BOYS SWIMMING: Record day as Niro navigates SHS to No. 4 in Class LL; Moumen’s the man for Meriden

WEST HARTFORD — Led by dual silver medalist Matt Niro and a handful of school-record performances, the Southington boys swim team put together its best showing ever in the CIAC Class LL championship meet on Wednesday.

Coach Evan Tuttle’s Blue Knights, a second-tier Top 10 class competitor in recent years, vaulted up to fourth this season in the 18-team field that gathered at Cornerstone Aquatics Center.

Along with Niro’s second-place finishes and school-record times in the 100-yard butterfly and 100 backstroke, the Blue Knights were fourth in both the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays with times that also broke school records.

Southington got additional championship heat scoring from junior freestylers Peter Zalewski and Mathew Siwek. Siwek was fourth and sixth in the sprints. Zalewski, in placing fifth in the 500, gave Southington yet another new mark to put on its record board.

The Meriden Co-op, represented in the championship heats in both freestyle relays, placed 10th in the team standings. 

Perennial power Greenwich extended its current run of LL crowns to nine and laid claim to its 47th all-time class title.

Both area teams were led by a core group of swimmers. For Southington, it was Niro, Siwek and Zalewski. For Meriden, it was senior Mehdi Moumen, juniors John Peralta and Troy Ducas, and sophomore Andrew Bellemare.

The city quartet teamed for a sixth-place time of 3:23.13 in the 400 freestyle relay and an eight-place effort of 1:32.14 in the 200 free.

Individually, each Meriden swimmer qualified for consolation heats in two events, with Moumen leading the way in the butterfly (11th, 54.65) and 200 IM (12th, 2:01.04).

Niro had the area’s best shot at gold. In the butterfly, the Southington senior led top seed Riley Twiss of Staples by half a second. Twiss closed the gap over the final 50 yards, posting a winning time of 49.94 to Niro’s school-record 50.68.

In the backstroke, Niro was chasing top seed Liam Flaherty of Greenwich all the way. Niro battled, cutting his trial time of 54.32 to 52.95 and tying the SHS record. Flaherty won in 51.61.

Siwek placed fourth in a 50 freestyle race that saw the top four all go under 22 seconds led by winner Nathaniel Taft of Fairfield, who touched in 21:06. Siwek finished in 21.96.

Siwek’s sixth-place time in the 100 free was 48.23.

Zalewski, coming off a school-record performance in the IM at the CCC West meet, shifted to the distance freestyles and produced a new record in the 500 free with his fifth-place time of 4:42.47.

Zalewski was in the “B” consolation race in the 200 free and wound up winning it in 1:44.92, a time that is likely to advance him to Saturday’s State Open in that event as well.

On the fourth-place relays that established new SHS records, Niro, Siwek and Zalewski combined with Boden Tito on the 200 medley (1:38.71) and with junior Alex LeClair on the 200 free (1:29.00).

Individually, LeClair was 10th in both the 100 freestyle (49.70) and 100 backstroke (55.46), while Tito was 10th in the butterfly (54.58) and 14th in the 200 IM (2:02.27).

Meriden was represented in consolation heats in all four freestyle events:

■Troy Ducas: 23.40 in the 50, 50.73 in the 100;■Andrew Belllemare: 1:51.65 in the 200, 5:07.72 in the 500;■John Peralta: 1:52.20 in the 200, 5:05.81 in the 500.


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