It has been a tough road this season for the Shelton High girls swim team. It started out 0-5, but has also faced four of the top swim programs in the state, dropping meets to Amity of Woodbridge, Branford, Mercy of Middletown and Cheshire.
Armed with just 13 girls, the Gaelettes have shown that overcoming adversity is paramount to the success of a team.
On Monday at the Shelton Community Center, the Shelton Gaelettes raced to victory in a 99-58 win over East Haven and that stout look of facing adversity was exchanged for smiles, high fives and hugs all around.
“I’m so happy with how the girls swam,” said Shelton head coach Sara Collimore. “We had numerous season best times. Many of the girls have been swimming different events all for the team cause, and it has all come together.
“Hopefully, we will be able to use this momentum to earn a few more wins against the rest of the teams on our schedule.”
The leadership of the Gaelettes has been one of the present forces this season, led by senior captains Annita Alvarado and Lenni Paolini, along with senior Julie Jarzinski and junior Jessica Poole, a two-time All-SCC performer.
The rest of the team is filled with sophomores and freshman, who are quickly gaining experience.
Shelton wasted no time setting the tone against the Yellowjackets.
The foursome of Juliane Shriver, Alvarado, Poole and Kaitlyn Barber swam to a first-place finish in the 200 medley relay to put Shelton out in front.
Poole, sophomore Shriver and freshman Barber were all double winners.
Poole took first-place finishes in the 200 IM at 2:22.43 and the 100 butterfly at 1:03.99.
Shriver showed her speed taking first in the 50 freestyle at 30.86, and then showed her versatility taking first place in the 100 backstroke in a winning time of 1:15.10.
Barber handled the middle distance duties, racing to victory in the 100 freestyle at 1:05.49 and taking first in the 200 freestyle at 2:07.3.
“We have four girls on the team who swim year-round,” Collimore said. “Two freshman, Jade Serrano and Pam Zuckerman, along with Poole and Barber,” said Collimore.
“That will help us in our endurance in the second half of the season. The freshman and one new sophomore, who are not year-round swimmers, are coming along very quickly and are contributing points.”
Shelton closed out the first win of the season with the 200 freestyle relay squad of Shriver, Paolini, Alvarado and Jade Serrano taking first with a winning time of 2:10.02.
The Gaelettes have been seeing steady improvement from sophomores Abby Hundt (breaststroke) and Cassie Kryger (sprint freestyle), along with freshman Anna Curran (freestyle events), Emily Garzon (freestyle, backstroke) and Olivia Puleo (IM, 500 freestyle).
What has made Shelton into a team that has overcome adversity is how they stuck together and got through the rough patch to start the season.
The Gaelettes dropped the season opener to Amity, but still put up a fight with Poole winning the 100 butterfly at 1:02.86.
Barber in her first varsity race, shrugged off the jitters and took first in the 100 backstroke in a time of 1:12.61.
Anna Alvarado quickly showed her senior captain leadership, winning the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:30.28.
The 400 relay team, led by three freshman, Barber, Zuckerman and Serrano, joined Poole to take first place with a time of 4:19.49.
“It has been challenging filling lanes for all the events with our low numbers,” Collimore said.
“But we are very lucky to have the great leadership in our upperclassmen.
“Annita and Lennie have been two of the best captains I have had in a while and they are a great asset to this team. We have some potentials wins coming up on the schedule and we are looking forward to the challenge.”