East Lyme continues its ECC dominance in swimming
Groton — There's value in getting an outsider's expert perspective as to what makes an organization so successful.
In the case of the Easy Lyme swimming team, there's only so many ways they can be asked, "Why do you tear it up at the Eastern Connecticut Conference Swimming and Diving Championships every year?"
"Earlier, I talked about how our community has been buying into swimming," Waterford head coach Brett Arnold said after the Vikings out scored his team, 633-379, to win their 19th straight meet title. "(East Lyme) does a great job with their younger kids, getting them into their middle school team, their club team that swims out of (the East Lyme Aquatic and Fitness Center). All that stuff helps out."
East Lyme won nine of 12 events and has won every ECC championship. Fitch/Stonington finished third (305), followed by Ledyard (283) and Norwich Free Academy (180).
"(We're trying to) pick up a couple of things and mirror what they do," Arnold said. "And they have a lot of good coaches. (Head coach) Jack (Stabach), you can't say enough good things about Jack. He's been a mentor in so many ways. ... He'll always stop and help me out if I have a question, and I know he's like that with all the other coaches, too."
Waterford sophomore Ella Dyjak (200 and 500 freestyle), who won her second straight Swimmer of the Meet honor, and Ledyard's Olivia Strelevitz (100 backstroke, 1:02.08) helped prevent a complete Vikings takeover of individual titles.
Freshman Nikki Hahn won the 200 individual medley (2:17.63) and 100 breaststroke (1:11.28), and was the lone double-winner for East Lyme. She also joined Hiruni Jayawickreme, Katie Keating and Katie Orefice to win the 200 medley relay (1:56.41).
"We did a great job," Vikings senior Mary Kathryn Taylor said. "We had a lot of freshman that came out and had great performances. I think we should all be happy with how we did today."
Taylor won the 50 freestyle (25.88) for the Vikings. She also teamed with Grace Vlaun, Maeve Counter and Orefice to win both the 200 freestyle relay (1:42.71) and 400 freestyle relay (3:44.22), and was runnerup to Dyjak for Swimmer of the Meet (256 points to 220).
East Lyme's other winners were Anna Johnson (diving, 337.90 points), Keating (100 butterfly, 1:00.5), and Vlaun (100 freestyle, 55.76).
The Vikings had at least three of the top six finishers in the eight individual swimming events. They had 24 of the top 48 finishers in those events, too.
"We just work really well as a team and want each other to succeed," Taylor said. "We push each other every practice. ... We just want each other to do their best."
Stabach said, "Not every year do you get this kind of a group. Every single one of them is supporting each other, from the slow swimmers to the best swimmers. ... Maeve came in fourth in (the 100 freestyle) today, but she's congratulating the first and third girls (Vlaun and Orefice, respectively) that came in. She did great, but she's supporting everyone. She's a typical example of our kids and what this team is a good team."
Dyjak had a personal best in the 200 freestyle (1:55) and finished 5:05.52 in the 500 freestyle, just two seconds off her personal best.
"I thought that (5:05) was a pretty good time," Dyjak said. "I always feel like I put everything into the pool, so whatever I swim, I'm proud of because I do my hardest."