In what is quite the most amazing dynasty, the Greenwich High School boys swimming and diving program won its 50th conference championship in winning the 2021 FCIAC Boys Swimming and Diving Championships.
There were plenty of winners in various degrees when it came to this winter season’s version of the conference championship meet.
The swimmers and divers were winners because they got to have a season and a season-ending conference championship meet during this unique and abnormal season in these COVID-19 pandemic times.
The conference’s coaches, school administrators and FCIAC officials were also winners because they pooled their brains together and created the format to make it happen.
And the other winners, yet again, were those dynastic Cardinals of Greenwich High School and their 54th-year legendary coach Terry Lowe.
Greenwich won its 14th consecutive FCIAC championship in capturing that monumental 50th conference crown – all 50 of them under Lowe’s head coaching guidance.
The championship meet this year was actually a series of a handful of virtual meets in late March in which the swimmers’ times and divers’ points totals were compiled from the various venues and then merged together to organize the placings in each event and, subsequently, the team scoring.
To adhere to the safest social distance competition possible, there were either two or three teams at each pool for five separate meets for the 11 swimming events and the diving competition had the divers split in half at two locations. Greenwich High School hosted two of the swimming meets and the other three were at Norwalk High School, Hillcrest Middle School in Trumbull and the Wilton YMCA.
And because the athletes and coaches knew this would be the final meet of the season, the swimmers shaved for the meets and planned their training to hit their peak performances and that led to six conference records being set among the 12 events. That was in contrast to normal seasons in which the swimmers shave and aim to hit their peak performances at the state championship meets.
Senior tri-captain Nick Malchow and junior Ryan Jee had a victory and a runner-up finish in individual events and were teammates on a pair of victorious relay teams while sophomore diver Grover Whitaker won with an FCIAC record total of 569.1 points to lead Greenwich to the team title with 534 points, which was 139.5 more than runner-up Ridgefield (394.5).
Connor Hunt, Ridgefield’s excellent senior, set a conference record of 4:22.9 when he won the 500-yard freestyle by more than 10 seconds and broke his own old record of 4:25.4 which he set last year. Hunt also won the 200 free (1:39.01) by more than three seconds and swam the leadoff leg on the winning 200 freestyle relay team to earn the Most Outstanding Swimmer Award.
Another viable candidate for that award was Tyler Sicignano of the Fairfield co-op team as he established new conference records while winning the 50 free in 20.47 and the 100 butterfly in 48.72.
Malchow also broke the old 50 freestyle record with his runner-up time of 20.69.
Malchow won the 100 free in 45.84 and swam the anchor legs when Greenwich’s Cardinals opened the meet by winning the 200-yard medley relay in 1:33.74 and then when they closed the meet by setting the new FCIAC record of 3:05.36 in the 400 free relay. Adam Bucaria, Jee and James Pascale joined Malchow on the 200 medley relay while the 400 free relay team included Plavoukos, Pascale and Jee.
Jee set a conference record of 1:50.67 in the 200-yard individual medley and placed second behind Sicignano in the 100 fly (49.95). Senior tri-captain Alex Plavoukos was runner-up to Hunt in both the 200 free (1:42.4) and 500 free (4:33.31).
Whitaker, the defending diving champion who won with 536.5 points last year, nailed his 11 dives this year for his total of 569.1 which broke the old record of 562.25 which Kevin Bradley of the Norwalk/McMahon Cooperative team set two years ago. The Cardinals went 1-2-3 in the event as Joel Satir (471.3) placed second and Jayden Satir (460.6) was third.
Also for the Greenwich, Bucaria placed second in the 100 breaststroke and third in the 200 IM.
“It was a tremendous team effort with 100 percent best times by our entire varsity group,” Lowe said. “The outcome of this abbreviated season was remarkable. With the season barely over two months, they knew that they had to make the most of every day. Right from the late January 19th start, the kids were determined to achieve best times, and where possible reach All-America standards.
“They were as focused and hardworking as any team that I have ever had,” Lowe continued. “They also took extra care to remain Covid free for the season. They knew that the ending was going to be different than in the past with no state meets and not even a full-fledged multi-team meet for the county title. In contrast to the 2020 season, they knew that the FCIAC competition would be the END…. so that they could aim for that as a shaved-and-tapered meet.”
Lowe won his first FCIAC championship with Greenwich in 1971 and that began a streak of 36 consecutive conference championships until New Canaan won the 2007 title to end that streak. Lowe’s Cardinals then won the next year in 2008 to embark on this current streak of 14 straight.
Fairfield’s Emmett Adams had a great meet as he won 100 breaststroke in 56.96 and was runner-up in the 200 IM (1:52.97).
Also for Ridgefield’s runner-up Tigers, Matthew Johnson won the 100 backstroke in 52.31 and placed fourth in the 200 free, Kai O’Malley (100 butterfly) and Gavin Egerton (200 IM) each placed fourth and joined Hunt and Andrew Yu on the victorious 200 freestyle relay (1:13.17).
