Wave swimmers gain experience, earn first win
FAIRFIELD -- The history of the Darien High School's girls swimming and diving team means the bar is raised high from the onset of the season, year after year. Winners of nine state championships in the last 10 years, including a stretch of eight in a row that was snapped in 2008, the Blue Wave girls simply expect to win.
So far, so good in 2010 for this group. Darien visited Fairfield Warde on Wednesday and won 94-82 in a meet that was not as close as the final score indicated. The Blue Wave, in a show of sportsmanship, stopped keeping score once the meet's outcome was decided.
The names change, the faces change and the competition changes, but the results -- for the most part -- have remained the same throughout the years. The 2010 campaign, however, presents the Blue Wave with a bit of a different scenario than in the past. In addition to moving from Class M to Class L, providing the Wave with competition from larger, and theoretically deeper school teams in the end-of-season state competition, the Wave also has a significantly younger and lesser-experienced squad than in years past.
Sure, Darien brought back a wealth of talent, but 13 freshmen swimmers, and two first-year divers joined the team this fall.
Darien coach Marj Trifone was happy with how her youngest swimmers did in their high school debuts, and expects them to improve not only from experience but also as a result of getting used to the demands of varsity swimming.
"I think we did a good job, considering we're a very young team. I saw a lot of good swims and I saw a lot of inconsistencies," said Trifone, adding the young swimmers struggled from some fatigue, as they are getting used to the grind of high school competition.
Unlike the pre-high school meets they are accustomed to, which feature long breaks between events, high school meets allow for only five-or-so minutes between events, the coach pointed out. Swimmers who participate in events that run back-to-back have little time to recoup from one race before gearing up for another.
"It's hard. It's very hard at first," Trifone said. "You have to be in outstanding shape because you have to recover."
This adjustment phase doesn't mean the Wave swimmers don't want to continue the school's winning ways this season.
"I think expectations are high on all ends, on their end," Trifone said of the new swimmers, "and my end. They have expectations of the program and they have expectations of me and how I'm going to get them there.
"It's a tough tradition to walk into," she said.
So what is the expectation the coach has for her team? Trifone isn't necessarily expecting any particular finish in 2010. She just wants her swimmers to give it their all.
"I don't want to limit them -- they're very talented," said the coach, adding she wants them try their best. "I tell them, `As long as you're doing that and working hard every day, that's all you can ask for.'"
Trifone was pleased with the efforts of both her returnees and newcomers in the Warde meet.
"Overall, the freshman group looked good. I'm excited to see what they can do this year," Trifone said.
Some of the success of this team hinges not only on the development of newcomers, but also on the emergence of the younger returnees, including sophomore Olivia Leunis.
"I'm really impressed with Olivia Leunis. She worked hard in the offseason," Trifone said.
Among the freshmen whom the coach expects big things from are Elizabeth Kearney, Julia Stobbie, Amanda Bieler and Sam Schrenker. A sophomore newcomer, Francesca Milweski, is another key addition to the team. Of course, Darien's upperclassmen, including senior captain Lindsey Tyler, will play significant roles as the Wave look for another season of success.
In the 200 freestyle, Tyler took first in a time of 2:14.41. Leunis was second in the 200, finishing in 2:17.65.
Orem captured another first-place result in the 200-yard individual medley, completing the race in a time of 2:33.88. Darien had a one-two-three finish --and a one-two sister punch -- in the 200 IM, as Caroline Kearney placed runner-up in 2:41.40, and her sister, Elizabeth Kearney, followed in third in a time of 2:42.50.
In the 50 free, Treesch was first, making her race-ending wall-touch in 29.15, and Liu came in third in a time of 30.53.
The swimmers took a break while the divers put on a show for the judges. Caroline Ashcraft earned top honors in the competition.
In the 100 butterfly, Catherine Kearney was first in 1:12.37. The 100 free was won by Treesch in 1:03.36, and Caitlin Shea placed third in 1:05.60. The 500 free was won by Tyler in a time of 4:47.91, Calin O'Brien came in second in 5:03, and Stobbie was third in 5:05. Darien's 200 free relay contingent was first. The group of Treesch, Carley Berizzi, Liu and Tyler finished the race in a time of 1:58.95. The 100 backstroke winner was Orem, finishing in 1:11.59. Claire Treesch was runner-up in 1:15.70, and Elizabeth Kearney took third place in a time of 1:16.40. Leunis was first in the 100 backstroke in 1:17.56 and Kirby was second in 1:21.25. In the 400 free relay, Tyler, Orem, Stobbie and Leunis was first in a time of 4:21.13.
In an effort to get the up-and-coming swimmers, particularly those who do not get regular race time on the varsity squad, accustomed to the high school pace, Trifone scheduled a small handful of junior varsity meets.
"The more they get used to that -- the back to backs -- the better off they are," Trifone said.