WESTPORT—In summarizing how the Staples swim team fared a year ago, head coach Frisk Driscoll referenced his group’s finish in the State Open in 2016.
"We’re a lot better than the 18th best swim team in the state," Driscoll said. "There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be in the top 10."
The Wreckers are out to improve upon that finish in a big way. Staples went 6-4 in dual meets a season ago and finished fifth at FCIACs, but the illness bug hit hard and the team had to settle for an eighth-place finish at Class LL and a 18th at Opens.
Staples has several standouts capable of placing at or near the top of the leaderboard at the end of the season. Nico Ortega was one of the Wreckers who missed states through illness, but he placed second in the 500 freestyle and third in the 200 freestyle at the FCIAC meet last season.
He’s joined by another junior in Dashiell Hunter, who will swim in the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke. Driscoll has coached both during the club season with the Water Rats and is pleased with how they’ve trained in the last year.
"I’ve coached them since they were 8th graders," Driscoll said. "They are both intelligent racers they observe other people who are good in their events and make good notes of what they are doing and what. They are students of the sport."
Staples has just five seniors on the roster; four of them — Sam Breeden, Anders Hovstadius, Jean-Luc Lefebvre and Daniel McVaney — were named captains. Junior Josiah Tarrant (sprints) and sophomores John McNab (freestyles, 200 IM and 100 breaststroke) and Austin Twiss (100 butterfly and 100 backstroke) should also shine for Staples, Driscoll said.
The Wreckers also have three divers ready to leave their mark, including junior Zach Cooper, who placed 10th at the Class LL meet last season.
With a mix of youth and experience, the Wreckers hope to be healthy at the right time and secure a top finish.
"We want to do better than what we did last year," Driscoll said. "We know we are a better team than what we showed last year. I know a lot of people are fired up and ready to do better than that. That’s kind of where the bar has been set, but they want to clear it by a big margin."
The Wreckers begin the season Dec. 22 with a dual meet at Danbury, and will face Darien, New Canaan, Ridgefield and Greenwich in the New Year.