When you’re relying on four swimmers to compete in six different events at the state class meet and two of them get sick leading up to it, you’re in trouble.
So it was for the Fitch High School’s boys’ swimming team two days after its strong performance at the Eastern Connecticut Conference Championship on March 8.
Sam Kokomoor and Dakota Williams, each swimming in two relays and two individual events at the Class M Championship on March 18, came down with what coach Ken Berg
described as “pneumonia-like” symptoms that forced them to miss practice and change their routine.
The Falcons had lost their mojo.
Mojo is an important success factor for Berg’s swimmers, the result of a coaching philosophy that stresses healthy eating, regular attendance and hard work at practices and good sleeping habits. When one or more of those essentials are missing, fast times fade away quickly.
“If you don’t follow the ritual, it’s over,” Berg said. “Once they got sick, things fell apart.”
Adian Ely’s 100-yard butterfly time of 57.45 (12th) was the only faster mark compared with ECC times of any Fitch swims at the Ms, and he beat it by only one-hundredth of a
Williams was the team’s highest finisher, taking fifth in the 50 freestyle (22.28) and sixth in the 100 freestyle (49.10), well off his ECC times of 21.84 and 46.99 respectively. The
times qualified him as the only Fitch swimmer at last Saturday’s state Open, but landed him near the bottom of qualifiers at 19th for the 50 and 24th – and last – for the 100.
Berg said Williams hadn’t “look good in the pool” during practice but thought things would improve at the Open, and they did; Williams placed 13th in the 50 in a time of 22.08 and finished 16th in the 100 in 48.46.
“I was hoping he would swim a 48 low, but I don’t think he is swimming well right now because he has not fully recovered,” Berg said.
Ely just missed a Open berth in the 200 individual medley, taking ninth in 2:05.15.
Kokomoor struggled in his M individual events, finishing 12th in the 500 freestyle (5:12.11), some 12 seconds off his ECC time. He also placed 16th in the 200 freestyle in 1:58.66.
“Sam swam really well technically in the postseason; he didn’t have it mentally and physically because of the illness,” Berg said.
The best the relays could muster were eighth-place finishes in both the 200 and 400 freestyle. Ely, Kokomoor, Sean Estep and Williams swam the 200 in 1:34.02 and the 400 in 3:27.94.
Fitch placed 14th among 23 teams at the Class M with 201 points; Brookfield was M champion with 646.50, and ECC champion East Lyme took second with 475.
The Falcons finished 38th of 53 at the Open with 22 points; Greenwich was Open champion with 652, and the Vikings were 17th with 88.
Cheerleaders finish sixth at New Englands
Fitch cheerleaders followed through on what they wanted to accomplish two weeks ago at the Connecticut Cheerleading Championship by leapfrogging over the two Nutmeg
State schools that finished ahead of them.
The Falcons placed sixth overall in the Coed Division at last Saturday’s New England Spirit Championships held at Lawrence High School (Mass.), topping state champion
Stamford and runner up Staples in the process.
“The kids wanted to hit their routine perfectly and prove they were the best team in Connecticut,” said coach Melissa Robinson. “They did both.”
Fitch finished third at states when an uncharacteristic fall cost them a shot at the title.
Led by a group of 12 seniors, the Falcons came back ready to make good on their second chance.
“They were left with, ‘What if we had hit it (at states)?’” Robinson said. “Now they know.
It was also a great way to end the seniors’ careers by getting to travel, seeing something different and competing against a bunch of different teams.”
The Falcons scored 167.3 points in their first New England appearance since 2008, nearly 20 points higher than their score at states.
Robinson said New England Champion Biddeford, (Maine) scored 197 out of a possible 200 in its routine.
“I have never see a score that high,” she said.
Robinson pointed out that Fitch had different lineups for all five competitions this season, as illnesses and injuries forced multiple substitutions for the 20-person team.