Ridgefield claims FCIAC swimming and diving championship

GREENWICH — Paul Marchese’s belly-flop into the Greenwich pool was not a thing of beauty, but as far as his Ridgefield girls swimming and diving team was concerned, it was simply perfect.

The Tigers overcame a tough challenge from Darien and pulled away in the final two events to capture their first FCIAC championship since 2016 Friday night in Greenwich.

Ridgefield won two races and set an FCIAC record in the 400-yard freestyle relay while scoring 375 points. Darien was second with 335 points and host Greenwich was third with 264.

“The whole goal was to do this together as a team and we did,” Marchese said. “I really want to thank my assistant coach Ronnie (Vaughn) and all the kids for working incredibly hard for this.

“My heart was pounding this entire meet, it’s so nerve-wracking, but the girls did great and they really picked each other up.”

There were plenty of stars throughout the meet, with six different teams earning gold medals.

Staples’ sophomore Annam Olasewere broke her own state record in the 100 freestyle, winning the event in 50.12, and earned Most Outstanding Swimmer honors for the second straight year. Her old record was 50.14, set at last year's Class LL meet.

Her twin sister, Ayaan, won the 50 freestyle in 24.11, and the siblings joined with Carly Waldman and Libby Turner to finish first in the 200 freestyle relay (1:36.86).

“I have to thank my captains and my coach. I’ve been training the longer distances this year, so it’s definitely helping me improve and finish off my 100 and my 200,” Annam Olasewere said. “Our relays aren't as strong as they were last year but we’re building them up. We’re really a sprint team, so we’re working on those longer distances and next year we’ll be better at the longer distances.”

For Ridgefield, Lily Archibald won the 100 butterfly (55.17) and was part of the winning 400 freestyle relay (3:28.79).

That relay broke the old FCIAC record of 3:28.79, set by Staples in 2017, and featured three sophomores - Archibald, Bridget Kelley and Keira Giles - and freshman Ava Ward.

The team championship was a big moment for the Tigers’ seniors, who were runner-up last season, and won the Central Division during the COVID year in 2020.

“Through the four years, we’ve been so close,” Caroline Kelly said. “To see us finally reaching our fullest potential is really exciting. This is the best way to go out. As captains it’s really exciting to see our team working together to reach our full potential.”

“It means everything to come back and tobe able to do this as seniors means the world to us,” Ada Tullis said. “It makes it so much more exciting when it’s so close and you finally get it. Those are the best meets.”

Darien had two victories, with Miller Ward winning the 200 individual medley (2:06.10) and teaming with Margaret Erickson, Emmy Kalvaitis and Natalia Ferranto to win in 1:47.21.

The meet was an emotional one for Darien coach Marj Trifone, who coached many of her seniors at the Middlesex Club in Darien when they were younger.

“We had a really good meet and we swam well,” Trifone said. “It was really nice to have a competitive meet and see what we could do. I have a phenomenal group of seniors on my team this year and the really special thing is I taught most of them how to swim. So it’s kind of bittersweet with this being their last season."

The Wave led 290-288 heading into the final two events, but Ridgefield took over on the strength of a 47-13 advantage in the 100 breaststroke.

“Our strength is the back half of the meet with the backstroke, breaststroke and 4 free relay,” Marchese said. “We knew we were going to hit hard there and the girls just took that upon themselves and did an incredible job.”

Ludlowe had two victories, with Kathleen Murray winning the 200 freestyle (1:49.82) and Ella Gussen winning the 100 backstroke (59.58).

Also winning were Greenwich’s Sydney Jhee in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.92), Wilton’s Virginia Hastings in the 500 freestyle (5:04.45).

David.Stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports

2022 FCIAC Swim Finals at Greenwich

Team scores: 1 Ridgefield 375, 2 Darien 335, 3 Greenwich 264, 4 Staples 240, 5 Wilton 196, 6 New Canaan 184, 7 Ludlowe 171, 8 Westhill/Stamford 134, 9 (tie) Trumbull and St. Joseph 102, 11 Norwalk/McMahon 74, 12 Warde 55, 13 Danbury 16.

Individual results

200-yard medley relay: 1 Darien (Margaret Erickson, Miller Ward, Emmy Kalvaitis, Natalia Ferranto) 1:47.21, 2 Ridgefield 1:47.65, 3 Ludlowe 1:49.82.

200-yard freestyle: 1 Kathleen Murray (Ludlowe) 1:49.82, 2 Annam Olasewere (Staples) 1:49.93, 3 Bridget Kelly (Ridgefield) 1:52.97.

200-yard individual medley: 1 Miller Ward (Darien) 2:06.10, 2 Ella Gussen (Ludlowe) 2:07.47, 3 Virginia Hastings (Wilton) 2:08.07.

50-yard freestyle: 1 Ayaan Olasewere (Staples) 24.11, 2 Natalia Ferranto (Darien) 24.14, 3 Annie Edwards (Westhill/Stamford) 24.64.

100-yard butterfly: 1 Lily Archibald (Ridgefield) 55.17, 2 Miler Ward (Darien) 55.54, 3 Kathleen Murray (Ludlowe) 55.60.

100-yard freestyle: 1 Annam Olasewere (Staples) 50.12, 2 Ayaan Olasewere (Staples) 52.64, 3 Keira Giles (Ridgefield) 53.10.

500-yard freestyle: 1 Virginia Hastings (Wilton) 5:04.45, 2 Bridget Kelly (Ridgefield) 5:07.65, 3 Margaret Erickson (Darien) 5:09.56.

200-yard freestyle relay: 1 Staples (Annam Olasewere, Carly Waldman, Libby Turner, Ayaan Olasewere) 1:36.86.

100-yard backstroke: 1 Ella Gussen (Ludlowe) 59.58, 2 Libby Turner (Staples) 59.69, 3 Samantha Haley (New Canaan) 1:00.46.

100-yard breaststroke: 1 Sydney Jee (Greenwich) 1:05.91, 2 Abby Bleil (New Canaan) 1:06.06, 3 Riley McGerald (Ridgefield) 1:06.94.

400-yard freestyle relay: 1 Ridgefield (Lily Archibald, Ava Ward, Bridget Kelly, Keira Giles) 3:28.79, 2 Staples 3:43.30, 3 Darien 3:36.13.