Swimmers save the best for last: the postseason

KEN MORSE

CORRESPONDENT

The Plainville girls swim team got off to a slow start this fall, but the girls saved their best for last. The Blue Devils managed to turn around a 0-3 start by winning the next three meets to even the record. Plainville gained valuable experience along the way going 3-3 down the stretch and continuing that momentum into the postseason.

The Plainville girls swim team finished the season at 6-6 and came within one event of winning its first division title in 20 years.

On Friday, Nov. 1, the Blue Devils came up short against Middletown, 96-87, for the CCC Southern Division regular season title. A week later, the Lady Blue Devils left their mark on the CCC South Championship at Platt High School in Meriden, finishing as runner-up in the conference. On the strength of 35 best times Plainville surged to a school record 250 points at the conference meet, pushing Middletown (290) to the very limits in the race for the title.

Plainville placed four swimmers, juniors Olivia Unwin (200 medley relay) and Isabella Samperi (200 medley relay, 500 freestyle) along with freshman Natalie Basile (200 medley relay, 100 backstroke) and Olivia Sleszynski (200 medley relay, 100 breaststroke) on the All-Conference team.

“We had a strong finish to our conference schedule,” said Plainville head coach Chris Zagorski. “We had the most state qualifiers (9) since I’ve been here. That is half of our roster, and it included four freshman.”

Going into the season coach Zagorski, in his seventh year at the helm, and assistant coach Jenna Donaghy, knew it would be a struggle early with a tough schedule, but were optimistic having five seniors to lead the way.

Seniors Phoebe Gediman, Elizabeth Susco and Alyssa Macomber along with Jillian Arens and Kayla Foster gave the young Blue Devils strong leadership as Plainville took on Southington (Class LL), along with a pair of Class L teams Conard and Windsor.

By the time the post season started Plainville was at its best. Basile had the only first place finish at the CCC South championship, winning the 100 backstroke in a time of 1:04.92. Samperi swam to a second place finish in the 500 freestyle (5:43.87), and Sleszynski took second in the 100 breaststroke (1:17.03) with a third place finish in the 200 IM (2:33.90).

The 200 medley relay foursome of Basile, Sleszynski, Samperi and Unwin posted a second place time of 2:02.25.

The 200 freestyle relay team of Gediman, Samperi, sophomore Emma Miller and freshman Vanessa Autunno took third at 1:53.28 and the 400 freestyle relay team of Autunno, Macomber, Gediman and Basile was 5th at 4:17.41.

Basile added a fourth place finish in the 100 fly. Macomber was fourth in the 100 free and eighth in the 50 free. Gediman finished fifth in the 100 free and 10th in the 200 free. Samperi was fifth in the 100 fly. Unwin had a fifth in both the 50 free and the 100 breaststroke. Junior Ashleigh Bantz was fifth in the 200 free and sixth in the 500 freestyle with Autunno adding a sixth in the 50 free.

The Blue Devils secured their hold on the runner-up spot getting into the top six spots to score points 16 times in the meet. Plainville also had several other top 10 finishes.

Diver junior Caitlyn Quilter put up a seventh place score of 154.51. Miller was seventh in the 200 free and ninth in the 500 free. Freshman Katherine Lyman was eighth in the 100 back and 10th in the 200 IM. Foster finished 12th in the 100 fly. Junior Claudia Pierscinski was 15th in the 100 back, and freshman Amber Klesitz was 15th in the 100 free.

“Although not all of them made it to the finals in the states, it bodes well for the program as a whole to continue the improvement in the seasons to come,” said Zagorski.

Plainville went on to a 14th place finish at the Class S championship out of the 25 competing teams. The only top ten finish came from the 200 medley relay team of Basile, Sleszynski, Samperi and Unwin posting a 9th place at 2:03.16.

The 400 freestyle relay team of Bantz, Miller, Basile and Samperi finished 11th at 4:09.94. Basile placed 12th in the 100 backstroke, and 20th in the 100 fly. Samperi had a 16th place in the 500 freestyle. The 200 freestyle team of Elizabeth Susco, Macomber, Gediman and Miller placed 17th.