When it comes to earning team titles in the post-season for girls swimming, winning isn’t everything.
Sure, winning is nice, but it’s depth that usually wins or loses titles.
In today’s Southern Connecticut Conference swim championship meet, defending SCC champion Cheshire has the depth to come away with another title with talent in every class. Seniors and juniors have made their usual impact this season.
But talented sophomores and freshmen are a big reason why the Rams enter the postseason with a 9-1 dual meet record.
“What makes high school sports so interesting is every year you get a new group, you graduate strong athletes and you hopefully gain some strengths,” Cheshire girls swim coach Dan Mascolo said. “Our numbers are up from last year and that has provided us with some very strong swimmers.
“(Senior) Lindsey Smalec (200 individual medley and 100 butterfly) and (junior) Ellie Senft (sprint freestyles) are among our top upperclassmen who had a strong year. But freshmen Lilly Kurtz (100 breastsroke) and Kathryn Robinson (100 butterfly) and sophomore Danielle Robinson are among the underclassmen who have made an impact too.”
The toughest challenge for Cheshire will come from another deep team, Amity, which defeated Cheshire last week to clinch the SCC regular season title at 10-0 (11-0 overall). Branford has its share of top swimmers and could challenge as well.
“(Amity coach) Todd (Rainey) has a heck of a group,” Mascolo said. “He’s very deep too and I think it will come down to us and Amity for the SCC title. It should be a real exciting meet. Branford is strong too with some very good swimmers. But I think it will be a numbers game for the team title and Amity cerytainly has the numbers.”
Other freshmen making an impact this season are Emily Murphy and Kristen Reid. Other seniors making an impact are captains Denise Costello (200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke), Alison Sklanka (500 freestyle, 200 freestyle) and Laura Mongillo (200 backstroke).
“We had a very good freshman class this season, a tight knit group that has contributed in events like the breaststroke and IM (individual medley),” Sklanka said. “You need depth to win the team title at the SCC meet and getting points in every spot counts.
“We expect to have a lot of girls finish in the top 20 and even the top 10.”
After last week’s dual meet loss to Amity, Costello said the Rams are looking forward to swimming against the Spartans again.
“Amity has a lot of good swimmers and they’re the team to beat in the SCCs along with Branford,” Costello said. “But the SCC is a different meet. One of our goals every year is to win that meet and then go on to win states (CIAC Class L, State Open).”
One advantage for all the SCC teams in this year’s conference meet is the opportunity to go through trials and shave for the chance to taper down. Last season, due to a strong winter storm, the SCC meet qualifying trials had to be canceled.
The South-West Conference girls swim and diving championship meet will be held this week with the diving championship today at Masuk at 6 p.m. and the swim championships at Masuk on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Lauralton Hall is one of the top challengers for the title with its talent and depth.
The Crusaders are led by Register All-Area standout Mary Spillane in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 backstroke. Other top swimmers include seniors Megan Collins, Autumn Katz, Ambur Sheffield, Katie Brennan, Audrey O’Donnell, Madison Meyer and one of the top divers is Olivia Parise. Among the underclassmen expected to make an impact are sophomores Kaitlyn Joy, Dakota Meyer, Shannon Buttling, Meredith Miller and Meghan Hill and freshman Haleigh McLaughlin.