BATH – Nina Boudreau knew every second could make the difference.

And as it turned out, every second did.

Boudreau, a senior from Erskine, held off rival Kayla Payson of Belfast to win the 50-yard freestyle in one of the closest races at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B swimming championships, providing the lone local title at a meet won by Camden Hills on the girls side and Belfast on the boys.

“It’s crazy. It’s just so much adrenaline going through you, and a lot of fun,” said Boudreau, who was also third in the 100-yard butterfly after holding off Payson by 0.17 seconds. “It was a great race. I was excited going into it, I was excited after. It felt great.”

Erskine’s Nina Boudrea cheers and holds a lap count number for teammates in the 500 meter freestyle at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B meet Friday at the Bath Area Family YMCA.

There were plenty of highlights Friday night — Morse’s Olivia Harper, for instance, set a KVAC record by winning the 100 backstroke in 54.82 seconds — but Boudreau gave the meet an early jolt. She was seeded second going into the 50 free behind Payson, who she’s come to know well — and who she knew would be difficult to beat.

“You get to know people,” Boudreau said, “and when you race against people you know, it’s just so much fun.”

Boudreau was ahead from the start, taking a lead that, in a short race and against Payson, she knew was everything.

“Something that I looked at was just trying to get as fast as I could off the start,” she said, “and just hold that lead.”

Payson knew at the turn it was time to make a move, and almost caught Boudreau on the second leg. Another 25 yards, and the Belfast junior may have had it.

“I saw her and I was like ‘OK, you’ve got to pick it up,’ ” Payson said. “I should have worked my underwater more.”

Instead, Boudreau got to look up, see her time of 26.35 go on the board first, and celebrate.

“I was shocked,” she said. “I was definitely shocked, but I was excited.”

“She just goes all out, every time she races,” coach Sue Burke said. “She gives it her all, and she leaves it in the water.”

• • •

Maine Central Institute’s Megan Simeone’s seed time going into the 100 breaststroke was 1:18.63. And she didn’t like it.

She had beaten that figure by two seconds while swimming for the Mid-Maine Dolphins. And she was eager to do it again — this time on the KVAC stage.

“I wanted to see if I could beat that time,” she said. “I knew I could beat my high school time. I really wanted to beat my club time.”

Simeone did just that, posting a time of 1:15.31 to take second behind Camden Hills’s Sadie Woodruff. She also finished third in the 200 IM.

Simeone not only beat her time, but she also edged Medomak’s Emily Grinnell, who was seeded second.

Simeone knew a win was a long shot, but also that by staying with Woodruff, she’d be close.

“For me, it’s mentality,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t think about beating her, I had to think about staying with someone who was faster than me. Because if I thought about beating her, I wouldn’t have done as well.”

• • •

Mount View’s Jack Valleau swims the 100 freestyle during the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B meet Friday at the Bath Area Family YMCA.

The finishing kick made all the difference for Mount View’s Jack Valleau.

The senior took second in the 50 freestyle and third in the 100 free for the Mustangs, and also swam on the 200 medley and freestyle relays.

“I’m really happy getting second when I was seeded third,” he said. “My mindset was just go as fast as possible. That’s it.”

He needed to on the second leg of the 50 free. There was no catching Morse’s Brandon Johnson, but Valleau was in a pack battling for second with Morse’s Alex Gurney and Camden Hills’ Angus Carter. Valleau prevailed down the stretch, showing a second wind he hopes will serve him well at the Class B state championships as well.

“It adds a lot to the feeling,” Valleau said of beating his seed position. “Improving, but then also beating someone, it’s a really good feeling.”

Not that he got to enjoy himself pulling away from the group.

“I actually got water in my goggles, so I had no idea what was going on,” he said. “I was just going as fast as possible.”

• • •

Two years ago, Ellie Hodgkin stopped swimming, choosing instead to focus on tennis.

This winter, the Erskine senior was back in the pool. And soon she’ll be swimming in the Class B state championships, though she stopped by the KVAC championships to finish fourth in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:12.55.

“I wanted to get more in shape, to build my stamina more for tennis,” she said. “Maybe the first few practices, my sprint times were pretty much the same, but when I’ve been swimming distances, they’re not the same. I lost some of my stamina.

“I’m pretty sure this is my best 100 back time ever, but my distance swimming definitely needs more work.”

Distance swimming is Eleanor Brown’s forte, and the Erskine sophomore took fifth in the 500 free with a time of 6:08.09. She’ll also be in the Class B championships on Feb. 18.

While some swimmers pace themselves with another competitor, Brown, who was also fifth in the 200 IM, said she was using her own gauge.

“I just kind of go, and if I feel like I should be going faster, then I just speed up,” she said. “If I’m starting to get tired and it’s too early in the race, I’ll slow down a little bit. I just kind of go for it.”

The Eagles’ Cruz Barajas will also be in the state championships after he was 10th in the 50 free.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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