The Winslow boys swimming team thought it would be fairly strong this winter, thanks to nice nucleus of returners. But two newcomers with limited swimming experience have stepped in and given the Black Raiders more depth than expected.

Junior Ryan King is one of the newcomers, and his improvement was almost immediate.

“His first night in practice, he struggled getting down the pool, and (with) his stroke technique,” Winslow coach Marcia Jones said. “He’s so coachable. His first week of practice, his stroke had improved so much.”

Jones said King is now two seconds away from qualifying for states in the 100 backstroke.

“He’s dropped his time like 27 seconds in the last three weeks,” Jones said.

Winslow’s other newcomer who has made a big impact is freshman Logan Theriault, who is strong in the freestyle events.

Among the returning swimmers, junior Gabe Smith holds the school record in the 100 breaststroke at 1 minute, 11.06 seconds, and is hoping to knock that time down before the end of the season. Smith also qualified for the states in the 100 butterfly last season in the first-ever time he competed in that event.

“He is showing a lot of leadership skills right now,” Jones said. “He’s the one who took Ryan under his wing and got him along.”

Other top veterans for the Raiders are senior Pierce Ducker (100 back, 100 free), junior Griffin Davis (multiple events), and junior Chad Colford (50 free, 100 free).

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The Winslow girls are low on overall numbers, but they do have a top-flight swimmer in senior Marissa Charette, who swims the 200 individual medley, the 100 backstroke, the 100 fly and the 500 free.

“She’s a slow and steady person,” Jones said. “She works on the strokes and she has the determination. She practices hard when she is there in the pool.”

Senior Bethany Winkin has also done well in the freestyle events for Winslow, and sophomore Audrey Jones (Marcia’s daughter) is showing good potential in the backstroke and freestyle events.

Coach Jones would like to see those numbers increase, but Winslow is in the position of having good to excellent teams in all other winter sports. The girls ice hockey and basketball teams each won at least 10 games last year, and the indoor track and field team is a solid one.

Jones points out that her daughter Riley, who is nationally ranked in the racewalk, took last season off from track to join the swimming team, and found that she was stronger when she returned to spring track, just by being able to take that time away from the sport.

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Lincoln and Belfast have both defeated the Waterville girls this season. That said, Waterville coach Bob Johnston raves about how much improvement the Purple Panthers have shown this winter, and he’s hoping to get a chance at a top-two finish at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B meet.

One of the top individuals for Waterville is junior Brianna Bernier, who is the reigning 100 backstroke champion in the KVAC.

“She’s qualified (for states) in almost every event except breaststroke,” Waterville coach Bob Johnston said, “and the reason she hasn’t qualified for that is she hasn’t swum it yet.”

Treva deMaynadier, Allison Scully, Sarah Ringer and Mollie Pleau have all impressed this season. Among the freshmen, Kayla Redmond has qualified for states in the IM and Margaret Reisert is close to qualifying in the 200 free and 500 free.

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One name not on the above list of Waterville contributors is senior Annesley Beringer, who has made a strong recovery after missing all of last season because of a severe concussion she suffered while playing soccer.

Beringer has qualified for states in the 50 free, and anchors Waterville’s 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams.

“When I first got my concussion, they told me I probably wouldn’t be able to play sports ever again,” Beringer said. “I still kind of feel like I’m slower than I should be.”

If it’s possible, Beringer would like to play soccer in college, and keep swimming in some capacity.

“I wasn’t able to play soccer last year — my senior year,” Beringer said. “I’m so lucky that I get to swim this year, and I get to be with team and have fun.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]