Hawks set new benchmark for boys swimming program

MIDDLETOWN — The most successful season in the history of the Woodland boys swim program ended after one final team-best performance at the Class S state championships.

The Hawks finished sixth March 11 at the divisional meet at Wesleyan, racking up 276.5 points. Naugatuck Valley League champion Holy Cross won the title with 709 points with Brookfield, Haddam-Killingworth, Northwestern, and Sheehan rounding out the top five.

All three of the Hawks’ relays made strong showings. The 400 freestyle relay squad of Jeff Varesio, Zack Arisian, Joe Flaherty and Greg Aldrich was fifth in 3 minutes, 31.25 seconds, while the 200 free relay group of Flaherty, Noah Scott, Aldrich, and Varesio was sixth in 1:34.64. The 200 medley squad of Jake and Zack Arisian, Scott, and Ryan Curtin finished ninth but posted the sixth-best time overall from the B-final (1:49.22).

Aldrich ended his high school career with a pair of top-10 individual finishes, as well. He placed sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.78) and 10th in the 200 individual medley (2:07.07).

Flaherty also notched a pair of top-15 performances in his final meet. He was 11th in the 100 freestyle (52.79) and 15th in the 50 free (24.05).

Three other swimmers also participated in two individual events. Jake Arisian placed 11th in the 100 backstroke (1:00.15) and 18th in the 100 butterfly (59.48), while Varesio was 15th in the 100 free (53.62) and 21st in the 50 free (24.31), and Scott was 17th in the 50 free (23.84) and 21st in the 100 free (54.20).

In the earlier diving competition, three-time NVL champion Riley Clark placed fourth with 333.90 points.

Woodland’s success this winter was by far the best in program history. The Hawks went 9-3 in dual-meet competition, including 9-1 in the NVL with the only league loss coming to Holy Cross. Woodland also earned the program’s first dual-meet victories over Naugatuck, Watertown, Torrington and Sacred Heart.

“I’m really proud of it because it’s the best season that the team has ever had,” Flaherty said. “We beat a lot of teams for the first time, so I feel proud of that.”

Flaherty, Aldrich, Varesio, Clark, Zach Hummel and Zack Arisian will graduate in June having left the swim program in a much better place than they found it as freshmen. Aldrich and Clark both set individual school records this season, and as a group the seniors set a successful tone that they hope will continue for years to come.

“I feel like we’ve really motivated the underclassmen to come back and stay motivated,” Flaherty said. “I feel like we gave them something to be proud of here.”