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Boys Swimming Captures Team Title at The State Open for the 10th Straight Season

A group of athletes from the Greenwich High School boys swimming team gather with the championship sign after the Cardinals claimed the team title at the CIAC State Open Swimming Championships at Yale University on March 16, 2024, in New Haven. Photo by David Fierro

By David Fierro

After winning its 10th consecutive Class LL championship on Tuesday, Greenwich High School’s boys swimming team knew it was time to add its 10th straight State Open title to its collection Saturday in the much-anticipated season-ending meet before a big crowd at Yale University.

Like their performance at Tuesday’s Class LL competition at Wesleyan University, the Cardinals rose to the important occasion at the CIAC State Open Swimming Championship’s at Yale’s Kiphuth Memorial Exhibition Pool, continuing its storied dynasty.

Receiving outstanding efforts from numerous athletes, Greenwich captured the team title at the State Open championships for the 10th straight season and the 38th time overall, amassing 454 team points. Pomperaug finished second in the team standings at the State Open with a 407.5 points, while Norwalk/McMahon (390 points) and New Canaan (370.5) were third and fourth, respectively. Coached by Terry Lowe, who has guided Greenwich to all 38 of its State Open titles, the Cardinals won three events in Saturday’s meet at Yale and registered plenty of top-five finishes.

“It feels amazing,” said Greenwich senior Kegan Clark, who served as one of the squad’s captains. “We knew coming in we were going to have a tight one all three championship meets (FCIAC, Class LL, State Open) and I don’t think it could have been that much tighter. The team did amazing and everybody stepped up.”

Clark earned the gold medal in the 100-yard freestyle and was part of two winning relays for the Cardinals at the 2024 State Open. Senior Felix Flakstad, also a GHS captain, posted a second place individual finish and competed on two championship relays in Saturday’s seaso-ending competition.

“It’s amazing, after swimming under coach Lowe for close to 12 years at Rocky (Point Club) and at GHS and coming away with a win and a great season is just amazing,” Flakstad said. “I could not be happier with the performance of everyone on this team and it’s just a great way to end the season.”

Clark provided Greenwich’s first victory at the State Open, touching the wall first in the 100-yard freestyle. He finished the event in a winning time of 45.60 seconds, giving Greenwich 30 significant team points. New Canaan senior Deacon Mascarinas placed a close second in the 100 freestyle, earning the silver medal with a time of 46.05 seconds. Senior Mike Kvashchuk of Norwalk/McMahon placed third in the 100 freestyle (46.86).

“In the 100 freestyle, coach told me I was going to have to be out first,” Clark noted. “I knew I was going to have to have some speed going out and just be able to hold it and bring it back that’s what I did.”

The ultra-competitive State Open began with New Canaan’s foursome of junior Eric Huang, Mascarinas, junior Jack Haley and Oliver Carr winning the 200-yard medley relay title, combining for a time of 1:33.79. Norwalk/McMahon was the runner-up (1:34.34), followed by Pomperaug (1:34.97). Greenwich’s 200 medley relay group of sophomore Wim McCarthy, junior Luke Mendelsohn, junior Hadden Wood and sophomore Charlie Ginste took sixth (1:38.95), resulting in 46 points in the standings for the Cards.

In the next event, Haley earned top State Open honors in the 200-yard freestyle, clocking in at 1:38.90 (30 team points). Clark had a second-place finish for Greenwich (1:40.30, 27 points) and Ridgefield senior Jack Clancy was third in 1:40.35.

“It was amazing,” Clark said of the Cards winning another State Open championship. “I knew I had to step up this year being a captain of such an amazing team. Everybody did their part and beyond everybody’s expectations, including mine.”

The 200-yard individual medley was an event that saw the Cardinals score a lot of points. Flakstad placed second (1:52.67), Mendelsohn finished fourth in 1:53.45 and sophomore Colin Bucaria was 11th (1:58.32) for GHS, which totaled 68 team points in the 200 IM.

Sophomore Wyatt Vitiello representing Norwalk/McMahon captured the 200 IM State Open title, recording a time of 1:51.41. Junior Robert Regan from Pomperaug placed third in the race (1:53.24).

