Getting through the FCIAC schedule will be the toughest task for the Staples girls swimming team.

Four of the five best teams in the state (Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien and Wilton) are in the FCIAC (Cheshire is the only non-FCIAC team in the top five) and chances are, Staples could be the best 5-5 or 6-4 team in the state. (Trumbull was the sixth best team last year).

Last year, the Lady Wreckers were 4-5 in the regular season, placed sixth at FCIACs, third in the Class LL championships and ninth at State Open. This year, Staples hopes to finish at 5-5 because it added East Lyme to its docket and if it upsets Trumbull (one of the five teams that are somewhat in its range), it can finish 6-4.

The aim isn't wins and losses but to improve times as the season progresses.

"We have a really good group of girls," Lady Wreckers senior tri-captain Gabby Weimer said. "We're excited and hope to swim best times and work hard. We're looking forward to our first meet against East Lyme [Friday Sept. 16 on the road]. We hope to have about the same record as last year with one more win because we swim against the best teams in the FCIAC. We have to take it one meet at a time, stay motivated and spirited and work together as a team."

Staples will miss five mainstays from last year's team -- all who are swimming in college. Molly Loftus (distance freestyle) is the biggest loss for the Lady Wreckers and is swimming for the University of Tennessee. They will also miss diver Schaefer Andrews, Stephanie Nussbaum, Margot Bruce and Caitlin Wiederecht.

"We lose some key swimmers, Molly, Stephanie, Schaefer, Margot and Caitlin, all who scored in the state meet," Staples Coach Mike Laux said.

Despite losing five stalwarts, the Lady Wreckers feel good because they return many solid swimmers who scored last year, including sophomore Verity Abel their Team MVP. Abel was dominant in freestyle events and the backstroke, setting the Class LL record in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 57.61 seconds. Abel continues to improve and when she graduates in 2014, she could leave Staples as its best swimmer ever.

"I think we have a good nucleus coming back and the team has a lot of potential," Laux said. "We have some good kids coming back, plus some talented newcomers."

Weimer is one of the top returnees and is expected to score in sprint freestyle events while guiding the team in the right direction. Senior tri-captains Caroline Valerio and Michelle Mastrianni also expect to provide strong leadership. Valerio swims the butterfly and backstroke while Mastrianni is a diver. Emily Greene is a senior who is expected to score in distance freestyle events.

"Our team has a lot of potential and we can end up with a pretty good record this year," Valerio said. "We look decent coming into the season."

Junior Sarah Cooperman is a strong distance freestyle performer and she's been the top swimmer in her class since freshman year. Other juniors expected to score points are Anita Vohra (breaststroke and individual medley), Alexis Teixiera (backstroke and IM), Phoebe Corde (butterfly), Patricia Maragos (breaststroke and IM) and Becca Raab (sprint freestyle and backstroke).

Sophomore Gabby LeBlanc (IM and breaststroke) was a state finalist last year and expects to be formidable. Jocelyn Krim (butterfly and sprint freestyle) is an improved sophomore and is expected to contribute.

Freshman Jessi Taets (breaststroke and IM) is expected to make a big splash this year.

The Lady Wreckers hope to be solid in diving. Complementing Mastrianni are sophomore Anna Violette, the gymnastics team's Block S MVP and newcomer to diving, and freshman Olivia Crosby.

"The other divers are relatively new," Mastrianni said. "Anna is an amazing gymnast and is learning how to dive. Olivia is also a gymnast and is learning. If they get all their dives, they will do very well. I'm glad we have three girls competing."

If Staples was in a different conference, it could go 9-1 or even better. But it's a different story in the FCIAC.

"I'd like to finish 5-5, 6-4 would be great and even better but we'd have to beat a team we're an underdog to," Laux said. "I'd like to finish in the top half of FCIAC, top five in Class LL and top 10 in State Open."