Girls swimming: Gaelettes step up to SCC’s top division

Last year, Shelton High School’s girls swimming and diving team experienced significant success: an 11-2 record and Southern Connecticut Conference Division II championship.

The team’s reward this fall? The Gaelettes have been bumped up to the SCC Division I level.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” said coach Tom Jurzynski, adding “we should be competitive.” Jurzynski anticipates being a top-five team in the conference championships, viewing Cheshire, Lauralton Hall of Milford and Amity of Woodbridge as top contenders, and looking for his squad to be competitive with the likes of Daniel Hand of Madison, North Haven and Branford.

“We have to be on top of our game every meet now,” said Jurzynski, adding that his lineup is excited for the challenge and he is enthusiastic about how the team members will respond.

“I’m really looking forward to it. These girls really did a great job last year. They’re not intimidated by anything. They know what they’re getting into. They’re definitely going to go after it.”

“Everybody just kept getting faster as the season went along,” added Jurzynski, who is expecting more of the same this go around.

The Gaelettes lost five team members to graduation last year, but return a solid group of hard-working athletes, and the roster is deep in terms of both numbers — the roster of 28 represents the largest Jurzynski has had in three years running the squad — as well as in terms of ability across the board.

“Top to bottom this is the best team I’ve ever had,” the coach said.

Captains are butterfly and distance freestyle swimmer Katie Barber and breaststroke and distance free competitor Jade Serrano.

“I think we’re capable of doing a lot. I’m so proud of everybody,” Barber said.

Others whom Jurzynski expects big things from are distance free swimmer/backstroker Alyssa Bretan, and sprint freestylers Louise Kim, Emma Parkes, Simona Visinski and Caitlin McGuire.

The Gaelettes sent four swimmers to the State Open last year, and the coach is hopeful of sending more this fall. Kim qualified in the 50-yard freestyle event, as well as part of the 200 free relay contingent of Parkes, Bretan and McGuire.

“There’s definitely going to be more pressure this year,” Serrano said. “I think our biggest advantage is the amount of heart we have and how hard everyone’s willing to work.”

That includes the newcomers, who are showing plenty of promise, Jurzynski and the upperclassmen believe.

“It will be exciting to see, once they have that competitive edge, how far they’re willing to take it,” Serrano said.