For the Blue Devil swim team, it’s a family affair

Olivia Sleszynski swims the butterfly stroke during the 200 IM during last week’s swim meet against Berlin.

By KEN MORSE

CORRESPONDENT

When you spend close to three hours a day—sometimes six days each week—for a couple of months, a team tends to take on a family kind of atmosphere. You could see the bond that has been created as the Plainville swim team huddles around on the pool deck shouting out encouragement to their Blue Devil sisters.

That close knit chemistry is one of the reasons that Plainville has rebounded after a slow 0-3 start and finished out last week at 4-5. Last Tuesday the Blue Devils knocked off Maloney-Platt by a 93-85 margin.

Last Friday, Plainville went up against the Redcats of Berlin and came up on the short side of an 89-83 final. Across the pool on the other side of the deck that family atmosphere was just as present with Blue Devils head coach Chris Zagorski going up against his mother Jan Zagorski, one of the Berlin’s assistant coaches.

“I wouldn’t call it competing against one another,” said Jan Zagorski, who has coached at Berlin for 11 seasons and 17 years total as a diving coach. “I was there to see him go through all the youth swimming programs and at Berlin. I was the one driving him to practices, so it’s nice to see him coaching now and doing very well.”

The Plainville coach began his swimming career as a member of the Redcoats. After graduating from UConn in 2011, he returned to his alma mater for two seasons before taking over the head position at Plainville seven seasons ago.

“There’s a different kind of feeling going up against Berlin, since that is where I swam in high school and it’s where I got my start coaching,” said Chris Zagorski, who did two seasons as an assistant before taking over the reins at Plainville. “But I’m not sure there is a competitive thing going on because we both want the same things. We want the girls to do well and to enjoy the experience of competing in high school.”

His mother agreed. “The morning of a meet, we may talk a little bit about what we expect,” said Jan. “Outside of that there is really not a whole lot of talk about it other than that. The thing about swimming is surprises can happen but for the most part you know how the kids are going to swim based on their times.”

Natalie Basile helped the Blue Devils get past Maloney-Platt last Tuesday picking up a pair of first place finishes in the 500 freestyle at 6:04.26 and the 100 backstroke at 1:09.94.

Caitlyn Quilter won the diving competition scoring a 164.55 with Isabella Samperi taking first in the 200 freestyle at 2:17.7 and Olivia Sleszynski finishing first in the 100 breast stroke at 1:22.25.

Plainville took the lead in the first event and didn’t relinquish it swimming to victory in the 200 medley relay with the foursome of Basile, Sleszynski, Samperi and Alyssa Macomber coming in with a 2:08.57.

Berlin provided some stiffer competition taking first place in eight of the first nine events. Plainville did manage a second place finish in the 200 medley relay with the squad of Ashleigh Bantz, Emma Miller, Kayla Foster and Macomber putting up an time of 2:15.7.

Samperi swam to victory in the 200 freestyle at 2:14.99 with Basile placing third to give the Blue Devils a brief 16-14 advantage. A 1-2-3 finish over the next two events the 200 IM and the 50 freestyle along with first and second in diving put the Redcoats safely out in front by a wide 50-22 margin.

Plainville began to whittle away at the lead with Miller 3rd and Phoebe Gediman 4th in the 100 freestyle. The Blue Devils landed a second and third in the 500 freestyle with Basile posting a 6:01.22 and Samperi checking in with a 6:03.43.

Liz Susco, Vanessa Autunno and Amber Klesitz along with Katherine Lyman, Olivia Unwin and Claudia Pierscinski gave strong performances in the 200 IM and the 50 freestyle. It was an 89-45 margin when the 200 freestyle relay team of Miller, Macomber, Samperi and Gediman took second in 1:58.47.

Plainville continued to close the gap with Bantz taking first in the 100 back stroke at 1:15.98, Sleszynski first in the 100 breast stroke at 1:22.44 and the 400 freestyle relay team of Gediman, Bantz, Samperi and Basile posting a 4:30.96.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” said coach Chris. “We have been taking care of business after getting off to a slow start.

“We do have a small team but we have depth and some of our younger swimmers have contributed to that. I credit my assistant coach Jenna Donaghy for that as she runs the middle school programs and we have had quite a few young swimmers come in over the past few seasons.”

Plainville is back in the pool this week at Bristol Eastern on Tuesday and will host Rocky Hill on Thursday at 4 p.m. to celebrate senior night.