WEST HARTFORD – Payton Foster had a victory and a runner-up finish in individual events after she swam the anchor leg on a winning relay team to help lead Greenwich to the team title at the 2021 CIAC Girls Swimming and Diving Championships on Nov. 20 at Cornerstone Aquatics Center.
Coach Brendan Heller’s Cardinals had a Triple Crown season as they won the FCIAC and CIAC Class LL championship meets prior to winning the State Open.
The state class championship meets took place several days before the State Open. Greenwich won the Class LL championship Nov. 17 one day after fellow FCIAC member Darien won the Class L title. Both of those meets were held at the same Southern Connecticut State University pool.
Two other significant highlights involving FCIAC swimmers at the State Open were the excellent performances of Staples’ freshman freestyler Annam Olasewere and Trumbull senior Lauren Walsh. They each won two individual races and set a record in one of them.
Olasewere also swam her typical swift anchor legs to contribute to the Wreckers’ victories in the 200-yard freestyle and 400 free relay events.
Olasewere set a State Open record of 22.58 in the 50 freestyle to break the old record of 23.03 which was set six years ago by McKenna Dale from E.O. Smith. A bit later Olasewere won the 100 free with a time of 50.21 which was just a scant .07 of a second off her own state record time of 50.14 which she set three nights earlier at the state Class LL championship meet.
Toward the end of the Sunday afternoon State Open meet, Olasewere anchored for the winning 200 free relay team (1:35.94) which included Jessica Qi, Ella Alpert and Ayaan Olasewere, and then the victorious 400 free relay team (3:27.46) with that same quartet swimming in the same order in the lineup.
Walsh ended her high school swimming career in fine style. Walsh was the defending champion in the 100-yard breaststroke, having won in 2019 as a sophomore with a State Open record time of 1:01.96. This year she broke her own record by nearly a full second when she won in 1:01.04.
And then in perhaps the meet’s most thrilling race, Walsh won the 200-yard individual medley with a 2:00.19 which was just .16 of a second faster than Foster’s runner-up time of 2:00.35.
That was the third event of the meet and that put Greenwich’s Cardinals in solid position to cruise to their team title because in the first event Foster anchored the winning 200 medley relay team (1:45.92) after Sena Bozkurt, Michelle Weissler and Caterina Li swam the first three legs.
Foster later won the 500 free in 4:54.59.
Weissler was runner-up to Walsh in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.37) while the Cardinals also got significant points in individual events from Li (fourth in the 100 butterfly and eighth in the 200 IM), Bozkurt (sixth in the 100 backstroke and ninth in the 100 fly), and diver Annie Bingle (sixth).
Greenwich won the State Open with 505.5 points to win by 128.5 points over runner-up Darien (377). Glastonbury placed third with 364.5 points and was followed by FCIAC teams Ridgefield (304.5) and Staples (300).
Miller Ward led Darien to second place as she won the 100 butterfly in 55.38 and was on the runner-up 200 medley relay team (1:47.05) with Margaret Erickson, Emily Kalvaitis and Natalia Ferranto.
FCIAC athletes were the winners in seven of the nine individual events and conference teams won all three of the relay events.
Hanna Chuckas of the Westhill/Stamford cooperative team won the one-meter diving with 462.75 points. She previously won the Class LL diving with 469.25 points.
Fairfield Ludlowe sophomore Kathleen Murray racked up 53 individual points by placing second in the 50 free (23.44) and third in the 100 fly (56.86).
Wilton’s Virginia Hastings placed second behind Foster in the 500 free (4:59.76).
New Canaan diver Natalie Penman placed third with 449.2 points.
Greenwich won the Class LL championship 785 points, 175 more than runner-up Ridgefield. Glastonbury was third with 581 and Staples placed fourth with 435.
Foster won the 500 free and was third in the 200 IM to lead the champion Cardinals.
Olasewere won the 50 free and 100 free and then anchored the winning 200 free relay and 400 free relay teams, and Walsh won the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke at the Class LL meet to give a preview of what they both would accomplish a few days later at the State Open.
The other Class LL individual champion from the FCIAC were Ludlowe’s Murray in the 100 butterfly (55.8),
Ward, Darien’s sophomore, won a pair of individual events to contribute to the Blue Wave winning the Class L team title by a comfortable 252 points with 807 points. Cheshire placed second with 555 points and FCIAC member New Canaan was third with 512.
Ward won the 200 IM (2:03.78) and 100 fly (56.23) and she swam on Darien’s winning 200 medley relay team and runner-up 400 freestyle relay team.
Ferranto won the 50 free (24.03) and anchored the winning 200 medley relay team and runner-up 200 free relay team for the Blue Wave.
New Canaan senior Lillian Codd won the 500 free in 5:00.3.