Bunnell-Stratford co-op boys swim captains, from left, Miguel Vanegas and Dominick Summa lead a young team looking to improve this season. (Photo by John Nash)

BOYS SWIMMING PREVIEW: Bunnell-Stratford co-op aims for improvement

STRATFORD—The goal for the Bunnell-Stratford co-op swim team this winter is simple: Each and every swimmer is looking to improve.

That’s the great thing about “individual-based” team sports like swimming and track. No matter where an athlete comes in talent-wise improvement is measured by a timing device rather than what trophies are brought home.

“We are focusing on individual improvements this season,” second-year coach Melissa Carroll said. “We have a small, inexperienced team compared to other high school swim teams in the area. We are focusing this year on individual swimmer success, rather than overall team success with winning meets. Success for us will come in the form of dropped times, less disqualifications, and more individual swimmers making the time cut-offs for SWCs and states.”

A year ago, the team’s 200 free relay placed fifth at SWCs. That foursome and the program’s 200 medley team qualified for the Class L finals, as well.

“We are hoping to have our relays place higher at states and SWCs this year,” Carroll said.

The Bunnell-Stratford co-op squad will be led co-captains Miguel Vanegas (Bunnell) and Dominick Summa (Stratford). Vanegas is a senior who specializes in the 50 free and 100 fly while Summa is a junior and breaststroker.

Senior Brandon Russell (100 breast) and junior Christian Robles (500 free, 100 back, 200 IM) will also provide leadership for a younger group below them. Russell is from Bunnell while Robles, a Bridgeport resident, is from Notre Dame-Fairfield and swims independently with the co-op squad.

Vanegas and Russell are the only two seniors on the team.

Carroll is also high on two freshmen: James Bragg-Phillips, a Stratford resident who attends the Common Ground High School in New Haven, and Nikhil Shankar, a Stratford resident who attends Fairchild Wheeler. Both can compete because their respective schools to not offer swim teams.

Rounding out the roster is juniors Liam Church (Stratford), Patrick Dahdal (Bunnell), Danyere Francis (Stratford), Zachary Ormsbee (Bunnell), Steven Tartowski (Bunnell) and Chris Truesdon (Bunnell), sophomore Adi Gowd (Bunnell), and freshmen Patrick Chudecki, and Sean McGettigan, both from Bunnell.

Carroll said the group gets along especially well considering many different backgrounds and coming from five different high schools.

“One of our team’s biggest strengths is the camaraderie between the swimmers,” she said. “We have representation from five different schools and you would never know it if you watched the interactions between the athletes and their friendships with each other. They support each other and stick together through difficult practices and always push each other to be better than they were yesterday.”

Bunnell-Stratford’s next meet is on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, at New Fairfield.

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