With the stands full of spectators from both teams and the cheering reaching a fever pitch, Wednesday's much-anticipated swim meet between Greenwich High School and Darien had the atmosphere of the FCIAC Championships.
The performances from both squads were certainly championship caliber.
In a down-to-the-wire thriller, the Cardinals kept their undefeated season intact, recording a 95-91 victory over the visiting Blue Wave.
"Wow, that was the best turnout of the season, the crowd was amazing," Greenwich junior Kim Hill said. "The cheering from the crowd -- that's as loud as it gets."
The crowd was at its loudest during the final event of the meet -- the 400-yard freestyle relay. Leading 88-82, the Cardinals needed a second-place finish in the event to win the meet. Had the Blue Wave placed first and second, the meet would have concluded in a tie. Fully aware of what they had to do, Greenwich's foursome of Hill, Emma Langley, Riley Ennis and Christi Frias, finished second in 3:44.80. Darien touched the wall first (3:39.86) and placed third (3:46.38).
Junior Katie Evans continued her sensational season for the Cardinals, winning two individual events (200 individual medley, 500 freestyle), as did Hill (200 freestyle, 100 freestyle). Senior Maddie Dunn (50 freestyle) and senior diver Megan Mahoney also won their respective events for Greenwich (6-0).
"This was definitely our biggest meet of the dual meet season," Dunn said. "Everyone stepped up and got fast swims. It was exciting to see our freshman and younger swimmers get amazing times."
"We had an awesome meet, our team really rose to the occasion," Darien coach Marj Trifone said. "When you lose by four points it comes down to one touch here, one touch there. A high school meet can't get much better than this."
The meet began with Greenwich's quartet of Isobel Walker, Evans, Frias and Dunn winning the 200-yard medley relay in 1:51.18.
"I was going to save some big guns for that last relay, but the girls told me, `You don't want to lose that first event,' " GHS coach Dick Hawks said. "So I said, "Ok, go out there and win it.'"
Hill placed first in the 200 freestyle (1:56.96) and 100 freestyle (:53.83), while Evans touched the wall first in the 200 individual medley (2:08.48) and 500 freestyle (5:14.94) for the Cards, who led 26-20 after three events and maintained their six-point edge most of the meet. After Dunn won the 50 freestyle (:24.43), Mahoney gave Greenwich a significant victory on the diving board, earning a score of 225.05. She edged Darien's Caroline Ashcraft (224.40), who placed fourth in last season's State Open.
"That was the hardest meet we've had so far, everyone dove great," Mahoney said.
Mahoney was especially inspired to dive against Ashcraft.
"She is a great diver, so I'm glad I had the opportunity to compete against her today," Mahoney said.
Leunis took first in the 100 butterfly (:58.84), followed by Frias and senior tri-captain Kate Madoff. Frias placed second in the 100 butterfly (:59.40), took second in the 100 backstroke (1:01.77), then anchored the 400 freestyle relay.
Said Trifone: "Overall, we had a great meet. We received some nice swims from so many girls. This shows how good a team we are."
Greenwich 95, Darien 91
200-yard medley relay -- 1. Greenwich (Isobel Walker, Katie Evans, Christi Frias, Maddie Dunn) 1:51.18; 200-yard freestyle -- 1. Kim Hill (G) 1:56.96; 200 individual medley -- 1. Kim Evans (G) 2:08.48; 50 freestyle -- 1. Maddie Dunn (G) :24.83; Diving -- 1. Megan Mahoney 225.05; 100 butterfly -- 1. Olivia Leunis (D) :58.84; 100 freestyle -- 1. Kim Hill (G) :53.83; 500 freestyle -- 1. Kim Evans (G) 5:14.94; 200 freestyle relay -- 1. Greenwich (Maddie Dunn, Kim Hill, Porter Carlson, Kim Evans) 1:41.59; 100 backstroke -- 1. Caroline Orem (D) 1:00.57; 100 breaststroke -- 1. Victoria Chao (D) 1:09.06; 400 freestyle relay -- 1. Darien (Leunis, Orem, Courtney Ferreira, Amanda Bieler) 3:39.86.