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GIRLS SWIMMING Staying perfect

February 1, 2019

GREENWICH — In the final week of its duel-meet season, Greenwich Academy is in a familiar situation — swimming toward an undefeated season.

Greenwich Academy, which registered an unbeaten regular season, before capturing the NEPSAC Division I championship last winter, kept its perfect record intact Thursday by excelling in one of the meets they look forward to the most.

Posting the top times in each event, Greenwich Academy upped its record to 5-0, defeating Sacred Heart Greenwich, 104-74, in a meet held at Brunswick School’s Mehra Natatorium.

Celebrating Senior Day added special significance to the meet for GA, which paid tribute to seniors Kate Hazlett, Kate Brush, Emmy Sammons and Charlotte Duty.

“Our seniors have meant a lot to our team,” Gators second-year coach Michael Sabala said. “They are hard-working, reliable, consistent and funny.”

Sacred Heart, which is also in the midst of a solid season, has notched a record of 8-3 for coach Brendan Heller.

“GA is always fun to go against,” Heller said. “They are one of the top teams in all the east coast in the winter sports season and they bring out the best in you. We had a lot of season-best times today and we were getting after it, which is what you are looking for.”

The meet commenced with the GA foursome of Sophia Moore, Ashley Hu, Brush and Hazlett combining to win the 200-yard medley relay in 1:50.58.

Moore came right back and touched the wall first in the 200-yard freestyle, clocking in at 1:57.53. Teammate Caroline Pennington placed second (2:02.94), folowed by Sacred Heart’s Elisa Taylor (2:10.35).

A junior, Moore was especially excited to compete in the meet, which honored its seniors, who have helped guide the program for several seasons.

“It was nice to celebrate the seniors, it was the last home meet for them, so the energy on the pool deck was great,” Moore said. “It’s always fun to swim for something bigger for yourself and I think we swim for each other.”

In the 200 individual medley, GA junior Claire Michalik led from start to finish en route to registering a winning time of 2:11.91. Hutton Saunders took second for the Gators (2:17.63), while Charlotte Milligan was third (2:38.07).

The 50 freestyle saw Avery Sammons top the competition (25.92) and teammate Madeleine Holden post a second-place time of 26.18.

Sacred Heart senior Emma O’Connor finished third in 26.56 and Tigers teammate Laura Moore was fourth (28.70).

“I felt good about my swims, it’s been a good season so far,” O’Connor said. “We’ve been doing a lot of of high-intensity training and a lot of yardage. This was a good opportunity to see what we could do against a very good team.”

The diving portion of the meet, took place prior to all of the swimming events. On the 1-meter diving board, Annie Bingle claimed top honors, winning the event with an impressive 260.26 points. Celia Daigle of the Tigers was the runner-up (191.63), followed by Duty of GA (189.65) and Piper Van Wagenen of Sacred Heart (179.55). Bingle is in her first season on the GA squad, after competing for the Tigers a year ago.

“She is a fantastic addition to our team and has done very well each meet,” Sabala said of Bingle. “She’s very talented.”

Brush touched the wall first in the100 butterfly (59.72), while teammate Elizabeth Xia was the runner-up (1:03.17) and Eliza Taylor of the Tigers took third (1:08.09).

In a close finish, GA’s Caroline Pennington won the 100 freestyle (56.61). Right behind her was Holden of the Gators (57.09). Sacred Heart senior Erin Quigly placed third (1:00.42).

“We are all working really hard and every day we see improvements,” Quigley said. “We’ve had some good meets, but overall the high point is yet to come. That’s kind of where we’re heading and we’re getting better every day.”

Added senior Laura Moore, who like Quigley and O’Connor is a captain: “My times were pretty good today and with continued training and tapering at the end of the season, they should be really good. Being captain of this team has been a great experience.”

Michalik earned a first-place finish in the 500 freestyle for the Gators, posting a time of 5:13.56. Brush was second (5:22.55).

“We did really well, the whole Senior Day thing got us really pumped and ready to go,” Michalik said. The seniors have been my role models for so long. It was a good meet and we’re right on track for the championships.”

The Gators swam exhibition in the 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 400 freestyle relay events. Xia had the best time in the 100 backstroke (1:03.85), Hu posted the top time in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.60) and the quartet of Hazlett, Michalik, Moore and Saunders swam a 3:48.26 in the 400 freestyle relay.

Hazlett, who will take her swimming skills to Harvard University next season, competed on GA’s winning 200 freestyle relay team, which included Moore, Michalik and Saunders (1:42.22).

Greenwich Academy visits Hopkins School on Saturday at 1 p.m. in its regular-season finale. The Gators will then compete in the Eastern Interscholastic Championships in two weeks.

“We are going to work on getting better technically,” Sabala said. “There are a lot of things we need to improve on over the next few weeks in order to compete for a championship. Nothing is guaranteed.”

dfierro@greenwichtime.com

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