Battle-tested Greyhounds poised to make waves

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Naugatuck High School girls swimming captains, from left, Rebecca Doback, Rachel Goggin, and Kimberly O’Brien will lead an experienced Greyhounds squad this season in the pool. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls swim team comes into the season a little more battle-tested after last season’s rebuilding project that resulted in a 6-4 record. Armed with just a handful of seniors, the young Greyhounds wound up fifth at the 2011 Naugatuck Valley League championship meet.

This season Naugatuck has a strong core of swimmers who were NVL and state qualifiers. The strength of the team is a confident junior class that has improved and gained the kind of experience that will put the Greyhounds back in the hunt.

“We had a couple of girls swim during the offseason and they have come back strong,” said Naugatuck head coach Jim McKee, who is entering his 27th year and sports a 181-82 record. “Rebecca Doback is a leader and swims year-round, along with Barbara Martins. They both have looked even stronger coming into this season.”

Doback earned All-NVL honors in the 500-yard freestyle last year and senior Rachel Goggin is was an NVL and state finalist in multiple events.

Seniors Kim O’Brien and Mariah Somohano, both NVL finalists from a year ago, join seniors Brittany Allen, Joyce Lima and Brenda Morataya to give the Greyhounds a veteran presence.

“To see how much these girls have improved is very encouraging,” McKee said. “A lot of them swim in four events. We have some depth, some experience and a real good attitude.”

Martins and Rachel Fox, both NVL finalists in their sophomore seasons, lead the junior class, which also includes Martina Niebrzydowski, Maria Carranza, Michelle Wright and Madison Wilson.

Sophomores Erica Spino and Daisy Walsh are also four-event swimmers and will be impact performers this season. Sophomore Alexis Savage is making steady progress while sophomore Tattiana Serrano is still recovering from a shoulder injury.

Naugatuck will pin its diving hopes on sophomore Willow Martins.

Freshmen Cara Rotatori and Alexandra Silva will swim the individual medley with freshmen Faith Tuscano and Brianna Searles swimming the freestyles. Rookie Brianna Couch is also making steady progress and working hard to get into the rotation.

“We have five freshmen who are working hard and have some experience swimming competitively,” McKee said.

McKee hopes the team’s growth will help lead to Naugatuck’s first league title since a four-year run of championships from 2002 to 2005.

“The progress this team is making has made it fun to come to practice,” McKee said. “We had the league invitational [last weekend] and from what I saw we should be competitive with everyone in the league.”

Naugatuck will open the season Friday at Kennedy. The Greyhounds will host their first home meet of the season Sept. 21 when they take on NVL favorite and defending champion Watertown.