WATERBURY — The result was never really in doubt, although Naugatuck head coach Jim McKee wasn’t counting on anything until his team had clinched the Naugatuck Valley League championship last Friday at Kennedy. But the Hounds did just that—win their fourth-straight NVL title—in the penultimate race of the meet, finishing the championships with 517 points to best Sacred Heart’s 490 and remain kings of the pool in the valley.
“We swam phenomenally,” McKee said. “We had a lot of brand new kids swimming, kids with a lot of pressure on them. You only have so many top swimmers, and in the breaststroke, backstroke, and 500 free, there were a few less experienced guys that swam really well for us.”
Naugatuck won five races on the night, but it was the consistency of the Hounds’ finishes that put the Garnet and Grey over the edge. Naugy swimmers were among the top three finishers in all 11 events.
Chris Branco won the 200-yard freestyle in one minute, 50.66 seconds, while teammate Kyle Conrad was right behind him in second, in 1:50.70. Trevor Heller and Dalton Fennell posted a 2-3 finish in the 50 free, and Heller followed up that performance with a second-place finish in the 100 fly.
Conrad (48.73 seconds) and James Vaz (50.72 seconds) touched 1-2 in the 100 free, while Branco won the 500 free in 5:00.35. William Wright finished third in that event, with a time of 5:09.37.
The Hounds capped off a wildly-successful meet by sweeping the final two relay events, the 200 and 400 free relays. The 200 free team of Fennell, Vaz, Heller, and Conrad won in 1:29.95, setting both a pool and meet record. Minutes later, that same squad—with Branco swimming instead of Fennell—captured the then-meaningless 400 free in 3:20.28.
“As the meet was moving well for us, we had guys watching our starts, and we were being careful so no mistakes were made,” McKee said. “You can’t have a mistake or a false start because you start giving stuff away. Winning the last two relays we didn’t have to do—although we wanted to—but we didn’t want to false start because that would have cost us the meet right there.”
The relays were the icing on the cake for Naugatuck, but it was the depth of the Hounds that doomed the rest of the league.
“We had four swimmers seeded in almost every race, and we seemed to be in decent shape,” McKee said. “We wound up enhancing our spots in the trials more than losing our spots. We wanted to see everybody do their best times, and almost everybody did that.”
Naugatuck also placed four divers in the top 13 of last Wednesday’s diving championships, helping to trim the early deficit it faced against Sacred Heart.
Woodland posted a solid, sixth-place performance, with 240 points, just six points behind Holy Cross for fifth and 10 behind Watertown for fourth.
“I was more than pleased—ecstatic—with how we swam,” Woodland coach Tom Currie said. “It all came together for us. The kids swam awesome and set a couple of school records. Hopefully we can get them even faster for the state meet.”
The 200 medley relay team of Will Gerard, Adam Trumbley, Pat O’Dell, and Eric Dietz set a school record by finishing in 1:47.38. Lindsay Boland set the 11-dive record with 342.85 points, which placed her fourth at the diving competition. O’Dell also placed third in the 100 backstroke.