Darien swimmers impress coach en route to fifth in FCIAC meet

GREENWICH -- In individual-based sports such as swimming, athletes are competing both against outside competition and themselves. For Darien High School's boys' swimming and diving team, the latter proved to be a focal point at the FCIAC Championships which started with the diving competition at Westhill High in Stamford on Tuesday, March 1 and concluded with the swimming events at Greenwich High two days later.

Darien, with 279 points, came in fifth among all teams, narrowly edged out by Westhill-Stamford (280) for fourth. Greenwich won the meet with 371.5 and New Canaan was runner-up with 350.5.

Despite not coming out on top, the Blue Wave coaches and team members had a lot to be happy about because of the individual improvement the team members showed.

"Our guys stepped up huge. I wasn't expecting some of those times," said DHS Coach Jason Cochran, adding that almost all of his swimmers recorded their season-best times in the championships. "They just really stepped up."

All of the teams did, for that matter. Coaches throughout the FCIAC were impressed by everyone's times.

"You never know what to expect -- especially this year," Darien's Chris Brook said. "Really good competition, really fast competition. We have a huge senior class, a lot of fast swimmers."

In the 200 freestyle, the Wave logged three top-10 finishes. Chris Weihs was fifth in 1:45.85, James Baker placed sixth in 1:46.24 and Jack Bair was 10th in 1:48.30.

In the 200 individual medley, Jake Greene was sixth in 1:59.61 and Chris Janson was 11th in 2:02.52. Tyler Gould placed fourth in the 50 freestyle, making his final touch in 21.80. Also in the 50 free, teammates Brook and Sam Gillespie finished 12th and 14th, respectively, with times of 22.78 and 22.87.

Baker was Darien's fastest finisher in the 100 butterfly, concluding his race in 53.24. Grant Nelson was 16th in the fly in a time of 58.93.

"It's so exciting, it's so loud -- when you come up for a breath you hear that and when you go under, it's dead silence. It really gets your adrenaline going," Nelson said.

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Gould placed third in the 100 free, finishing in 48.07 and Brook was 13th in 50.11. Greene recorded a sixth-place result in the 500 free, making his last touch in 4:46.73. Teammate Will Smelser placed 11th in the 500 in 4:59.04.

The 100 backstroke featured three more Wave swimmers who earned points. Janson and Bair came in back-to-back in eighth and ninth, and Christian Weeks placed 12th.

Darien scored points in every event but the 100 breaststroke. All three relay teams cracked the top five. The 200 medley relay group placed fifth in a time of 1:41.15. The 400 relay contingent, comprised of Weihs, Baker, Greene and Gould, was third in 3:13.16 and the 200 free relay team of Brook, Gillespie, Weihs and Gould came in fourth in 1:30.09.

"They blew me away today. We're not even shaved, we're not tapered. It has me really motivated and excited to see how we do in states," Cochran said.

The Wave swimmers will try to continue to drop times as they gear up for the State Class Championships on Saturday at Masuk at 3:30.