So much uncertainty has clouded the upcoming girls swimming season due to covid-19, but after a number of explored options like virtual meets, the season is set to begin later this week with in-person competition and no spectators at the pool.
The unique season will feature multiple school record-holders in the area, and a number of teams are returning key contributors that shined at the varsity level as underclassmen. For other schools, the season will be about much more than wins and losses.
Here is the outlook for each area team heading into the new season:
Head coach: Alyson Phelan (third season)
Last year: 16th at Class M state championships
Key losses: Chelsea DeMarest, Emily Mulcunry, Isabella Rubio
Key returnees: Aubrey Wolfradt, Victoria Stepien, Taylor DeMarest, Alexsia Newman, Treva Wishart, Samantha Rivard, Katelynn Reay
Outlook: The Lancers’ season will likely once again be highlighted by Taylor DeMarest, who has already put together two incredible seasons and is just now beginning her junior season. She was an all-conference selection last year and set school records in the 200 and 500 freestyles, and came in seventh in the 200 at the state championships.
On the diving board, Eastern loses one of its strongest performers in Mulcunry, who came in fourth at the state championships last fall after going undefeated in the regular season. The big contributor on the diving board this year will almost certainly now be Newman, who came in ninth at last year’s state meet as a sophomore and also placed fourth at the CCC South championships.
Head coach: Adrienne Bentley (5th season)
Last year: 17th at Class M state championships
Key losses: Mackenzie Pina, Nadine Masayda, Caitlyn Pacitto, Julia Pokrywka, Amanda Shepard
Key returnees: Camille Attle, Nyomi Cordero, Katelyn Holleran, Christina Tomcak, Brianna Lamothe, Alayna Lawson
Outlook: Bentley was excited about her incoming freshman class heading into the 2019 season, and they did not disappoint, especially Cordero, who was the team’s MVP with 240.50 points on the year, was a conference champion in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke, and came in 11th in the latter event at the Class M state championships.
A big loss to make up for will be Pina, who graduated after a decorated four-year career that included qualifying for states all four year, and multiple all-conference selections. She will have to be replaced on the 200 medley relay team that came in 11th at the state meet last year, but the three other swimmers from that squad, including Attle and Holleran, will be returning.
Head coach: Andrea Gallo
Last year: 9th at Class S state championships
Key losses: Jillian Pampuro, Abigail Rochette
Key returnees: Kelly Chmielewski, Bailey Baclaski, Julia Raynock, Maddie Palmese, Kaitlyn Nielsen
Outlook: The Redcoats got off to about as strong a start possible last year, rolling through an unbeaten conference slate before recording some strong finishes at the Class S state championships, specifically in the 200 and 400 freestyle relay competitions, which finished in fifth and sixth place, respectively. Both Chmielewski and Palmese were part of that 400 freestyle relay team and will be back for the 2020 season, and the group as a whole brings back everyone but two seniors, meaning this fall will be a chance to build upon a top-10 finish at last year’s state championships, depending on what kind of postseason format the CIAC decides upon.
Head coach: Evan Tuttle (12th season)
Last year: 8-2, 3-2 conference
Key losses: Sarah Meade, Gianna Perugini, Anny Moquete, Kelly Bergland, Hannah Lasbury
Key returnees: Jenna Famiglietti, Meghan Hammarlund, Andie Nadeau, Adessa Noyes, Maddie Symecko, Emma Jekubovich, Kendal Noonan, Kelsey Salerno.
Outlook: What a 2019 season it was for the Blue Knights, finishing first at the CCC West conference meet, breaking six school records and boasting eight conference champions. Some key pieces graduated this past summer, but a load of top talent returns, including Meghan Hammarlund, who’s time of 58.19 in the 100 butterfly at last year’s State Open was good for eighth place overall and a school record. Andie Nadeau also returns for Southington after breaking her own school record in the 200 freestyle at last year’s Class LL state championships.
The losses of State Open finalists and school-record holders Sarah Meade and Gianna Perugini will be tough to make up for, but as always with the Blue Knights, there are plenty of quality swimmers and divers ready to step up.
“Regardless of what the season will look like a week, two weeks or a month from now, [we] will work to ensure that the 2020 season is the best it can be,” Tuttle said.
Head Coach: Crystal Connery (4th season)
Last year: 6-5
Key graduates: Amber Rocheleau (200 free, 100 free), Lindsay Weaver (50 free, 100 fly)
Key returnees: Sarah Nadratowski (senior, 200 free, 500 free), Gabriela Targonska (senior, 200 IM, 100 back), Christine Nguyen (junior, 50 free, 100 free), Erin Abrams (junior, 100 breast), Julia Remiszewski (sophomore, 200 IM, 100 back), Hayley Caracciolo (senior, diving)
Newcomer to watch: Sophia Napuli (freshman)
Outlook: While graduating Rocheleau and Weaver is a huge loss to the team, Newington has some very strong returning talent in its upperclassmen, led by Nadratowski and Targonska. After another winning season in 2019, Newington is looking to its next wave of contributors to keep up its consistent success this season.
“We are looking to see some more contributions from our underclassmen, specifically Remiszewski and Napuli who have shown great promise during the conditioning period,” Connery said. “We are looking forward to a successful season with individual and team improvement.”
Head coach: Chris Zagorski
Last year: 14th at Class S state championships
Key losses: Jillian Arens, Kayla Foster, Phoebe Gediman, Alyssa Macomber, Elizabeth Susco
Key returnees: Natalie Basile, Olivia Slezynski, Isabella Samperi, Olivia Unwin, Emma Miller, Ashleigh Bantz
Outlook: The Blue Devils are in good hands this season thanks to the return of nearly all of their top swimmers, including Basile and Samperi. In a remarkable freshman season, Basile recorded a top-20 finish in the 100 butterfly at the Class S meet, where she also came in 12th in the 100 backstroke. Samperi came in 16th in the 500 freestyle and was an all-conference winner for the second straight season. Both were part of the all-conference medley relay team that also included Unwin and Slezynski, both who will also be returning this fall. It should be a year where all of Zagorski’s returning swimmers and divers take the next step after impressing early on in their high school careers.
Head coach: Kairm Mabrouk (1st season)
Last year: 19th at Class S state championships
Key losses: Amber Austin, Miranda Grustas, Mary Melvin, Lyndsey Stanwicks
Key returnees: Amelia Badzioch, Abigail MacAllister, Matava Madison, Adrianna Raymond, Gillian Smith, Payton Upson
Outlook: The Falcons return a pack of experienced juniors who saw plenty of varsity action as underclassmen, including Amelia Badzioch, who impressed last year with a pair of personal bests in last year’s Class S meet, coming in 14th in the 200 freestyle and 15th in the 500 freestyle.
But this season for St. Paul will be about much more than the pool, as it will be the team’s first season since head coach Meegan Martin passed away last December after completing her 18th season with the Falcons. This season will unquestionably be dedicated to Martin’s memory.