Tuesday night's Southern Connecticut Conference swim meet between Branford and Foran will forever be known as "The Duel in the Pool."
Heading into the meet's final event, the 400-yard medley relay, the Hornets held an 87-82 lead and knew that if the Lions won first and third they would beat Branford for the first time. The teams had a fierce rivalry back in the mid-80s but no one could remember a Foran victory.
As things worked out, Foran did win the 400 free relay as Adam LaRocca, Rich Enders, Andrew DeLuke and Dylan Swanpoel knotched a time of 3 minutes, 36.83 seconds. By claiming both second and third place, Branford hung on to win 93-90.
"It all came down to the last event. Branford had a little more depth than we had, but my boys swam their hearts out and were exhausted," said Foran Coach Kristen Skuches, a former Branford High swimmer. "I think Branford under estimated us. We took them by surprise and proved that we can hang with some of the best teams in our league. It was a total team effort from beginning to end."
The meet began with the Hornets winning the 200 medley relay, but Foran's foursome - DeLuke, Matt Haselkamp, Hayden Gilmore and Josh Bartosiewicz - logged a time of 1:58.19.
Foran bounced back to claim blue ribbons in both the 200 freestyle and the 200 individual medley. Swanpoel not only won the 200 free but he did so in 1:47.18, which sets a new school record. The old mark of 1:47.80 was set by Rich Enders Sr. in 1983. With his father in the gallery watching the meet, Rich Enders Jr. won the 200 individual medley in 2:07.36.
Bartosiewicz added a second place 25.42 in the 50 free and Stan Olsson did the same in diving with his score of 149.25.
Following consecutive victories by DeLuke (100 butterfly — 59.95), Swanpoel (100 free — 50.50) and (500 free — 5:31.03) on top of a winning time of 1:37.14 in the 200 free relay by Bartosiewicz, Haselkamp, Swanpoel and Enders, along with Dan Gallup's second place 5:44.59 in the 500 free, the Lions had crept within one point (69-68) of the undefeated Hornets.
After winning the 100 backstroke and the 100 breaststroke, Branford opened its lead to 87-82. DeLuke did place second in the 100 backstroke (1:04.80) and Gilmore did the same in the 100 breaststroke (1:16.34).
Recalling her team's near miss, Skuches said, "I told my boys before the meet that every point would count and they understood the situation. Even picking up the fourth and fifth place points would be crucial. This was one of the most exciting meets I've been a part of. It was a fun meet to swim, coach and watch."
With the narrow victory, the Hornets are 2-0 while Foran slipped to 0-2.