Ludlowe swimmers hold off Warde in back and forth meet

FAIRFIELD - Through seven events, the girls’ swimming and diving meet between Ludlowe and Warde was dead even. Much to the surprise of Falcons’ coach Sara Singer.

Last year, Ludlowe had dominated the meet between the two town-rivals, rolling to an easy victory but this time, the Mustangs had more depth on its roster and also had some serious emotion.

It was going to come down to which team could find that finishing kick over the last few events to take the victory.

Once again, it was the Falcons.

Ludlowe won the last six races, rallying for a 101-85 victory at the Fairfield University Rec Plex pool on Oct. 26.

“It was super stressful,” Singer said. “It was definitely a lot closer than I imagined it would be. Last year, Warde had just 16 girls and it was kind of a shoo-in for us … we came prepared, 100 percent, but Warde just did an awesome job. We weren’t expecting it. They gave us a good race.”

Sparked by Mustangs senior Katy Saladin, who was part of the winning 200-meter medley relay team (2:10.15), won the 200-meter individual medley (2:34.90) and was second in the 100-meter backstroke (1:07.21), Warde gave Ludlowe everything it could handle, and then some. Another standout for the Mustangs was senior Amelia Sicignano, who was also on the winning 200-meter medley relay team, was second in the 50-meter freestyle (:27.76), won the 100-meter butterfly (1:05.44) and was part of the 200-meter freestyle relay team that placed second (2:03.69).

“It was a really exciting meet,” Saladin said. “To be leading at the beginning … we definitely came out and gave it our all to make it that close. I know that Ludlowe was surprised by the numbers that we put out there. It’s been such a great season having so many more girls on the roster and getting so many more girls into events.”

Warde’s Fiona Joyce placed second in the 200-meter freestyle (2:27.43) and was second in the 500-meter freestyle (5:02.15). She also swam the opening leg of the 400-meter freestyle relay.

“If you look at the scores, we were neck and neck,” Warde coach Amy Radovic said. “We were up by two points, down by two points, it was an awesome meet for the girls to operate this this level of competition. The whole community comes out and the girls, many of them will never get this kind of exposure, that was a great experience, having everyone cheer each other on. Everyone is so supportive of each other on both sides of the pool. We might be two teams but we’re one town.”

Ludlowe trailed Warde 49-45 before Megan Phelan captured the 100-meter freestyle (1:02.92) to tie the match at 55-55. From there, the Falcons won the final five races to take the meet.

“Honestly, having that kind of stress on you and me telling them, ‘we need you to win,’ it’s stressful,” Singer said. “And for the girls to step up and take that stress and be pro-active and win races instead of shying back, that’s a huge milestone in their careers.”

Two huge keys for the Falcons were Sarah Grinalds and Lily Kernaghan. Grinalds -- a three-time Class LL champion, two-time State Open champ in the 50-yard freestyle and two-time Class LL and State Open champion in the 500-yard freestyle -- missed the first month of the season on college recruitment visits.

Now back, she won the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 4:29.05 -- winning the race by 33 seconds - and swimming the first leg in the 400-meter freestyle relay, she gave the Falcons a 12-second lead, more than enough to hold onto the win.

“Warde is always an awesome meet, there’s so much competition,” said Grinalds, who has visited Texas, Virginia, Florida, Harvard and Princeton and expects to make her college choice within the next month. “The energy was great. The place was shaking. I am upset that I missed so much time but now that I’m back, I feel like I almost never left. Everyone’s been great to have me back swimming again.”

Kernaghan won the 200-meter freestyle (2:34.90) and the 200-meter backstroke (1:06.36) along with swimming a leg on the winning 200-meter freestyle relay team and the 400-meter freestyle relay team.

Ludlowe also took the top two places in the diving portion, with Sarah McKinnis winning with a score of 208.40 points. May Fung was second with 159.80 points.

“It was a really exciting meet and to be ahead in the beginning, I feel like we definitely came out and gave it our all,” Saladin said. “We knew it was going to be close.”

Added Radovic: “It was very special for them (both teams) because it was the last time swimming in this pool. It might be a loss on paper for us bit this is nothing but a win. I can’t be any happier.”


(All races in meters)

200 Medley Relay - Warde: Katy Saladin, Jackie Forget, Amelia Sicignano, Julia Stellato (2:10.15)

200 Freestyle - Lily Kernaghan, Ludlowe (2:13.78)

200 IM - Saladin, Warde (2:34.90)

50 Freestyle - Sarah Grinalds, Ludlowe (:27.27)

Diving - Sarah McKinnis, Ludlowe (208.40)

100 Butterfly - Amelia Sicignano, Warde (1:05.44)

100 Freestyle - Megan Phelan, Ludlowe (1:02.92)

500 Freestyle - Grinalds, Ludlowe (4:29.05)

200 Freestyle Relay - Kernaghan, Quinn Cunningham, Lily Cumello, Phelan, Ludlowe (1:56.31)

100 Backstroke - Kernaghan, Ludlowe (1:06.36)

100 Breaststroke - Anna Close, Ludlowe (1:22.65)

400 Freestyle Relay - Grinalds, Cumello, Phelan, Kernaghan, Ludlowe (4:16.10).