After winning consecutive Class A state championships, the Cony girls head into this season with a good chance to three-peat thanks to a strong group of returning state champion swimmers.

Senior Gabby Low (100-meter backstroke and 100 butterfly) and junior Cecilia Guadalupi (50 freestyle and 500 freestyle) lead the Rams.

“No one is going to look past us and we are still in the hunt. We have the two best swimmers in the state,” said Cony coach Jon Millett.

Low, who has committed to the University of Connecticut next season, is focused on putting an exclamation mark on her high school career by swimming six days a week, coupled with some weight training. “I’ve been working on underwaters (15 meters after turns) and increasing my tempo. Lifting weights has been really helpful,” Low said.

“She’s the best Cony girls swimmer ever,” Millett added. “This year, she will be an All-American. No doubt in mind.”

Guadalupi is “a younger version of Gabby,” Millett said, and gives the Rams versatility in all four strokes. “Both of them are extremely competitive and neither of them like to lose.”

The Cony boys, meanwhile, will be led by senior Nathaniel Berry, who took second place finishes in the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke at the Class A championship races last February.

“This year, I’m doing better than I was at this point last year so I’m really looking forward to the season,” he said.

The other top area boys swimmer is Messalonskee senior Edmund Couture, who is aiming to improve upon his third-place finish in the 100 butterfly and fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle at that state meet last season.

“I’m just trying to gain strength and better technique in the freestyle and the butterfly,” he said. “It’s going to take persistence, pushing through the pain and working hard.”

Couture’s teammate, junior Martin Guarinieri, came in sixth at the Class A meet in the 200 individual medley and eighth in the 100 backstroke.

Messalonskee coach Beth Prelgovisk said the boys and girls teams should be competitive.

Seniors Sarah Kohl, Olivia Roy and Leah Smith will help lead the girls.

“They will bring experience, versatility and depth to the meets,” Prelgovisk said. “A good mix of underclassmen will round out the team.”

Three Lawrence swimmers train with Messalonskee, including freshman Nate Pierce, whom Prelgovisk said could be a top-six contender in Class A.

The Waterville/Winslow co-op fared well last season under new coach Justin Giroux, taking fourth overall in Class A. The boys team will look to junior Carter Jones (seventh in the 100 breaststroke at the Class A meet) and classmate Jake Witham (sixth in the 50 freestyle).

“We lost some key seniors last year. The boys will need to work hard to fill in these gaps. Jake and Carter will be leading the team and should have great senior years as they chase team records,” Giroux said.

Junior Leah Shoulta, who finished fourth in the 200 freestyle at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A meet, leads the Waterville/Winslow girls.

Susan Burke enters her 10th season at Erskine, and once again has the depth to put together strong relay teams. The Erskine girls qualified for the Class B meet in the 200 freestyle and 200 medley events last season, and will be led by senior Nina Boudreau and Eleanor Brown. Senior Cruz Barajas, who qualified for the Class B championships in the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle, will lead the Erskine boys.

Turnout is once again strong for the Gardiner/Hall-Dale program under 20-year head coach Rob Pekins. A staggering 42 swimmers came out this season, Pekins said, so the emphasis will be on teaching fundamentals and building depth. Seniors Madisyn Curran and Laura Molesworth, along with junior Diane Tran, will lead the girls team.

“We have a lot more of a core than in years past. Our goal is to surprise everybody with numbers and hidden talent,” Pekins said.

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