MERIDEN — Last year was a solid one on the deck for area girls swim teams. The highlight was Cheshire crowning its fifth straight unbeaten season with a Class L state title defense.
Not to be overlooked, Southington came through with a big 8-2 season and continues to flourish under 11th-year coach Evan Tuttle.
In Wallingford, Lyman Hall finished 9-4 and claimed the SCC Division II championship, while Sheehan’s young team swam to a 5-7 record with the aid of a strong freshman class now a year older.
In Meriden, an experienced crop of freshmen add depth as the Meriden Co-Op looks to improve on a 4-7 campaign.
Here’s a closer look at each squad.Cheshire
Dave Modzelewski kept the Cheshire train going in his first season as coaching, overseeing the program’s fifth straight unblemished season.
The winning streak stands at 55 and there’s no reason to believe the Rams will slow down despite graduating a senior class of 17, which extended the Cheshire swimming the legacy by winning the SCC championship meet for the seventh year in a row and for the 24th time in 25 years.
In addition to defending the Class L championship, Cheshire also placed second at the State Open.
In order to repeat at states, Cheshire will have to do it against a new crop of teams. The Rams have been slotted up to Class LL.
Cheshire must also replace a number of college-bound swimmers — Ellie Murphy (Siena), Siena Breton (Ohio), Caitlin Caron (Babson College), Samantha Grenon (Bryant), Esther Han (Colby) and Shannon Lindsey (Vermont).
Grenon was All-State and All-American. Breton captured the SCC diving championship and broke Cheshire’s 6- and 11-dive records.
However, the Rams return a trio of All-Americans/All-Staters in junior Sophie Murphy, senior Julia Stevens and junior Nora Bergstrom.
Sophie Murphy, the Record-Journal’s Girls Swimmer of the Year, defended her Class L titles in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles and went on to sweep both sprints at the State Open.
Stevens won 200 freestyle and defended her 500 free crown at the Class L meet.
All-State senior Jillian Stevens (backstroke/IM) and senior Sarah Chen (backstroke) are the captains.
Other key returners are juniors Bella Tejada (butterfly), Mary Barto (butterfly/breaststroke) and Natalie DeMatteo (diving). DeMatteo is coming off of an ankle injury that cost her the first half of her sophomore campaign. She did rebound to place 12th in the SCC and ninth in Class L.
Among the promising newcomers are freshman Julianna Tyler (butterfly), Avery Potyrala (freestyle) and sophomore Ellie Farrell (diving).
“We are looking to repeat as SCC champions and qualify over 50 percent of the team [for the state meet],” Modzelewski said. “We were moved up to Class LL this season, so we look forward to a great battle with top LL teams such as Greenwich, Ridgefield, Staples, Trumbull, etc.”Southington
A year ago, Evan Tuttle’s girls were 8-2 overall, 3-2 in the CCC West and broke six school records. The Blue Knights claimed six division championships and had seven swimmers named to the All-CCC West Team.
Nine seniors graduated from that 2018 season, including school record-holder and State Open finalist Julie Duszak. She was a captain along with Julia Holland, Abby Lo Presti and Lidia Prusak.
This year a strong senior class will look to keep the success going. Heading the pack are senior captains Gianna Perugini, Hannah Lasbury, Sarah Meade, Anny Moquete-Volquez and Kelly Bergland.
Meade, like Duszak, was an All-RJ swimmer and qualfied for the State Open along with Perugini.
The junior class is solid, led by State Open qualifiers Meghan Hammarlund (All-RJ), Andie Nadeau (All-RJ) and Maddie Symecko. Class LL qualifiers Jenna Famiglietti and Liz Beaulieu, a diver, are also back.
“We look to fulfil the Southington athletics motto of ‘Chasing Excellence’ by working tirelessly day in and day out to improve, and will not settle for less than our best,” Tuttle said. “The Lady Knights look to qualify as many athletes as possible into the postseason and make another historic push for the State Open.”Sheehan
The Titans look to improve on a 5-7 campaign as Dan Wostbrock enters his seventh year at the helm.
They’ll have to do it without Katie Cosgrove and Hannah Dale, who graduated, and senior diver Val Nicholson, who will compete with the boys during the winter season.
Sheehan will be headed by senior captains Rachel Kerrigan and Lila Pickerign, as well as a strong sophomore class headed by Alanna Dwyer, Lili Nagy-Leranth and Leila Sofiane.
“As our team continues to grow and rebuild we are looking forward to the growth and development of our underclassmen,” Wostbrock said. “These student-athletes will be the depth of the team. We will be a small team that is ready to make an impact on the SCC as well as Class S.
“I have 10 brand-new swimmers and the camaraderie, vibe and feel of the team is absolutely amazing and I feel this team will show a lot of great independent growth and team-oriented growth.”Lyman Hall
The reigning SCC Division II champions were 9-4 a year ago under head coach Donna Neary.
LH graduated a trio of seniors from that team, Sarah Beverage, Stephanie Lebedeva-Lopez and Kristie Driscoll. Beverage and Driscoll were All-RJ.
The Trojans do bring back plenty, starting with two-year captain Maeve Montante. Senior Madison Nemec, a state finalist in the 100 backstroke, and junior Jaime Blois are also captains this fall.
Sophomore Caroline Krawec is coming off of a record-breaking freshman campaign. She broke the school record in the 100 breaststroke and helped set new school records in the 200 medley relay and the 200 free relay.
By year’s end, Krawec was All-SCC, All-RJ, All-State and a State Open finalist.
Junior Alyssa Cervero is back after placing sixth at the SCC diving championship and qualifying for states. Sophomore Elena Bielesz returns as a state finalist in the 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke.
The Trojans welcome a pair of strong freshmen in Elise Richardson and Cassie Wentzell. Richardson competed in the YMCA Long Course National Championships for the Wallingford Dolphins. She holds seven records with the Dolphins.
“We are looking forward to the girls striving for their personal bests,” Neary said. “There are a few school records that we have in sight.”Meriden Co-op
Veteran Meriden swim coach Ed Heath is optimistic with a new crop of freshmen as the Silver City squad looks to improve on a 4-7 mark from 2018.
“The freshman class of swimmers who have swum before: This is the best group of freshmen I have had in a long time.”
Key graduation losses from last year include Katherine Aceves, Naomi Rosado, Phoebe Charpentier and Barbara Ruiz.
Senior captains are Haley Peacock (butterfly/IM) and Julia Owen (breaststroke/IM). Junior Samantha Morales-Barszcz (distance/freestyle) and sophomore Avery Benigni (sprints/butterfly) also return for Meriden.
Freshman diver Alyssa Hernandez is expected to make an immediate impact.
“The team goal is to work hard and swim our fastest,” Heath said. “I want to be competitive in each meet this year and have many girls qualify for the Class L state meet. We also have a diver [Hernandez] this year which will make a huge impact at our dual meets.”