “We did not expect to win that relay but we had a feeling we had a shot. Richard got us off to a great lead, Brian carried the momentum, Patrick made the lead even greater, and then I just did my job.”
For the Rams, the key to the meet was having their second and third swimmers score in each event down the stretch.
“In the beginning it was our front men stepping up and getting those first-place finishes, which was really important,” Munson said. “I said to them at the break during diving that this was going to have to be a team win. We need those two and three men to step up and they did that. There was a lot more out of those two and three guys in the second half of the meet when we started to pull away.”
“Everyone’s job is just as important as the others,” Ritz said. “It’s just as important for some guys to get fourth and fifth as it is for other guys to get first and second. We really stress that and it showed today.”
For the Blue Wave, the performance was strong despite the loss.
“All of them swam great,” Blau said. “I can’t really pinpoint just one. They’ve all been stepping it up in practice and they’re all swimming great. They’re tired, they’re sore, and I’m really pleased with the effort their putting in and the way they’re performing. We are exactly where we need to be and they’re doing the work they need to do.”
SWIMMER OF THE MEET
Jake Ritz, New Canaan. The senior co-captain, who will swim for Div. III powerhouse Kenyon College next year, was one of three Rams to come away with four wins. He finished first in the 200 and 500 freestyle, and then swam the anchor legs of the 200 and 400 freestyle relays, closing out the meet with a victory.
“We have end-of-the-season goals and right now, they’re fighting for these dual meet victories. The rivalry is always there when it’s New Canaan and Darien, there’s no denying that, but their goals are beyond this one meet. This is preparation for what we want to do at FCIACs, states and Opens.” — New Canaan head coach Kat Munson
NEW CANAAN 102, DARIEN 84
200 medley relay: 1 New Canaan (Gianfranco Pozzolini, Michael Kotlyar, Patrick Colwell, Brian Harrell) 1:39.85; 2 Darien (Spencer Erickson, Nico Clark, Connor Martin, Matthew Freeman) 1:40.83; 3 Darien (Scotty Tuck, Ryan Roberts, Harry FitzPatrick, Max Scalise) 1:46.03
200 freestyle: 1 Jake Ritz (NC) 1:46.06; 2 Karl Wadleigh (D) 1:46.53; 3 Spencer Erickson (D) 1:49.89; 4 Richard Ettinger (NC) 1:50.55; 5 Nico Clark (D) 1:54.90
200 individual medley: 1 Patrick Colwell (NC) 2:02.55; 2 Thomas Dupont (D) 2:05.55; 3 Scotty Tuck (D) 2:05.59; 4 Daniel Lu (NC) 2:07.20; 5 Harry FitzPatrick (D) 2:09.63
50 freestyle: 1 Michael Kotlyar (NC) 22.07; 2 Connor Martin (D) 22.94; 3 Connor Zielinksi (D) 23.79; 4 Brian Harrell (NC) 23.63; 5 Matthew Freeman (D) 23.70
Diving: 1 Jackson Camporin (NC) 265.35; 2 George Moore (NC) 263.65; 3 Connor Cloud (NC) 243.35; 4 Matthew Magnotta (D) 216.80; 5 Kareem Kassem (D) 198.65
100 butterfly: 1 Connor Martin (D) 52.96; 2 Richard Ettinger (NC) 54.71; 3 Michael Rivas (NC) 57.63; 4 Harry FitzPatrick (D) 58.03; 5 Stephen Rivas (NC) 1:00.19
100 freestyle: 1 Patrick Colwell (NC) 48.65; 2 Connor Zielinski (D) 50.70; 3 Nico Clark (D) 50.82; 4 Brian Harrell (NC) 51.15; 5 Max Scalise (D) 51.86
500 freestyle: 1 Jake RItz (NC) 4:49.18; 2 Karl Wadleigh (D) 4:49.69; 3 Hayden Puff (D) 5:04.07; 4 Will Fannon 5:11.25; 5 Griffin Trygg (D) 5:14.60
200 freestyle relay: 1 New Canaan (Michael Kotlyar, Michael Rivas, Richard Ettinger, Jake RItz) 1:32.66; 2 Darien (Nico Clark, Harry FitzPatrick, Connor Zielinski, Karl Wadleigh) 1:34.52; 3 Darien (Thomas Dupont, Nolan Lovegrove, Davis Tuzinkiewicz, Max Scalise) 1:38.27
100 backstroke: 1 Spencer Erickson (D) 55.38; 2 Gianfranco Pozzolini (NC) 56.82; 3 Scotty Tuck (D) 57.38; 4 Daniel Lu (NC) 58.19; 5 Nick Giotis (D) 58.59
100 breaststroke: 1 Michael Kotlyar (NC) 1:01.95; 2 Thomas Dupont (D) 1:04.38; 3 Strider Bennett (NC) 1:05.53; 4 Bart Codd (NC) 1:06.84; 5 Ryan Roberts (D) 1:06.93
400 freestyle relay: 1 New Canaan (Richard Ettinger, Brian Harrell, Patrick Colwell, Jake RItz) 3:19.80; 2 Darien (Spencer Erickson, Connor Zielinski, Karl Wadleigh, Connor Martin) 3:26.26; 3 Darien (Scotty Tuck, Griffin Trygg, Max Scalise, Thomas Dupont) 3:34.96