Mykhailo Kvashchuk of Norwalk/McMahon was runner-up in the 100 freestyle (47.4) and third in the 50 free (21.57).
Westhill/Stamford coach Rick Lewis is the league chairman for boys swimming and diving and he could not have been more proud of how his fellow coaches and league officials coordinated the competition and especially how the young athletes went with the flow and made the proper sacrifices to make this unique championship meet a success.
“Everyone was wonderful,” Lewis said. “We all did what we had to do and got through it during a time when not a lot of things are happening. It was very successful.”
Listed below are team scores, the top five finishers in each event and the current FCIAC records:
2021 FCIAC Boys Swimming and Diving Championships
TEAM SCORES: Greenwich 534, Ridgefield 394.5, Fairfield Cooperative 276, New Canaan 189.5, Norwalk/McMahon Cooperative 187.5, Darien 182.5, Trumbull 137, Wilton 117, Staples 104, Westhill/Stamford Cooperative 78, Danbury 34, St. Joseph 11.
Events Results (Top 5)
200-Yard Medley Relay – Greenwich (Ryan Jee, Aiden Bucaria, James Pascale, Nicholas Malchow) 1:33.74; Fairfield co-op 1:35.15; Darien 1:38.11; Ridgefield 1:38.12; New Canaan 1:38.29.
200 Freestyle – Connor Hunt (R) 1:39.01; Alex Plavoukos (G) 1:42.4; Riley Twiss (Stp); 1:43.44; Matthew Johnston (R) 143.57; Jack Clancy (R) 1:43.79.
200 Individual Medley – Jee (G) 1:50.67; Emmett Adams (F) 1:52.97; Bucaria (G) 1:53.56; Gavin Egerton (R) 1:54.05; Matthew Weiner (R) 1:55.77.
50 Freestyle – Tyler Sicignano (F) 20.47; Malchow (G) 20.69; Mykhailo Kvashchuk (N/M) 21.57; Hunter Johnson (G) 21.63; Andrew Yu (R) 21.87.
One-Meter Diving – Grover Whitaker (G) 569.1; Joel Satir (G) 471.3; Jayden Satir (G) 460.6; Jack Holland (F) 459.35, Benjamin Bradley (N/M) 452.55.
100 Butterfly – Sicignano (F) 48.72; Jee (G) 49.95; Pascale (G) 51.74; Kai O’Malley (R) 51.87 and Weiner (R) tied for fourth 51.87.
100 Freestyle – Nick Malchow (G) 45.84; Kvashchuk (N/M) 47.4, Yu (R) 47.86; Nicky Adl (NC) 47.87, Johnson (G) 48.03.
500 Freestyle – Hunt (R) 4:22.9, Plavoukos (G) 4:33.31; Clancy (R) 4:40.48; Roberts (D) 4:40.66; Marko Todorovic (G) 4:42.52.
200 Freestyle Relay – Ridgefield (Hunt, O’Malley, Yu, Egerton) 1:26.43; Greenwich 1:26.53; Norwalk/McMahon 1:30.08; Staples 1:31.16; New Canaan 1:31.17.
100 Backstroke – Johnston (R) 52.31; Adl (NC) 52.52; Ben Schinto (G) 53.25; Thomas Dupont (D) 53.78; Nathaniel Taft (F) 54.03.
100 Breastroke – Adams (F) 56.96; Bucaria (G) 57.78; Mic DiLascia (G) 58.34; Deacon Mascarinas (NC) 59.14; Max Wolfenden (R) 59.56.
400 Freestyle Relay – Greenwich (Plavoukos, Pascale, Jee, Malchow) 3:05.36; Ridgefield 3:07.92; Fairfield Cooperative 3:13.92; New Canaan 3:19.21; Darien 3:21.64.
FCIAC Swimming and Diving Records
200-Yard Medley Relay – 1:33.74, Ridgefield (Smith, Bornstein, Hruska, Bryant), 2018.
200 Freestyle – 1:37.23, Kieran Smith, Ridgefield, 2017.
200 Individual Medley – 1:50.67, Ryan Jee, Greenwich, 2021.
50 Freestyle – 20.47, Tyler Sicignano, Fairfield co-op, 2021.
One-Meter Diving – 569.1, Grover Whitaker, Greenwich, 2021.
100 Butterfly – 48.72, Tyler Sicignano, Fairfield co-op, 2021.
100 Freestyle – 44.27, Kieran Smith, Ridgefield, 2018.
500 Freestyle – 4:22.9, Conner Hunt, Ridgefield, 2021.
200 Freestyle Relay – 1:25.19, Greenwich (T. Dillinger, Hyden, W. Semenuk, E. Moss), 2015.
100 Backstroke – 49.32, Kieran Smith, Ridgefield, 2018.
100 Breastroke – 55.89, Thomas Dillinger, Greenwich, 2015.
400 Freestyle Relay – 3:05.36, Greenwich (Alex Plavoukos, James Pascale, Ryan Jee, Nick Malchow), 2021.