Greyhounds’ swimming title streak ends at four

WATERBURY — Naugatuck’s four-year streak as Naugatuck Valley League boys swimming champion ended last Saturday at Kennedy High’s John Reardon Pool. But the results show that Sacred Heart had to earn the title in a competitive meet.

Between the NVL trials and finals, the Greyhound swimmers produced about 100 best times. The Greyhounds won five events at the conference championship.

By the end of the finals, Sacred Heart held off Naugy by an eight-point margin, 545-537. The meet came down to one event—the 200-yard freestyle relay. Sacred Heart and Naugatuck both swam season-best times, but the Hearts were 0.26 seconds better.

Naugatuck’s team of Kevin McMullen, James Vaz, William Wright and Kyle Conrad swam a team-season-best time of 1 minute, 30.28 seconds, which is about 2.5 seconds better than the previous best. All four swimmers performed their best splits.

“We did our best, they did their best,” Naugatuck coach Jim McKee said. “The meet came down to the 200 free relay.”

Individually, Conrad won the 200 free (1:47.13) and 100 free (48.23) events. Naugy’s Chris Branco won the 500 free (5:02.18) and Harald Hersted took the 200 IM (1:58.18).

In the 400 free relay, Naugatuck took first. Vaz, Hersted, Wright and Conrad swam a 3:18.30 to beat out Sacred Heart’s team by over a second.

After the meet, McKee reflected on the outcome. While his team didn’t win, he was pleased.

“There are no regrets in these meets,” McKee said. “You put it all on the line, and all you can do is your best. We did our best. You have to tip your cap to Sacred Heart.”

McKee said he judges the season not based on a single win or loss but by individual performances.

“If you lose, it does not invalidate your season,” McKee said. “It’s all about doing best times. I told the kids I was proud of them.”

Woodland placed sixth overall. The Hawks had several prominent finishes, led by Patrick O’Dell. O’Dell finished second in the 100 backstroke with a time of 57.58, about 2 seconds behind the first-place time of Kelly Dullard. O’Dell also took fifth in the 100 butterfly.

Lindsay Boland took third in the 1-meter diving with a score of 328.05, while Andy O’Dell took fourth in the 500 freestyle and sixth in the 200 free. Adam Trumbley placed fifth in the 100 free for the Hawks.

Both Naugatuck and Woodland are set to compete in their respective class meets over the next week. The Greyhounds will compete at the Class L championships, which started Wednesday with diving and will conclude March 15 with the finals. The Hawks are set for the Class S championships, which also started Wednesday with diving and will end March 16 with the finals.

The State Open diving meet will follow on March 17 before the swim meet on March 19.