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Staples swimmers second in FCIAC championships

Staples High School's swim team finished second to perennial champion Greenwich High School at Thursday night's FCIAC championships.

Greenwich senior Alex Lewis set two individual records for Greenwich, which broke four overall in cruising to another convincing FCIAC championship. Winning seven events, Greenwich amassed 512 team points and continued its dynasty, capturing the FCIAC title for the 43rd time in 44 years.

Staples placed second (327), followed by Darien (288), Wilton (244) and New Canaan (197.5) before a large crowd at Greenwich High.

"It was a wonderful performance by our team in so many levels," said GHS coach Terry Lowe, who has guided the Cardinals to all of their titles. "From the records set to the personal-best times some of our guys swam, it was a great meet. Our leaders on the team to the youngest swimmers all rose to the occasion."

Lewis was named the Swimmer of the Year for winning two individual events in record-setting fashion and for turning in such an outstanding season. Greenwich opened the meet in style. The 200-yard medley relay team of Jack Montesi, Iain Edmundson, Lewis and Ed Moss won the evening's first event in a meet record time of 1 minute, 35.27 seconds. Wilton was second in 1:40.13, followed by Staples (1:40.16) The previous record in the event was New Canaan's 1:37.27 finish in 2009.

"Winning that first relay served as a catalyst for us," Lewis said. "It gave us a lot of momentum right away and put us in good shape for the rest of the meet. Tonight, we all did everything we were capable of doing and really performed at a high level."

The Wreckers followed by receiving a first-place finish by Jonathon Blansfield in the 200-yard freestyle. Blansfield touched the wall in 1:43.22 and Norwalk's Anthony Dell'Isola was the runner-up in 1:45.60. Benjamin Nussbaum placed third for Ridgefield in 1:48.84.

"This was my last time swimming at FCIACs, so I wanted to swim well tonight, help my team and make the night special," Blansfield said. "Our team did great tonight, the whole year has been such a great success for us."

Said Dell'Isola: "I did really well tonight, breaking two personal records in the 200 and 500 freestyle. This was a really fast meet with some great swimmers, so it's a good way for us to prepare for the state finals."

Nussbaum paced Ridgefield throughout the evening with strong performances in the relay and 500 freestyle as well.

"A lot of our swimmers did well tonight in what was such a competitive meet," Nussbaum said. "I'm pleased with how the 200 freestyle went for me. There are so many great swimmers in each event here, so I just tried to get my best times."

Junior Thomas Dillinger gave Greenwich its second record of the meet, winning the 200 individual medley in 1:50.85. Daniel Williams of Staples was second and Edmundson took third for the Cardinals. Dillinger broke New Canaan's Christian Higgins' record time in the 200 IM of 1:53.53 in 2009.

"In the 200 I was going after the record," Dillinger said. "I was hoping to swim a 1:50. We're still a couple of weeks away from the State Open, so right now we're really starting to push ourselves."

The Cardinals went 1-3 in the 50-yard freestyle. Moss posted a winning time of 21.36. Tommy Kealy of Wilton finished second, followed by Greenwich's Julian Fraser. Lewis then followed with a record-setting performance in the 100 butterfly. Opening a lead during the second lap and extending it in the third, Lewis won the event in an FCIAC record finish of 49.04. Dan Madwed of Westhill/Stamford set the previous mark (50.45) in 2009. Thomas Kealy of Wilton was the runner-up, followed by Montesi of Greenwich. Read Full Article 

"I am swimming the 100 freestyle during states, so that was the last time in my high school career that I competed in the butterfly," Lewis said. "I was happy to finish it off with a victory."

In the 100 freestyle, Thomas Dunstan of New Canaan had a first-place finish in 46.91. Moss of Greenwich was second (48.17) and Michael DeLuca of Staples had a third-place finish.

Blansfield claimed the FCIAC record in the 500 freestyle in 4:35.35. Dillinger touched the wall second in 4:39.31. New Canaan's Stefan Pla won the breaststroke title in 1:00.66. Edmundson was the runner-up (1:00.92) and Christopher Woods of Staples took third (1:01.17). Pla's victory marked the ninth time in 10 years the Rams won the conference title in the breaststroke.

"Pla has been doing it for us all year," New Canaan coach David Fine said. "It's nice for our team to keep that breaststroke title. Dunstan is a talented swimmer he has also been leading us all season."

Westhill/Stamford coach Rick Lewis was proud of his squad's overall effort.

"It was a really good meet for us," said Lewis, whose squad placed 10th. "We went into the meet just expecting to improve our times since we're such a young team and we went out there and had a bunch of best times."

Blansfield successfully defended his title in the 500 freestyle. He touched the wall in a record time of 4:35.38, but he outdid himself Thursday, swimming a 4:35.35.

"Our team has improved so much this year," said Staples coach Frisk Driscoll, who received the FCIAC Coach of the Year Award Thursday night. "We had our best regular season in years and tonight, our top guys once again really stepped up."

After the Cards won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:27.06, Lewis established record No. 4 on the night for the team, taking the first-place medal in the 100 backstroke in 50.77. He set the previous mark in the event last season (51.65). Montesi placed second (51.87), Wilton's Bobby McDowell was third (53.37) and Greenwich's Andrew Stotesbery took fourth.

Greenwich's foursome of Ben Wurst, Stotesbery, Dillinger and Lewis put the finishing touch on the victory, winning the 400 freestyle in a time of 3:13.59.

david.fierro@scni.com; 203-625-4423

David Fierro

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