Friday, June 25, 2021

Sports

North Haven Girls’ Swimming Grateful to Compete in 2020

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Senior captain Maddie Bergin capped off a decorated career as a North Haven swimmer by breaking five school records during the 2020 campaign. Bergin helped North Haven go 6-2 in the regular season and then take fourth place at the SCC Virtual Championship this fall. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain Maddie Bergin capped off a decorated career as a North Haven swimmer by breaking five school records during the 2020 campaign. Bergin helped North Haven go 6-2 in the regular season and then take fourth place at the SCC Virtual Championship this fall. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Mikayla Rapuano had a great season for the North Haven girls’ swimming and diving squad that saw the sophomore claim sixth place in the SCC for the 100 backstroke. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Mikayla Rapuano had a great season for the North Haven girls’ swimming and diving squad that saw the sophomore claim sixth place in the SCC for the 100 backstroke. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Junior Chandler Ceste-Martinez keeps getting better every year on the diving board. This year, Ceste-Martinez scored 269.95 points for a ninth-place performance in the diving competition at the SCC Championship meet. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Junior Chandler Ceste-Martinez keeps getting better every year on the diving board. This year, Ceste-Martinez scored 269.95 points for a ninth-place performance in the diving competition at the SCC Championship meet. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Sophomore Makenzie Alogna is one of several up-and-coming underclass athletes who competed for North Haven when the SCC held its Virtual Championship at the end of the season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Sophomore Makenzie Alogna is one of several up-and-coming underclass athletes who competed for North Haven when the SCC held its Virtual Championship at the end of the season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

The North Haven girls’ swimming and diving team had a lot to contend with this year, but one thing that Head Coach Martha Phelan’s squad couldn’t contend with was any opponents in the other lanes during its races. However, in a season that saw North Haven exclusively compete in virtual meets, the reality was that Coach Phelan’s team stayed motivated and posted excellent performances throughout the campaign.

Each week, North Haven competed at its home site of Walter Gawrych Community Pool on that Monday. North Haven’s opponents would then compete at their home pools either that same day or later in the week. After that, the performances for each team were compared to one another in order to determine the winner of the meet.

While the format was vastly different, North Haven still recorded the same excellent results for which the program is known. Coach Phelan’s club finished the regular season with a record of 6-2 and then put together a strong showing at the Southern Connecticut Conference Virtual Championship by taking fourth place for both the Division I standings and the SCC outright.

“I think we did an amazing job adjusting to all of the changes that were presented to us at the beginning of the season. We worked through all of the uncertainties and worked through a pause of the season, and it actually went much better than I thought it would,” Coach Phelan said. “We told the girls that we were either going to do this the right away or not at all, and the girls totally embraced it. Looking back, I am amazed that we got through it and did as well as we did. The girls got their season in, and I am grateful of that, especially for the seniors.”

It took North Haven’s athletes a little while to get used to competing in virtual meets. Everyone missed the excitement that comes with two clubs rooting on their teammates from the pool deck with the bleachers packed full of people. However, even with no opponents in the neighboring lanes, Coach Phelan said that her athletes bought into the concept of trying to top their own personal- best performances and used that as a source of motivation.

“Even though we didn’t have a live meet, we had to find that fire inside to race against that imaginary person every time we competed,” said Phelan. “Initially, the girls were finding it strange to have a meet with no other team there and not knowing the final score until we shared the times. It took some adjusting, but after that first meet, I don’t think that anyone could complain. The girls were great at motivating each other, and there was a lot of cheering. We didn’t know if we would have a full season, so we approached every meet like a championship meet, and it seemed to work.”

North Haven’s campaign was in question after sports were put on pause late in the season following a positive COVID-19 case at the high school. This resulted in North Haven’s Senior Night meet being pushed back a week.

However, on Nov. 6, the team returned to competition for its Senior Night matchup at Walter Gawrych Community Pool. North Haven’s underclass athletes decorated the pool as usual, and every athlete was granted a spectator pass that allowed one person to attend on her behalf. The Senior Night ceremony went off without a hitch, and North Haven completed its regular season by earning victories versus Daniel Hand and Lauralton Hall.

“It meant everything to be able to celebrate and have the tradition that we always have. You never would have known that we were experiencing a global pandemic on the day of the Senior Night meet,” Coach Phelan said. “It was very emotional. There were a lot of tears—tears of joy, tears of sadness. This season was like walking a tightrope, and so I’m happy for the seniors that they had their chance to shine.”

Following the Senior Night festivities, North Haven hit the water for the final time when the team competed at the SCC Virtual Championship. Between Oct. 26 and Nov. 10, all 17 teams in the conference competed at their respective home sites, after which their performances were tabulated in order to score out the standings for Division I, Division II, and the SCC outright. North Haven finished in fourth place for both the Division I standings and the overall conference standings.

“The kids rose to the occasion,” said Phelan. “We had so many kids do lifetime-best performances.”

Senior captain Maddie Bergin put a bow on a phenomenal career as a North Haven swimmer by claiming second place for two events in both Division I and the SCC. Bergin swam a time of 24.05 seconds in the 50 freestyle to go with a time of 52.04 for the 100 freestyle on her way to earning a pair of runner-up honors. Bergin garnered All-SCC accolades in each event and was also selected as the SCC Division I Athlete of the Year for girls’ swimming and diving. She finished her high school career having won the 50 freestyle twice at the SCC Championship and the Class M State Championship, in addition to winning 100 freestyle three times at SCCs and twice in states.

