For the unbeaten Ridgefield High boys swim team, Monday afternoon’s home meet with Wilton followed a familiar pattern.
The Tigers built a comeback-proof lead and then used a gesture of sportsmanship to lessen the lopsidedness.
The result was an 89-68 victory with a deceiving final score: Ridgefield led 89-21 before swimming exhibition (no points) in the final four events.
That the Tigers are 7-0 might be considered surprising. Among the graduation losses from last year’s team were two of the best swimmers in program history, Kieran Smith and AJ Bornstein, who are now competing for college powers Florida (Smith) and Michigan (Bornstein).
Among those unsurprised by Ridgefield’s start is head coach Emmanuel Lanzo.
“We knew we would need to step up this year,” Lanzo said. “The kids who were on the team last season put in a lot of work and got better. I thought we could be pretty good even without Kieran and AJ.”
In addition to the improvement of returnees, the Tigers have benefited from the return of senior Ethan Murray.
“Having Ethan come back was one of the best things that happened,” Lanzo said. “He is a very good swimmer and someone who can offer leadership as a senior.”
Another plus for Ridgefield is its depth.
“The biggest struggle for me is figuring out what events to put people in,” Lanzo said. “We have a lot of people who can do many events.”
Against Wilton on Monday at the Barlow Mountain pool, the Tigers finished first and second in the opening relay and then swept the top-three places in the next three races. That dominance gave Ridgefield a 51-11 lead.
A one-two-four finish in the 100 butterfly was followed by one-two-three finishes in the 100 freestyle and the 500 freestyle, pushing Ridgefield’s lead to 89-21. The Tigers then swam exhibition in the 200 freestyle relay, the 100 backstroke, the 100 breaststroke, and the 400 freestyle relay, allowing Wilton to score the final 47 points.
Sophomore Connor Hunt led Ridgefield with a pair of first-place finishes. Hunt won the 200 freestyle (2:02.02) and the 500 freestyle (4:11.63).
Adding wins for the Tigers were Linney O’Malley in the 100 butterfly (1:01.85), Luke Hruska in the 200 individual medley (2:16.28), Will Bryant in the 50 freestyle (25.19), and Gavin Egerton in the 100 freestyle (56.46).
Andrew Yu, Hruska, O’Malley, and Bryant teamed to place first in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:55.06.
Murray contributed second-place finishes in the 200 IM (2:16.64) and the 100 freestyle (56.65).
Also finishing second for Ridgefield were Terry Li in the 200 freestyle (2:04.02), Egerton in the 50 freestyle (26.43), Yu in the 100 butterfly (1:03.96), and Matthew Johnston in the 500 freestyle (4:23.20).
Johnston, Presley Milton, Kai O’Malley, and Luke Mignano were second in the 200 medley relay.
Third-place finishes came from Vidur Hareesh (200 freestyle), Kai O’Malley (200 IM), Mignano (50 freestyle), Hruska (100 freestyle), and Li (500 freestyle).