WATERBURY — Though the Naugatuck girls swim team finished sixth at the NVL championship meet last week, the progress made throughout the season by the young Greyhounds was on full display.
“It all comes down to the progress you make from the start of the season until the championship meet,” head coach Jim McKee said. “And I’m pleased at the progress we’ve made. They all swam best times and have worked hard all season to get to this point.”
Sacred Heart won the title with 773 points. Naugatuck earned sixth with 345 points.
The Greyhounds came into the season with only five seniors and headed into the meet without sophomore Julianna Scully, who was injured.
“Julianna is our second fastest swimmer but broke her collarbone right after the Holy Cross meet,” McKee said. “So I had to switch things up in the first relay; that’s why we had a freshman and three sophomores. It does show how young we are but it gave them experience to swim in the NVL meet.”
Seniors Addison Best and Olivia Filanowski led the way with multiple top ten finishes.
Best had Naugy’s top finish with a third place in the 500 freestyle in 5:46.85. She also placed fifth in the 200 freestyle in 2:10.32 and swam in two top ten relays.
“Addison did her best time in the 500,” McKee said. “All in all we did like 30 best times in the qualifying and almost every girl had a best time in the championship meet.”
Filanowski finished seventh in the 50 freestyle in 26.91, and was part of the sixth-place 400 freestyle relay and the seventh-place 200 freestyle relay.
The Greyhounds’ youth was on display from the start. The foursome of sophomores Maria Guimares, Francesca Spino and Brin Battisti, and freshman Molly Kennelly placed seventh in the 200 medley relay in 2:13.43.
“Molly Kennelly has been impressive all season and she’s a hard worker. She has a chance to break into the all-time best list before this season is over,” McKee said.
Kennelly swam to fifth place in the 100 backstroke and was part of the sixth-place 400 relay team with Elizabeth Tuscano, Best and Filanowski.
The 200 freestyle relay team of Best, Filanowski, sophomore Katie Brown and freshman Emily Sarmiento added a seventh-place finish. Juniors Jaimee Trumbley (100 backstroke) and Meghan Messier (50 freestyle) along with sophomore Abrianna Hasipi (200 freestyle) also had top 20 finishes to score points for the Greyhounds.
“From a coaching standpoint you teach them how to do the event and then you teach them how to do it well. That takes practice and hard work. And you may not be coaching for the win sometimes but to see them make progress is really what the game is,” McKee said.
“The key to this all is building relationships,” McKee added. “When they feel successful and had fun doing it then I did my part as a coach to help them enjoy this experience. Maybe we didn’t break any records but can we feel confident going into the states and not be intimidated.”
Naugatuck will swim in the Class L state meet at Southern Connecticut State University on Nov. 15.