NAUGATUCK — Swimming is the type of team sport in which a squad’s success is determined by the sum of its individual successes. On Friday at the Alex “Gimbo” Sullivan pool, the Naugatuck girls used 34 personal-best times to come away with a season-opening, 91-83 victory over Kennedy.
The Greyhounds have not vied for a Naugatuck Valley League title since running off four in a row from 2002-05. This season will present its own set of challenges for the young Naugatuck team, but it was certainly a step in the right direction for head coach Jim McKee’s squad.
“We have the numbers, but about half of these girls were participating in their first varsity meet,” McKee said. “They are very enthusiastic, and the goal is to get better with each meet. As long as we keep dropping times, there’s really not much else you can do.”
Naugatuck is led by senior captains Leah Grabowski, Samantha Fredericks, Lauren Zalewski and Sarah Yacavone. That leadership was evident right from the start, as the Greyhounds continued to pull away from the Eagles until coach McKee chose to swim exhibitions over the final three events.
Kennedy got off to a good start, winning the 200-yard medley relay to start the meet before Naugatuck went on to win the next eight events. Naugatuck grabbed the lead by taking second and third in the 200 medley relay, with the foursome of Emily Krueger, Sarah Konops, Fredericks and Molly Walsh posting a time of 2:24.97.
Morgan Russo, Melissa Kirschbaum, Taylor Turner and Yacavone turned a third-place time of 2:31.88, and the Garnet and Grey were well on their way.
Naugatuck then won seven straight events to pull away from the Eagles, with a different swimmer stepping up to lead the way. Nicole Javins began a string of personal-best times, when Naugatuck took first, second and third in the 200 freestyle. Javins posted a winning time of 2:16.80, with Grabowski taking second in 2:19.64 and Diana Silva finishing third, in a personal-best 2:35.71.
Rebecca Doback grabbed the lead on the first turn of the 200-yard individual medley and raced to victory with a personal-best time of 2:48.44. Molly Walsh won the 50 freestyle in a time of 28.21, and the Hounds extended their advantage by taking the top three spots in the diving competition.
Melissa Uva took first with a score of 157.80 on the strength of her first dive, which generated scores of 6.5, 7 and 7.5. Morgan Fonseca was second with a total of 86.05, and Debora Rodrigues placed third with an 83.35.
The lead grew to 72-28 when Morgan Russo took first in the 100 butterfly in 1:23.54, and the Greyhounds continued to dominate the meet with Konops posting a personal-best and a first-place finish in the 100 freestyle in 1:03.94.
Grabowski was first in the 500 freestyle in 6:07.88, and Javins placed second in 6:08.56—a full minute ahead of the Kennedy third-place finisher. The rest of the meet was a formality, after Kirschbaum, Fredericks, Walsh and Taylor Filanowski captured first in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:35.40
Silva, Zalewski, Yacavone and Jocelyn Brantly finished second in a time of 1:41.90 before coach McKee decided to swim the last three events as exhibitions, allowing Kennedy to close the gap.
“It certainly was a very good beginning on the season, with 34 best times,” McKee said. “We have some very tough teams to face in the NVL, with Watertown, Holy Cross, Torrington and Seymour, along with a few others.
“As long as we keep improving, we are doing all we can do. The wins may come far and few between, but we just need to stay focused and get better with each meet.”
Naugatuck will be back in the pool Saturday, when it travels to Watertown to face off against a much-improved Indians squad.