NAUGATUCK — Progress is being made at a feverish pace for the Naugatuck boys swim team.
On Jan. 11, the Greyhounds lost a meet to Holy Cross and improved at the same time — posting 107 best times out of a possible 136 efforts.
Practices have turned into meets and teammates are challenging each other. The result has been dramatic improvements.
“The kids get competitive and you back off,” Naugy head coach Jim McKee said. “I have no idea when the improving is going to stop. We’re not talking fractions of second here.”
McKee said the team averages about 80 best times a meet thus far, and has almost 500 for the season.
At one point during the Holy Cross meet, the ‘Hounds swam 24 consecutive personal-best times over six straight events.
“We had great races in every single event,” McKee said.
Matt Hall (50-yard freestyle), Ryan Davis (diving) and Mitchell Santos (100 backstroke) picked up individual event wins. Hall swam a 23.52-second time, while Santos did a 1:01.73 in personal-best performances.
The Greyhounds also grabbed the 200 free relay against Holy Cross. The winning team of John Dean, Hall, Scott Sill and Eric Hanley did a best time of 1:37.03, while both Dean (26.42 seconds) and Hanley (23.26) posted personal-best splits.
Naugatuck has three meet victories thus far on the season — a sign of a large, inexperienced roster and a challenging non-conference schedule. The ‘Hounds feature about 30 athletes new to competitive swimming.
“You look for your team to improve, and when they improve they stay motivated, and when they stay motivated they keep working hard, and when you keep working hard, you get better,” McKee said.
Naugy faced Glastonbury last month, and took on Conard and Pomperaug on Jan. 18. The teams ran three heats in every race to give more opportunities in the pool, and the Greyhounds produced 59 more best times.
The progress is giving McKee more flexibility. Against Conard and Pomperaug, Sill beat his lifetime best in the 500 free by 14 seconds and allowed McKee to slot others in different events.
“Scott’s performance gave us a chance to move some people around,” McKee said.
In addition, Simon Brondum improved by 5 seconds in the 100 backstroke and by 3 seconds in the 50 free.
“We’re getting to the point where some of our kids are going to start knocking off other kids in the league,” McKee said.
The Greyhounds will next host Sacred Heart, the defending Naugatuck Valley League champ, on Friday. It’s another chance for the Greyhounds to improve and show they can compete at a high level.
“Yeah, they’re a better team,” McKee said of the Hearts. “But that’s on paper. I think it will be a competitive meet.”