Last year, the Cheshire High School boys’ swim and dive team prepared all season for the chance to swim on the state level, but due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the class and State Open meets were canceled in March.
“It was tough to not get to finish the season,” reflected Justin Finkel, a senior tri-captain with Harrison Hua and Noah Duncan.
While there will be no state championships again this year, the Rams are thankful to have the opportunity to compete again. In virtual fashion last Friday at the Cheshire Community Pool, CHS kicked off the winter season with a 92-83 win over Amity.
“It is great to be back with the team,” said Duncan. “We are happy to get to have a season this year.”
In virtual meets, teammates compete against each other and then the scores and times are put together at the end of the meets.
“I think they (virtual meets) are harder for the swimmers than the divers,” said Duncan. “As a diver, I can see the officials giving the scores, but the swimmers can’t see the other team that they are racing against.”
Cheshire athletes aren’t the only ones adjusting to change. Since Kevin Reeder started a new job this year, he felt that he couldn’t commit to coaching the Rams, so CHS girls’ swim and dive head coach Dave Modzelewski was asked to work with the boys on an interim basis.
“Since the season got pushed back due to COVID, there were a bunch of kids who chose to just swim for (Cheshire Y) Sea Dogs this year,” said Modzelewski. “At the start, it was a challenge not knowing who was going to come out for the team, but the guys have been working hard in practice.”
Since the girls’ team competed virtually last fall, Modzelewski felt comfortable running meets this year.
“It is a big advantage. I have every thing organized already,” said Modzelewski.
Cheshire boys have just 24 athletes this season, but versatility is one of the team’s strengths. In the opener, Finkel won all of his four events. Hua, junior Anmol Sapru, and sophomore Silas Wang were triple-winners.
Individually, Finkel swept the 200- (1:51.35) and 500-yard (4:53.17) freestyles.
“I thought my 200 time was OK, but I was really happy with how I did in the 500,” said Finkel.
In the opening 200-yard medley relay, Finkel teamed with junior Wes Johnson, Hua, and Sapru to win in 1:45.17. To end the meet, Finkel and Hua also joined senior Martin Adlianitski, and Wang to clock the top time in the 400-yard freestyle race (3:31.46).
“Justin and Harry (Hua) have done a great job this year,” stated Modzelewski. “They are leading the swim team in practice.”
Hua was an individual winner in the 200-yard individual medley (2:05.22) and took second in the 100-yard freestyle (51.79).
“Those were the events that I swam in the SCC (Southern Connecticut Conference) meet last year, so it is good to see where I am right now,” stated Hua.
Sapru (100-yard butterfly, 56.09) and Wang (100-yard breaststroke, 1:07.16) added individual victories. Johnson, Sapru, sophomore Alex Fang, and Wang combined to earn first place in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:38.87).
In diving, Duncan opened the year with a winning score of 231.75. He has led the Rams diving team for the last two seasons.
Diving Coach Patty Conte expects Duncan to earn All-SCC honors again.
“I think being a captain is a good role for him,” said Conte. “He is a hard worker and a great leader.”
In a seven-member diving team, Duncan and Nils Larson are leading in their final season.
“It (senior year) catches up on you,” said Duncan. “It is crazy that I only have one season left.”
Larson is dealing with injuries right now, but Conte feels that he will contribute when he comes back.
“We don’t know where the SCC (SCC) meet will be this year, but I think we could get two or three guys in the top 10,” stated Conte.
Tuesday’s meet against Daniel Hand was past press time. For virtual meets against Xavier (Friday) and Fairfield Prep (Feb. 23), CHS will compete from CCP at 3 p.m.