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Perennial South-West Conference powerhouse Pomperaug of Southbury leaves opposing swim coaches just hoping for some kind of takeaway from encounters. Jaws of the SWC pools, the Pomperaug Panthers feast on the competition almost every year; they’ve won three consecutive conference championships and seven of the last eight SWC titles.
First-year Newtown High Coach Adam Fielding had to dive right into the deep end with a season-opening meet against visiting Pomperaug, on December 20. Unfamiliar with his Nighthawk lineup, Fielding was looking to get a feel for the racing abilities of his swimmers. Practice is one thing, and competition is another.
He came away with a great sense of optimism following a pretty close 95-88 loss to the Panthers, one in which the visitors exhibitioned only the final event after officially sealing the team win. Granted, the Panthers jumped out to an early lead and never trailed, but the Nighthawks hung in there and took plenty of positives from the opener.
“For us it was a great first meet,” said Fielding, adding that he knew what to expect of his top competitors, but was pleasantly surprised by the speed of the next tier of swimmers, and added that he now knows he should test them more in practice. “I think I can push them a lot harder.”
The quirky swimming schedule means the usual holiday hiatus from meets provides Fielding a bunch of time to work out some kinks in practice. Newtown doesn’t have a competition again until a Tuesday, January 3, visit to Masuk of Monroe. There will be a few practice opportunities lost because of holidays, but still some extra time in the pool between clashes with the opposition.
“This will be a good gauge for us to see what we need to do for those meets,” Fielding said of tweaking training regiments based on the results from the opener.
There were some first- and second-place finishes for the Hawks in their season debut.
Peter Fagerholm was first in the 200 yard individual medley event, making his final touch in 2:07.45, and also took the top spot in the 500 free, finishing in 5:13.64. Tommy Horan sprinted to first in the 50 free in a time of 22.82.
Divers Kyle Gaynor and Ian Humber gave Newtown a one-two finish with scores of 236.30 and 233.85.
Freshman Mason Suba won the 100 yard butterfly event in a time of 56.96. Tommy Horan was runner-up in the 100 backstroke race, finishing in 1:05.46. Ian Peng won the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:12.45.
In the final event, the 400 free relay, the contingent of Suba, Fagerholm, David Lawrence, and Horan was first in 3:35.70.
The 200 medley relay team of Horan, Ian Peng, Matt Kretz, and Xavier Williams was third in 1:51.65. Lawrence was third in the 200 free with a time of 1:57.89. Michael Annesley placed third in the 200 IM, making his final off-stroke touch in 2:14.25. Williams placed third in the 100 free in 55.29. Lawrence was third in the 500 in 5:21.97. The 200 free relay of Annesley, Williams, Suba, and Fagerholm came in third in 1:37.60. Rick Irving was third in the breaststroke race in 1:18.59.