By PHIL BRODSKY
Orange Live Sports Writer
Last year was a dream year for the Amity girls swim team. In addition to defeating Cheshire for the first time in more than 30 years, Coach Todd Rainey’s girls also won their first Southern Connecticut Conference championship, placed second (to Greenwich ) in Class LL, and sixth in the State Open. While Rachel and Kathleen Holden, Colby Champaigne, and Morgan Turner have all graduated, Rainey still has high hopes for the 2012 season that gets underway on Tuesday with a 7 PM meet against Shelton at the Orange Community Center pool.
Rainey said, “I hope we can approach the level of success that we had last year. If everyone does what is expected they can do, achieving what we achieved last year is an approachable goal. Even if we just come close, I’ll still be very happy.”
The 2012 Lady Spartans will be led by senior Co-Captains Nicole Guadagnoli (diving), Lindsay Morton (State Open qualifier in the 100-yard butterfly), Anna Lu (Class LL All State in the 200 and 500 freestyle and a member of the State Open championship 200 free relay), and Dana Grindall (State Open champ in 100 butterfly, state record holder in the 100 butterfly, member of the 200 free and medley relay teams).
Other seniors on the Amity roster are: Amanda Craig (State Open diving), Shannon Early (member of State Open medley relay and 200 individual medley, Erin Marlor (100 butterfly), Wendy Kenyon (200 free and 100 backstroke), Gabrielle Syrop (Class LL finalist in diving), and Carly Young (Class LL diving finalist).
Jessica Kochiss (State Open member of the 400 free relay) heads a length list of juniors that will provide the team with a lot of depth. Dana Chung (member of the State Open 200 free and medley relays). Mollee Lamb (Class LL finalist in the 100 backstroke and the 200 individual medley), Madeline Snow (member of State Open championship 200 free relay and State Open qualifier in the 500 free) and Lydia Pokluda (member of state championship 200 free relay and State Open 500 free) are among a similar group of sophomores.
The Amity roster also hosts several talented but inexperienced freshmen that Rainey hopes will develop and provide much needed depth as the season goes on.
According to Rainey, “I’m impressed with the work ethic I have seen so far. It’s a great group of talented, very supportive girls. With Grindall and Morton (14th in the State Open), the Lady Spartans will be very strong in the 100 butterfly. We also have 4 excellent, experienced, senior divers (Syrop, Craig, Guadagnoli, and Young). Anna Lu (fourth place in the 200 free and fifth in the 500 free at the State Open) and Madeline Snow give us a very potent 1-2 punch in the distance freestyle races.”
He added, “Right now, I really don’t have any major concerns. We have a very deep, balanced team that is headed in the right direction.”
Rainey points to Branford, Mercy, Sacred Heart, and North Haven as the teams most likely to battle his girls for the 2012 SCC crown. Greenwich and Glastonbury appear to be the teams Amity will have to be defeat to win the Class LL title.
Rainey also said that his girls will have to maintain their rigorous work ethic and enthusiasm from last year if they wants to do as well as it did in 2011.