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The athletes on the Hand boys’ swimming and diving squad have been turning in plenty of proud performances during the 2021 campaign, including a school-record performance from freshmen Elliot Lee in the 100 butterfly. Pictured are Tigers’ Head Coach Christina Forristall with Lee and Assistant Coach Scott Butler. (Photo courtesy of Christina Forristall )
Junior Alex Houser is competing on the diving board for the Tigers this winter. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Every member of the Hand boys’ swimming and diving team makes a big difference. With 11 athletes on the roster, Head Coach Christina Forristall knows that the Tigers need to receive contributions from everyone in order to succeed.
Coach Forristall describes Hand as a “very small, but strong team” in the 2021 winter season. While the roster may be small, Forristall likes the fact that the Tigers feature a corps of athletes who can swim a wide variety of events.
“Our strength right now is how diverse our swimmers are. We can put just about anyone in any event and see strong swims,” Forristall said. “These boys started the season with something to prove not only to themselves, but to the Class of 2020, who didn’t get to finish their season last year. They have trained hard during our shortened season, and it has shown with not only in-season best times, but personal-best times.”
Hand is being led by senior captains Chris Pellegrino and Rowan O’Connor this season. Pellegrino swims the 50 freestyle along with the 100, 200, and 500 freestyles for the Tigers. O’Connor competes in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyles and also the 100 breaststroke. Hand’s roster also includes freshman Elliot Lee, who has already broken the school’s 100 butterfly record with a time of 53.65 seconds.
The Tigers have a record of 1-8 for the dual-meet season. Despite the struggles in the win-loss column, Coach Forristall has been pleased to see her athletes adhering to the core values of the program.
“We knew with this small of a team wins would be difficult. We have been focused on keeping our team culture and philosophy a priority,” said Forristall. “We believe that by working together and supporting one another, everyone achieves more. We are excited for our last few meets of this season and seeing what times we can put up for our virtual SCC Championship meet on [Friday] March 19.”
Hand’s roster also includes senior Jake Beiner, junior diver Alex Hauser and fellow juniors JD Starkey, Jack Signorello, Jr., and Ian Looby; sophomore Jonah Kehew; and freshmen Nate Brasky and Alex Marino. Kehew and Lee are Hand’s 200 individual medley specialists, while Beiner, Marino, and Brasky all compete in the 50 freestyle.
Hand has been participating in virtual meets throughout the season. In their most-recent contest, the Tigers took a 102-76 loss to Fairfield Prep. Hand turned in its performances at Madison Racquet & Swim Club on March 5, after which Fairfield Prep competed at Fairfield University on March 9.
Despite the loss, Hand had several first-place finishers at the meet. Signorello took first place in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:51.83, besting Prep’s Nathaniel Duffy by less than a second for top honors. Signorello was also first for the 500 freestyle, finishing in 4:59.40. Lee claimed first place in the 200 IM with a time of 1:57.41 and also finished first in the 100 backstroke at 54.13.
The Tigers also had two relay teams that finished in first place. The 200 medley relay of Kehew, Lee, Starkey, and Looby finished first with a time of 1:47.44. Hand’s 400 freestyle relay of Signorello, Pellegrino, Lee, and Starkey posted a time of 3:30.75 to take first place for Coach Forristall’s squad.
The Tigers’ pool deck also includes two swimmers from Old Saybrook High School—senior Kyle Wisialowski and freshman Landon Frazier—who each compete as a team-of-one on behalf of the Rams. Coach Forristall considers Wisialowski and Frazier just as much a part of the team as the athletes who go to Hand.
One of the biggest challenges of this season is that Hand has been competing in virtual meets throughout the year. Coach Forristall feels that her athletes are handling that adjustment nicely and are even using the unique format to step out of their comfort zones a bit.
“This year has really reinforced and, in some instances taught, these boys self-drive. Racing a competitor they will never see this season has changed many of their racing strategies. For some, it has given them the confidence to race different events they might have been more intimidated to race against a strong competitor,” said Forristall. “The boys have had to learn how to race against the clock, pushing themselves and each other in new ways. They have really risen to the occasion and been beyond supportive and encouraging of one another.”
Above all, Coach Forristall feels proud of how the Tigers have maintained their composure throughout a stressful season. Forristall said that her team has adapted and overcome through its abundance of dedication and caution.
“I am really proud of this team and their ability to adapt to adversity whenever it has been thrown at them,” Forristall said. “While this season was very different than the seasons before, this team remains grateful they were able to have a season, stay safe, and be a great example of what commitment to a team looks like.”