By KEVIN ROBERTS
The Southington girls’ swimming and diving team began the 2018 season with a 93-66 victory over Rocky Hill on Sept. 12 inside the Fryer Family Natatorium at the Southington YMCA. Southington placed first and second in each of the first two relays, swept the two freestyle races, and clinched the victory with three races remaining.
“It was a very strong opener for us. I knew coming into the season that we were going to be a strong program, as we have been for the last few seasons,” coach Evan Tuttle said.
The Lady Knights graduated a strong senior class, but also brought back a bunch of veteran swimmers. There’s always question marks going into a season opener such as who will show up and did offseason training make swimmers better. Southington answered any and all questions with an emphatic yes.
“The girls swam incredibly well, we had seven state qualifying times, and we came away with the win,” Tuttle said. “Above all else, the energy was electric.”
Among the few things the team can control are attitude, integrity and sportsmanship on the pool deck, and the Lady Knights passed each one with flying colors. Whether it was an intense battle down the stretch of the fast heat or the last place finisher concluding her race, Southington was cheering, not just for itself but also for its opponents.
“You want to be your best, you want them to be their best,” Tuttle said. “That’s true competition right there.”
Southington got off to a fast start with a win in the 200 medley relay behind the team of Sarah Meade, Julie Duszak, Meghan Hammarlund and Gianna Perugini in a time of 1:56.52.
Duszak and Hammarlund were also double winners individually. Duszak was first in the 50 freestyle (25.70 seconds) and 100 breaststroke (1:13.57) while Hammarlund took the top spot in the 200 individual medley (2:21.64) and 100 freestyle (57.57). Andie Nadeau was also a double winner, claiming first place in the 200 freestyle (2:08.02) and 500 freestyle (5:47.41). Adessa Noyes took first in the 100 butterfly in 1:12.05.
Duszak, Meade, and Perugini finished 1-2-3 in the 50 freestyle race. Hammarlund, Maddie Symecko, and Perugini swept the 100 freestyle.
The Lady Knights also won the 200 freestyle relay behind the team of Duszak, Perugini, Symecko and Nadeau in a time of 1:50.96 to clinch the meet.
Southington was at E.O. Smith on Tuesday and home to South Windsor on Friday, and the Lady Knights expect to go up against Conard and Hall again for the CCC West Division title. But first, Tuttle asked all of his swimmers to find one thing they did in the season opener that they want to improve upon. Tuttle said he would check in practice to make sure it was done.
“There’s never a point in time where you should stop trying to improve, especially that first meet of the season,” Tuttle said.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com.