Trio of Darien divers set new records while competing in Fairfield County Swimming League
It was a banner week for the Fairfield County Swimming League, which saw several of its divers post new records.
A quartet of FCSL athletes -- three from Darien -- set a new golden standard for the league in their age range: Darien's Jake Bowtell (407.95 on the U17 boys 1-meter), Stamford's Sean Burston (409.55 on the U17 boys 3-meter), Darien's Elizabeth Fitzpatrick (392.45 on the U17 girls 1-meter) and Darien's Wiley Schmidt (228.25 on the U12 boys 3-meter).
Schmidt's day in the spotlight was Thursday, Aug. 1, while the other three posted their scores on Monday, July 29.
And although they stopped short of saying that it was their top moment divers, it was still an experience not to be forgotten.
"I just tried to stay focused. I hit my first dive and kind of knew it was going to be a good day," Burston said. "After my first dive I usually know if it'll go well or bad."
"It was really exciting because last year I was close to the record," said Fitzpatrick, who now holds seven FCSL records. "I had a good competition going into it and I felt good warming up."
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Schmidt, in particular, felt that it indeed was one of his best meets.
"It was definitely one of my better meets," Schmidt said. "The boards were good and I was very focused. It's definitely a confidence builder."
The FCSL boasts diversity, as divers compete in various age ranges, as young as U10 and as old as U17. Some of the more established divers take on a leadership role for the younger kids.
"I kind of give my experience of what it's like to compete. I try to share the experiences and hopefully they can learn with how to deal with some of the meet situations," said Bowtell, who also coaches in the league. "You can teach little kids who want to try to the sport and get them hooked on it. I was really excited when I found out (about breaking the record), especially since there have been so many good divers in this league."
"I know that Wiley and them look up to us because we're all from the same winter team, the Whirlwind Diving Club," Burston said. "They definitely look up to us and it's nice knowing that you have an impact and you try to have an influence -- hopefully a good influence."
Burston and Bowtell, who compete for Westhill/Stamford and Fairfield Prep during the high school season, respectively, are typically at the very top of the high school diving scene when competing in meets such as the Class LL championships and the State Open.
Burston (560.75) claimed this year's Class LL meet with Bowtell finishing second (510.00), and Bowtell brought home the Open (491.10) while Burston sat out with an injury.
In 2012, Burston and Bowtell finished first and third in the Open and took second and third in the LL meet, respectively.
"In high school I'm competing against all of them," Burston said. "If Jake has a good dive here, we all congratulate him. It's a lot more easy-going and it's fun."
"In high school you have to worry about diving well, getting points for the team and supporting the team," Bowtell said. "If you don't do well, it could hinder the team from getting the win. Here everyone is relaxed and enjoying the sport without the extra baggage on top of it."
Though they weren't competing for their high school squads, the two rising seniors were at it again, as Bowtell took the 1-meter with Burston finishing second, but Burston brought home the 3-meter ahead of Bowtell's second place finish, as the two narrowly edged one another with scores of 407.95-383.85 and 409.55-385.05 on the two boards, respectively. The winning scores both represented new FCSL records.
"It's a laid back met, but the competition is very good," Bowtell said.
As for Fitzpatrck, she won both boards by a significantly larger margin. Fitzpatrick took the U17 girls 3-meter 389.65-311.25 over second-place Rachel Burston, but Fitzpatrick's record-setter occurred on the 1-meter, which she also won by posting a score of 392.45.
Fitzpatrick, who has been diving since the age of 5 or 6 and has competed for the national team in England and Canada, indicated that she still appreciates the tough local competition.
"The whole local diving thing is good because we've all been doing it for so long together," Fitzpatrick said. "I just tried (diving) one day and really liked it. The pressure and everything kept me liking it more and more and I just kept doing it."
Schmidt was also a two-board winner, as he narrowly edged second place Kevin Bradley 218.35-211.10 on the 1-meter, though his record-setter came on the 3-meter when he posted a 228.25.
"Most of older divers are on my winter diving team, so I look up to them for inspiration," said Schmidt, who started diving at the age of 10. "I wasn't sure (how the meet would go) until the competition started and I started doing my dives and hitting a few."
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