Hahn sets a pair of ECC records, leads East Lyme to 21st straight swimming championship
East Lyme — It was after East Lyme High School captured its 21st straight Eastern Connecticut Conference championship late in the day Saturday, a time generally reserved for unabashed celebration, and suddenly there was a huddle of swimmers from the winning team standing behind the starting blocks. Crying.
"We're criers," said East Lyme senior Nikki Hahn, named Swimmer of the Meet with two record-setting individual victories.
"It's a couple of things. It's our last team meet. For me and our fellow seniors, after losing last year (due to COVID-19), it's really hard. I think it just feels like we jumped a year. It's a great end. Like, 'We did it.' It's a little bittersweet, one of those bittersweet things."
Hahn set ECC records in the 200-yard individual medley in 2 minutes, 7.15 seconds and the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.12 as East Lyme took the title with 563 points. The Fitch cooperative team was second with 382 points, Waterford third with 252 and Norwich Free Academy fourth with 251.
Fitch freshman Addison Fulling was the meet's other double-winner individually, taking the 200 freestyle (2:07.73) and 500 freestyle (5:32.89), adding a pair of relay wins to that in the 200 free relay and 400 free relay for what was an overall triumphant day.
Hahn broke the 200 IM record of 2:08.14 set in 2014 by St. Bernard's Meredith Hird, swimming for the Fitch co-op. She eclipsed her own mark in the breaststroke, having established it at 1:05.28 in 2019. Hahn won Swimmer of the Meet honors, a formula-based award for individual performances that is predicated on a time standard, with 264 points.
"I remember my freshman year and the breaststroke record was that 1:07. That was my goal (to break it) my whole four years. I was scared I would never break it," said Hahn, who has since met that goal on several occasions with a few weeks still left in her career.
"It was nice to have a real meet again. It's here (at East Lyme). It's so different, even just having normal practices motivates us so much more."
Last year's regular season took place virtually, with teams swimming at their own pools and then comparing times. There was no postseason. On Saturday, the setup at East Lyme, with an allowance for COVID protocol, had all athletes who were not currently swimming waiting in a neaby gymnasium, where the events were being livestreamed on four large TVs. The swimmers were allowed in the pool area to warm up, for their races and when it was time to collect their awards.
It made for a rather empty-looking pool deck, with only coaches cheering on their swimmers.
"I miss being on the deck with the girls," Ledyard coach Katey Kokomoor said. "That energy of cheering for your teammates has traditionally been a big part of ECCs. But East Lyme has done a fantastic job running things smoothly."
East Lyme coach Jack Stabach, who has presided over all 21 of the Vikings' league championships, lauded his team's work ethic.
"It's the first time in a long time we have kids that work hard and don't take breaks," Stabach said. "They should be proud of themselves. They're all hard workers, they work together, they take care of each other. They're all different. They're all special."
East Lyme added wins from Lauren Hinckley in the 50 freestyle (25.84) and from the 200 medley relay team of Grace Xu, Hahn, Grace Liu and Hinckley. Hinckley also began her career as a diver about three weeks into this season, finishing second in that event Friday.
In addition to Fulling, Fitch got wins from Anna Orphanides in the 100 butterfly (1:02.80), Sophia Pacheco in the 100 freestyle (58.79) and Delaney Reck in the 100 backstroke (1:00.57). Reck, Orphanides, Pacheco and Fulling teamed to win the 200 free relay in 1:43.40 and the 400 free relay in 3:53.27.
Waterford's Hannah Ard took first in diving with 289.30 points.
"They're a young group. We have one senior and we have 10 freshmen," Fitch first-year coach Ali Colussi said of her team's performance. "They're a wonderful group of girls and a pleasure to coach. They've learned both how to swim individually and how they build and swim as a team. Those were our fastest relays of the season."
"I was really excited," Fulling said. "It was a lot of excitement with all my friends here. We're excited to come back and do it again next year."
ECC CHAMPIONSHIP MEET
At East Lyme
1. East Lyme, 563; 2. Fitch, 382; 3. Waterford, 252; 4. NFA, 251; 5. Ledyard, 236; 6. St. Bernard, 55; 7. Wheeler, 30.
200-yard individual medley relay — 1. East Lyme (Grace Xu, Nikki Hahn, Grace Liu, Lauren Hinckley), 1:55.29; 2. Waterford, 3. Fitch, 4. Ledyard, 5. NFA.
200 freestyle — 1. Addison Fulling (Fitch), 2:03.73; 2. Anna Orphanides (Fitch), 3. Jamie Kim (East Lyme), 4. Anna Lu (East Lyme), 5. Seidi Schiro (St. Bernard), 6. Kristin Timpano (East Lyme).
200 individual medley — 1. Nikki Hahn (East Lyme), 2:07.15 (meet record); 2. Natalie Bezanson (NFA), 3. Grace Liu (East Lyme), 4. Sophia Pacheco (Fitch), 5. Julia Gathy (Waterford), 6. Robin Zemlo (Ledyard).
50 freestyle — 1. Lauren Hinckley (East Lyme), 25.84; 2. Hannah Socha (East Lyme), 3. Sandra Kirvelevicius (East Lyme), 4. Abby Urgo (Wheeler), 5. Dylan Levine (NFA), 6. Ashlyn Dunn (Fitch).
1-meter diving — 1. Hannah Ard (Waterford), 289.30; 2. Lauren Hinckley (East Lyme).
100 butterfly — 1. Anna Orphanides (Fitch), 1:02.80; 2. Grace Liu (East Lyme), 3. Grace Xu (East Lyme), 4. Donna Park (East Lyme), 5. Makenna Harms (East Lyme), 6. Robin Zemlo (Ledyard).
100 freestyle — 1. Sophia Pacheco (Fitch), 58.79; 2. Anna Lu (East Lyme), 3. Seidi Schiro (St. Bernard), 4. Sandra Kirvelevicius (East Lyme), 5. Delaney Donovan (East Lyme), 6. Alexandra Martinez-Garcia (Ledyard).
500 freestyle — 1. Addison Fulling (Fitch), 5:32.89; 2. Julia Gathy (Waterford), 3. Hailey Newton (East Lyme), 4. Dylan Levine (NFA), 5. Kristin Timpano (East Lyme), 6. Molly Newton (East Lyme).
200 freestyle relay — 1. Fitch (Delaney Reck, Anna Orphanides, Sophia Pacheco, Addison Fulling), 1:43.40; 2. East Lyme, 3. NFA, 4. Ledyard, 5. Waterford.
100 backstroke — 1. Delaney Reck (Fitch), 1:00.57; 2. Grace Xu (East Lyme), 3. Natalie Bezanson (NFA), 4. Abby Urgo (Wheeler), 5. Hannah Socha (East Lyme), 6. Makenna Harms (East Lyme).
100 breaststroke — 1. Nikki Hahn (East Lyme), 1:05.12 (meet record); 2. Jamie Kim (East Lyme), 3. Molly Newton (East Lyme), 4. Jillian Anderson (Ledyard), 5. Thelma Grogan (Ledyard), 6. Elizabeth Blain (Waterford).
400 freestyle relay — 1. Fitch (Delaney Reck, Anna Orphanides, Sophia Pacheco, Addison Fulling), 3:53.27; 2. East Lyme, 3. Ledyard, 4. NFA, 5. Waterford.
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