Southwesterns a meet to like for many reasons
There are no qualifying times for the Southwestern swimming and diving championships, which get under way this weekend in Cape Elizabeth (with the South Division) and continue next weekend in Westbrook (with the North).
To Yarmouth Coach Brian Townsend, that distinction gives the Southwesterns a leg up on the state championships, scheduled for Feb. 18-19 in Brunswick (Class A) and Orono (Class B).
"I think it captures the essence of high school swimming a little better," Townsend said. "You get everybody. It´s not just the elite."
No one has ever accused Yarmouth of being among the elite swim programs in the state. The Clippers have never won a state title or even a Southwesterns title.
That may change Friday night. Led by a quartet of senior boys -- Conner Lajoie, John O´Gorman, Luca Seid and Evan Coleman -- the Clippers appear to be the biggest obstacle to a third consecutive South Southwestern title for Windham.
"Yarmouth is tough," said Windham Coach Peter Small, whose team edged Yarmouth 87-78 in a Jan. 3 dual meet when neither squad was at full strength."
On both weekends, diving preliminaries will be held Thursday night (in Biddeford this week and South Portland next week) followed by the boys´ meet at 5 p.m. Friday and the girls´ meet at 3 p.m. Saturday. Seventeen schools will take part in the South Southwesterns and 11 in the North Southwesterns.
Defending South champions are the Windham boys and Waynflete girls; in the North, it´s the Greely boys and Cape Elizabeth girls.
"I´m very biased about this, but the Southwesterns is probably my favorite meet I´ve ever been associated with," said Small, who swam for South Portland High. "You can only participate in three events, not four (as in regular-season and state meets), so you rely more on team depth. The energy around the pool is absolutely exciting."
Teams with sufficient depth can enter two squads in each relay, although by rule a B relay can never score more points than another team´s A relay, regardless of time.
Windham senior Nick Sundquist, who set a meet record of 48.42 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle last year, is seeded first in the 100 and 200 free. Yarmouth´s Coleman is tops in the 100 butterfly, and only two-tenths behind Massabesic senior Connor Mayhew in the 100 backstroke.
Yarmouth is seeded first in both freestyle relays, while Windham is well ahead in the medley relay.
YARMOUTH will say goodbye to 10 seniors -- boys and girls -- after the season, along with Townsend. Currently the aquatics director of the Casco Bay YMCA in Freeport, Townsend said he will be moving to Blue Hill.
ANOTHER NEAT aspect of the Southwesterns is that members of the Southern Maine Swim Officials Association donate their fees to help fund -- along with other proceeds of the meets -- 10 scholarships for graduating seniors.
THE OLDEST record in any of the four meets remains the 59.83 mark in the 100 breast stroke set by Greely´s Dewey Wyatt in 1982.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:
GIRLS´ SWIMMER OF THE WEEK
Colby Harvey, Waynflete junior: Won the 50-yard freestyle in 25.32 seconds and the 100 backstroke in 1:01.02 Friday during a meet with Gorham and Hyde. The free time is the fastest in Class B this season and the backstroke time is second-best.
Elaine Dudley, Massabesic freshman: Won the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly, and swam on two winning relays to lead the Mustangs to a victory over Biddeford Friday.
Libby Gajewski, McAuley senior: Won the 50 freestyle, the 100 backstroke and swam on two winning relays to lead the Lions to a 100-73 victory over South Portland Friday.
Lindsey Thomsen, Gorham senior: Won the 100 free (in 57.00) and placed second to Harvey in the 100 backstroke in a Friday meet with Waynflete and Hyde.
BOYS´ SWIMMER OF THE WEEK
Trebor Lawton, Cheverus senior: Won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:46.71 Friday against Deering, giving him the fastest time in Class A. He already owns the fastest Class A times in the 100 free and 100 butterfly, which he won Friday in 54.77.
Eric Delmonte, Deering junior: Won the 100 breast stroke Friday against Cheverus in a time of 1:03.18. He also won the 500 free in 5:02.14.
Jake Perron, Falmouth sophomore: Won the 200 free in 1:52.28 Friday in a meet with Cape Elizabeth and South Portland. His time is the fastest in Class B this season. He also won the 100 breast in 1:07.81.
Greg Violette, Westbrook sophomore: Won the 100 butterfly and the 200 individual medley -- both in personal season-best times -- during a Saturday meet with Greely.