New coach, same expectations with Greenwich High swim team

The Greenwich High School girls swimming and diving team has a new coach, but is expected to remain one of the teams to beat in the state. — John Ferris Robben photo

The Greenwich High School girls swimming and diving team has a new coach, but is expected to remain one of the teams to beat in the state. — John Ferris Robben photo

Although the Greenwich High School girls swimming and diving team has a new coach for the first time in over two decades, the program still has those same high expectations that have made the team a perennial power.

“I think we have a lot of potential,” senior captain Isobel Walker said. “We have a ton of new freshmen. We lost 11 seniors last year, but we have a lot of new people this year and our depth is going to be really good.”

After 25 years at the helm of Greenwich High, Richard Hawks ended his tenure with club at the end of the girls swimming and diving season.

Just before moving to Singapore last year, Hawks finished his last season for the Lady Cardinals. The team finished fifth at the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship meet.

However two weeks later, Greenwich took the pool at Wesleyan University and won the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class LL championship with 804.5 points. Amity Regional High School was second with 513 points.

In the CIAC Open championship, GHS took home the bronze with 335 points. Darien High School placed first with 497 points and New Canaan High School finished second with 411.5 points.

This year, the team is determined to get back in the hunt for the triple crown, winning the conference and both CIAC championships.

Replacing Hawks will be a familiar face to the FCIAC. Lorraine Najam coached several seasons at Ridgefield High School and knows what it takes to be successful in such a tough conference.

“She’s really great to have on this year,” GHS senior captain Ines Villemure said. “It’s really fun being on the team with her. She does a lot of workouts on dry land and is really trying to prepare us for all the meets to come and the championship meets.”

For Najam, it’s a wonderful feeling to get back to the pool again.

After coaching Ridgefield High School, Najam stepped down so she can work on getting her master’s degree in education.

“I left swimming to pursue my education and it’s great to be back on deck in general,” Najam said. “Being here with the girls has been awesome. Getting to know them over the last couple of weeks has been very enjoyable. It’s great to coach again.”

Coaching at both the club and high school level in Ridgefield has gone a long way in helping Najam prepare for the Greenwich High School job.

“I feel like I know the high school structure really well,” Najam said. “Working for a club team was great because I understand what the girls are doing on a year-round basis. It’s nice to be able to bridge the gap between high school and club level.”

And for Najam, coming into the head coaching job at Greenwich High School couldn’t be any better, as she is taking over a program that is perennially one of the best in the state.

“This team has been one of the best teams in the country and I feel very fortunate that I am a part of this program,” Najam said. “What’s great about this team, and I’ve learned this over the past couple of weeks, is that coach Hawks did an amazing job building a team. In a sport that is individuals, that’s really tough to do. Following that has been amazing. We have kids from three or four different programs coming together with this team for a few months. They way they have become a team at Greenwich High is a big reason for their success.”

Another reason for the team’s success has been its captains, and this year is no exception. Leading Big Red this fall are seniors Porter Carlson, Walker and Villemure.

During the class LL championship meet, Carlson competed in the 50-yard freestyle event and took home sixth overall with a time of 25.12 seconds. Carlson also placed ninth in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 55.12.

Last year at the CIAC class LL meet, Walker joined Carlson in the 50-yard freestyle and tied for fourth overall with a time of 25.05. She also took fourth in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 59.85. Walker was also a part of two class LL relay champions.

“It feels good to lead the team,” Walker said. “Everybody gets along really well and we haven’t really had any trouble yet. I am hoping that I can help the younger kids with experience. If they are nervous, they can always come to me for advice. The ultimate goal here is to win Opens. That’s in our sights, but really we just want to improve our times and have a good season.”

During the class LL meet last year, Villemure finished the diving portion ninth overall, posting a score of 313.90 and was the top Greenwich High School diver.

“It feels great to be a captain here,” Villemure said. “We have a really good group of girls and everybody is really willing to work hard. They all listen and make corrections every time we say something.”

All three also have experience competing in the Open championships.

So far Najam believes that the leadership on the team from the three captains has been outstanding.

“We went on a trip to Vermont and they started to learn what it takes to be a captain on this team,” Najam said. “I am really proud of the way they have improved and helped the team get better. Isobel and Porter are both excellent sprinters, while Isobel is also a great backstroker. Ines is leading a team of very young divers. It’s great to have her leading them through dry land skills and showing them how to be focused day in and day out.”

While Najam is still trying to determine who is going to swim certain events, the head coach did say that the breaststroke and individual medley events will be a strength for the team, while the sprinters will show a plethora of improvement throughout the season.

“Our big goal is to win Opens,” Villemure said. “I hope that we can do the best that we can do in all the dual meets, as well as FCIACs and States. We want to get as many people into the championship meets as possible. That way we can score more and more points.”

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress