Once again Greenwich High girls swim team is making waves

Although the competition is getting tougher and the Greenwich High School team lost a bunch of top caliber athletes to graduation last year, girls swimming and diving head coach Dick Hawks still expects great things from his program.

“It’s really simple for us,” Hawks said. “We want the state open, just like we want it every year. Anything that happens along the way is gravy. The thing we want the most is the state open, but it will be harder this year than it has been recently.”

Although the Lady Cardinals finished second in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship meet last year, they dominated the competition at the state level, winning the class LL meet with 877 points and the state opens crown with 480 points.

The victory at opens also meant that Big Red lost a lot of stellar athletes to graduation. Lauren Church took first in the 100-yard backstroke (55.11 seconds) and second in the 100-yard freestyle (51.65) during opens and was also golden in both events during the class LL meet. Morgan Karetnick finished opens second in the 100-yard butterfly (55.35) and fourth overall in the 200-yard individual medley. Sarah Lauridsen took 11th overall in the 500-yard freestyle (5:12.55) at opens, while Sam Hill grabbed 16th in the 200-yard freestyle (1:57.86) at the same event.

In addition, Mary Whitaker and Alexandra Hay were also lost to graduation.

“A lot of the girls here worked very hard over the winter and that’s why we show up with good swimmers on deck in the fall,” Hawks said. “We have nine kids this year, but we had a lot of points go out the door with Lauren, Morgan and Emily leaving. We’ve got a lot of work to do to replace all the places that they covered so easily. It’s going to be a broader team effort instead of stars in the middle.”

This year, Greenwich will be led by senior tri-captains Maddie Dunn, Emma Langley and Kate Madoff.

Last year, Madoff finished ninth overall in the class LL 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:01.07. Dunn took second in the 50-yard freestyle during the class LL tourney (24.39) and was also third in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:08.37). Langley took 14th in the class LL 200-yard freestyle (2:03.86),

Dunn will be swimming in the 50-yard freestyle, but she also may see time in breaststroke events. Madoff will be competing in the 100-yard butterfly, while Langley will be in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events.

“It’s a lot of responsibility to take a team of 39 girls and try to keep this program at such a high level,” Hawks said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but they are three great girls and I know what they are capable of.”

Joining the three captains will be the trio of Cristi Frias, Kim Hill and Katie Evans. Frias, a junior, finished eighth in the 100-yard butterfly during the class LL finals (1:00.18). Fellow junior Evans grabbed fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:07.43) during the state opens and 10th in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:09.68 during the same competition.

Hill, another junior, finished last year’s state open strong, taking seventh in the 100-yard freestyle event (53.59) and third in the 200-yard freestyle (1:57.13) during the class LL meet.

“The three of them all made tremendous progress over the winter and are in a much better place,” Hawks said. “Katie will be in the IM and breaststroke, Kim will be in all the freestyle events and Cristi will be back in the backstroke and butterfly, but she added the freestyle to her list of great events. All three are more valuable than they were last year.”

While Greenwich got the three swimmers to lead the way, Hawks knows a lot more is needed from some of the younger members of the team if Big Red will be successful this year.

“It’s not going to be one kid that can carry us to a championship this year,” Hawks said. “It has to be 10 or 12 kids that do that. If that doesn’t happen, we’re not going to be where we usually are during the championship meets. It’s going to be a different team. The nine freshmen don’t make us a young team; however, 20 of the 40 swimmers on the team have limited experience.”

Greenwich’s divers will have a lot of responsibility this year. With only four divers on the roster, and one of them a freshman, it will be crucial for all to score points every time they step foot on the diving board. Weronika Filarska, Ines Villemure and Meghan Mahoney are all back from last year.

“I don’t think, in my 24 years of coaching here, I’ve ever had this number,” Hawks said. “We have always had five, six or seven divers on the team. It’s because of no freshman divers coming in for several years that we are here. Those four are going to get a lot of experience, as they will be diving every single week. The job is very clear. We need them to tighten up their dives and get into opens.”

When it comes to the Cardinals, Hawks said that the team’s strength is how well they get along and work hard.

“I think the strength is the chemistry that we have,” Hawks said. “We are doing a great job, from the seniors all the way down. They are a group that gets along well. They are clearly one of the better groups of girls I’ve had during my time here.”

While Hawks is confident that his team can reach its goal of conquering the state championship, he knows the Cards still have a bunch of room for improvement.

“We can really make some improvement on the starting and turning parts of swimming,” Hawks said. “I think the conditioning part is really strong, but we need to shift our emphasis on every single wall we come to, because we are not. We need to maximize any advantage we can get off a really good start versus a regular start.”

No matter how much GHS improves, the competition for the FCIAC and state championships will be hotly contested.

“Across the board, everybody has to up their game if we are going to have the kind of season we are used to,” Hawks said. “Some of the other teams in the state have really improved. Darien is going to be really strong, from top to bottom, and won’t fall off. They have a really good set-up. New Canaan will be good again and Amity lost only two seniors, so they’ll be strong. I think the opens will be a tight meet, but the class LL meet should be really close for the first time in years.”

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