East Lyme wins another ECC swimming championship

East Lyme's Eain Goolsbey swims to victory in the 200-yard freestyle, one of his two individual wins during Saturday's ECC championships at UConn Avery Point in Groton. The Vikings won their 14th team title in the last 15 seasons. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
East Lyme's Eain Goolsbey swims to victory in the 200-yard freestyle, one of his two individual wins during Saturday's ECC championships at UConn Avery Point in Groton. The Vikings won their 14th team title in the last 15 seasons. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Groton — East Lyme has the swimming talent to match its strong depth.

The Fitch/Stonington/Ledyard/Norwich Tech co-op has talent and record-breakers.

East Lyme coach Rob Bouchey and Ken Berg, his Fitch counterpart, both wanted what the other had during Saturday's Eastern Connecticut Conference swimming and diving championships.

East Lyme won five events for its 13th ECC championship in 15 seasons at UConn Avery Point. The Vikings finished with 551 points.

Fitch placed second with 482 and also won five events, including setting two meet records. Junior John Marcolina earned Most Outstanding Swimmer honors, too.

"I think a few of the boys surprised themselves, and that's one of the things we need to work on in order to be better," Bouchey said. "In order to be at a level where we're chasing records at this meet, increasing our exposure and ranking at the state level, these guys need to understand and believe what they're capable of. … That doesn't mean that it's not exciting and fun to win the ECC championship."

Fitch, which had a co-op with Stonington last season, added Ledyard and Norwich Tech this season.

"It's all about numbers," Berg said. "My guys did better per numbers than (Bouchey's) guys. He has guys that are older and swimming faster than my young guys, but the game is a numbers game. I don't have enough. We're co-oping with four teams just to get the team to survive."

Eain Goolsbey won the 200-yard freestyle (1:51.66) and 500 freestyle (5:04.53) for East Lyme and Jack Zhang won the 200 individual medley (2:09.70). The two also teamed with Jack Mucciarone and Robert Hahn to win the 400 freestyle relay (3:31.78).

East Lyme's Ben Prouty won the 1-meter diving (424.55) later in the evening in his home pool. The event was originally scheduled for Friday, but postponed due to the poor weather condidtions.

Bouchey was pleased with his team, yet has higher aspirations for them. It's good to be the alpha dogs locally, but he'd like them to be able compete with state titans like Greenwich, New Canaan or Pomperaug.

Besides, Bouchey has to find something to harp on as a head coach.

"Exactly right, which brings me pleasure," Bouchey said with a laugh. "Yes, we're good. We could sit down and be content with this, but I think we should be striving for more. That's what athletics is about. That's the athletic side of the student-athlete. They do it in the classroom. Our team grade point average is very, very high. I want them to have those same ambitions athletically.

"My objective is to make southeastern Connecticut as successful as Fairfield County, and right now, it pales in comparison. So I'm not trying to take away from our accomplishments. I think the kids need to be pushed constantly and, for us, the next thing is conference records and a higher level of state performances."

Marcolina set a meet record in the 50 freestyle (21.35), topping the mark set by former Fitch star Dakota Williams in 2014 (21.84). He also won the 100 freestyle (48.52).

"I wasn't expecting it," Marcolina said. "I thought if I did everything right, I'd get it. In the summer, I was recovering from a shoulder injury, so that was a struggle. Once I got that better, I lifted with Advantage (Personal Training of Mystic) and I swam with my club team (Connecticut Aquatic Club).

"I worked on the technical stuff, not so much the pure strength (part)."

Berg said, "John is very fast at a young age; very strong. It is an athletic sport."

Patrick Nowak, The Day's 2017 All-Area Swimmer of the Year, swam the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.57, breaking his own meet record. He finished in 1:01.38 last year.

"That was crazy," Berg said about Nowak's swim. "He looks so smooth. It was a really nice race for him. Maybe (he was) a little more relaxed than last year."

A.J. Murko, Keegan Reck, Marcolina and Nowak won the 200 medley relay (1:44.18). Joe Vignato, Reck, Nowak and Marcolina also won the 200 freestyle relay (1:32.58).

Jay Lin won the 100 butterfly (56.19) for Norwich Free Academy.

n.griffen@theday.com

John Marcolina of the Fitch/Stonington/Ledyard/Norwich Tech co-op swims to a win in the 100-yard freestyle during Saturday's Eastern Connecticut Conference championship meet at UConn Avery Point. Marcolina also won the 50 free in a meet record time to earn Most Outstanding Swimmer honors. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
John Marcolina of the Fitch/Stonington/Ledyard/Norwich Tech co-op swims to a win in the 100-yard freestyle during Saturday's Eastern Connecticut Conference championship meet at UConn Avery Point. Marcolina also won the 50 free in a meet record time to earn Most Outstanding Swimmer honors. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
East Lyme's Jack Zhang swims the backstroke leg of the 200-yard individual medley during Saturday's Eastern Connecticut Conference championships at UConn Avery Point in Groton. Zhang won the race and helped the Vikings win the team title. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
East Lyme's Jack Zhang swims the backstroke leg of the 200-yard individual medley during Saturday's Eastern Connecticut Conference championships at UConn Avery Point in Groton. Zhang won the race and helped the Vikings win the team title. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

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