Naugatuck, Woodland swimmers to be in the mix at NVL meet

The Naugatuck and Woodland swim teams have been at the top of the pack at the Naugatuck Valley League swim championships the past couple of years. The Greyhounds finished runner-up last season and the Hawks won the championship in 2017.

Both teams figure to be at the top of the mix again this year and will look to challenge defending championship Seymour for the title. The NVL swim trials are set for Monday, with diving finals on Wednesday and swim finals set Friday.

The Greyhounds are down from 25 swimmers last year to 15 this season, but do possess a very diversified and talented unit.

Their strength revolves around the relays. Molly Kennelly, Katelyn Fortney and Jacqueline Uva were part of the second-place 200 medley and 200 freestyle squads at last year’s championship. Abby Shugdinis and Alena Rotatori were part of the sixth-place 400 freestyle relay team.

Fortney will also look to close the gap after finishing second last year in the 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly.

“This is far from over,” Naugatuck head coach Jim McKee said. “A lot can depend on the NVL trials to see what brackets you end up in. That can mean a big swing in points.”

Naugy doesn’t have a diving team and that could be the difference. It’s one thing to give up six to ten points in the dual meet season, but at the NVL championship that could amount to a 60-to-80-point differential.

“I’m not too concerned with the diving points because Seymour is in the same boat,” McKee said. “The team that will benefit the most is Woodland, they have a very good diving team.”

Woodland boasts the largest team in the NVL with 33 swimmers. The Hawks also have three divers who can all end up in the top ten: Kayleigh Theroux (fourth last year), Shaelin DiGiola (ninth last year) and freshman Ella Bernegger.

“Right now we have the biggest roster in the league,” Woodland head coach Mike Magas said. “Hopefully that will help us to be competitive with the top teams in the league.”

Kyla Behrle earned bronze medals last year in the 100 butterfly and the 500 freestyle. Morgan Swift (fourth, 100 breaststroke), Alexandra Rojcov (sixth, 50 freestyle) and Casey Brooks (sixth, 200 freestyle) will be looking to improve on last year’s performance.

Freshmen Maura Beltrami and Molly Kennedy have consistently shown they can win multiple events this season for the Hawks.

“Obviously our strength will be our depth,” Magas said. “We have a large freshman class that is very talented and has amazing potential. It will all come down to swimming and diving at our best.”