WATERBURY — The homeless Naugatuck girls swim team overcame a few obstacles to garner a third-place finish at last week’s Naugatuck Valley League championships at Kennedy High.
Sacred Heart swam to its first NVL title in 22 years, amassing 853 team points. Torrington was second with 684 and Naugy was third with 585. Watertown (566) and Woodland (479) rounded out the top five.
It didn’t start out well for the Greyhounds as they were disqualified in the first event, the 200-yard medley relay. Coupled with the fact that Naugatuck was unable to field a diving team that could compete in all 11 dives it put the Greyhounds at a 100-plus-point disadvantage.
But with their smallest team in years, Jim McKee’s girls began the uphill battle and outdid a Watertown team they lost to during the regular season.
“It didn’t start out well getting disqualified in the relay,” McKee said. “We still wouldn’t have caught Torrington as they had an excellent diving team. All of our girls swam season-best or career-best times but we just didn’t have enough bodies going against the larger teams like Sacred Heart and Torrington.”
The meet concluded an NVL season the Greyhounds went throughout without a home pool due to renovations at Naugatuck High.
“If we were able to practice at our own pool I believe it would have been a better result,” McKee said. “Having to practice at Woodland and not our own place really set us back. This is by far the smallest team we’ve had in quite some time.”
Despite the obstacles, Naugatuck showed enough talent to be a threat. The Greyhounds quickly recovered to put up 59 points in the 200 freestyle with Daisy Walsh (sixth, 2:11.10), Rachel Fox (eighth, 2:15.13) and Addison Best (14th, 2:19.17) putting out strong efforts.
Barbara Martins finished the 200 IM in ninth (2:35.66) and Alexandra Silva placed 11th (2:39.96) as the ‘Hounds tacked on another 38 points to reach the middle of the pack.
A 72-point performance in the 50 free started the Greyhounds’ push towards the top of the leaderboard with Tathiana Serrano finishing sixth (28.23), Madison Wilson ninth (28.30), Erica Spino 11th (28.72) and Martina Niebrzydowski 18th (30.32).
“You have to have that third and fourth swimmer in each event to really make an impact,” McKee said. “We had an uphill battle but the girls really toughed it out. I’m pleased with our results but in ideal conditions which these weren’t, we would have had better results.”
Naugatuck added 46 points in the 100 butterfly with Wilson finishing sixth (1:09.90), Spino ninth (1:11.84) and Ashley Burkman scoring points (1:30.88).
In the Greyhounds’ highest-scoring event of the meet, they racked up 87 points in the 100 free with Cara Rotatori racing to a fifth-place finish in 59.33 seconds. Serrano was right behind in sixth (1:02.70), Fox was eighth (1:02.73) and Best was 13th (1:03.29).
Naugatuck also landed four swimmers in the points of the 500 free. Walsh was fifth (5:58.41), Faith Tuscano finished 11th (6:21.10), Megan Lauer was 18th (7:02.17) and Brianna Searles (7:11.64) also earned some of Naugy’s 54 event points.
In the 100 backstroke, Rotatori put up the best finish of the night for the ‘Hounds with a fourth-place effort in 1:06.70. Martins swam to a fifth-place showing in the 100 breaststroke in 1:18.01.
The 200 freestyle relay squad of Serrano, Wilson, Spino and Fox took fifth in 1:52.26. The foursome of Rotatori, Fox, Walsh and Martins was also fifth in the 400 freestyle relay.
Naugy will compete at the Class L qualifying swim meet Saturday in West Hartford. Finals are set for Tuesday at Wesleyan.
“Entering into the state meets is a whole different world,” McKee said. “When you go up against the best teams in the state, that really separates the smaller teams from the larger schools. But we have some talented swimmers and we will try to get a few girls qualified individually as well as all three of our relay teams.”