Darien High School's girls swimming and diving team, always a highly-regarded squad in the conference and state, has a trio of titles to defend as it begins the 2013 campaign. Darien is coming off a season in which it won the FCIAC, Class L and State Open titles.
The Blue Wave lost a handful of key point-scoring swimmers to graduation a year ago, and while new talent is consistently emerging for this perennial powerhouse, coach Marj Trifone knows nothing will be handed to her squad.
"I think we have a lot of work to do in relays to replace the solid seniors we lost," the 15-year DHS coach said.
Something the Wave has to its advantage is the ability to insert swimmers into a variety of events to best match up with different opponents.
"I think our team is very versatile," Trifone said.
Opponents may expect Darien to be a big challenge, but Trifone doesn't necessarily expect to win.
"I'm not walking into it at all thinking we can win an Open again," said the coach, adding that other teams, notably Greenwich and Cheshire, dominated the Open spotlight throughout the years. "I'm hoping that we're going to be in the game. I'm looking forward to enjoying this season with this tremendous group of girls."
It will take a lot of hard work to get back to the pinnacle in the conference and/or state, the swimmers recognize.
"I think it's going to take the whole team working together, pushing themselves," said senior captain Natalie Grune, a butterfly competitor.
"I'm really excited. We have a lot of talent on this team. We just have to work for it," senior Liz Kearney said.
The Wave has 13 seniors in the lineup, including diving captain Olivia Piazza, making this a big year for a large class that has had a successful high school career. They'd love to cap it off with more championships, and stand to have strong competition from New Canaan, which Darien edged out in the Open and Class L championships a year ago.
"I'm really excited. I think our girls have some work to do and I think we're on the right track to do what we did last year," senior Sam Schrenker said.
The team sent 18 swimmers and divers to the State Open a year ago, and Trifone is hopeful of again sending a large group into the final meet.
"We have a lot of work to do in the pool but we're getting back to where we were last year," said captain Amanda Bieler, who is a middle distance and distance freestyle swimmer.
Senior captain Lia Barsanti, who swims the breaststroke and individual medley, said she is excited for the start of the new season and is confident the team members will work hard to make a push to get back to the top.
The team opens the season with three straight home meets, beginning with a Sept. 18 clash with Fairfield Ludlowe. Among the meets to circle on the schedule is the regular season-ending clash with New Canaan, on the road, on Oct. 23.