Girls Swimming preview: Deep blue

By KEVIN ROBERTS

STAFF WRITER

Six program records, six conference champions, and seven all-conference selections. That’s the tally for the very successful 2018 fall season that Southington girls swimming and diving had.

When looking at 2019, there’s this number: nine. That’s how many seniors the Lady Knights lost from their record-breaking team. School record holder and state open finalist Julia Duszak graduated, as did fellow senior captains Julia Holland, Abby Lo Presti and Lidia Prusak.

Nine graduates may seem like a lot, but the 2019 version of Southington girls swimming and diving comes back with yet another strong senior class. Senior captains are Gianna Perugini, Hannah Lasbury, Sarah Meade, Anny Moquete and Kelly Bergland. Perugini was a state open finalist in 2018.

“There is no replacing seniors that graduate every year,” coach Evan Tuttle said. “Only living up to the expectations that they have set for all of us.”

Southington could have similar strong efforts in 2019 because of its depth.

“We have plenty of depth and several athletes that are extremely versatile and can compete at a high level in any event,” Tuttle said.

State open finalists Meghan Hammarlund, Maddie Symecko and Andie Nadeau. Class LL diving finalist Liz Beaulieu, as is Class LL qualifying swimmer Jenna Famiglietti. Hammarlund, Symecko, Nadeau, Beaulieu and Famiglietti are all juniors.

Hammarlund broke school records in the 100-yard butterfly and 100 backstroke at the Class LL meet, then broke her own record in the backstroke at the state open. Also at the Class LL meet, Hammarlund teamed up with Duszak, Symecko and Meade to break the school record in the 200 medley relay. The 400 freestyle relay fell behind the team of Hammarlund, Nadeau, Symecko and Perugini. At the state open, the 200 freestyle relay record was taken down by Duszak, Meade, Perugini and Nadeau. Duszak also broke the school record in the 50 freestyle.

A major influx of new swimmers adds to the depth of the Southington program in 2019. There are 25 newcomers, which brings the overall number of participants to 60. Beaulieu is one of five divers for the Knights this season.

“While I wouldn’t categorize anything as a weakness, one of our challenges this year will be managing such a large program, Tuttle said, “ensuring that every caliber of athlete is being challenged and striving to be the best version of themselves every day.”

Tuttle will be helped out by assistant coach Tammi Haynes, along with diving coach Jan Zagorski, who also works with Berlin and Plainville divers.

As for expectations for the season, the Knights want to get as many athletes qualified for the postseason meets. Southington would also love to get some athletes into the state open again after last year’s historic season. The Knights brought their largest contingent ever to the open in 2018. Southington finished ninth as a team at the Class LL meet and 13th at the open. The ninth place finish was the best yet for a girls team coached by Tuttle.

“We look to fulfill the Southington athletics motto of “Chasing Excellence” by working tirelessly day in and day out to improve, and will not settle for less than our best,” Tuttle said.

Southington opens the season on Tuesday, Sept. 17, against East Catholic High School at 3:45 p.m. at the Ferris Athletic Center on the campus of Trinity College in Hartford. The home opener is Sept. 25 against Bristol Eastern at 3:45 p.m.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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