Williams Ends Career with State Open Win

April 14, 2015 by  

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By Pete Paguaga

Heading into the final turn of the 500-meter race at the State Open, Staples’ swimmer Daniel Williams made his move, giving it everything he had and touched the wall, coming back to win the Open Championship, tying him with Cheshire’s Karl Bishop.

“He was pulling him in, within halfway through the race,” Staples head coach Frisk Driscoll said. “It didn’t look like he had enough space to catch him, but the last turn you knew he would catch him. For Danny, that’s business as usual. It’s a one of a kind ability there.”

Williams is a closer. He paces himself and then waits for the opportune time to attack and that’s what made Williams The Hour’s All-Area MVP for the 2014-2015 season.

“I thought I could catch him in the last 100 (meters),” Williams said. “I just put my head down and see what happens.”

What happened was Williams caught Bishop.

“He was keeping Karl in his sights, in the last 150 (meters) he would make his charge and catch him,” Driscoll said. “The last 30 (meters) left, I thought he would catch him.”

Williams finished the race with a time of 4:35.61.

“I came up and saw that we tied,” Williams said of his State Open win. “I definitely didn’t know what to think. It’s pretty cool to go out on top, well tied.”

It didn’t even sink in for Williams that he had won a State Open Championship because he had other events to worry about.

“I was like “Oh, this is cool,” but I was focused on a relay that I had to do. I was still in race mode,” Williams said. “It sunk in after.”

The State Open championship was just the icing on the cake for what was a successful postseason for the senior.

He first won the FCIAC title in the 500 (4:37.29), holding off Norwalk/McMahon’s Anthony Dell’Isola (4:44.72).

“I knew I was going to be (in) first or second,” Williams said. “We’ve always been going at it for a couple of years. I knew it was going to be a battle.”

Then came the Class LL state meet, where Williams would finish in second place (4:38.81) to Bishop (4:33.79) by five seconds.

Four days later, Williams would come back to tie Bishop at the State Open.

“I was trying to find that pace, find that groove,” Williams said about the practices leading up to the State Open.

Driscoll saw it as a fitting end to a season that Williams worked so hard at.

“He had a plan from day one. I know him as a water rat,” Driscoll said of his senior. “In September he had big plans, maybe not titles in mind, but he wanted to race his races, to reach certain splits.

“What he was able to do was to set up a great season,” Driscoll added.

Heading into this season, Williams had a big swim cap to fill.

The Wreckers’ Jonathan Blansfield graduated in 2014, capping off quite the career. He won the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open titles as a junior. As a senior, Blansfield repeated as FCIAC champion before coming down with a stomach bug on the day of the Class LL Trials, forcing him to miss the Class LL meet and not qualifying for the State Open.

They would also compete with each other every day at practice.

“It was nice having him in the other lane pushing me. We suffered together,” Williams quipped.
For Driscoll, he enjoyed seeing the two go at it in practice.

“It was fun, at least for me,” said Driscoll, who swam the 500 at Staples and won the FCIAC title. “The nice thing about them is they complemented each other. Jonathan started fast and Danny closed quick.”

Williams will swim at Division III Bowdoin College next season and he said he couldn’t think of any better way to end his high school career. He will also miss the team spirit.

“It’s a great feeling to know I’m going out on top,” he said. “Most of all, we had great spirit, going crazy, we liked to have fun.”

For Driscoll, he is going to miss more than Williams’ accolades.

“Daniel, in my short time, he’s the smartest swimmer I’ve coached, his pacing and race strategy,” Driscoll said.

Reprinted from The Hour