A series of fateful days began on Friday, January 4th, when the Woodland Boys’ Swim Team reached their first record-breaking victory against Torrington. With that confidence-booster, the team decided not to stop there. Over the course of their season, the swimmers steamrolled their obstacles like they were rubber ducks in a bathtub, scoring four historic victories against Torrington, Sacred Heart, Watertown, and Naugatuck. Their confidence growing with every triumph, the team gained their first victory against Seymour in four years and carried an undefeated league record until February 1st.
Going into the season, the boys were ready to swim their hardest. Joe Flaherty, a four-year veteran swimmer, knew that everyone would need to try their best this season.
“I was focused on doing my best times and putting in 100% effort,” said Flaherty.
Greg Aldrich, a senior captain, looked forward to the season and to seeing his teammates, both old and new.
“I knew that we would have a lot of freshman coming in, which is huge for us because we’re usually a small team,” he said. “Our team feels like a family. We don’t just show up to practice, get our work done and go home. This team is something different…and I want to make the best of it while I’m still a part of something so special.”
The boys’ first meet of the season was against Oxford, yet Torrington was Woodland’s first major victory. Woodland triumphed for against Torrington for the first time ever in NVL history, with a score of 92-62.
“It felt pretty good because we were finally able to realize the kind of potential that our team has,” says Flaherty. “To be able to beat a team like that for the first time in history was a real confidence booster.”
After the Torrington meet, the swimmers found a determination that would take them all the way to Woodland history. They decided that they wanted to win, desired fulfill their dreams of an undefeated season and NVL gold. Over the course of the next week and a half, Woodland competed against Kennedy, Crosby and Waterbury Career Academy, and defeated all those teams with an untouched lead. These meets were preparation for the meet against the formidable Seymour on January 15th. Although Woodland has triumphed over Seymour before, even the most veteran swimmers on this year’s team hadn’t seen the vibrant blue and yellow in defeat. The swimmers were determined to change that.
Woodland vanquished Seymour 86-81. Perhaps their blue and yellow spirit looked a bit more faded with shame after their loss.
The next meet took place on January 18th, where Woodland made further history in beating Sacred Heart, 91-73.
The swim team also took a victory Wilby on January 25. Unfortunately, their undefeated record was broken with a loss against Holy Cross on February 1, but on a lighter note, the team defeated Watertown for the first time ever on February 8.
The culmination of the team’s season arrived on February 15th with a sense of heightened school spirit to compete against Naugatuck. The Woodland-Naugatuck rivalry is infamous in all NVL sports; naturally, the swimmers were excited to swim against the school. As the meet progressed, it became clear that this would not be an easy victory. In fact, Woodland’s win was determined by the last relay, in which Greg Aldrich was the anchor. The score had been close all meet, and at the final race it was 87-85, with Woodland in a two-point lead. A 4×100 relay team composed of senior captain Jeff Varesio, Joe Flaherty, freshman swimmer Jake Arisian, and Aldrich won the race to total a final score of 91-95.
“It was the most memorable meet we will ever compete in,” Aldrich commented. “All of us had so much pressure on us, and knowing that we were able to overcome it and win by two seconds in a close race was one of the best feelings.”
This year has been the best boys’ swimming season in Woodland history.
“Our team has never been a good team in the NVL. Before this year, we had only won four meets in a season,” Aldrich says. “We are finally a dominant force in the league, and I want everyone else to be afraid of us.”
Currently, the swimmers are preparing for NVLs. No matter what the outcome is, the team has achieved major successes this season. With five groundbreaking triumphs and a sense of heightened team pride, the swimmers look hopefully ahead to their next races.
“It definitely won’t be easy for us, but we have overcome so much this year,” Aldrich concludes. “This is just the next step.”