Woodland swimmers ahead of pace

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

BEACON FALLS — The returning swimmers from the defending Naugatuck Valley League champions are ahead of the pace they set last season, giving the Hawks hope as they swim toward the middle of the season.

Not only did Woodland win its first three dual meets of the season, but coach Mike Magas said that most of the girls who are back from last year’s championship squad are swimming faster now than they were at this time last season.

“So far things are looking positive. We’re slowly starting to get into shape,” Magas said. “The returning girls from last year, they’re slightly ahead of the pace they were at last year. I’ve been impressed with the swimming and the diving.”

The Hawks won their first two NVL meets against Watertown and St. Paul. Their 101-85 win over the always-competitive Indians on Sept. 14 was a boost to Woodland’s spirits after graduating key components from last year’s title-winning team, including the top swimmer in program history, Dia Gawronski.

Aly Rojcov, who earned All-State honors last year as part of a relay team, has racked up wins early this season. She helped the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay teams to victories against the Indians, and she also claimed individual wins in the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke. She switched to the 50 free and 500 free — an uncommon double — and won both of those races against St. Paul on Sept. 18.

Other individual winners early this season included Kyla Behrle (200 individual medley, 500 free, 100 fly), Morgan Swift (100 breaststroke), and Adrianna Byczko (diving).

As the Hawks move forward with the season, Magas isn’t as concerned with results as he is with preparation.

“I want to keep seeing effort,” Magas said. “The girls know that they have to put in the work during practice, and if they do that, their times will keep improving.”

In perhaps the biggest regular-season meet of the year Friday against Seymour, the defending Class S runner-up and the favorite to win this year’s NVL title, Woodland fell 91-74 to drop to 3-1 on the season.

Although that meet won’t have any bearing on who will win the league championship, the results are a measure of where the Hawks stack up against some of the state’s top swimmers.

“It’s definitely a gauge,” Magas said before the meet. “Everyone in the league knows that Seymour is the team to beat in the league this year because they have some amazing talent. The girls definitely get up for that meet because they know the level of competition that Seymour brings.”

The Hawks are set to visit Naugatuck on Tuesday before hosting Torrington on Friday.