“It’s a dynasty and to have the honor of leading this team my senior year as a captain has been unlike any other,” said Flakstad, while reflecting on his senior season following Saturday’s championship meet. “I’m so grateful that the team and coach Lowe were able to bestow that honor upon me and have the trust in me that I could lead the way to another state championship this year.”

Lowe was especially impressed with how many athletes on the squad made significant contributions.

“This team really overachieved,” Lowe said. “We lost 13 seniors last year and we lost a couple of other kids that were juniors and I said how were we going to have enough manpower to win this thing?” But they got better and better and the top kids really took it on.”

Saturday’s State Open Championships included 50 teams and no program is close to Greenwich’s 38 Open titles. The Cardinals also have claimed 38 CIAC Class LL team championships.

“Kegan, Felix and Mendelsohn, we knew they were going to be the leaders in the water, but the other kids coming along made a big difference,” Lowe said of the total team effort the Cards received at the Open.

Junior Jake Melley had Greenwich’s top finish in the 50-yard freestyle, 21.94, 11th place). Benjamin Pope of E.O. Smith-Tolland, a sophomore, earned the first-place medal in the race, touching the wall in 21.13 seconds. Michael Ivanov of Fairfield co-op was the runner-up (21.31). In the State Open diving finals that took place on Thursday at Middletown High School, GHS senior Jacob Winston took 11th with a score of 390.40 points over 11 rounds on the 1-meter board. Teammate William Hanna, a sophomore, was 18th (324.55) in the diving event, which was captured by Fairfield co-op senior Finn Moynahan (567.75 points).

Members of the Greenwich High School boys swimming team, along with coaches Terry Lowe, far right and James Ramaley, left, signal No. 1, after the team won the title at the State Open Swimming Championships. Photo by David Fierro

Greenwich’s other two victories at the Open came in the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relays. Mendelsohn, Melley, Flakstad and Clark teamed up for a championship performance in the 200 freestyle relay, combining for a time of 1:25.01 (60 points in the team standings). Norwalk/McMahon was second in the 200 freestyle relay (1:25.31), followed by New Canaan (1:27.35). Fittingly, the meet concluded in championship fashion for GHS, as the quartet of Melley, Wood, Flakstad and Clark won the 400 freestyle relay in 3:07.44. New Canaan was second in 3:09.63

“It’s incredible, every year we come here with the same goal in mind,” Mendelsohn noted. “This isn’t an individual sport, you need every member of the team to do their job and that’s what everyone did today from the top to the bottom.”

Wood had Greenwich’s best finish in the 100-yard butterfly, posting a time of 52.16 seconds, good for eighth place. Melley was 11th for GHS (52.54) and teammate Greg Bound was 19th (53.37) in the race, which was won by Northwest Catholic junior Andrew Villani (50.75).

Haley’s second individual State Open gold medal for New Canaan came in the 500 freestyle. Showing his speed and stamina, Haley was the champion, touching the wall in 4:31.32. Junior Cody Lansberry of Enfield was the runner-up (4:32.46), while Jack Clancy of Ridgefield, a senior, took third (4:32.77). Flakstad was fourth in the 500 freestyle (4:36.25).

Mascarinas was the 100-yard breaststroke champion for New Canaan (56.56). Mendelsohn captured the silver medal in breaststroke (57.35) and Regan of Pomperaug took third (57.76). Bucaria finished 20th for GHS (1:02.17).

“It was great, I obviously have to hand it to Deacon, he’s super-fast and I’m very happy to hold my second place, especially here with the flat walls, turns are super hard, but I got the job done,” Mendelsohn noted.

Vitiello’s second individual State Open win for Norwalk/McMahon came in the 100 backstroke (50.83). Owen Tharrington of Fairfield Prep was second (51.12) and Huang from New Canaan finished third (51.60). McCarthy and junior Luke Merrill were 18th and 24th, respectively, in the 100 backstroke for the Cardinals.

Clark and Flakstad, who played pivotal roles in helping Greenwich continue its unprecedented swimming dynasty during their four seasons on the squad, will continue their respective athletic careers at the collegiate level.

Flakstad will join the swimming team at Williams College and Clark will compete at Gettysburg College.

“I’m really looking forward to competing against some difficult competition and try my hand at the collegiate level,” Flakstad said.

“I’m very excited, I know a couple of kids on the team,” Clark said. “I just can’t wait to go train with them too.”

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