PLAINVILLE - The Plainville boys swim team came up just short in a close loss to the Meriden co-op on Tuesday afternoon, falling 93-90 and dropping to 4-4 on the year. The Blue Devils were without one of their top swimmers in junior Nate Lyman, but the narrow defeat was still a frustrating one for head coach Chris Zagorski, who knew just how close his team came to making it five wins in its last six meets.
“It’s disappointing, but the season isn’t over,” Zagorski said. “There are still opportunities to improve and the kids are going to take everything they can to do that.”
It was also disappointing for the swimmers, who put forth a firm goal before the season began, and watched that goal take a hit in a loss where their team was shorthanded.
“Our team goal is to finish with a winning record,” junior Colin Blake said after finishing in first place in the 200 individual medley, the team’s lone first-place finish in an individual swimming event. “I want us to end with a winning season. We were 6-6 last season and I want us to improve upon that.”
With four meets to go in the regular season, Plainville would have to win three of those to accomplish its goal and head into the postseason above the .500 mark. Looking ahead, Zagorski acknowledged it will take a maximum effort from the team as a whole to pull it off, especially with a pair of tough opponents looming.
“We have two meets we should win and two against the class of our conference in Bristol and Berlin,” Zagorski said. “The guys know that it’s an opportunity to swim against the best and push to get their times down even more. We have a couple meets left that I think we should take and then the focus shifts to the postseason.”
It’s also an opportunity for the Blue Devils to really earn a winning record by taking down some of their top competition in the process. Zagorski tried to prepare for such a scenario by stacking the beginning of the season with the likes of Farmington and Southington, two premier teams that each handed Plainville a loss in the early going, but also showed the team what it might take to get that winning season and head into postseason competition with a load of confidence.
“I scheduled Southington and Farmington by choice,” Zagorski said. “It gives our kids a chance to swim against the bigger schools and see what they can throw at us. I think it set the tone for us moving forward. We’re 4-2 since then, and I think we have an opportunity to finish the season 6-4. That sets us up for a strong finish.”
With six swimmers already qualified for states, the Blue Devils are hoping to add a few more before the regular season comes to a close. If more swimmers are qualifying, then the chances to come away with team wins, and in turn accomplish the goal of a winning season, are likely increasing. But even if Plainville can only claim two of the remaining four contests and finishes with a 6-6 finish, it can say with confidence that its regular season will have ended on a more encouraging note than it began, and feels more like a cohesive team, one that battled to the end even without one of its leaders on Tuesday.
“On top of getting faster with more practice, I just feel like we’ve been supporting each other a bit more throughout the meets,” Blake said. “We’re egging people on more, in a good way. It’s really encouraging. We have a good group of people that encourage each other at practice and in the pool during meets. It’s a really nice place to be.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or email@example.com