After Fairfield Prep concluded an undefeated season by winning the State Open championship, coach Bruce Jaffe called it a career after 46 years and Lowe attended his retirement party.
"I brought back a T-shirt from the party that said `Fairfield Prep LL champions, State Open champions, undefeated season,' " said Lowe, whose team placed third at the State Open and second at the Class LL meet last season. "I'm going to wear it at our practice sometimes to remind the team that last year someone had their number."
Whether or not the Cardinals will produce a successful season is never a question. With 41 FCIAC titles and 29 State Open championships to their ledger, the traditionally strong Cardinals will always be among the premier squads in the state. For Greenwich, each year it's a case of whether it can claim a triple crown -- the FCIAC, LL and State Open championships.
"I'm sure if you ask everyone on the team they will tell you the goal is to win all three," said Lowe, who has guided the Cardinals to all of their championships over the years. "We always keep the ultimate prize in mind. I hope we can reach that level, it's certainly going to be close. It's going to be a dogfight."
With all but two swimmers returning from last season's FCIAC championship team, defending conference champion Greenwich has the talent to make plenty of waves this winter.
"We have a lot of swimmers returning and a lot of incoming swimmers who are doing well," Cardinals senior Luca Fikre said. "They are going to be the drive forces of our team."
Fikre, who will swim the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly is a co-captain along with Alex Lewis. A versatile swimmer, Lewis can compete in the 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 50 freestyle and will be one of the team's go-to guys in the relay events. Lewis, who placed third at the State Open meet in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 100 freestyle, set the school record in the 100 backstroke as a sophomore last year.
"Alex is a great leader in the water, he sets such a high practice standard," Lowe said. "He has great strokes and really demands a lot of himself in every workout. We hope he's the first guy in the state to break 50 seconds in the backstroke this year. Luca is also really evolving into a leader."
Sophomore Thomas Dillinger (200, 500 freestyle), senior Matt Fraser (200, 50 freestyle), junior Julian Fraser (sprint freestyle) and sophomore Ed Moss (sprint freestyle), all of whom had successful seasons a year ago, are also primed to make their mark.
"We had a strong season last year, but we definitely want to come back from that and win it all this year," Fikre said. "Our team is built on a successful tradition, so we have big shoes to fill. Fairfield Prep is the team we're going for -- they are the No. 1 target."
At the helm: Lowe is entering his 45th season as the Cardinals swimming coach -- a team that's maintained its standing as the most successful program in the state under his watch. GHS has captured 41 FCIAC titles the past 42 years and 29 State Open championships during Lowe's tenure.
WHO'S GONE?: James O'Sullivan, who served as one of the Cards' captains, was the lone swimmer from last season's squad that graduated. Will Belmont, who had an impressive freshman season, transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy.
WHO'S BACK?: The Cardinals return everyone who scored at the State Open last year. Lewis showed he was one of the best swimmers in the state as a sophomore last winter, excelling in each event he swam. Dillinger showed he is a premier distance swimmer in his first season with the team as a freshman last year, registering eighth-place finishes in the 200 and 500 freestyle at the State Open.
Julian Fraser had a breakthrough season in the sprint freestyle events, while Matt Fraser posted strong results in all freestyle events. Moss made his freshman year on the team one to remember last season, placing among the top 15 at the State Open in the 50 freestyle. Sophomore Iain Edmundson, senior Will Klingner and junior Andrew Stotesbery give the team strength in the 100 backstroke. Edmundson is also slated to swim the 100 breaststroke, while the versatile Stotesbery will see time in numerous events.
Junior Tyler Triscari (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke), senior Kevin Parker (100 backtroke), junior Ben Wurst (200, 500 freestyle), senior William Bonebrake, junior Taylor Moore (butterfly, individual medley) and also return. Freshman Jack Montesi (200 individual medley, butterfly) is a talented newcomer to GHS.
"We can cover ourselves in every event," Low said. "We just hope our depth is a little bit higher than it was last year."
WATCH OUT FOR: Sophomore diver Andrew Bologna joins the team, giving the Cardinals depth on the board.
STRENGTHS: "Our relays are a strength, we're returning all of the depth we had last year in the relays," Fikre said.
The Cardinals have outstanding frontline swimmers in Lewis, Dillinger, Moss and Matt and Julian Fraser, all of whom should score plenty of points for the squad.
WEAKNESSES: The Cardinals need numerous swimmers step up in order to contend with the top-tier teams such as Fairfield Prep, New Canaan, Darien and Wilton.
"Fairfield Prep is certainly the favorite to repeat as LL and State Open champions," Lowe said. "They really have some top-notch swimmers. They have the depth, the balance and return almost everyone from last year. If we don't see vast improvement from our mid-level swimmers it's not going to happen for us."
SHOWDOWNS: The Cardinals will have home meets against Westhill (Wednesday), New Canaan (Jan. 9), Danbury (Jan. 25) and Wilton (Feb. 6). They will travel to Ridgefield, which is considered one of the better teams in the league this year, on Jan. 4. Rival Fairfield Prep will host the Cards on Jan. 26 and Greenwich will visit Darien on Feb. 1.
DID YOU KNOW?: Greenwich won an astounding 19 consecutive Class LL titles before Fairfield Prep broke the streak last season.