The boys swimming and diving season was unable to have its state championships, as the remainder of winter sports were canceled the day before those were scheduled to begin, but the season still produced plenty of memorable moments and standout performances during the regular season and in conference competition.
From conference championships to record-breaking performances, this year’s All-Herald team made a lot of those memorable moments, and would have likely made plenty of noise at the state level had those championship meets taken place.
Southington had one of the best seasons in the area as a team, and was led by two of the most consistent swimmers around in Tyler Heidgerd and Derek Melanson.
Heidgerd, a senior who makes the All-Herald squad for the second straight season, played a big part in the Blue Knights winning the CCC West conference championships, recurring wins in individual and relay competition.
Heidgerd won the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:50.63, and won the 100 backstroke with a top mark of 55.30. Heidgerd, along with Melanson, also helped Southington win the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay events to complete a dominant overall performance.
Heidgerd, an All-State selection last year, appears to have his fourth all-conference selection locked up and while he won’t get to improve upon the two top-10 finishes in the Class LL championships last year, Southington swimming’s reigning MVP was still able to close his decorated career in memorable fashion. He will be attending CCSU this fall.
In addition to his impact on the relay teams, Melanson also won the individual medley and was a runner-up in the 100 butterfly to complete a solid season of his own. Also a senior, Melanson was a force in the pool, winning 21 of his 22 individual events throughout the season and is on his way to a fourth straight all-conference selection.
Melanson and Heidgerd represent a dominant duo that the Blue Knights will have to replace come next season.
Plainville also has two entries this year, with one making their All-Herald return. Junior Nathan Lyman continues to be one of the Blue Devils’ top swimmers, and after reaching the Class S state championships last year as a sophomore, Lyman was once again showing his talents as an upperclassman. At the CCC South championships, Lyman placed fifth in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:22.88, and will look to return to state competition next season as a senior.
Lyman also helped Plainville place eighth in the 200 medley relay event, and also on that team was Brandon Paznokas, who came in second in the 100 backstroke at the conference championships, earning the junior All-CCC honors for the first time. Both Paznokas and Lyman will be back next year to help the Blue Devils improve upon their fifth-place finish at this year’s conference championships.
Rounding out our list is Berlin’s Kiernan Jennings, who makes the team for the second straight season. The senior was a part of a Redcoats team that beat Middletown for the first time since 2010, and in that win, Jennings won the 50 freestyle and came in second in the 100 freestyle. In the season finale against Plainville, he won the 200 individual medley and shaved more than four seconds off of his best time in that event.
Jennings took third at the Class M championships last year and unfortunately didn’t get a chance to go for gold this year, but still completes a memorable career with the Redcoats.
Jennings’ farewell season included a third all-conference selection and his fourth time on the CCC All-Academic team. He was the first swimmer in Berlin history to qualify for states in all events, making him one of the best all-around swimmers the school has ever seen.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org