eschickler@bcnnew.com

Going into Saturday's FCIAC championships, the Staples girls swimming team hoped to finish in the top six. Although Staples had a chance of finishing fifth, leading by a point going into the final event, the Lady Wreckers ended up settling for sixth with 188 points at Greenwich High, falling short to fifth-place Trumbull (189).

"We wanted to finish fifth and we lost by a point but we accomplished our goal of finishing in the top six of FCIACs," said Staples coach Mike Laux.

Darien (374) won, host Greenwich (366) took second, New Canaan (333) placed third and Wilton (246) was fourth in the 13-team meet.

Lady Wrecker freshman Sarah Cooperman finished 10th in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:13.7 to move Staples into fifth place. In order for the Lady Wreckers to stay in fifth, their 400-yard freestyle relay team of senior captains Charlotte Katter and Natalie LeBlanc, junior Molly Loftus and senior captain Helene Neuhaus needed to beat the Trumbull Eagles in this event.

Although Staples dropped almost five seconds from its seed time in the event, going from 3:48 in trials to 3:43.68 in finals, so did Trumbull, who went from 3:46 to 3:41.22, therefore, the Eagles took fourth in the 400-free and the Lady Wreckers settled for fifth as both teams flip-flopped in the standings.

"I think we definitely did well. Our goal was to finish in the top six and we accomplished it," said LeBlanc. "Everyone swam well in a tough meet and I look forward to bigger things."

Neuhaus won the team's only event, taking the 100-yard freestyle (52.98).

"I was so motivated because the FCIACs is a pretty big meet and everyone was pumped up," said Neuhaus. "It was easy to get up and go."

Two events before the 100-free, Neuhaus, sophomore Gabby Wimer, Katter and Loftus carried the 200-yard freestyle relay team (1:41.76). Following the 200-free relay was the 100-yard backstroke where Neuhaus led Staples by taking second (59.73).

"I was tired because I just got out of the pool after swimming the 200-free relay and I've been nursing a shoulder injury," said Neuhaus. "[Considering everything], I'm not disappointed at all and I think it's an accomplishment."

LeBlanc was close behind in the 100-back (1:00.73) and grabbed fourth place.

"I was definitely happy with it and I'm happy to have a good time and move up places because the team needed it," said LeBlanc.

What LeBlanc did in the 200-yard individual medley is even bigger as she dropped three seconds from trials to swim a 2:14 and finish ninth.

"I was really happy because it was my best time by a tiny bit," said LeBlanc. "I didn't swim my best at trials and I knew I had to redeem myself. I'm happy to finish ninth and get as many points for the team as possible."

Loftus took third in the 200-yard freestyle (1:58.77) and 500-yard freestyle (5:14.48). The 200-yard medley relay team (1:59.5) of LeBlanc, Cooperman, Wimer and junior Stephanie Nussbaum took ninth. Katter (26.22) and Wimer (26.85) finished 10th and 16th, respectively in the 50-yard freestyle. Wimer was 15th in the 100-yard butterfly (1:04.4) and junior Schaefer Andrews (280) was 14th in diving.

"We are very happy because States and State Open are coming up and they are big meets," said Neuhaus.

Staples will compete at the Class LL championships next Wednesday at Southern Connecticut State University.

"Our goal is to finish fifth at States and 10th at State Open," said Laux.

LeBlanc said, "I think we'll do well because more people qualified for States. We'll hope for the best."