New Canaan boys swim team still searching for first win after falling to Greenwich
The freshman made quite a splash in his varsity debut, winning two individual events for Greenwich, which was sparked by its underclassmen during its season-opener against rival New Canaan.
Dillinger won the 200 and 500-yard freestyle events, while sophomore Alex Lewis finished first in the 100-yard backstroke for the Cardinals in their 106-80 triumph against the visiting Rams.
The meet was tied at 55 following the 100 freestyle, but Greenwich took the lead for good at 64-62 after Dillinger won the 500 freestyle and opened a 12-point advantage with a 1-2 finish in the 200 freestyle relay. Dillinger's victory in the 500 was the most exciting race of the afternoon. Neck-and-neck with runner-up John Santoro of New Canaan, he edged Santoro in the last lap, touching the wall in 4 minutes, 50.37 seconds.
"Throughout the race we were neck-and-neck, which really got me motivated to keep going strong," said Dillinger, whose brother Andrew was a tri-captain on the team a year ago. "Because it was the first meet I was a little nervous, but in a way I was excited to see how the team was going to perform."
Longtime Cardinals coach Terry Lowe, who said Dillinger has the potential to be the team's best distance swimmer since All-American Andrew Trepp starred on the squad, left the meet very impressed with his latest star in the making.
"That was a great job by a freshman swimmer in the 500," Lowe said. "From a psychological point of view, I thought it was a big win for our team."
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The Cards (1-0) increased their lead with a 1-2-4 finish in the 100 backstroke. Lewis won the event with a time of :56.54, while sophomore Tyler Triscari finished second (:59.57).
"We put a lot of effort into this meet and had big performances from our young guys and experienced guys," Lewis said. "It was a great way to start the season. A win like this gives us confidence going into meets against teams like Fairfield Prep, Westhill and Darien."
New Canaan (1-2) was paced by first-place finishes from Ian Robert in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
"I'm real pleased with how we swam," New Canaan coach Jason Paige said. "The way we look in the water, I can't complain. We fought hard and had some real good races."
The Rams began the meet by winning the 200-yard medley relay in 1:40.64. Dillinger led from practically start to finish in winning the 200 freestyle (1:50.64).
Before competing in the 500 freestyle, Santoro posted a first-place time of 2:00.82 in the 200 individual medley. GHS sophomore Andrew Stotesbery placed second (2:03.72), followed by teammate Iain Edmundson, a freshman. Santoro swam a 4:51.49 in the 500 freestyle.
"The five free was a great race," Santoro said. "He (Dillinger) was real fast and I was not expecting that. We really pushed each other and we both ended up swimming very fast times. The times we swam are more like what you see during the postseason. He was a good opponent."
Robert's first victory came when he clocked in at :21.95 in the 50 freestyle. Senior co-captain Matthew Fraser was the runner-up for the Cards, who racked up points with numerous second and third-place finishes.
"I was very impressed with how we swam," Fraser said. "Our underclassmen really stepped it up and everyone did their job. We got those second and third-place finishes we needed and showed our depth."
Austin Wolff of New Canaan won the 100 butterfly (:52.47) after teammate Bobby Ross took first in the diving event (245.325) and Robert posted a first-place finish in the 100 freestyle (:48.39) for the Rams, who forged a 55-55 deadlock.
"Greenwich came out and swam well and so did we," Robert said. "We are all looking forward to seeing how it ends at FCIACs, states and the Open."
The Cardinals' depth was the difference during the final four events. After placing first and second in the 200 freestyle relay, GHS placed 1-2-4 in the 100 backstroke and 2-3-4 in the 100 breaststroke. Lewis won the backstroke (:56.54), while Ned Thunem of New Canaan placed first in the breaststroke (1:03.19). Greenwich's quartet of freshmen Will Belmont, Dillinger, Stotesbery and Lewis capped the day by winning the 400 freestyle relay (3:25.59).