Cony swim coach Jon Millett is nearly as excited about the present as he is about the future of his young boys team.
The Rams have won all three of their meets so far, relying on a couple of experienced seniors along with several freshmen.
“I think they’re going to be a lot better than people expected,” Millett said. “They’re a lot better already.”
The Rams have 15 boys on the team, which is a few more than they’ve had in recent years. Seniors Adam McNeff and Cody Kirk are the mainstays of the team. McNeff, who placed in the 500- and 200-yard freestyle events at the state meet last season, is off to a strong start. In Friday’s win against Messalonskee, he won the 100 butterfly, the 50 freestyle and was part of the winning 200 medley relay team. Kirk, a freestyle and breaststroke specialist, placed first in the 200 free and third in the 100 breaststroke.
Freshmen who have turned heads include Noah Aube, Logan Testerman and Dale Lapierre.
“They’re all new to swimming,” Millett said. “Noah Aube broke the school record in the 500 free the second time he swam it.”
Aube swam the 500 in 5 minutes, 23 seconds, breaking McNeff’s record of 5:30. He didn’t compete in the Messalonskee meet but Testerman did, winning the 100 backstroke and taking second in the 100 free. Lapierre finished second in the 50 free.
With the graduation of Victoria Weber, the Cony girls team has taken a step back. Kayley McNeff, Mel Peterson and Jenna Harwood have had the most success so far. In Friday’s meet against Messalonskee, McNeff won the 100 back and 100 free while Harwood won the 50 free and took second in the 500 free.
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The Erskine swim teams are down a few members from the 34 who started the season due to a variety of reasons. But the Eagles, particularly the girls, have had some success. Earlier this season they beat Cony in a dual meet and Friday topped Winslow by 10 points.
“I have probably five or six solid swimmers,” Erskine coach Susan Burke said. “They’re all pretty even.”
Senior Katherine Wright has already qualified for the state meet in the 200 freestyle, an event she won in Friday’s meet against Winslow. She was also second in the 100 fly while junior Gillian Welch won the 100 free and the 100 backstroke. Distance specialist Kat Newcomb and junior Emma Wilkinson have also swum well so far.
“Our medley relay team is looking good,” Burke said.
For the Erskine boys, sophomore Sam Stevens is within striking distance of school records in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, both held by Brandon Newcomb. Stevens had already qualified in the 100 fly and swims the 200 free and 200 IM as well. Sophomore freestyler Colin Fagin has also been a bright spot on the boys side.
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Gardiner has just two seniors in Marissa Dice and Emily Kobrock among 15 swimmers on its girls team which bodes well for the future. The Tigers are already getting good performances from sophomore Taylor Freeman, junior Nikki McGee and freshman Anastasia Carr. Freeman is an all-around swimmer who right now is best at the backstroke and individual medley.
“She’s also a sprinter,” Gardiner coach Rob Pekins said. “She keeps bettering her times.”
McGee specializes in the sprints but also swims the back, butterfly and breaststroke while Carr’s best events are the backstroke and individual medley.
“There are some new kids this year which is nice,” Pekins said.
Sophomore Alex Santerre is the only boy on the team. His best events are the backstroke and 100 freestyle.
“He’s getting better every time,” Pekins said. “He’ll qualify (for the states).”
Oak Hill senior Sean Deans trains with the Tigers and will contend for a place in the state meet in both the butterfly and backstroke.
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Messalonskee’s Arthur Conover has established himself as the top distance swimmer in Maine and New England, winning both titles last year in the 500-yard freestyle. Next year, he’ll take it up a notch when he attends Kenyon College, a Division III school in Ohio that has won 31 national titles in row.
“He’s focusing on the (500) and the mile,” Messalonskee coach Sara Rushton said. “He’s trained very hard this summer. He changed his eating habits and did a lot of open water swimming.”
Conover holds every school record but the 50 free and he’s taking aim at that one this year. His specialties are the 200 and 500 freestyle events and he’s rarely even challenged.
“Right now I’m focusing on getting some of the relay records for my teammates,” Conover said.
Freshman Ben Thibert, sophomore Daeghan Elkin and senior Kyle Holmsen are all part of the freestyle and medley relay teams.
“They all will qualify for many events for the states,” Rushton said. “I can see them placing in the top three for relays,”
The Messalonskee girls graduated six top swimmers from a team that won its first Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship and placed second in the Class A state meet last season. So far their only loss it to Brunswick.
Sophomore Kristy Prelgovisk set the school record last year in the 100 breaststroke and finished second in that event at the states. She has some strong teammates in seniors Kaileigh Lenentine and Katie Swenson and junior Allison Fischang.
“I think we’re a solid contender for the KVACs,” Rushton said. “Brunswick will be the big favorite (but) I think we have a shot.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638