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Opsahl leads East Lyme to another ECC swimming title

By Vickie Fulkerson

Publication: The Day

Published March 03. 2013 4:00AM

Groton - His own coach refers to him as low key, laid back and easygoing.

"He'll come up to me and say, 'Hey coach,'" East Lyme High School coach Jack Stabach said at a near whisper, impersonating his senior star, Adam Opsahl. "'Do you think you can get that kid to float a little bit higher? It might help him go faster.'"

Demonstrative would be a better way to describe Opsahl's performance at Saturday's Eastern Connecticut Conference championship at UConn-Avery Point.

He wasn't the Swimmer of the Meet. That distinction belonged to Christian Berg of Fitch, who set meet records in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 42.50 seconds) and 500 freestyle (4:41.86), meaning he'll graduate with four league records in his career. He repeated as the meet's top swimmer and is hoping to earn All-America honors by the end of the season.

But Opsahl, a three-sport athlete at East Lyme, gained momentum as the day wore on, taking part in four record-setting moments himself to help lift the Vikings to their 10th ECC title in the last 11 years. East Lyme finished with a whopping 622 points, outdistancing second-place Windham/RHAM by more than 300.

Windham/RHAM had 308 points, Ledyard/Stonington 278.5 and Fitch 259.

Opsahl won the 200 individual medley early in the meet. Following the first intermission, he won the 100 butterfly in 52.73 seconds, his first meet record of the day. It was better than his own previous mark of 53.13, set last season.

Then came the meet's final two relays, both won by East Lyme in record-setting times.

"Those are the most fun," Opsahl said. "Those relays get you going. You always want to go a little bit faster."

The Vikings set the 200 freestyle record in 1:29.24, breaking Fitch's mark of 1:30.19 set last year. Opsahl swam the leadoff leg in 21.90 seconds, which tied the meet record in the 50 freestyle, a distinction which is allowed for relay swimmers competing in the leadoff leg.

He was joined by Eric Stirtan, Clayton Otter and Sam Magna in that relay.

Opsahl, Billy Dumais, Thomas Whittico and Magna then took the 400 freestyle in another meet record, finishing in 3:19.53. That broke the record of 3:20.83 set by East Lyme in 2011.

East Lyme's other wins came from Dumais in the backstroke and Dylan Luce in Friday's diving championship.

Dumais, who finished second in the backstroke as a freshman and sophomore, took a year off from swimming on the high school team last year to focus on academics, he said. He's glad he did, getting accepted at Providence College.

"But I missed the camaraderie of all the people," said Dumais, who returned to help lead the Vikings to a 17-2 record overall, 12-0 in the ECC. "There were high points and there were some low points, but overall it's been a very fun season."

That was seconded by Opsahl, whose dad, Alan, is the Ledyard/Stonington coach.

"Before the meet my dad just said, 'Soak it up. Just have fun with it,'" Adam Opsahl said. "I used to get stressed out at these meets. I had a lot of fun ... hanging out with the guys and kicking butt."

Berg, meanwhile, wasn't as pleased with his end results, despite the two meet records. In trying to stay hydrated before the meet, Berg said he vomited from drinking too much water.

Once his first race began, however, he felt more like himself, he said. He wishes, in fact, that he could spend all his time between events in the water, which has served as his second home. Berg, who is only 17 years old and already 6-foot-4, will attend Southern Connecticut State University and swim next year.

"I don't feel sick, I don't feel nervous, I don't feel nauseous," Berg said of the time that he's racing. "... I get nervous about letting people down."

His dad, Ken, is the Fitch coach.

"It's hard to be coached by your dad," Ken Berg said of his son's nerves. "He gets nervous because his goals are so high, the times he's trying to do. It's hard to get them."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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