By BRIAN JENNINGS
MIDDLETOWN—The air conditioning was turned on in the Wesleyan Natatorium in the Freeman Athletic Center at Wesleyan University in Middletown, forcing swimmers to cocoon themselves in towels after their time in the water, but the Southington Blue Knights boys swim team still managed to scramble for 100 points at the meet.
On Tuesday, March 17, Southington battled into the top 20 at the Class LL state finals despite the colder temps in the Middletown pool. Southington coach Evan Tuttle thought they still did great.
“You look at 17th place, and your first instinct is to think that it can’t be that good,” said Tuttle. “To put it into perspective, 17th in Class LL is easily top ten or better in any other class. I try to tell the kids even just to be here today is an accomplishment in itself. We had some tremendous performances, and the kids did what they needed to do and we gave ourselves a best shot to extend the season a little longer.”
Greenwich (836) finished first overall, followed by Fairfield Prep (489.5) and Cheshire (442).
“The discrepancy this year between classes was huge,” the coach said. “Class LL is fast. You have some great teams down here that performed really well and nobody disappointed in that pool today. Greenwich’s program is phenomenal. If you’re looking for a benchmark as to what you want your program to aspire to, that’s what you have to look for.”
The team of Zack Blake, Matt Duszak, P.J. Ramsey, and Nick Brazil (1:46.73) finished 15th in the 200 medley relay.
The team of Blake, Brazil, Mack Golos, and Ramsey (1:34.73) dropped a couple seconds to earn a best time, and picked up a few spots, from 13th to 10th, in the 200 freestyle relay.
Blake (1:01.56) finished 24th overall in the 100 backstroke despite leading off the 200 freestyle relay right before swimming in the 100 backstroke.
“I know he was disappointed with his time, but I was happy that he was able to make a personal sacrifice for the team, in the interest of that relay,” said Tuttle. “Without that kid in the 200 freestyle relay putting in the split that he did, we wouldn’t have had a chance. He gave us the opportunity in that relay.”
The team of Kevin Corcoran, Ben Wakefield, Evan Bender, and Golos (3:39.12) dropped a second and earned a best time in the 400 freestyle relay with a 19th place finish.
Ramsey finished 23rd overall in the 50 freestyle (23.44) and 12th overall in the 100 fly (55.22), picking up a spot after being seeded 13th and dropping more than a tenth of a second to earn a best time.
Brazil (1:05.33) won his heat in the 100 breaststroke and finished 17th overall.
In his senior year, Duszak came in as a first alternate in the 100 breaststroke, having swum the event in the Class LL Finals since his freshman year. Luck prevailed as Duszak (1:07.43) swam the event for a fourth straight year after there was a scratch in the seedings. He followed right behind Brazil, finishing 22nd overall.
Tuttle said that his team’s performance was a perfect example of his team’s tradition of fielding athletes that are so selfless, team oriented, and go above and beyond.
“A gesture like Zack competing in that relay and the way these kids support each other is the custom on this team,” the Knights coach said. “In those regards, those kinds of things don’t surprise me anymore because I know that’s how these kids are, although I’m pleased every single day to see it happening. In terms of performances, I know these kids are going to swim their hearts out and that’s what they do day in and day out.”
With no swimmers advancing into the state open finals, the Class LL meet marked the end of Southington’s winter campaign.