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Greenwich the team to beat at Open

Updated 11:15 pm, Friday, March 15, 2013
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42nd State Open swimming championships
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. • Yale University
Three key races for Cardinals:
200 medley relay: Winning the first event would provide the Cardinals with a huge psychological boost. They broke the state record in the event at the LL finals.
100 butterfly: With three swimmers competing in the final heat, the Cardinals could begin the second half of the meet by scoring a lot of points.
100 backstroke: Alex Lewis established a state record at the LL meet. Can he swim even faster Saturday?
-- DAVID FIERRO
Page 1 of 1

Greenwich High School boys swimming coach Terry Lowe, the mathematician he is, knows his team is in prime position to win the State Open championship Saturday after crunching the numbers while looking at the heat sheets. Lowe also knows his Cardinals must come close to duplicating Tuesday night's effort at the Class LL finals -- a performance he described as "one of his team's best meets ever" -- to claim their 29th Open title.

"I feel pretty confident that we should be able to pull this one off, but we have to perform near the level we performed Tuesday, because the balance in some of these heats is unbelievable," Lowe said. "If you are off your game by 1 or 2 percent you are going to fall five or 10 places, so you really have to be sharp."

That's why the Cardinals, who won the Class LL title with a team score of 922 points Tuesday at Wesleyan University, aren't an over-confident group heading into Saturday's 2:30 p.m. State Open swimming championships at Yale University.

"We have every reason to go in with confidence, but every reason to go in with some sort of trepidation as well," Lowe said. "We're going into the meet knowing it's going to take another super effort to pull out the victory."

Breaking four records en route to capturing its 20th LL title in 21 years, Greenwich set itself up nicely for the State Open with its impressive effort at Tuesday's meet -- which also served as a qualifier for the Open.

"Tuesday's meet has to go down as one of the most phenomenal performances we ever had at the LL finals," Lowe said. "Swim after swim, the performance level was just so high. Frankly, in some cases, it was beyond expectations."

Based on the number of swimmers the Cardinals have competing in Saturday's meet and where they are seeded, Lowe, a former math teacher at GHS, has his squad approximately 100 points ahead of what looks to be its closest competitor -- Fairfield Prep. The Jesuits, who won the State Open crown a year ago in coach Bruce Jaffe's final season with 412 points, placed second at the LL meet (725). In a championship loaded with premier swimmers in each heat (there are four heats in each event) the team standings can change quickly.

"I told the team if you don't go in there with the same edge, the same determination as the other night, you are not going to pull it off," Lowe said. "We have to realize that we accomplished that because we were mentally and physically ready and we must come in with the same mindset at the State Open."

Junior Alex Lewis headlines the Cardinals list of impressive swimmers. Lewis enters the State Open as the top seed in the 100 backstroke after winning the event at the LL finals in a state record time of :49.88. Freshman Jack Montesi, the runner-up at the LL meet, is seeded third (:51.72).

"Lewis works hard and has talent, you put those things together, plus a tough mindset and you have some swimmer," Lowe said. "He broke our school record in the event by over a second, which is pretty amazing."

Lewis is also the top seed in the 100 butterfly (50.46), while Berlin senior Dan Klotz, who won the Open title in the event last year, is seeded second (50.84). Junior Julian Fraser (:51.78) and Montesi (:51.81) are also swimming in the final heat of the 100 butterfly -- an event where the Cardinals do plenty of damage.

"There are certain events where we have to shine," Lowe said. "In the 100 fly, we have three people in the heat, so coming out of that event with a good showing is going to be critical to our success."

Sophomore Ed Moss is tied with Fairfield Prep junior Bjorn Davis for the top seed in the 50-yard freestyle (:20.98). Moss and Davis shared the LL title in the event, breaking the meet record in the process. Moss is also seeded third in the 100 freestyle (:47.11). Davis, the Class LL champion, is the top seed (:46.96).

"It's been great to see him (Moss) come on the way he has," Lowe said. "One of our goals this year was to elevate him from the 50 to the 100. Swimming a 47.11 showed how much he's matured."

Sophomore Thomas Dillinger is seeded third for GHS in the 200 freestyle (1:42.51) and is the fifth seed in the 500 freestyle (4:40.39).

"Dillinger didn't shave at LLs, so we're excited to see what he's going to do at the Open," Lowe said.

Cardinals sophomore Iain Edmundson is the top seed in the 100 breaststroke after winning the LL title in the event in 58.48. New Canaan's Edward Thunem is seeded second (:58.59). Edmundson will also compete in the 200 individual medley along with teammate Andrew Stotesbery. The 56 points that come with winning each relay event plays a big role in determining the meet's winner and Greenwich is seeded first in each race. The team of Lewis, Edmundson Julian Fraser and Moss set a state record in the 200 medley relay at the LL meet (1:34.06). Fairfield Prep (1:34.76) and Brookfield (1:36.75) are seeded a close second and third. Greenwich is also seeded first in the 200 freestyle relay (LL record time of 1:25.36) and the 400 freestyle relay (3:09.84).

After placing third in last year's State Open, the Cardinals enter Saturday's competition with plenty of motivation.

"Fairfield Prep beat us pretty handily in the LL finals, Open meet and in a dual meet last year, so at times throughout the year I reminded the team that Prep won it all last year," Lowe said. "I've been asking them, how much do you want this?"

david.fierro@scni.com; 203-625-4423

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