By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington girls swimming and diving opened the home portion of the regular season on Sept. 25 against Bristol Eastern at the Southington YMCA. The Lady Knights easily defeated the Lancers, 94-68, to improve to 3-0.
Southington outnumbered Eastern, 60-31, and used its depth to build an insurmountable lead. The last three events were contested as exhibitions as a result.
“The first home meet is always exciting, especially when we had the opportunity today to use the new timing system down here, which worked exceptionally well,” coach Evan Tuttle said. “The parent volunteers, the YMCA booster and everyone came together, our booster clubs, to make that happen. The girls and our teams are the beneficiaries of it.”
Those beneficiaries include the Southington boys team in the winter, along with the Southington Rays youth swimming team.
Gianna Perugini and Andie Nadeau each won two individual events to pace Southington. Perugini finished first in the 50 freestyle (26.20) and 100 freestyle (58.31) while Nadeau took the top spot in the 200 freestyle (2:02.75) and 500 freestyle (5:34.49).
“They’re off to an excellent start, GiGi [Perugini] to start her senior year campaign and Andie her junior year campaign, but they’re far from the only ones,” Tuttle said.
There were 18 best times posted, and those best times are something Tuttle is looking for at every meet.
Maddie Symecko finished first in the 200 IM (2:26.53) while Meghan Hammarlund was first in the 100 butterfly (1:05.57). Southington also took the top spot in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay races. The 200 medley relay (2:03.09) was made up of Hammarlund, Emma Jekubovich, Symecko and Sarah Meade while the 200 freestyle relay (1:48.78) was comprised of Alex Strong, Perugini, Jekubovich and Nadeau.
Southington finished first in each of the eight events that counted toward the team score, and it was also second in six of those events. The Knights were third in four of the eight events.
The big names will be there for Southington, but Tuttle also talked about the newcomers to the program. There are 15 freshmen, along with 10 sophomores or juniors who joined the team this fall. The Knights normally have a roster numbering in the 40s, but the total is 60 this year. Tuttle said the student-athletes made that increase happen.
“It’s definitely the girls themselves in the program,” Tuttle said. “They’re the athlete and the student-athlete that in school others flock to, because of not only their positive attitude but their ability to also welcome others and make others better as well.”
The 60 team members is the most in the girls program under Tuttle.
“We have 14 seniors, 16 juniors, 15 sophomores and 15 freshmen, so it’s an even distribution,” Tuttle said. “I like to think that means good things for the future as well.”
What Southington looks to do each meet is win, but win with best times, which indicates that the Knights are the best version of themselves when competing. Tuttle also wants the team to be the best version of itself on the pool deck as well by showing sportsmanship and having a positive attitude. All of those qualities were on display in the home opener.
“The environment was energetic, from our crowd up in the observation deck to our 60 athletes on the pool deck, it was a good opening show for our home crowd,” Tuttle said.
This past Saturday, Southington traveled to the Cornerstone Aquatic Center in West Hartford to participate in an invitational. There were several other teams at the meet, including some from outside the Central Connecticut Conference. Conard and Hall have hosted the invitational for the past few years, and Tuttle was excited to bring the Knights to that meet.
Up next: Southington hosted Enfield-Somers on Wednesday.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com