By KEVIN ROBERTS
Southington’s swimming season came to an end at the Connecticut state open. Nobody won a medal. Nobody finished in the top 10, but for the Blue Knights winning wasn’t the ultimate goal.
It was more like a preview for next winter.
When Southington boys swimming began this season on Jan. 12 at Avon, coach Evan Tuttle grouped juniors Derek Melanson, Brian Egan and Tyler Heidgerd with freshman Landon Colby to swim the 400-yard freestyle relay.
The swimming season ended at the state open on March 14, and that same quartet swam the 400 freestyle relay for the Blue Knights. They finished 22nd overall in the state (3:23.30). Heidgerd also swam in the 100 freestyle, where he finished 22nd (49.50 seconds). Southington finished in a tie for 39th as a team with 20 points.
All four will return next season. For Heidgerd, the freestyle was a step outside of his normal realm, but one he wanted to take. After all, Heidgerd is quickly becoming one of the most experienced postseason swimmers in program history. As a sophomore,
As a sophomore, Heidgerd got his first taste of the state open in the 100 backstroke and as a member of the 200 medley relay. This year, he advanced to the open in the freestyle and freestyle relay. That positions him well for another run next winter.
“Tyler branched out of his comfort zone this postseason and wanted to try his hand at the freestyle events,” coach Evan Tuttle said. “Being all-state in the backstroke last year, he stated that he knew what he can do in the backstroke and wanted to see what he can do in some other events. He proved what it is he can do, finishing top 10 in both events and advancing to opens in the 100 free.”
The 400 freestyle relay was very familiar to Heidgerd, and he excelled in that race as well.
“He then teamed up with Derek, Brian, and Landon to finish an impressive year for that relay combination,” Tuttle said. “I do not believe that relay combination lost a single race this season, and so it was fitting that our season came to a close with that same group.”
During the regular season, Heidgerd, Melanson, Egan and Colby teamed up to finish first in the 400 freestyle relay all six times they were together. The quartet added a CCC West Division championship on Feb. 27 at the Cornerstone Aquatics Center in West Hartford, and helped the Knights to a third place finish.
Heidgerd, Melanson, Egan and Colby swam the 400 freestyle relay in the Class LL state trials on March 9 and earned the No. 10 seed. They combined for a ninth place finish at the Class LL finals on March 11, and their time of 3:23.06 got them into the state open. All four swimmers will be back next season.
“As I told them on the bus on the way home, to look around at the group and notice that you have all under class-men, their future is bright,” Tuttle said, “but we will not get better by simply getting a year older. They have to work, train, and strive to be better each day.”
Southington hopes this 400 freestyle relay combination will be one an asset again next season.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com