The story remained the same for the Cony High School girls swimming team.

For Gabby Low, however, it got a little bit sweeter.

Low helped lead the Rams to a second straight Class A state championship at the University of Maine, but while she turned in a pair of second-place finishes last season, Low was as good as it gets this time. The junior won state titles in the 100-yard butterfly and 100 backstroke, setting a meet record in the latter, and played pivotal roles in winning 200 freestyle and medley relay teams. For her performance, Low is the Kennebec Journal Girls Swimmer of the Year.

“There’s probably not another kid more passionate about swimming,” coach Jon Millett said. “She’s willing to swim anything we ask her to swim. She’s always focused on the larger picture than herself. She’s definitely not a ‘me, me’ kid, she’s a ‘we, we’ kid, and that’s nice to have on your team.”

Low swept the big meet honors — she was named Most Outstanding Performer of the state championships after taking the distinction at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Championships.

“It was a great year. I had some good swims throughout my season, but it was great to win that state title as a team,” she said. “That was kind of what we had our eye on the entire season, that’s what we worked for every practice and it just felt great to have that title again.”

Low acknowledged there was some pressure going into this season. The Rams had nearly everybody back, and began the year as the favorite to reclaim their title.

“We felt like we had a ton on our back, that we were the team to beat,” she said. “So there was that pressure, which did make us nervous, but it also helped us because we felt like we won last year, why can’t we do it again?”

Low did her part. She gave up soccer in the fall to focus on swimming, and became the ultimate luxury for Millett on a race-by-race basis.

“She’s aces in the 100 fly and 100 back, and somebody we can count on to win both those events every time she jumps in the pool,” he said. “It’s two events that we don’t have to think about. … We know it’s there. And covering the 100 fly is really hard. A good 100 flier is hard to get.”

Surrounded by talent led by state champions Cecilia Guadalupi and Talia Jorgensen, Low still managed to stand out. She was unfazed by the state championship stage, taking first in the 100 back in 56.28 seconds and in the 100 fly at 55.38. She also swam legs in a pair of relay victories, giving Cony a lead it wouldn’t give up in the third leg of the 200 freestyle relay.

“It can be intimidating, but I do like swimming when there’s something on the line,” she said. “I used to not be like that, but over the past couple of years I’ve learned to use that pressure in my swimming and help myself get better.”

Millett said he never worries about Low in a big meet.

“When you need to have your best swim, that’s when Gabby shows up,” he said. “The bigger the meet, the bigger her performance. That’s just the way she is.”

She set the state meet record in the 100 back, but it’s the fly where Low has really started to separate from the pack. She was nominated for All-American status in that event, and will find out in June whether she’s earned the distinction.

“It feels amazing,” she said. “There have been some great swimmers who have had All-American status, like (current USC swimmer) Caitlin Tycz. … Those are the people I looked up to in my swimming career and who I’ve tried to be like.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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