NEW HAVEN -- "I think anytime you're in the final meet of the season you need to either step up or get back on the bus," Jason Cochran, Darien High School's boys' swim team coach, said early on in the March 12 State Open at Yale's Kiphuth Exhibition Pool. His Blue Wave swimmers certainly put in a strong effort, finishing runner-up among 53 teams to score points in the meet which featured the best of the best in Connecticut.

Greenwich won the championship with 388 points. Darien, with 321 points, beat out FCIAC rivals Ridgefield and New Canaan, third and fourth with 312 and 306 points, respectively. Darien's swimmers had a mission to score higher than New Canaan, which had beaten the Blue Wave in the regular season and scored more points in the FCIAC Championships, and contend for the Open title. The Wave did just that thanks to some solid season-best times and depth throughout the lineup.

The swimming events were held at Yale's Kiphuth Exhibition Pool on March 19, two days after the diving competition at Hamden High. The Blue Wave found itself in position to contend for the title thanks to a strong performance by diver Jake Bowtell who, with a score of 446, earned fourth place and 23 points for his team. Bowtell had scored 364.15 points for a 17th seed and his substantial increase in points and placement gave the Wave a big boost heading into the swimming events.

"His performance gave us the confidence that we have a chance in this meet," Cochran said as the meet unfolded and the Wave swimmers found themselves in a battle for the top spot.

In the first swimming event, the 200-yard medley relay, Darien placed 12th as Christian Weeks, Jonathan Greene, James Baker and Chris Brook finished in 1:41.43.

Baker was fifth in the 500 freestyle, completing the race in 4:42.27, and seventh in the 200 freestyle in a time of 1:44.60. Baker's teammates had strong representation in both freestyle races. In the 500, Greene came in sixth in 4:42.27. Jack Bair was 13th in 4:49.71 and William Smelser placed 17th in 4:52.46. Christopher Weihs and Bair were 11th and 12th in the 200, finishing in 1:45.75 and 1:47.17.

In the 200 individual medley, Jonathan Greene cracked the top-10, placing ninth in 1:57.83. Tyler Gould was ninth in the 50 free, making his final touch in 21.96. Gould had another strong finish in the 100 free, coming in sixth in a time of 47.78. Weihs was 19th in the 100 with a time of 49.00.

Darien's 200 free relay team of Weihs, Brook, Sam Gillespie and Gould came in fifth in 1:28.97. The Blue Wave's 400 free relay group of Weihs, Baker, Greene and Gould came in fourth in 3:11.46.

Several Darien swimmers had season-best times and Cochran was pleased with the overall performance of his squad. "We're peaking -- we're looking good," the coach said.

The Yale pool complex was loud throughout the event as fans and swimmers sitting in the stands between their events cheered for those in the water.

"The stadium seating really adds to the aura," Cochran said.

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