The Waterville girls will be one of the most interesting swimming teams to watch in Maine over the next few seasons. That’s because the Purple Panthers have 12 freshmen in their program this season.

“The girls are going to be a work in progress,” Waterville coach Bob Johnston said. “But all of the girls that came in are experienced from the junior high program. So that helped us a lot.”

Waterville has split two dual meets this season, losing to Edward Little and then beating Mt. Ararat. Johnston said he has had some of the freshmen swim the 200 and 500 freestyle events, just to get them acclimated to the longer distances at the high school level.

“One hundred, I think, is the longest race in the junior high meet,” Johnston said.

The Panthers have two meets this week — on Monday against Morse and on Friday at Belfast.

“Morse is going to be tough,” Johnston said. “A good test for us is going to be Friday at Belfast. After that, we’ll have a good idea for how we’ll do.”

As expected, senior Margaret Reisert has been the top swimmer for the Waterville girls.

“She’s actually qualified for states in every event she’s swum in this year,” Johnston said.

The Waterville boys rely on the quartet of senior Emmett deMaynadier, junior Alan Baez, sophomore Spencer Jones, and freshman John Reisert (Margaret’s younger brother). The Panthers swept Edward Little and Mt. Ararat in their first two meets.

While the girls have 12 freshmen, the Waterville boys have nine swimmers, total, and that really hit home for Johnston in the meet against Mt. Ararat.

“We swam Mt. Ararat the other day,” Johnston said. “I bet they had 50 kids, 20 boys. And here we are with nine boys. The boys team is going to be pretty competitive. Most of the teams in Class B are pretty small.”

• • •

Waterville, Winslow and Messalonskee will host their annual alumni swim meet on Dec. 23 at the Alfond Youth Center. Johnston said the meet is open to anyone who wants to swim, not just alumni from those schools.

“Anybody in the community that’s interested in swimming can come and swim at this meet,” Johnston said. “They’re short events, so anybody can do them. It’s not competitive. It’s really fun.”

The one stipulation is that if you enter an event, you need to bring a can of food or make a cash donation. The alumni meet benefits the Greater Waterville Area Food Bank. Johnston said the event usually draws about 100 people. Spectators are also encouraged to bring food or make a small donation.

• • •

Cony’s girls finished third in last season’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet, while the boys placed fourth. The Rams are two meets into the season, but coach Jon Millett said the focus is on February.

“We’re looking at the long-term picture, which is KVACs and states,” Millett said. “Everything else is filler until we get there. It’s all about stroke mechanics. Stroke mechanics make us better.”

Still, those first two meets were telling. Against Gardiner, freshmen Haley Gagne, Abby Lenko and Abreal Whitman combined to win four events on the girls side.

“I’ve learned that my girls are a little deeper than I thought they were,” Millett said, “and at the same time, both the boys and girls have some mechanical things to work on. I’m pleasantly surprised with my new athletes.”

With respect to the “mechanical things,” Millett said those are easily fixable.

“It’s just a matter of taking more time to master a certain skill,” he said. “We’re going to focus on those things this week as we get ready for Messalonskee (on Friday).”

If the Rams are indeed doing what they’re doing to be ready for the KVAC and state meets, Millett believes they’re on schedule.

“We are making progress every single day,” Millett said. “We’ve got a pretty bright future ahead of us — not looking past the present.”

The big standouts are still boys junior Noah Aube and girls sophomore Anne Guadalupi. Both were top-four in two different events at states last season, and Millett said they are swimming “quite a bit” faster than at the same point last year.

“Bottom line, I’m pretty excited about this season,” Millett said.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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