Local swimmers splash foes
Published 3:04 pm, Thursday, November 18, 2010
Both the Weston and Staples girls swim teams deserve an "A" for heart and perseverance. Both teams overcame the odds to score successful seasons and performed better than expected at their respective state championship meets.
Weston won its first Class S title in four years, and what was remarkable about its win is that it was achieved despite losing three strong performers from last year. The Lady Trojans lost two current Ivy League performers, Shelby Fortin, who won every race in dual meets and won the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard freestyle at Class S, and diver Christina Brasco, who won the Class S diving championship. They also lost 500-yard freestyle champion Victoria Arel, who would have been a Weston senior this year but she moved before the year began.
Despite losing three high-caliber competitors, the Weston swimmers hung tough and worked as a team. Moreover, the Lady Trojans had to dethrone East Catholic, the three-time defending champions, to accomplish this mission.
Beating East Catholic of Manchester wasn't easy because it has an advantage over Weston on the students it could draw from. While the Lady Trojans are limited to having only girls living in its hometown 06883 zip code, the Lady Eagles aren't limited to girls from Manchester. East Catholic also has swimmers from Hartford, East Hartford, West Hartford and other surrounding towns on the team and, theoretically, a girl living over the border in Massachusetts could attend the school. (Trinity Catholic in Stamford had New York state residents from Westchester County on its boys and girls basketball team, so East Catholic similarly could draw on a talent pool from a wide area.)
The battle between Weston and the Lady Eagles was reminiscent of a David vs. Goliath matchup, and like that story, the underdog triumphed when the Lady Trojans ended the upstate champion's reign.
Staples swimmers didn't win a title, but their third-place finish in Class LL proved how strong the team is, and if it had dual meets against non-FCIAC schools, it would have a much better won-lost record. In the preseason, the Lady Wreckers' goal was to finish in the top five, but they did better but grabbing third place. Moreover, they were 33 points away from finishing second.
In last week's column, I said Staples will prove it's a better team than SWC champion Pomperaug and Brookfield, the second place team in the SWC championship meet, 11-0 and 10-1, respectively in dual meets. Word filtered back to me that their respective coaches weren't pleased with my column.
No disrespect was intended because they both have excellent teams with talented swimmers. But I stand by what I said because the Lady Wreckers have a better team and proved it on Wednesday at the Class LL championship meet. Hopefully, Brookfield and Pomp
eraug will have open dates in next year's schedule which correspond with Staples' open dates. If the Lady Wreckers could square off against either team, it would be a great meet and they will show that the FCIAC is the most competitive league in the state and possibly one of the best swimming leagues in the nation.
To close, both Staples and Weston are strong because they have outstanding feeder programs in the Westport Family Y Water Rats for the Lady Wreckers and the Weston Water Wizards for the Lady Trojans. Staples Coach Mike Laux and Weston Coach Tom Grace are also outstanding coaches who run their programs with the utmost integrity, which also contributes to their teams' well-deserved success.