Darien rules Class L boys swimming and diving

For the first time in 17 years, the Darien Blue Wave are state champions in boys swimming and diving.
The Wave wrapped up the CIAC Class L crown during the swim finals at Wesleyan University on Wednesday, finishing with 711 points to outdistance the Pomperaug Panthers by 60 points. Pomperaug was second with 651 points and New Canaan took third place with 621 points.
It’s Darien’s first state title since 2001, when the Wave won its third straight Class S championship. Since then, they’ve been the runner-up seven times, including from 2014 through 2016, before finally grabbing the title on Wednesday.
Darien came into the swim finals with 57 points already on the books, courtesy of senior divers Owen Stevens and Wiley Schmidt, who finished first and second, respectively, at the Class L diving finals last Friday in East Hartford.
Stevens won the title by breaking the 500-point mark and finishing at 500.25, while Schmidt was second at 489.30. The next closest competitor was New Canaan’s James Ragusa, who scored 431.10 and finished third.
The Blue Wave swimmers led for much of the meet on Wednesday, but didn’t officially nail down the championship until the final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Pomperaug won that race in 3:10.84, but Darien’s Spencer Erickson, Chris Zhang, Karl Wadleigh, and Connor Martin too second place in 3:11.08, earning 54 points to secure the title.
The Blue Wave had a pair of individual champions as Erickson, a junior, won the 100 backstroke, and Martin, a sophomore, won the 100 butterfly.
Erickson’s victory in the backstroke featured a tight finish, as the Blue Wave swimmer clocked in at 51.77, with Pomperaug’s Colin MacKellar, a split-second behind at 51.80.
In the butterfly competition, Martin won by less than a half-second, as he finished in 51.05 and New Canaan’s Luke Stewart finished in 51.52.
Darien opened the swim finals by taking second in the 200 medley relay. Amity won that race in 1:34.94, while Erickson, sophomore Nico Clark, Martin, and Zhang, a senior, finished in 1:36.70.
In the 200 freestyle, the Blue Wave placed four swimmers in the top 14 and collected 86 points towards the team total.
South Windsor’s Tyler Branscombe won in 1:41.55, with Erickson close behind in second at 1:43.05. Wadleigh, a junior, was fourth (1:46.41), with Zhang eighth (1:50.61), and sophomore Pragun Sharma in 14th (1:52.53).
In the 200 individual medley, Darien sophomores led the way as Conway Zhou was sixth in 2:00.50, followed Anthony Barsanti in ninth (2:01.64), and Frederick Tuck in 12th (2:03.96).
Martin took fifth place in the 50 freestyle, finishing with a time of 22.11. He was followed by junior Matthew Freeman in 11th (22.70), and junior Connor Zielinski in 21st (23.12).
Martin continued his great night with his win in the 100 butterfly, and he wasn’t the only Wave swimmers to earn points in the event. Zhou was in the fast heat and finished seventh in 54.32, with senior Alexander Dehmel 11th (55.44), and freshman Harris FitzPatrick 15th (55.88).
In the 100 freestyle, Wadleigh was eighth in 49.49, and Clark was ninth in 49.35. Clark finished ninth despite having the faster time, because at the state meets, the top eight spots from the preliminaries race in the fast heats, and swimmers in the fast heats can finish no lower than eighth place.
Zielinski took 14th place in the 100 freestyle with a time of 50.28.
Darien had four swimmers in the 500 freestyle, a group led by Zhang, who was fifth in 4:51.74. Sharma was 10th (4:57.49), with freshmen Hayden Puff 11th (4:58.23), and Tobias Trygg 13th (5:08.71).
Erickson has his win in the 100 backstroke, with senior Connor Henry in sixth (55.77), junior Nicholas Giotis in ninth (56.42), and sophomore Frederick Tuck in 14th (57.66).
In the 100 breaststroke, Clark was fourth in 1:00.04, followed by Dehmel in sixth (1:02.19), Barsanti in 11th (1:02.42), and sophomore Cormac Brown in 19th (1:05.48).
CIAC Class L Swimming & Diving Championships
Team scores
1 – Darien, 711; 2 – Pomperaug, 651; 3 – New Canaan, 621; 4 – Amity 471; 5 – Conard, 365
Individual Events for Darien Swimmers and Divers
200 medley relay
1 – Amity, 1:34.94
2 – Darien (Spencer Erickson, Nico Clark, Connor Martin, Chris Zhang), 1:36.70
200 freestyle
1 – Tyler Branscombe (South Windsor), 1:41.55
2 – Spencer Erickson, 1:43.05
4 – Karl Wadleigh, 1:46.41
8 – Chris Zhang, 1:50.61
14 – Pragun Sharma, 1:52.53
200 Individual Medley
6 – Conway Zhou, 2:00.50
9 – Anthony Barsanti, 2:01.64
12 – Frederick Tuck, 2:03.96
50 Freestyle
5 – Connor Martin, 22.11
11 – Matthew Freeman, 22.70
21 – Connor Zielinski, 23.12
Diving
1 – Owen Stevens, 500.25
2 – Wiley Schmidt, 489.30
100 Butterfly
1 – Connor Martin, 51.05
2 – Luke Stewart (NC), 51.52
7 – Conway Zhou, 54.32
11 – Alexander Dehmel, 55.44
15 – Harris FitzPatrick, 55.88
100 freestyle
8 – Karl Wadleigh, 49.49
9 – Nico Clark, 49.35
14 – Connor Zielinski, 50.28
500 freestyle
5 – Chris Zhang, 4:51.74
10 – Pragun Sharma, 4:57.49
11 – Hayden Puff, 4:58.23
13 – Tobias Trygg, 5:08.71
17 – Aiden Murphy, 5:08.99
100 backstroke
1 – Spencer Erickson, 51.77
2 – Colin MacKellar (Pomperaug) 51.80
6 – Connor Henry, 55.77
9 – Nicholas Giotis, 56.42
14 – Frederick Tuck, 57.66
100 breaststroke
4 – Nico Clark, 1:00.04
6 – Alexander Dehmel, 1:02.19
11 – Anthony Barsanti, 1:02.42
19 – Cormac Brown, 1:05.48
400 freestyle relay
1 – Pomperaug, 3:10.84
2 – Darien (Spencer Erickson, Chris Zhang, Karl Wadleigh, Connor Martin), 3:11.08
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Connor Martin won the 100 butterfly in 51.05, helping the Blue Wave capture the Class L swimming and diving championship on Wednesday night. — Dave Stewart photo

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