Water rats thrive in short course season
The Westport Weston Family YMCA’s Water Rat swim team is wrapping up a highly successful 2016-2017 short course season, with some fast swimming at elite meets at the state, regional and national level.
The season began with Nicolas Ortega, Sarah Grinalds and Willow Woods breaking longstanding records at the Music City Invitational last December. Ortega broke Matthew Yacco's 17-year old record in the 1,650-yard freestyle in a time of 15:37.18 and Willow Woods broke Savitri Horrigan's seven-year old record in the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:05.57. Nicolas' time in the 1,650 was the new state record for 15-16 year olds, prior to Ridgefield’s Kieran Smith breaking the record. Nicolas also has the resident record for 15-16s, along with his teammates Dashiell Hunter, Austin Twiss, and Jack Gray in the 400 medley relay. The team got the new record in a time of 3:35.17.
Later that same month, at the 2016 Speedo Winter Junior Championships, Grinalds set a new team record, breaking Emily Claire Fenn's 16-year-old 500-yard freestyle record in a time of 4:49.66. Grinalds also broke her own team records in the 100 -yard freestyle in a time of 50.11 and 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1:46.76.
At the recent CT Senior Short Course Championships in March at Wesleyan University in Middletown, the Water Rats excelled again. Jack Gray placed first in scoring for individual events and Grinalds placed third. She also broke an 18-year-old team record in the 15-18 1,000 yard freestyle in a time of 9:58.90. Grinalds and her teammates Katie Thornton, Woods, and Simona Visinski also got the state record the 200 yard freestyle relay in a time of 1:35.22.
Also in March, at the Connecticut Age Group Short Course Championships at Chelsea Piers, the Water Rats had 21 age group swimmers compete and a couple of them had team record-breaking swims. Caroline Begg kicked off the meet by breaking Tracy Green’s 36 year old team record in the 11-12 500 yard free in a time of 5:18.78. Kate Murray then proceeded to break several other longstanding team records for the 9-10 age group.
Begg and Murray’s performances along with Annam Olasewere’s in the 50-yard fly, earned them spots on the Connecticut Zone Team. They travelled to Webster, New York to compete at the Eastern Zone’s All Star Age Group meet, held last month. At the meet, Murray continued her fast swimming by coming in first in the 9-10 Girls 50 yard Free, lowering her record breaking time by swimming a 26.88. Murray also came in fourth in the 9-10 Girls 100 yard Free in a time of 1:00.33, lowering her team record-breaking time of 1:00.54.
The season ended with the National Team attending the 2017 YMCA Short Course Nationals in Greensboro last week. Sixteen Water Rat swimmers qualified this year for this prestigious meet.
Grinalds is now ranked sixth in the nation for the 100-yard free and eighth in for the 200-yard free for 15-16 year olds.