Turner helps Ridgefield swim past Darien

Riley Riebling competes in Ridgefield's season-opening win over Fairfield Ludlowe last week. — Scott Mullin photo
Riley Riebling competes in Ridgefield's season-opening win over Fairfield Ludlowe last week. — Scott Mullin photo

When Darien's 10-point win in the diving competition was added to the team scores in Monday's girls swim meet with Ridgefield, the result was a 63-63 tie with four events remaining.

But the Tigers were prepared.

"Darien has some of the top divers in the state, and although we know we have some talented young divers, they don't have the experience of the Darien crew," said Ridgefield assistant coach Todd Gordon. "So we had planned for a deficit that we had to make up in the second half of the meet."

The Tigers (2-0) met the challenge, slightly outscoring Darien (3-1) in all four of the final races to come away with an impressive 98-88 road triumph in an early season meeting between unbeaten state powers.

"[Head coach] Jeff [Bonaccorso] and I spent most of the weekend laying out various scenarios, based on the info we had about Darien's swimmers, their races this year, and their best times in the last 18 months," said Gordon. "We knew the meet would come down to a few key matchups, and how well we optimized the distribution of our swimmers in the relays."

Most pivotal to Ridgefield's victory was senior Anna Turner, who won two individual events and also swam on two first-place relays.

Turner won the 200 freestyle (1:55.33) and the 100 freestyle (54.06) and then combined with Hannah Snyder, Jenna Leonard and Steph Bishop to place first in the 200 freestyle relay (1:40.81) and put the Tigers ahead, 71-69.

Two events later, with Ridgefield leading 90-82, Turner teamed with Bishop, Julia Weiner and Riley Giles to win the meet-ending 400 freestyle relay (3:41.36) and clinch the 98-88 victory.

"Anna Turner, one of our captains is very versatile — she can swim, and usually win, almost any event," said Gordon, "so figuring out where to place her was one of biggest challenges, and we actually didn't make that final decision until just before the start of the meet.

In addition to Turner, the Tigers also received first-place individual finishes from Bishop in the 500 freestyle (5:20.28) and Weiner in the 100 backstroke (1:01.51).

"Stephanie Bishop had a severe back strain and was experiencing cramps throughout the meet — she had to spend most of the meet laying down trying to ease the spasms," said Gordon. "Despite that she won the hardest event, the 500 freestyle, took fourth in the 200 freestyle, and had the second-fastest splits in the 200 free relay and 400 free relay (behind Anna Turner). She set a great example for her teammates by fighting through the pain to swim her races and refusing to sit out."

Weiner, Leonard, Elissa Clancy, and Snyder added a victory for the Tigers in the opening 200 medley relay with a time of 1:52.27.

Contributing second-place finishes for Ridgefield were Jenna Budicini in the 200 individual medley (2:19.38), Clancy in the 100 butterfly (1:01.35), Giles in the 500 freestyle (5:21.25), and Hannah Sotolongo in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.77).

Finishing third for the Tigers were Giles in the 200 freestyle (1:59.19), Weiner in the 200 IM (2:21.31), Snyder in the 50 freestyle (25.99), Riley Riebling in the 100 backstroke (1:04.28), and Leonard in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.22).