The era of Shepaug Valley School dominance in Berkshire League swimming and diving has come to a quiet close in recent years.

Yet, don't be misled.

The Spartans, under coaches Dick Ayer and Todd Dyer, ruled the league from the late 1970s until several years ago.

They might not be champs right now, but the Spartans still have plenty of emotional fire, and ample firepower to give the new king of the pool, Northwestern, a tough challenge.

This winter's Region 12 swim team, guided for the first time by former Spartan swimmer Chris Papsin, enjoyed a strong 2014-15 season.

"I am very proud of how the team performed this year," Papsin said. "Every one of the athletes has amazing heart and dedication to the team.

"I feel that is a huge part of this program's success."

The first ex-Spartan to shepherd the program, Papsin led his charges to a 10-2 record in Berkshire meets, marred only by home-and-away losses to Northwestern's cast of thousands Highlander squad.

Among the winter campaign's highlights:

Colin Decker broke his own school record in the 100-yard freestyle during the state Class S finals at Wesleyan University in Middletown.

Freshman Micaela O'Malley broke two freshman standards, the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle, the latter record dating back to Mindy Morse in 1996.

Earning Berkshire League all-star recognition during March 7's championship meet at Hotchikiss School in Lakeville were Decker (50-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke), Clayton Firmender (100-yard butterfly), Haley Pesce (200-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly) and Sean Leveille (diving).

In addition to Decker's 100-yard freestyle effort, the Spartans made a significant splash in the Class S competition.

Shepaug placed seventh as a team, thanks to the performances of Decker, Firmender, Dan Ong, Ed Wolfe, Pesce, Micaela O'Malley, John DaFonte, Leveille, Dylan Bennett and Cody Jordan.

The 200-yard medley relay of Decker, Wolfe, Firmender and Ong placed sixth.

Ong placed 21st in the 200-yard freestyle and 22nd in the 100.

Wolfe placed 12th in

the 200-yard individual medley and ninth in the 500-yard freestyle.

Firmender placed 16th in the 100-yard butterfly.

Decker placed second in the 100-yard freestyle and added third in the 100-yard backstroke to earn all-state laurels.

Pesce placed 23rd in the 200-yard IM and 24th in the 500-yard freestyle.

O'Malley placed 24th in the 100-yard backstroke.

Jordan placed 19th in the 500-yard freestyle.

The 200-yard freestyle relay of O'Malley, Bennett, Jordan and DaFonte was 12th.

The 400-yard freestyle relay of Ong, Firmender, Wolfe and Decker was sixth.

"This is really cool to be back at Shepaug," Papsin said, "and to be part of such a great school and swimming and diving program."

It could still be a while before the Spartans are able to dislodge Northwestern from atop the Berkshire League standings.

On the other hand, maybe not ...

"We are very excited for the years to come," Papsin said.

For more photos, visit www.newmilfordspectrum.com.

-- Norm Cummings