When all of the conference meets in the state were completed, the performances from those competitions were pieced together to form rankings in each event—sort of an unofficial State Open. Bergin finished second in the 100 freestyle and fifth in the 50 freestyle in those standings.

On top of her postseason achievements, Bergin also broke five school records during the regular season. Bergin, who has committed to swim at Division I Fordham University in New York City, set school records in the 50 freestyle (23.78), the 100 freestyle (51.95), the 100 butterfly (59.07), the 200 freestyle (1:53.92), and the 500 freestyle (5:05.08) this year.

“What Maddie accomplished this season showed her incredible talent and maturity. She is probably the most decorated swimmer in the history of the program all-time right now,” Coach Phelan said. “The fact that Maddie set school records in five events that are very different shows how talented and versatile she is. I could put her in any event if I needed to for a specific matchup. Fordham University is getting a great swimmer and student-athlete in Maddie Bergin. She’s a great role model who stays humble and is always supportive of her teammates. She’s the total package.”

Coach Phelan also had nothing but good things to say about senior captains Riley Jooss and Alyssa Laborde. Jooss posted a season-best time of 2:02.85 in the 200 freestyle on her way to placing 10th in Division I and 12th for the conference at the SCC meet. She also finished 10th in the division and 11th in the conference for the 500 freestyle by swimming a time of 5:33.95. Jooss will continue her career at Merrimack College, a Division I school in Massachusetts.

“I was using Riley in the [200 individual medley] and the 100 butterfly, but then I changed her to the 200 free and the 500 freestyle, and she was great about going where I needed her to score points for the team,” said Phelan. “Riley is a hard worker and a loyal captain. She’s also a high honors student who has excelled for the past four years in the classroom and the pool.”

Laborde finished with a time of 59.48 in the 100 freestyle at the SCC meet, finishing 14th in the division and 17th for the conference. In the 50 freestyle, Laborde was tied for 19th in Division I and 27th in the SCC with her time of 27.27.

“Alyssa did a great job in the 50 and 100 free this year, and she was also a great extension of the coaching staff when it came to keeping the team focused and informed,” Phelan said. “They were attending school remotely, so a lot of the girls wouldn’t see each other until practice. So, when I needed to communicate with the team, Alyssa—and Riley and Maddie, too—made my job a lot easier by doing a great job of keeping the team connected, even though they weren’t at school in person.”

Aside from the captains, North Haven’s senior class also featured Molly Coyle, who swam the 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, and 200 IM; along with Ava Guidone and Nicole Reynolds, who each competed in sprint freestyle events. Coach Phelan praised all of her seniors for how they performed both in and out of the pool while leading the team this season. Even though North Haven didn’t have an opportunity to defend its state title, Phelan said that her seniors etched their legacy in school history by helping North Haven take first place at last year’s Class M State Championship.

Despite the loss of the six seniors, North Haven will still have plenty of talented athletes returning next season. This includes people like sophomores Alice Scalmani and Mikayla Rapuano, who both turned in stellar showings at the SCC’s championship meets.

Scalmani notched a lifetime-best mark of 2:17.31 in the 200 IM to finish fifth in Division I and seventh in the SCC. She also swam a season-best time of 1:12.03 in the 100 breaststroke to finish fifth in the division and seventh for the conference.

Rapuano swam a lifetime-best time of 59.63 in the 100 butterfly to finish fifth in both the division and the conference. In the 100 backstroke, Rapuano timed in at 1:02.27 take fifth place in Division I and sixth place in the SCC. Rapuano’s butterfly time was the 15th-best in the state in the unofficial rankings.

Junior Chandler Ceste-Martinez scored 269.95 points for North Haven in the SCC’s diving competition. Ceste-Martinez finished sixth in the division and ninth for the conference with her point total. North Haven’s diving coach is Bob Lewis.

North Haven’s junior class additionally includes El-Lana Coleman (diver), Giulia Faulkner (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, and 200 IM), Grace Finch (sprint freestyles), Olivia Grimm (sprint freestyles), Taya Laborde (sprint freestyles), Brooke Nebor (100 backstroke and 100 butterfly), Abrielle Osborne (100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke, and 200 IM), and Sarthi Shah (sprint freestyles).

North Haven’s other sophomores are Makenzie Alogna (100 breaststroke and 200 IM), Victoria Pachnik (200 freestyle and 500 freestyle), and Tara Stoeffler (200 freestyle and 500 freestyle).

The freshmen on the squad are Victoria DeMagistris (sprint freestyles), Madisen Karavas (sprint freestyles and 100 breaststroke), Alexis Knapp (diver), Morgan Nunez (sprint freestyles), and Fiona Rosano (sprint freestyles).

In the end, the 2020 fall season turned out to be a memorable one for the North Haven girls’ swimming and diving team. While it was anything but your typical campaign, Coach Phelan expressed tremendous gratitude that North Haven was able to compete and continue its tradition as one of the top squads in the state.

“I think the one word that sums it up is grateful. I am just grateful that we had a season, and I know that the team is, as well,” said Phelan. “The girls understood how special it was to be together, and they didn’t squander their opportunity. They did the best they could, and they did a great job. I certainly couldn’t be prouder.”




Chris Piccirillo is the Sports Editor for Zip06. Email Chris at c.piccirillo@shorepublishing.com.

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