Since he first swam competitively at age 10, Chris Zagorski knew he had a future in the sport. Thirteen years later, Zagorski is entering his first season at the helm of the Plainville boys swimming and diving program.
"I just fell in love with the sport," Zagorski said. "I had good role models as coaches, I just wanted to pass along my knowledge and experience to the next batch of aspiring swimmers."
Zagorski, who graduated from UConn in May of 2011, has coached a recreational team in his hometown of Berlin the last five summers. He was an assistant for the Berlin girls swimming program in 2011 and became a co-head coach this fall. This winter, he inherits a Plainville squad that went 5-11 last season. Zagorski doesn't expect his Blue Devils to compete for a CCC South title, but he does think the team can turn some heads.
"I expect the team to develop as the season progresses," Zagorski said. "I'm excited to see what they can do."
Zagorski, who swam at Berlin High School, has big shoes to fill. Randy Doucette, who coached the Plainville boys team for 36 years and the girls team for 20, retired in the offseason. The veterans on the team are making the transition easier. Eddy Lee (500 freestyle and 100 backstroke), Nick Evangelista (200 free and 100 butterfly) and Wojtek Plachta (200 and 500 free) are captains and will lead the team along with fellow seniors Chris Utley and Austin Cameron.
"The entire senior class, all five guys, have really strong leadership potential," Zagorski said. "They have made my job as a head coach a lot easier."
Zagorski said he's been impressed by the veterans passing along their knowledge to the younger swimmers. That experienced core includes junior Justin Freitas, who competes in the 50 freestyle, and top diver Shayla Beausoleil.
In the meantime, the Blue Devils are building for the future. Zagorski said he expects sophomores Trevor Roy and Julius Brown to make an impact along with freshmen Josh Schilling, Jarred Karal, Christian Gomme and Eddie Peshka.
Usual suspects at top of CCC West
Conard and Farmington appear to be on a collision course in the CCC West. The Chieftans have captured three-straight division crowns, but graduated four starters from last season's team.
"We did graduate some top-end swimmers but we still have a nice core returning," said Conard coach John Smachetti.
That core includes Chris Warren, Ty Seymour, Colin Burke, Christian Bouzyk and David Walsh, all of whom competed at the Class L finals where Conard finished fourth, two spots ahead Farmington. The Indians, however, finished 16th at the State Open, two places ahead of Conard. Warren, a co-captain, placed sixth in the backstroke at the Class L final and was a member of the 200 medley relay state championship team. Smachetti believes Warren can challenge the school's backstroke record.
"He's probably the top returning backstroker in the CCC West," Smachetti said.
Freshman John Rinald is expected to make an immediate impact in the breaststroke and IM events.
"John will step right in and score major points," Smachetti said.
Conard defeated Farmington 97-89 on Jan. 24 last season. The two teams face off in a duel meet that will have CCC West title implications on Jan. 29.
"Based on us having lost more than they did, and as close as that meet was last year, I've got to believe that meet it too close to call this year," Smachetti said.
Three all-conference talents return to Farmington as well as all four members (Kevin Mathieu, Jonny Boains, Kyle Koziol and Damian Parzych) of their 200 and 400 freestyle school record relay teams.
Hall, a team that finished in third with a 7-5 overall record, returns six state qualifying swimmers.
Best of rest
Wethersfield, following an 11-1 season, is looking to crack the top 2 at the Class M final after a third place finish last year. They return five state finalist swimmers, and coach Lee Schwartzman said in an e-mail that the team is practicing with the Class M meet in mind. Glastonbury, a fifth place finisher at the Class LL meet, looks to be at the top of CCC North this season.