Cony’s Gabe Biasuz swims the 100-meter butterfly during a meet Friday at the Kennebec Valley YMCA in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

AUGUSTA — The Cony swim teams entered winter in a transition season, with new faces in the pool and a new face leading the program.

Longtime former Waterville coach Bob Johnston, a fixture in state swimming circles, took over the program from Jon Millett, who was named the school’s athletic director earlier this season.

Combined with the usual roster turnover, and both Cony swim teams were faced with some changes.

Cony coach Bob Johnston gives instructions during a meet Friday at the Kennebec Valley YMCA in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Johnston, however, is familiar with the Rams, having worked as an assistant to Millett last season.

“I knew the kids and I love the sport,” Johnston said. “My love for it, I’d like to give to them. That’s kind of why I did it.”

Johnston and Millett both have enjoyed success over the years, although both showcase different demeanors poolside.

While  Millett could show a fiery attitude. Johnston is bit more subdued.

“I’m a little more low-key than Jon in that regard,” Johnston said. “His blood pressure gets a little higher than mine. But it’s fun getting back into it.”

Johnston takes over a girls team that nearly won its third consecutive Class A title last season, but returns as the defending Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A champions. The Rams lost Gabby Low — now swimming at the University of Connecticut — to graduation. But talent remains on the roster to defend the KVAC crown, and maybe even make a push at the state championships.

“We lost Gabby and she was a central part of our team,” senior Cecilia Guadalupi said. “That’s definitely been hard. Our team has gotten significantly smaller and we lost our head coach, which doesn’t sound like a big change, but it really made a big impact. It feels different.”

Guadalupi returns as one of the team’s most seasoned swimmers. In Friday night’s meet against Waterville/Winslow, Guadalupi swam a time of 1:07.96 in the 100-yard breaststroke, which Johnston said is among the top times in the state in the event.

Sophomore Emma Thomas has also shown to be strong in the pool. On Friday, she cruised to victory in the 200 individual medley in 2:25.01. She was also dominant in the 500 freestyle, winning at 5:39.88, almost 1:04 faster than the next swimmer.

The boys are hurting in number, and lost top swimmer Nathaniel Berry to graduation. But there’s still strong individual talent, including junior Gabe Biasuz, who finished second behind Waterville/Winslow’s Eric Booth in the 50 free and 100 butterfly. There’s also some new blood in freshman Tyler Foster, who picked up a win Friday in the 200 free and second in the 100 backstroke.

Biasuz said the change in coaches has been relatively smooth.

“I think it’s awesome that coach Bob is the new coach,” Biasuz said. “He’s such a great coach. He’s helped me so much, and same with (assistant coach Scott Munroe). He’s such a nice guy. They both, together, just make a good team.”

Johnston said Friday’s meet against Waterville/Winslow — and the remaining dual meets on the regular season schedule — are landmarks on where individual swimmers are in preparation for the postseason.

“They’re kind of in a midseason mode,” Johnston said. “They’re working hard in practice. They don’t care too much about the results of the dual meets. The long term goal is to get ready for the KVACs and states.”

How Cony does in the postseason remains to be seen, but the Rams continue to transition together.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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