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WINTER PREVIEW Staples boys swimming expects to be among FCIAC's elite

Updated 8:28 pm, Friday, November 30, 2012

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  • Nathaniel Boley of Staples swims the 100 yard backstroke during the CIAC Boys Class LL Swimming championships at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., Wednesday, March 14, 2012. Photo: Bob Luckey / Greenwich Time
    Nathaniel Boley of Staples swims the 100 yard backstroke during the CIAC Boys Class LL Swimming championships at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., Wednesday, March 14, 2012. Photo: Bob Luckey

 

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WESTPORT -- While Greenwich High has maintained a stranglehold on the FCIAC's crown in boys swimming, a few other teams are looking to slide right behind the Cardinals.

One of those teams is Staples, which placed fifth in the conference a season ago and returns talent in a wide range of events.

Frisk Driscoll--an assistant with the program last year and a 2005 graduate of Staples--is taking over as head coach and is plenty optimistic. Driscoll said that Staples is "definitely" a top three team in the FCIAC, along with defending champion Greenwich and Darien.

"I feel like we're a force to be reckoned with. Absolutely," he said. "We've got a lot of kids who were on this team last year that remember that we very well could've gotten second at FCIACs last year, but we had a disqualified final relay. ... I think a lot of people had a bad taste in their mouth from that."

Greenwich won its 41st title in the last 42 seasons at last year's conference meet, while New Canaan placed second and Darien third.

Eager to rejoin the top three, Driscoll will rely on senior captain Nathaniel Boley and junior Jonathan Blansfield to lead a talented roster. Boley finished first in the 100 freestyle (47:16) and 100 backstroke (51:84, state record) at the FCIAC championships last year, and placed second in the backstroke (52:00) at the Class LL meet. Blansfield was third in the 500 freestyle (4:45.19) and sixth in the 200 free (1:48.21) at FCIACs.

"They are extremely talented and versatile," Driscoll said. "In dual-meet situations, I feel like I can put them in any event--not just their best events--and they could go out and win those events."

Sophomore Daniel Williams is expected to also swim in the 500 free, while junior Chris Mombello will likely be in the 100 breaststroke.

"Our depth, especially of kids that swim year-round, is extraordinary," Driscoll said. "We have a lot of people where in the past, maybe our first week or two were really going just basics. ... This year we're still hitting our basics, but we can also hit the ground running in a bunch of different areas."

Staples brings back a strong senior core that includes captains Matthew Wetmore (100 butterfly, 100 freestyle, 50 free), Robert DeLuca (100 backstroke) and Trevor Locke (50 free).

The Wreckers believe that the experience they gained a year ago will benefit them moving forward.

"Most of our better swimmers were younger, so now we have some of those guys who have only gotten better. They're a year bigger, a year older and have trained for another year," DeLuca said. "Aside from Greenwich, which is relatively titanic, we do expect to take down most of the teams."

"I would say we're pretty confident," Wetmore added. "(We have) one of our strongest teams in the past 10 years or so."

The Wreckers graduated some key scorers a year ago, including Joss Abel (individual medley, breaststroke), Kyle Bacon (freestyle) and Matt Wisher (backstroke, freestyle).

"Those guys scored at states, FCIACs and at least participated in a relay or individual event at Opens. They're going to be tough to replace, especially their leadership," Driscoll said.

Driscoll, who was an All-Big East distance swimmer at UConn after high school, said that the strong work ethic has carried over to this year's team.

"We're letting them know what hard work really is, but we're also doing everything with a purpose," he said. "We're making them understand why we do what we do in practice, so that they're not just better athletes but they're smarter swimmers."

dbonjour@scni.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour

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