Fairfield Ludlowe split and Warde was swept as they began their next chapter in boys swimming and diving Wednesday afternoon at the Wilton YMCA in a triple-dual meet against each other and host Wilton. Until Wednesday, after Fairfield High School split into Warde and Ludlowe for the start of the 2005-06 school year, Falcons and Mustangs boys swimmers and divers competed together on a co-op team. But new teams, one for each high school, were created for the 2013-14 school year.
Ludlowe beat Warde 89-77, and Wilton earned two victories by defeating Ludlowe 92-71 and Warde by 109-56. Warde coach Sara Peck and Ludlowe coach Alan Marcel were happy with their swimmers performances in the first meets of their teams' histories apart. Peck finished her second season as the Falcons' girls coach in the fall after serving as a Mustangs' assistant coach the year before in 2011-12.
Peck predicted during the preseason that Ludlowe would have the head-to-head advantage over Warde based simply on roster size. The Falcons have 22 swimmers on the team, with seven seniors and sophomores each, five juniors and three freshmen; the Mustangs have 15 athletes on their roster, with six sophomores, five ninth-graders, two seniors and two juniors.
"It's a shame we have to swim against Ludlowe in our first meet," Peck said. "Obviously, the score was close. We held our own. I didn't know how good Ludlowe was going to be."
The atmosphere surrounding the meet was familiar to their co-op experience. Warde and Ludlowe shared a bus to Wilton. And the swimmers were not in any stare-down, psyche-out-the-opposition kind of a mode.
"There were a lot of speeches and pep talks," Peck said of the ride to the meet. "They're all frienemies."
But this is not a one-shot deal. Each Fairfield team's meets against the Westhill/Stamford co-op, Greenwich, Staples, New Canaan, Trumbull, Ridgefield and Darien, all on the road, will feature Ludlowe and Warde competing in those pools against those teams in dual meets. The Mustangs and Falcons will compete against the McMahon/Norwalk co-op on different days.
"Wilton killed us," Marcel said. "They're one of the top teams (in the FCIAC) every year. I cannot complain. Their swimmers have been swimming for a lot longer than my boys have." Wilton was runner-up to Pomperaug-Southbury in last year's CIAC Class L championship meet in which the Fairfield co-op placed sixth among the 22 schools that scored.
"I'm just trying to point our boys in the right direction. I knew I had some swimmers who were club swimmers who I could push more and that I knew I could get faster and train them for this year's Class L meet," Marcel said.
Ludlowe sophomore John Whiteside finished first against Wilton -- and versus the Mustangs as well -- in the 200-yard individual medley, in 2 minutes and 5.99 seconds, and in the 100-yard backstroke (53.9), a pair of good times, Marcel said. Senior Corbinian Wanner was runner-up to the Warriors in the 500 freestyle in 5:14.6. Wilton swimmers won all of the other events until the 100 breaststroke when Warriors coach' Todd Stevens entered his swimmers in exhibitions (not counting toward the final score) after they had built an insurmountable 96-44 lead.
Warde sophomore Niko Gupta (2:09.1) won the individual medley against Wilton, but placed second to Whiteside. Warriors swimmers beat the Mustangs in all other events until the 100 breaststroke, at which time Stevens entered his swimmers in exhibitions once Wilton had jumped to a 109-31 lead.
In the cross-town dual meet, Ludlowe earned victories over Warde in the 200-yard medley relay (Whiteside, Wanner, junior Peter Berens, senior Eric Ahlberg); 200 freestyle (Berens); 100 butterfly (Berens); 100 freestyle (Ahlberg); 500 freestyle (Wanner); and 200 freestyle relay (Whiteside, Ahlberg, Wanner, Berens).
The Mustangs earned wins over the Falcons in the 50 freestyle (sophomore Kevin Appleson); 100 breaststroke (senior Zach Roberge); 400-yard freestyle relay (freshman Daniel Knorr, Appleson, freshman Joe McKee, Gupta); and 100 breaststroke (sophomore Jacob Rodier). Gupta was runner-up against Ludlowe not only in the individual medley but in the 100 butterfly as well. Freshman Jesmond Bollman was runner-up to Rodier in the breaststroke.
"Our 100 and 50 freestyles were definitely our strongest events across the board," Peck said. "All three swimmers in those events swam well. We've got to work on our depth as far as the other strokes besides the freestyle."
firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-255-4561 ext. 113; twitter.com/ReidWalmark