New Canaan swims past Darien
Updated 9:05 pm, Wednesday, February 6, 2013
NEW CANAAN -- Whenever the New Canaan and Darien boys swimming teams face off and renew their rivalry, the stakes are always just a little bit higher than normal.
Wednesday was no exception as the two programs took to the pool at the New Canaan YMCA in the second to last home meet of the season for the Rams. After New Canaan took the time at the midpoint of the meet to honor the seniors on both teams with a brief ceremony, the Rams were able to give their upperclassmen the parting gift of a 100-86 victory over the Blue Wave in an emotionally charged meet.
For senior tri-captain Ned Thunem, who took first place in the 200-yard individual medley (2:05.78) and the 100 butterfly (55.81) there was no better way for his final meet against Darien to end.
"I remember last season being unable to beat Darien and making it goal that we didn't allow that to happen this time around," Thunem said. "It's a great feeling to get this victory especially in front of our family and friends who came out to support us."
The home team set the tone early, taking the top time in the 200 medley relay behind the efforts of tri-captain Brian Bodick, Andrew Higgins, Stefan Pla, and Thomas Dunstan (1:44.66). It would be the first of three relay victories for the Rams as Jacob Geyfman, tri-captain Stephen Skaperdas, Pla, and Thunem placed first in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:34.40. The Rams (7-2) capped off their victory in the 400 freestyle relay with Geyfman, Skaperdas, Thunem, and Dunstan swimming a blazing 3:29.25, more than four seconds better than their nearest competition.
"Coming into this meet I don't think anyone of us were sure of what today's outcome was going to be because we knew how tough Darien can be," Skaperdas said. "But I honestly feel like this win really confirms just how good we can be. We're a team to be reckoned with moving forward and once we get into the championships I think we'll surprise some people."
In addition to his relay success Skaperdas also posted first place times in the 200 freestyle (1:48.06) and the 500 freestyle (4:57.85) while Dunstan impressed with a top time in the 100 backstroke (56.52) and Andrew Higgins dominated the breaststroke (1:03.59). Yet the meet remained close throughout, due in large part to Darien's Owen Brannigan first place performance in the 50 freestyle (23.68) and Lee Christianson's prowess in diving, which garnered the top point total of 253.60. According to Blue Wave coach Dennis Flores, his team swam its heart out, but in the end simply ran out of gas.
"I feel like the boys did a really good job and swam some great races today," Flores said. "We were really gassed by the end of this meet and just fell a little short. We had some guys swimming back to back races today but to their credit they fought to the very end."
The Darien (5-3) boys will next travel to Norwalk for meet this Monday with the Brien McMahon/Norwalk co-op team It will be one of the of the Blue Wave's final two meets before the championships begin.
"What our guys need right now is a little rest and some time to work on the little things in each event," Flores said. "Because by the time you get to the championships it's those little aspects that can separate you from the rest of the pack."
The Rams will also be focused on the championships ahead, but will first set their sights on Wilton who they will host on Tuesday. And while this was a day to pay homage to the departing seniors it was also a chance to take a glimpse into the bright and promising future of New Canaan.
"To have our senior day culminate with a win over Darien is amazing but I think you also saw that this program is in good hands going forward," Bodick said. "Throughout this season we've tried to give the underclassmen direction with the hope that they will know how to lead this team in the coming years. With young swimmers like Dunstan and Trey Oehmler I'm confident that this program is in good hands."
New Canaan 100, Darien 86
Records: NC 7-2; D 5-3
200 medley relay -- 1. New Canaan 1:44.66; 200 freestyle -- 1. Stephen Skaperdas (NC) 1:48.06; 200 individual medley -- 1. Ned Thunem (NC) 2:05.78; 50 freestyle -- 1. Owen Brannigan (D) 23.68; Diving -- 1. Lee Christianson (D) 253.60; 100 butterfly -- 1. Thunem (NC) 55.81; 100 freestyle -- 1. Thomas Dunstan (NC) 50.56; 500 freestyle -- 1. Skaperdas (NC) 4:57.85; 200 freestyle relay -- 1. New Canaan 1:34.40; 100 backstroke -- 1. Dunstan (NC) 56.52; 100 breaststroke -- Andrew Higgins (NC) 1:03.59; 400 freestyle relay-- New Canaan 3:29.25.