Two new coaches, a number of solid rookies and a vast pool of proven talent promise to add up

MERIDEN – A page has turned for the region’s women’s swim teams, but there is continuity in their history.

New trainers are coming to Sheehan and Meriden Co-op, but they’re “new” in name only.

In Sheehan, veteran assistant Keith Cargan, head coach of the men’s team, takes over from Dan Wostbrock. In Meriden, college All-American Tyler Prescott, a product of Maloney and Platt’s co-op program, takes the reins from Ed Heath (see related article).

At Lyman Hall, the Trojans bid farewell to two All-Staters, but brought back two more.

Southington, the largest school in the area, has again graduated a sizeable senior class and, again, is returning a sizeable core.

And Cheshire… well, Cheshire is Cheshire. Rams come, rams go, rams keep winning. With their season-opening victory over Mercy, Cheshire extended their current streak of double encounters to 87.

Here’s a look at how the scene is shaping up for teams in the region. The Southern Connecticut Conference schools — Sheehan, Lyman Hall and Cheshire — have already come out of the blocks. Connecticut Central Conference teams Meriden and Southington will kick off this week – Meriden Tuesday at Maloney vs. Windsor, Southington Wednesday at YMCA Southington vs. EO Smith/Tolland.

cheshire

The Rams are chasing a ninth consecutive perfect season behind senior captains Hannah Tao, Julianna Tyler and Avery Potyrala.

The Rams also have returning talent like juniors Julia Barto and Grace Hanke, and second Carly Cahill and Julia Tejeda. Sophomore Natalia Gajecki and freshmen Leah Dale and Katie Pagliaro are the newcomers to watch.

“No predictions,” second-year coach Matt Traub said. “We’re just looking to have a good season and do our best. We’re going to take one game at a time and try to keep improving with good practice.

We’re going to step out on the diving board and say the winning streak will get longer through the doubleheader season and the Rams will make even more noise in the playoffs. A year ago they were second in class L against Darien and had class L champions in Potyrala and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

Potyrala, after winning the SCC conference crowns in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly, won the L 100 freestyle class. She teamed with Barto and Cahill on both state champion stints.

Tyler was also part of the 400 freestyle relay. Barto finished second in the L-class 100 backstroke and 200 IM.

Southington

Coach Evan Tuttle is feeling great as he enters his 14th season. The Blue Knights had six All-CCC West swimmers last year and they’re all back: seniors Emma Jekubovich, Kendall Noonan and Alexis Strong; juniors Ella Nadeau, Julia Laszewski and Veronica Okurowski.

Nadeau stands out. She just completed a second season in which she won the CCC West titles in the 200 IM and 500 freestyle and qualified for the State Open in both events, setting school records along the way. – 2: 10.97 in IM, 5: 13.49 in 500.

Nadeau also anchored the Southington CCC West 200 and 400 freestyle relays. She swam with Noonan and Laszewski on both.

Also returning from 2021 are additional Class LL state qualifications from Thuy Tran senior, juniors Victoria Korczak and Kyra Nguyen, and sophomores Reaghan Samson, Mia Kennedy and Mariam Labadze.

To top it off, Southington has a strong rookie class.

More conference titles and school records appear to be within reach for a program that won five and broke two last fall. Tuttle takes a broader view.

“We seek to fulfill the Southington Athletics motto ‘Chasing Excellence’ by working tirelessly day in and day out to improve, and we will not settle for less than our best,” Tuttle remarked. “Coming into the 2022 season, the Lady Knights are good at doing well with what they control, taking advantage of the opportunities and enjoying the experience.”

Lyman Hall

Last season was one for the LH archives. In fact, it was unprecedented.

The Trojans were SCC Division II champions, Caroline Krawec was SCC Division II Swimmer of the Year, and Donna Neary was SCC Division II Coach of the Year.

Behind the All-State quartet of Krawec, Elena Bielesz, Elise Richardson and Hailey Baker, the Trojans won the Class M state championships in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays. Individually, Richardson was the Class M champion in the 100m freestyle and 100m backstroke.

Krawec now swims at Fairfield University and Bielesz attends UConn. Richardson is back for his senior season and Baker for his junior run.

LH also has state qualifications in Cassie Wentzell, co-captain senior with Richardson, and sophomore Meredith Loughlin. Among their other roles, Wentzell and Loughlin fill the graduation gap on the vaunted 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays.

Promising newcomers are rookie Grace D’Amico and sophomore diver Maggie Corso.

D’Amico won the 50 and 500 freestyle Saturday against Branford. In that same encounter, Corso scored a 211 to win the dive. Corso also took first place against Guilford with a 195.85.

“We’re looking forward to the new season, having fun and putting in great performances in swimming and diving,” said coach Donna Neary, whose team is 1-1 after beating Branford and losing to Guilford. .

Sheehan

Speaking of sharp freshmen, the Titans have a bunch of them. Isabelle Hodum, Kaylynn Chen, Sophie Math and Jae Welch have already won several gold medals as Sheehan opened 2-0 with victories over West Haven and Shelton.

The quartet of rookies arrive just as four seniors who were regular state qualifiers are leaving: Leila Sofiane, Lili Nagy-Leranth, Alanna Dwyer and Katie Webb.

Sofiane swims at the University of the Sacred Heart. She, Dwyer and Webb were part of the 400 freestyle relay that placed fifth in Class S last year and set a school record at 3:52.73.

The only returning swimmer from this relay is junior Hanna Nagy-Leranth. To start this season, she anchored first place in the 200m medley and won the 100m breaststroke in Saturday’s home win over Shelton.

The Titans are led by senior captains Savanna Bauman, Jenna Kent and Ava Medeiros.

Bauman leads a deep diving corps that also returns senior Kylie Medici, junior Paige Duffy and second Emmalyn Rodriguez. Kent and Medeiros are freestylers, with Kent also taking care of the back.

The Titans placed sixth in the Class S State Meet in 2021. They have a chance to place higher this year.

“We expect to build on some of the successes we had last year and continue to be competitive in SCC Division 2,” noted Coach Cargan. “It’s going to be tough to fill the shoes of the swimmers we’ve graduated, but we’re very optimistic about the swimmers we have returning, as well as our new freshman class.

meridian

Tyler Prescott inherits a cooperative crew that went 8-2 in the two-game season and won the CCC South Championship.

Meriden graduated as a two-event CCC South champion in Avery Benigni (50 freestyle, 100 butterfly), but returns a two-event CCC South champion with her younger sister Rylie (200 and 500 freestyle).

Rylie Benigni holds the program records in both events – 2:01.46 in the 200, 5:31.20 in the 500 – and set another standard with the CCC South champion 200 medley relay (1:57.70 ).

Madeline Fitzgerald and Sarah Kim also swam on this relay, and they are back for their senior and sophomore seasons, respectively. Individually, Fitzgerald is strong in the breaststroke, while Kim is the defending CCC South champion in the 100 freestyle.

Juniors Mia Jones and Kamryn Yepez are also back. The rookie class is led by a third Benigni sister, freshman Addison, a long-distance freestyler.

“I’m still sorting it out; when we first introduced themselves, they all introduced themselves as 500 (freestyle) swimmers,” Prescott said with a chuckle, then added, “They seem like a good group of kids who like learn, which is one of the hardest things. to find in a quality athlete – sit down and learn a concept and master it physically and mentally.