Cony swim coach Jon Millett is building his boys and girls teams around three outstanding swimmers and several promising newcomers this season.

“I’m really excited about what I’ve got,” he said. “We’ve got so many new kids. They’re picking it up fast and it bodes well for the rest of the season and the future.”

Sophomore Noah Aube finished second in the 200 and 500 freestyle events last year at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A meet, and Millett thinks he has a good shot at the state meet this season.

“He is swimming way faster than he was last year already,” Millett said. “Every event he’s swum this year he’s qualified for, He hasn’t even done his best event yet (the 200).”

Aube knocked 15 seconds off his 500 time in his first meet and Millett believes he can easily get his time in that event to below 4 minutes and 50 seconds.

“We just need to get him into shape,” he said.

Freshman Anne Guadalupi and senior Kayley McNeff are the stars on the girls team. Guadalupi broke McNeff’s 500 freestyle school record in her first meet with a time of 5:34.

“I would expect she’ll be sub-5:20 which could easily win the state this year,” Millett said.

McNeff finished third in the 500 last year at the state meet and seventh in the 200, but Millett said her best event is the 100 backstroke. Senior Abbey Hafey has been a pleasant surprise,” Millett said, along with freshman Molly Silsby. Among the boys, junior Brad Beckel, sophomore Logan Testerman and first-year senior Bronson Kieltyka have looked strong.

“He’s never swum a stroke in his life,” Millett said of Kieltyka. “He’s picking it up fast.”

Junior Joe Manduca of Monmouth trains with the Rams and competes in their meets and has looked very strong.

“It’s highly likely he’ll challenge for a state title in the 100 fly and possibly the 200 IM,” Millett said,

The Rams will get a strong test Friday at Messalonskee.

• • •

Gardiner has 15 girls swimming for the team this year and is off to a 2-1 start. Senior exchange student Karen Ip from Hong Kong has been the team’s fastest swimmer, specializing in the breaststroke and freestyle events.

She’s part of a relay team with Anastasia Carr, Kayla Freeman and either Isabelle Ucci or Katie Heath that is closing in on school records in the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay.

“I’m trying different chemistry to see what I can get,” Gardiner coach Rob Pekins said of his relay combinations. “Those five girls are my heavy hitters. I can interchange them into anything.

Nikki McGee and Kelsi Thibeau are also key contributors to the team.

Pekins also has four boys on his team — Colby Ham, Josh Mashke, Alex Santerre and Forrest Mattson — after having none or just one or two in the recent past.

“They’ve been doing really well in the in individual events and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays,” Pekins said. “It’s actually nice to have a boys relay team. I haven’t had one in so long.”

Th Tigers host Boothbay and Lincoln Academy on Tuesday.

“I think we match up pretty well with almost all the Class B teams in Kennebec Valley,” Pekins said.

• • •

Erskine senior Brandon Smith has returned to high school swimming after competing for just the YMCA team the past couple of seasons and he’s making an impact.

Smith has already broken the school record in the 200 IM, beating the old mark of 2:16 by four seconds. He’s also qualified for the state meet in the 100 freestyle. There are some other capable swimmers on the boys team including junior Sam Stevens, Madison Bodine and Colin Fagin.

“We finally have a good 400 freestyle relay team” Erskine coach Susan Burke said. “I think the boys are definitely going to do well in the KVACs.”

The relay team has already been under four minutes, but Burke is having a tougher time putting together a girls relay team to go with a couple of her faster swimmers. Freshman Phoebe Fleck has already qualified for the state meet in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle and has been the most consistent performer for the girls so far.

The Eagles host Winslow on Tuesday in their last meet before the Christmas break.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638[email protected]Twitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ

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