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Darien wins Open swimming as FCIAC dominates championship meet

Updated 8:55 am, Monday, November 18, 2013

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  • Amity's Megan Lasto races in the 200 Yard Intermediate Medley Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at the CIAC Open Championship at Yale's Kiputh Pool in New Haven, Conn. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post
    Amity's Megan Lasto races in the 200 Yard Intermediate Medley Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at the CIAC Open Championship at Yale's Kiputh Pool in New Haven, Conn. Photo: Autumn Driscoll

 

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NEW HAVEN -- The only thing missing was Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola in a director's chair on a swinging boom talking about lighting angles and artistic integrity.

There was the army known as the Darien High School girls swim team as happy as a group of Blue Wavers could be Saturday afternoon at Yale University's historic Kiphuth pool.

The shouts were coming from all directions as a plethora of cameras, camcorders and smart phones filled the raised auditorium-like seating.

"Look left. Look right. Look up," the parents cried. "Now the sophomores. Now the juniors. Now the seniors."

The only directive they didn't have to yell was "Say cheese! Will you smile please?"

There is no problem smiling over and over and over when you have the State Open Girls Swim Championship plaque in your hands.

And in the middle of this grand documentation of history was Darien veteran coach Marj Trifone, whose long dark hair was soaking wet in each and every photo.

But she did not care. Soaked hair and wet clothes are a worthwhile aftermath when your squad has captured its second straight State Open title.

"More than any year, this was a team effort," Trifone said. "We had no first place finishes today. So we needed every point we could get. I'm so proud of all these girls. It is an easier season when you have 13 seniors. They gave us wonderful leadership all season long. The hardest part of it all is when I say goodbye to all of them."

Darien finished the proceedings with 497 points to hold off valiant effort by runnerup and archrival New Canaan (411.5).

Greenwich (335) was third as the great head coach Dick Hawks closed out a career that includes 10 State Open girls swim crowns between 2000 and 2011.

"We beat 79 teams this season. We lost to just two (Darien, New Canaan)," laughed Hawks as Greenwich scored over 800 points to win the Class LL title earlier this week. "You get used to winning. You want to win every time. But hard work is what it takes to win State Opens. You can't just show up. You have to pay the price with the commitment of time.

"Darien had the seniors and the experience. We didn't have the numbers this year," said Hawks, who is moving to Singapore with his family. "Darien was energized after winning the 2012 State Open. And Marj (Trifone) did a great job firing them up again. Greenwich High girls swimming has been my favorite thing in the fall for 25 years. Each team had a different character and a different chemistry. I had such a great time. But my life is taking a turn in a different place."

Darien got the team plaque but Staples High left New Haven with the most gold medals.

Duke-bound senior Verity Abel won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:50.79 and the grueling 500 free in 4:51.34.

Just for fun, Abel swam two brilliant anchor legs on Staples relays.

"I'm thrilled to finish my senior swim season in such a rewarding way," Abel said. "I couldn't have been on a better team and I'm so happy we finished in sixth place (221 points)."

"It has been a joy and a pleasure to have her on this team for four years. Abel set a Class LL record as a freshman. And she finishes with a senior year like this," Staples head coach Mike Laux said. "Verity really loves the sport. She swims the 500 free so she can be in the water longer. She's a great leader. I'll miss her greatly."

Laux can turn more attention to Staples sophomore Amelia Bullock. Bullock took first place in both the 200 yard individual medley (2:05.17) and the 100 yard butterfly (55.38).

"Amelia is such a technician. Such a perfectionist," Laux said. "She will always work to find a better way. After losing six state open finalists from last year, to take sixth place today is phenomenal."

Another swimmer with a bright future is Ridgefield High freshman Marcie Maguire.

Maguire won the 100 yard backstroke in 56.44 and was runnerup in the 100 free in 52.17.

"This entire season has been like a dream for me," Maguire said. "I'm so thrilled. Our whole team is on Cloud 9 after finishing in seventh place (215 points) in the team race."

To its credit, New Canaan made Darien sweat all afternoon for the Open crown.

New Canaan's Jenna Egan, Libby O'Hare, Alex Aliapoulios and Meghan Egan combined to win the 200 free relay in 1:37.49 holding off Greenwich (1:38.20).

The Rams foursome of Katie Colwell, Aliapoulios and the Egan sisters then beat Darien in the 400 free relay (3:30.91 to 3:32.20).

"We did everything we could do," said New Canaan head coach David Fine. "To win an Open title you need lots of bodies. Our girls had synergy but Darien had the army."

Darien broke it open in event 10 with four swimmers in the top 20 and event 11 of 12 with three swimmers in the top 10.

Or as the Darien T-shirts say "Passion has a funny way of trumping logic."

Passion and victory was a large Blue Wave Saturday.

rich.depreta@scni.com

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