Lady Wrecker swimmers find solace in defeat

Despite falling short on the scoreboard, the Staples girls swimming team sees many positives from its 110-76 home loss to Greenwich on Friday.

"We were very pleased to score that many points against the best team in the state and we had some great performances," said Staples coach Mike Laux. "We learned where some of our strengths and weaknesses are."

Greenwich raised its record to 6-6. The Lady Wreckers dropped to 4-4, but took pride in winning six out of 12 events and moving up on the school record book. What killed Staples is Greenwich's depth as the Cardinals had many second and third place finishes to give them the victory.

"We're definitely proud of the outcome because we knew it was going to be a tough meet going in, and we did better than expected and showed we're a strong team," said Lady Wrecker senior captain Natalie LeBlanc. "We have a lot of potential and the championship season will go well for us. Everyone is getting stronger and faster."

Senior captain Helene Neuhas had a record-breaking day for Staples, winning the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 59.67 to set a new school record and was victorious in the 50-meter freestyle (27.41) to move into second place in Lady Wrecker history. Neuhaus moved ahead of current Northwestern University swimmer Molly Hennessy (Staples, Class of 2008) in both events.

"I was so excited to win the 100-free and I tried to beat the original time because I'm good friends with the previous record holder, Molly Hennessy," said Neuhaus. "I was able to win the 50-free because I was so excited to be in the pool [a shoulder injury temporarily kept her out] and I swam fast."

Neuhaus hopes to break the record in the 50-free.

"The key will be to get up for it and to go all out," said Neuhaus. "Every .1 and .01 second counts and I'm only .1 away. I have to get up and go."

Sophomore Gabby Wimer was third in the 50-free (27.41).

Junior Molly Loftus won two events for Staples, winning the 200-meter freestyle (2:17) and 400-meter freestyle (4:38).

"I had a lot of competition, the most I had all year," said Loftus. "Both opponents were very fast and they were pretty good races. In the 400-free, I tried to keep up with her for the first 300 and pull ahead in the last 100."

LeBlanc won the 100-meter backstroke (1:12) and took second in the 200-meter individual medley (2:37).

"I knew it was a tough meet and knew [having good] technique was needed," said LeBlanc on winning the 100-back. "I made sure I swam my race and swam as hard as I could."

Junior Schaefer Andrews won in diving (212 points) and is now fourth in Lady Wrecker history.

"It's been a lot of practice and hard work," said Andrews. "My teammates and coaches help me and it's been a great season for me."

Andrews could still move up in the record books and could be the standard bearer before her career ends.

"Ridgefield and Darien are good competition," said Andrews. "I'm hoping to dive well and I'll see where it takes me."

Wimer placed second in the 100-meter butterfly (1:12) and freshman Sarah Cooperman was third in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:26). Staples didn't win any relays, which also helped Greenwich pull ahead. LeBlanc, Cooperman, Wimer and junior Stephanie Nussbaum led the 200-meter medley relay team to second place (2:14). Despite falling short to the Cardinals, the 200-meter medley relay team (1:57) of Neuhaus, senior captain Cat Friel, Wimer and Loftus were 1.5 second short of setting the school record. Nussbaum, Neuhaus, LeBlanc and Loftus powered the 400-meter freestyle relay team (4:18) to second place.

The Lady Wreckers host Ridgefield today and Darien next Wednesday to close out the regular season.

"Our big meet is against Ridgefield," said Laux. "If we beat Ridgefield, we'll have a good season and if we lose to Ridgefield, we'll have a lot of work to do."