Greenwich swimming welcomes challenge of postseason, look to regain top spot

GREENWICH — Fresh off a 9-0 dual-meet season, the Greenwich girls’ swimming & diving team will gear up for the postseason…not so fast.

“As we get close to FCIACs, the Class LL finals and the State Open we’ll ease back our training and the intensity,” Greenwich coach Brendan Heller said. “That way when we get to the meets the girls will be rested and strong. I keep reminding them that because of their training they will feel good and peak for the postseason.”

Greenwich captured 11 consecutive Class LL titles, and four straight Open crowns, before being unseated by Cheshire in 2019.

Having a brass ring to grab on to at the league and state meets are welcome motivators.

“It’s two-fold,” Heller said of competing after a year away. “There is the unknown of it. It will be a unique experience. Our freshmen and sophomores have never been in these championship meets in a high school level. It will be a learning experience.

“The second piece is having the Ridgefield and Darien meets,” he added. “There is intensity and nerves that comes with those pressure situations. That stress changes the dynamic, the mental state, to zone everything out and race with confidence.”

Greenwich hosts the FCIAC championships Nov. 6 at 4 p.m.

Greenwich completed its unbeaten regular season when it defeated Darien 106-80. It topped Ridgefield 101-86 in its fourth meet. Challenging races raise intensity on the pool deck.

“You can prepare as hard as you can, but until you step on the block and the crowd is going crazy, or when you hear it while you are swimming, it is a unique experience,” Heller said. “The adrenaline adds a new level. Some people feed off it so well. They soak it in and perform better than they ever thought they could. For others it will be entirely new. That’s the fun part about the championships. It is what we are looking forward to.”

Payton Foster had two of the seven first-place finishes versus Darien. The sophomore won the 200-intermediate relay in 2:07.30 and the 500-freestyle in 4:58.29.

Greenwich mixes its lineup. Multiple event winners aren’t commonplace.

“I like to mix it up and try girls in different events,” Heller said. “We have quality depth to score points from our first person to our fourth person in each event. In dual meets fourth scores don’t figure in but come the postseason they will. It’s good to have those girls ready.”

Against Darien, Sofia Wang won the 100-freestyle (55.03), Caterina Li the 100-butterfly (59.33), Isabella Malchow the 100-backstroke (101.49) and Michelle Weissler the 100-breaststroke (107.84). Emma Robinson (200-freestyle), Wang (50-freestyle), and Sydney Jee (100-breaststroke) took seconds.

Javiera Garcia (253.13), Esme Merrill (217.65) and Mackenzie Newi (207.90) were first, third and fifth, respectively, in the 1-meter dive.

Heller said: “We have seven divers. You can dive three to four in each meet, so we rotate who gets in. They have done an outstanding job. It’s nice to finish diving and pick up those eight to 10 points. They have been helpful and will continue to be when it comes to FCIACs, states and the Open.”

Heller praised his captains — Li, Merrill, Malchow and Robinson — for getting the newer team members acclimated to Greenwich swim and dive.

“Before the season started, they explained things to the new girls about what is important,” Heller said. “They spoke about the culture. I think we’ve done a good job building on that adding in some new traditions and training styles. There is so much history and tradition with Greenwich swimming. It is great to continue that.

“They have been getting after it every day. They push each other, work together each day, and are consistent. The next couple weeks is when it is time to shine. We’ve trained hard this far. The best is yet to come.” Twitter: @blox354