DARIEN -- Heading into the boys swimming season, the Westhill/Stamford co-op may not have been on anyone's radar when it came to the topic of contenders in the FCIAC.
It might be time to rethink that position.
Going neck-and-neck with its undefeated counterpart for nearly two hours on Wednesday afternoon at the Darien YMCA, the Westhill/Stamford team edged Darien 99-87 for its second straight victory.
Westhill/Stamford (3-1), which lost a four-point decision to New Canaan earlier this season, went into Wednesday's meet with aspirations of knocking off one of the league's elite swimming programs and did so in fine fashion.
"I thought it was two really good teams going together with some great races. I thought we swam really well, and our diving was excellent," Westhill/Stamford coach Rick Lewis said. "We could have done better in a few places, but I thought all around we did what we needed to today. We seem to be coming together, and everyone seems to be getting faster every time out."
Darien (5-1), however, would retake the lead by claiming first place in the next three races. First, Jack Bair won the 200 freestyle in 1:49.93. Chris Janson was next, winning the 200 IM in 2:03.03, narrowly edging Hopkins, who finished in 2:03.13. Finally, Tyler Gould won the 50 freestyle by clocking in at :22.80.
"We knew coming in that Stamford was a strong team; they always have been. We didn't come close enough, which is too bad, but it's a wake-up call for us to keep on working and maybe work a little harder," Janson said. "We'll see these guys at FCIACs; they did a great job. I've got a lot of confidence that we'll bounce back from this."
Anderson won the 100 butterfly with a time of 53.65, besting Darien's James Baker, who came in second place in 55.08.
Gould claimed the 100 freestyle with a time of 49.32, nearly a full two seconds in front of the field. Saleh countered by winning the 500 freestyle in 4:58.17, edging out Darien's Baker, who clocked in at 5:00.70.
"We came into this meet hoping to win. We're always aware of the scores (during the meet)," Saleh said. "In the beginning of the season, we kind of started slow, but we're going all the way from here on out. We're just moving up from here."
In one of the most exciting finishes on the day, the Darien quartet of Christian Weeks, Nicolai Ostberg, Dylan Gilhooly and Sam Gillespie got the Blue Wave back on the winning track by claiming the 200 freestyle in a time of 1:37.26, finishing just .16 ahead of Westhill/Stamford's team of Justo Karrell, Sam Kitain, Nikita Zemlevskiy and Saleh.
"This is exactly what my guys needed right now; we got to swim against a team to see where we are at this point of the season," Darien coach Jason Cochran said. "Ultimately, this could be the best thing that happens to this team because it's a wake-up call. Now we get back in, we refocus and we get a little bit more dedicated to the training."
Westhill/Stamford then took the next two races, as Schick and Yick won the 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke in 56.84 and 1:03.69, respectively.
In the final race of the day, the Darien team of Bair, Janson, James Baker and Gould brought home the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:22.86. However, it was not enough to make up Darien's deficit.
"Everybody swam as good as they could. We didn't win, but that happens sometimes. We'll get them next time," Gilhooly said. "We have another meet this Friday (at Ridgefield), and we'll be picking it up for that meet. Our practices are probably going to get more intense."