NORWALK, Conn. – It had been three years since an individual swimmer from the Norwalk-Brien McMahon cooperative swim team stood on the top step of the podium at the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference boys swimming championships.
Senior Sherman Lau ended that drought last week with a victory in the 100-yard freestyle. Lau has been selected The Norwalk Daily Voice Athlete of the Month for his accomplishment.
The last swimmer from the team to win an individual title, according to coach Doug Marchetti, was Oscar Castillo in 2010. Lau was seeded seventh before the trials and second entering the championship. He won in 48.29, followed by Ridgefield’s Patrick Maguire in 48.91. Top seed Edward Moss of Greenwich took third in 49.07.
Lau took a unique approach, treating the event as a sprint and going all out from the gun. “There wasn’t much thinking involved,’’ he said. “I just went for it right from the start. I’ve been doing that for a long time, and it worked out well. I changed my breathing pattern recently, and I think that helped me a lot.”
It was important to earn respect within the league for his team, said Lau, a Norwalk resident who attends the Academy of Information & Technology in Stamford. The Bears had 10 swimmers on this year’s squad and don’t have the numbers to keep up with the league powers.
“A lot of people underestimate Norwalk swimmers,’’ he said. “Maybe we don’t have the most success in dual meets. But I don’t want them to underestimate us during the championship season. In the FCIACs and states, it’s all about individual swims.”
Norwalk has a host of excellent swimmers. Many of them, however, transfer to private schools that have more team success. Marchetti has been critical to keeping the team motivated as it competes during the season, Lau said.
“He wants us to improve and keep getting better as the season goes along,’’ Lau said. “He keeps our spirit up.”
Lau also finished third in the 100 breaststroke, and anchored the 200-medley relay and 400-free relay to their best times of the year.
Lau, who swims for the Wilton Wahoos during the summer, has several more goals during the states meet. Coming out of the FCIAC, he will be a favorite in the event for the Class LL and State Open titles. He’s also hoping to compete in the YMCA Nationals next month.
“I had a wonderful time from my freshman year to my senior year,’’ Lau said. “Our coach is really good, and even though we have a small team, we have as much spirit as any team in the league. I love swimming for Norwalk High. It has been a great experience.”