DARIEN, Conn. – Darien High School senior Olivia Leunis is still shaking her head over her November swimming accolades. She won three events at the State Open and helped her team win its first State Open title. She also helped the team to win class and league championships.
“It’s still unbelievable that the team achieved the State Open title,’’ said Leunis, who was selected the Darien winner as The Daily Voice’s Athlete of the Month. “It was great to see the hard work pay off at the end.”
Leunis was a big reason why. She won two individual events: the 200 medley and the 100 breaststroke. She also swam a leg on the winning 200 medley relay and on Darien’s third-place 200 free relay.
The medley victory was particularly memorable for Leunis, who beat Greenwich’s Katie Evans by more than one second. Evans beat Leunis in the league championship meet in the same race and entered the Open with a faster seeded time. Leunis also edged Evans in the backstroke.
“I’ve been racing against her since I was 12 and she 10 or 11,’’ Leunis said. “We’ve watched each other grow. Last year, I trained with Wilton’s K.C. Moss and she was a huge inspiration. It’s kind of the same thing with Katie. We feed off of each other’s energy. It’s nice to see a familiar face when we’re racing. I value having Katie there, someone that I know will be fast and strong.”
The State Open meet was a terrific conclusion to a spectacular high school career for Leunis, who signed a national letter of intent to swim next year at Vanderbilt University. Leunis also swims for the New Canaan YMCA swim team and is an avid skier and horseback rider who also enjoys playing the cello, piano and flute.
“I definitely achieved all of my personal goals at Darien,’’ Leunis said. “More than that, it’s a team that changed my life, how I look at swimming and how I look at life. I met my best friend there, and I’m just so thankful for what it has given me. I’m so happy that I’ll have those friendships forever.”