Ridgefield girls swim to historic wins over Cheshire, Greenwich, snap Cheshire's 92-meet win streak

The Ridgefield girls swimming and diving team celebrates after defeating Cheshire and Greenwich at the Cheshire Community Pool on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022.

The Ridgefield girls swimming and diving team celebrates after defeating Cheshire and Greenwich at the Cheshire Community Pool on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022.


Greenwich and Cheshire have traditionally been two of the big dogs in Connecticut high school swimming.

Now, the cats are in charge.

Ridgefield won six events, including a sweep of the relays, as the Tigers scored decisive victories over Greenwich and Cheshire on Monday at the Cheshire Community Pool.

It was a night to remember for unbeaten Ridgefield, which beat Cheshire 112-74, and defending FCIAC and State Open champion Greenwich 121-65 in a dominating performance. The result ended Cheshire's 92-meet win streak which dated back to 2013. The Cheshire program holds the national record with 281 straight wins from 1986-2011.

“We wanted to put our name up with Greenwich and Cheshire — two historic programs with absolutely amazing swimming and diving,” Ridgefield’s third-year coach Paul Marchese said. “The girls brought it on themselves. I led the charge at first but they just took it over like it was their own.”

The original schedule had Ridgefield (7-0) hosting Greenwich (5-3) in a straight dual meet, but the Cardinals also had Cheshire (7-1) on their slate.
Marchese said Greenwich coach Brendan Heller had spoken with Cheshire coach Matt Traub about the tri-meet idea, and asked if Ridgefield wanted  to be included.

“I figured this would be an opportunity to go against two other fast teams and kind of see where we’re at in the middle of the season,” Marchese said. “I was on board.”

Greenwich has won 49 state Class and Open titles since 1980. Cheshire has 43.

After giving up a home meet for a road trip, Marchese spoke to his team on the bus when they arrived in Cheshire.

“The thing I was hammering home was you have to stay in the moment in this meet; you’ve got to live in the now,” he said. “It’s important to own your race and feel the energy. I really think that fast swimming is a direct translation of energy.”

The meet itself had a championship atmosphere, with the three teams swimming in nine lanes for each event.

The Tigers opened with a victory, as sophomores Lily Archibald and Riley McGerald, junior Elissa Egerton and freshman Kiera Hinckley were first in the 200-yard medley relay in 1:52.23, two seconds ahead of second-place Greenwich.

Ridgefield was still leading when it racked up its biggest gain in the 500-yard freestyle, with sophomore Bridget Kelly (5:11.40) leading a sweep of the top three spots. Senior co-captain Caroline Kelly (5:25.68) was second and freshman Eva Ward (5:27.75) third.

Archibald won two individual events: The 100 butterfly (57.78) and 100 backstroke (59.44).

Also winning were Ridgefield’s 200 freestyle (1:40.52) and 400 freestyle (3:38.52) relays.

Cheshire senior Avery Potyrala won the 50 freestyle (24.84) and 100 freestyle (53.70), with junior Julia Barto first in the 200 freestyle (1:56.72).

For Greenwich, junior Sydney Jee won the 200 individual medley (2:11.90) and 100 breaststroke (1:07.79), and senior Javiera Garcia won diving (216.15).

“After every race, the girls would high-five each other, and they’d stand behind the race and cheer,” Marchese said. “Even if they had a bad race, they’d get up and cheer for each other just because they know that their teammates are going to pick them up.”

Greenwich had also faced Glastonbury and Amity last Saturday, and was swimming in its second meet in three days.

“It was a great learning experience for our team,” Heller said. “Ridgefield really dominated the meet and Cheshire was very strong, with a ton of energy, fanfare and enthusiasm. We are hoping to learn from these intense, high energy, pressure-filled situations so that when we get to November, we have the confidence to compete at a high level.”

Ridgefield was already among the top challengers in the FCIAC, but with the latest victories, the Tigers have roared to the top of the list.

They were solid last season, finishing as the runner-up in the conference and Class LL, and could make a run at both crowns in November.

Marchese, who became Ridgefield’s head coach during the 2020 COVID season, said the biggest change in the program has been the culture.

“Having the kids coming into this culture and feeling that healthy competitive environment really boosted a lot of the kids’ mindsets when it comes towards swimming and race preparation,” Marchese said. “Another big thing for the freshmen coming in, the younger kids and even the older kids is being able to trust every single swimmer on the team. It’s important to let the kids find their own confidence and motivation, but the most important thing is trusting each other.”

David.Stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports




200 medley relay: 1 Ridgefield (Lily Archibald, Riley McGerald, Elissa Egerton, Kiera Hinckley) 1:52.23, 2 Greenwich 1:54.26, 3 Cheshire 1:57.58; 200 freestyle: 1 Julia Barto (C) 1:56.72, 2 Ava Ward (R) 1:59.54, 3 Caroline Kelly (R) 2:01.34; 200 IM: 1 Sydney Jee (G) 2:11.90, 2 Riley McGerald (R) 2:12.21, 3 Julianna Tyler (C) 2:12.43; 50 freestyle: 1 Avery Potyrala (C) 24.84, 2 Keira Giles (R) 25.27,; 3 Wesley Wales (G) 25.87; Diving: 1 Javiera Garcia (G) 216.15, 2 Hannah Tao (C) 210.75, 3 Kaelyn Talisse (R) 200.70; 100 butterfly: 1 Lily Archibald (R) 57.78, 2 Julianna Tyler (C) 59.46, 3 Elissa Egerton (R) 1:00.23; 100 freestyle: 1 Avery Potyrala (C) 53.70. 2 Keira Giles (R) 54.13, 3 Daisy Decker (G) 56.89; 500 freestyle: 1 Bridget Kelly (R) 5:11.40, 2 Caroline Kelly (R) 5:25.68, 3 Ava Ward (R) 5:27.75; 200 freestyle relay: 1 Ridgefield (Riley McGerald, Ava Ward, Bridget Kelley, Keira Giles)1:40.52, 2 Cheshire 1:41.14, 3 Greenwich 1:45.68; 100 backstroke: 1 Lily Archibald (R) 59.44, 2 Natalia Gajecki (C) 1:00.16, 3 Elissa Egerton (R) 1:03.13; 100 breaststroke: 1 Sydney Jee (G) 1:07.79, 2 Riley McGerald (R) 1:08.53, 3 Julia Barto (C) 1:10.39; 400 freestyle relay: 1 Ridgefield (Bridget Kelly, Ava Ward, Lily Archibald, Keira Giles) 3:38.52, 2 Cheshire 3:45.09, 3 Cheshire 3:54.36.