Staples fall preview: Girls swimming ready to keep pace
Updated 5:58 am, Thursday, September 3, 2015
Last season the Staples girls swim and diving team had one of its best season in recent memory. A fourth place finish at FCIACs and a second at the Class LL meet - its best finish in a state meet since 2005 - was an improvement in both events from the year before.
Though the Wreckers lost several seniors who contributed points to the memorable campaign, a strong group returns that is capable of maintaining last year’s accomplishments.
“This year’s group is really good; this is probably one of the best teams we’ve ever had,” said 18th-year coach Mike Laux.
It beings with senior Mia Bullock, who won two events at the Class LL meet last season. She is coming off a 25th-place finish in the 100 butterfly at junior nationals, and a third in the same event at the Eastern Zone Senior Championships this summer.
Aileen Coyne and Emily Duranko will captain the Wreckers this fall. Both are freestyle specialists and Coyne — who also swims in town for the Water Rats — placed second in the 200 freestyle at the Class LL meet last year.
Junior Kenzie Healy will be a strong threat in the 50 and 100 freestyles, seniors Anelise Browne and Mira Patel reached the state finals a year ago and sophomore Willow Woods competes in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.
“I feel like we had an unforgettable season last year,” Duranko said. “We lost a lot of seniors last year but everyone is working hard and we’re excited about the season.”
Having two once-in-a-generations swimmers - first Duke Sophomore Verity Abel and now Bullock - has rubbed off on those coming through the program.
“We learned so much from those two,” Duranko said. “They’re amazing swimmers.”
The diving team is in place to be just as stacked. Three of its top four finishers at the Class LL meet from a year ago - Eliza Donovan, Sophia Stanley, Kacey Hertan are back for their senior seasons, as well as senior Hannah Rose.
“We’re a really close team,” Coyne said. “And that helps us to push each other more and get done what we need to get done at practice.”
Staples faces its three toughest opponents - Wilton (9/18), Greenwich and Darien - early in the season.
The first meet takes place Sept. 11 at home against Danbury.
“The 6 of the top 10 teams in the state are in the FCIAC,” Laux said. “We have to swim against all of those teams. We’ll win our share and lose share. It’s very hard to tell; last year at FCIACs we got fourth by one point to Wilton.”