Greenwich Academy swimming, diving team having a season to remember

For the Greenwich Academy swimming and diving team, the wins just kept on coming this season.

While the girls on the team couldn’t be happier with the way the season is going, head coach Karl Palmgren can’t wipe the smile off his face when talking about the team.

“It’s been spectacular and we just kept on winning,” Palmgren said. “We’ve had a great season. We have only one loss and the only team that beat us was Hopkins, a regional powerhouse. However against Hopkins, it came down to the final two events. We have become this really impressive team and it’s really fun for myself and the girls on the team.”

Palmgren has been the coach of the Gators since the team was formed. He has certainly gone through the growing pains and has turned the corner for the Gators.

Heading into the highly competitive Bud Erich Invitational at Hopkins School tomorrow and Sunday, Greenwich Academy has an overall record of 11-1 and has been netting quality swims form not only its top tier swimmers, but the younger athletes as well.

“The Bud Erich is like our big regional meet and because we had such a great meet against Deerfield last year, we are now Division I in both the Bud Erich and New Englands,” Palmgren said. “We are racing some big teams that aren’t stuck due to geography in terms of getting swimmers. In terms of day schools, we are holding our own. Based on what we have right now, I think the next few years I think are just going to get stronger and stronger. That’s not too bad for a day school.”

Seniors captains Hannah Goodrick and Eri Sumino, along with fellow seniors Harper Robinson and Kitty Arenz, have helped GA have a successful team in the pool, but it’s their leadership abilities out of the pool that have made the team more like a family.

“The seniors have created such a positive environment about the team and make the team a really special place to be,” Palmgren said. “People want to be here. It was so hard to create such a positive atmosphere around a new program, especially at this school where there are a lot of powerhouse programs here. They’ve turned swimming into a sport where people are excited to be on the team. People know that you don’t have to be the best swimmer here and you can still come out for the team. This team has the ability to have everybody contribute throughout the season. The captains and seniors are important when it comes to making sure everybody feels welcome and happy here.”

Arenz, Hannah Subramaniam and freshman Quinn Scannell have been dominating the competition throughout the season, whether in freestyle, butterfly or backstroke events.

In Greenwich Academy’s lone loss of the regular season, against Hopkins, Subramaniam wouldn’t be denied. Against top competition, she captured the gold in both the 200-yard individual medley (2:22.95) and the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:02.31.

Throughout the season, Arenz and Scannell have been winning several events during a given meet. Against Hotchkiss and Loomis, Arenz took first in the 200-yard freestyle (2:00.42) and in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:30.18. Against Kent, Arenz again took top honors in the 200 free with a time of 2:00.89.

Not to be outdone is Scannell, as she has been finishing first since the first meet of the season. Against Kent, Scannell took top honors in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 24.83 seconds and against grabbed gold in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:16.34.

Scannell also took first place against Hopkins in the 200-yard freestyle event, netting a time of 1:54.77. She also took first a meet later against Hackley.

“Those top swimmers have been great throughout the year and I am going to rely on them to have really solid swims in the postseason,” Palmgren said. “They are so strong and have improved so much throughout the year.”

While the Gators have those quick swimmers, especially in the freestyle events, it’s their depth in the other events such as backstroke and breaststroke.

“We’ve filled in those gaps that we used to have,” Palmgren said. “We used to have one or two really good specialties, but this year we are strong in so many events. What is really good about the team is the depth.

Leading the way with the depth are the two captains, seniors Goodrick and Sumino. Sumino has been one of the mainstays in the long distance swims like the 500-yard freestyle. For Goodrick, she has been solid for the Gators all year in the

“Not only are they both good swimmers for us, but they are both great captains,” Palmgren said. “A lot of our quick and powerful swimmers are young, so that is good that we have two great captains to help them learn the ropes and mature.”

In addition, Borden Wahl has been lights out in the breaststroke event. She took first in the 100-yard breaststroke against Hackley School and Sacred Heart and also grabbed first in the 50-yard freestyle this season. Against Kent, Wahl took first in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:00.42 and the 100-yard freestyle (58.78).

“We have those second and third place swimmers and that is huge for us,” Palmgren said. “Our middle ground is really getting stronger and that is where we are picking up points. Against Hotchkiss and Loomis, we won that meet because we just kept on picking up points with our second and third place winners. Those points are vital to winning a meet.”

While the swimmers have been having quite the season, Lizzie Fitzpatrick has been just as strong when it comes to diving. She captured the gold for GA against top teams like Hopkins, Loomis, Hotchkiss and Kent.

“She’s an amazing diver,” Palmgren said. “It’s been really nice to have the diving program score points for us. Lizzie is so happy to be on the team. She rides the bus with us and is so excited to have all these girls on the swim team to interact with. She’s great on the board, but she’s just as great on the bus or on the deck. She’s contributes in so many ways.”

Another reason for the Gators’ success this year, and down the road as well, has been the continued support from the school and community.

“Our varsity team is going be amazing the next few years and that has a lot to do with our middle school program at GA,” Palmgren said. “They are fantastic and it serves as a bridge for the younger kids who swim with summer clubs and usually give it up by eighth grade. This gives the kids something to look forward to and lets them participate for your school. The middle school and varsity programs are really supported by the administration. We have a lot of great coaches and the girls are really excited.”

While Palmgren says that the swim team has quite a while to get to the same status as the lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey and squash teams have at Greenwich Academy, he still sees the future being bright for the Gators.

“We are young and are starting to create that legacy here,” Palmgren said. “It’s fun to be a part of that legacy. GA is a great school to be at and when you have that behind you, it allows you to have these great resources and support of the administration. They are always there for these girls here. In a few years down the road, I would love to have this program be on par with the field hockey or lacrosse programs. Who knows if it will happen, but with the support of the administration and the coaches and athletes eager to make the team better, anything can happen.”

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