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Fitch's Williams wins four times, East Lyme captures 11th title in 12 years
Groton - Dakota Williams wanted to break the meet record in the 50-yard freestyle Saturday afternoon at the Eastern Connecticut Conference swimming championship.
Williams, a junior at Fitch High School, did that, posting a time of 21.84 seconds for the only meet record of the day. He beat the mark of 21.90, co-held by Fitch graduate Tom Rowland (2010) and East Lyme graduate Adam Opsahl (2013).
But Williams didn't stop there.
On a day East Lyme claimed its 11th ECC title in the last 12 years, amassing 532 points, Williams was named Swimmer of the Meet for his individual performances.
His second individual race of the day was a victory in the 100 freestyle in a personal-best 46.99, while Fitch also claimed wins in the 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay later in the meet, both of which Williams was a part.
One of nine swimmers on a Fitch team which nevertheless managed a third-place finish, Williams broke into a large grin when his name was announced as the MVP.
"We were a little lacking in the people department," Williams said. "It makes it feel even better (to do well at the ECC meet). We are the underdogs. The whole team did great. ... It makes it even better in practice because everyone gets one-on-one time with the coach.
"My goal was to break the 50 record. This (award) is just an added bonus."
Ledyard/Stonington was second in the team standings with 313 points, followed by Fitch (307) and Windham/RHAM (294).
East Lyme, meanwhile, started the meet with a win in the 200 medley relay behind Zach Kosakowski, Clayton Otter, Eric Stirtan and Ben Biondi (1:40.63) and Kosakowski added a title in the 100 backstroke (56.46). Mitch Ryan captured the diving Friday night with a school record total of 425.55.
East Lyme coach Jack Stabach said this team has endured more difficult workouts than ever before in hopes of faring well at the upcoming Class M state meet. He's been critical of the team at times, asking his swimmers to redouble their efforts.
On Saturday, the Vikings increased their number of swimming qualifiers for the state meet from six to 12, plus two divers. A number of East Lyme competitors dropped their times significantly, such as Austin Toback who went from a best of 1:00.33 to 56.42 to finish fourth in the butterfly.
Also, because there is a limit on the number of swimmers from each school per race and East Lyme has a 12-man senior class, Stabach lauded Otter for volunteering to sit out the 100 breaststroke to give a teammate a chance instead.
"I don't feel like jumping in and cannonballing them today," Stabach said with a laugh. "I feel like hugging them. It's a lot of fun. We've been swimming tired all year. Today, we've had results that have been tremendous."
"So many people have done so many unexpected times ... huge drops and we're not just talking milliseconds," East Lyme's Kosakowski said. "Everything was worth it in the end. It's nice to see what we can do."
Other double-winners were Norwich Free Academy's Aidan Karam (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle) and Windham's Greg Husta (100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke).
Because Karam swam the same events last year as ECC Swimmer of the Meet Christian Berg of Fitch, these were the first titles for Karam, who became NFA's all-time points leader this season. He won the 200 freestyle in 1:48.22 and the 500 in 4:55.
"It's pretty much the same, but it's different," Karam said, asked of his feelings about winning, as opposed to finishing second. "It's more satisfying."
Other local winners included Fitch's Aidan Ely in the 200 individual medley, one of the top races of the day as Ely out-touched Otter of East Lyme (2:04.32-2:04.93). Ely and Williams were joined by Sean Estep and Sam Kokomoor in winning the 200 free relay and 400 free relay.
Said Fitch coach Ken Berg of his team's success despite the small numbers of swimmers: "With nine kids, they're either going to all work hard for it or they're not. There's no hiding."