Wave of ages: Darien wins first state open in the pool

Coach Marj Trifone and deep crew sweep the postseason proceedings with FCIAC, Class L and Open Meet gold


TRIFONE TRIFECTA — Darien coach Marj Trifone’s (in pants, bottom in middle) crew settles down for a first bask in the glow of becoming Darien High’s first ever state open meet champs, at the Yale pool on Saturday. (Photo courtesy Martin Milewski)


Updated Monday, November 19 — It took forever, but forever ended today.

Mark the Darien High history books: Blue Wave girls swim-dive took its first first place ever at the CIAC state open championship meet, scoring big at the Yale pool on Saturday afternoon.

It’s the best present that I could have ever gotten.

— Marj Trifone

“This is history and we didn’t want to let it go,” said Darien coach Marj Trifone, whose days with the Wave go right back to when she swam for the team.

Darien piled up 548 points to second place New Canaan’s 439 and third place Greenwich… Blink all you like, it’s real. Yes, perennial champ — but not this year — the still mighty Greenwich Cardinals were third with 436.5.

The Cards have been Darien’s waterlogged Moby Dick, for that forever; Darien always chasing its fins. Roles were reversed on the strength of the Wave’s massive depth this season.

And it’s a Wave straight — another first for Darien — becoming FCIAC, state class and open champion all on the trot in as many weeks as their number of titles.

“When that final event ended, I couldn’t believe it,” Trifone said. “I am so proud of them. We’ve been all about team throughout the season. It took everybody for us to get us this championship. They all stuck together and fed off each other.”

County rivals Norwalk/McMahon came in eighth, Wilton ninth and Staples 10th with 196, 188, 152 points respectively.

Darien won the 200 medley relay with Caroline Orem, Victoria Chao, Olivia Leunis and freshman Lauren Rutledge finishing in 1:48.51.

With these events her own all season, Leunis won the 200 IM in 2:05.81 and the 100 breaststroke in 1:04.96.


The moment of glory that ended forever without a state open trophy for the Wave. (Darien Times/Paul Silverfarb photo)

Orem took the backstroke she has dominated in every pool all autumn with a 57.31 swim in the 100.

And Darien’s medley relay not only won, but set a school record, and best of all made All-American consideration, while Leunis made All-American consideration in the 100 breaststroke as well.

Plus Leunis broke the school record in the 200 IM — previously held by Caroline Orem — and Leunis set the school record in the 100 breast. She broke her old record there.

She had a qualifying time of 1:04.63.

Orem’s swim in the back was a DHS record too, breaking her own 2011 mark.

It took everybody.

— Marj Trifone

But really, as Trifone has stressed all season, and repeated leading into the triple win postseason, this has been all about the team, and its rare depth that sinks to about below the lining of the pool in 2012.

Not a win, but one huge outcome for DHS was sophomore Courtney Ferreira landing in third in the 500 free in 5:08.44.

Darien’s 200 free relay unit of Rutledge, Leunis, Ferreira and Amanda Bieler were third with a nice swim in 1:38.78.

Fourth in the 400 yard free relay, Bieler, Julia Stobbie, Orem and Ferreira in 3:36.27.

Orem was fourth in the 200 IM in 2:09.23,

Ferreira was eighth in the 200 free in 1:55.71, Bieler was 11th in 1:56.18.

Chao had a ninth place swim in the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.39, with Megan Slaughter 11th in 1:08.94 and Lia Barsanti 12th in 1:09.41.

Sam Schrenker was 10th in the 500 free in 5:12.58, and Elizabeth Kearney came in 16th in 5:17.50, Stobbie 17th in 5:19.14.


The deepest class of swimmers, and what coach Marj Trifone called her best working team — as a team — included many scorers chipping away, like freshman Rebecca Maroney. (Darien Times/Steven Buono photo)

Claire Treesh was 12th in the 100 back in 1:00.15, Kearney 13th in 1:00.61, freshman Rebecca Maroney 14th in 1:00.95.

Rutledge came in 16th in the 50 free in 24.85.

The 100 fly had Maggie Orem, a freshman, in 13th in 1:00.35.

Bieler was 13th in the 100 free in 54.09, Rutledge was 18th in 54.45.

Darien’s divers had more than any other school registering in the top 20 on Friday night in the opening portion of the open meet.

Led by a brave trouper in senior Caroline Ashcraft, who competed with an injured and painful back and came in eighth, after qualifying in third, the divers added points aplenty in this history meet for DHS.

Ashcraft scored 377, Kyla Pech was ninth with 334, Molly Klein 13th scoring 318.80 and Olivia Piazza was 18th with 311.55.

“We had a great trial meet and came in and held on a little bit in the final meet,” Trifone said. “We had a big talk after the final class meet and decided that this is something that we’ve been working hard for all season.

“We knew we had this in our sight and we didn’t want to let it go because we’ve never won a state open championship before.”

There’s, another poolside milestone, not quite so forever as the Wave’s first title at the open meet?

“This is going to be my 50th birthday and it’s the best present that I could have ever gotten,” Trifone, five-decades young, said.

Pack Mentali-tees

Darien’s got a new motto from this historic meet. It’s more than a motto really.

It reads like this, and it’s going onto a commemorative t-shirt for the team:

“Now this is the law of the jungle — as old and as true as the sky:

And the wolf that keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die

As the pack that circles their prey

The law runs forward and back

And the strength of the pack is the wolf

And the strength of the wolf is the pack!”


Water works for the triple champs celebrating at Yale. (Photo courtesy of Martin Milewski)

— Greenwich Post Sports Editor Paul Silverfarb contributed to this story.

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Darien Times Sports Editor since 2000

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