BATH — Gaffney McDonough leapt into the pool. Seconds later, the rest of the Morse swimming team joined him.

For the Shipbuilders, in the first in-person Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championships in two years, there was plenty of cause for celebration.

Morse swept its way to the boys and girls championships, winning 11 individual events and all six relays to take both KVAC B titles for the first time since 2017. Led by wins in the 200-yard IM and 100 breaststroke from Eliza Marco, the girls team scored 331 points to beat Belfast (301), Waterville-Winslow (184), Lincoln Academy (127), Gardiner/Hall-Dale (119) and Erskine Academy (102).

The boys, paced by dual winners Andrew Leighton (100 backstroke, 100 butterfly) and Sawyer Wright (500 and 200 freestyle), scored 320 points to edge Belfast (308) and finish ahead of Waterville-Winslow (144), Gardiner/Hall-Dale (48), MCI (33), Lincoln Academy and Erskine Academy (16).

“It was great. We went into the meet kind of behind on paper and stuff, so we had great swims across the board,” Morse coach Todd Marco said. “Winning all three relays was the key thing. Both the girls did that and the boys did that, so that’s the key and it all worked out. It was a good day.”

The Morse boys’ win was in doubt up until the very last event, but the 400 freestyle relay team of Leighton, McDonough, Wright and Finn Weafer came in at 3:34.99 to edge the Belfast quartet of Tanner Carson, Matthew LeVesque, Ronin Deschamps and Brigham Graf.


“I think our team really bonded together,” said Leighton, who was named the swimmer of the meet. “This was a pretty big goal. We’re just an exciting team. … I’m really proud of my team, and they did a great job. I’m proud of all of them.”

Leighton showcased his versatility by winning the 100 butterfly in 56.19 and the 100 backstroke in 58.29, while Wright took the 200 freestyle in 1:54.12 and the 500 free in 5:14.04. Morse also got a first-place finish from McDonough in the 50 freestyle (23.53).

“It just feels so good, to put a season of hard work into something (like this),” Wright said. “It’s awesome to be racing against people now. … It’s great to be next to your competitor and racing in real time.

“When it came down to the end, I just kind of realized that every race mattered. We just had to work our way out of everything.”

Gardiner/Hall-Dale’s Brady Gardner competes in the 200 yard IM at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B swimming championships Monday in Bath. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

The girls repeated after winning the virtual version of the championships in 2021. Marco took the 200 IM in 2:20.68 and the 100 breaststroke in 1:11.53, and was also part of the 200 and 400 free relay teams. She was joined among first-place finishers by Natalie Emmerson (200 freestyle, 2:06.51), Fionna Cashman (500 freestyle, 5:42.31) and Elena Trundy (100 backstroke, 1:05.57).

“My dad was definitely telling me about how it was going to be a hard competition against Belfast and the other teams, and I was really thinking about how much competition there was while I was swimming,” Marco said. “I was definitely thinking about the whole time, and how (Belfast) our biggest competition and it was going to be a close meet overall.”


The girls swimmer of the meet recognition went to Waterville/Winslow’s Emma Farnham, who won both the 50 (25.85) and 100 freestyles (56.84). Waterville/Winslow also got a victory in the boys meet from Andrew Turlo in the 100 breaststroke at 1:05.54.

For Farnham, the results were the latest success in her conversion to a sprint swimmer after swimming both short and distance events last season.

“It was really exciting. I haven’t always been a sprinter, but this year I decided to focus more on it,” said Farnham, who swam the 50 and 500 last season. “I think the biggest part is your starts and turns, which is definitely something I have to work on. My reaction time isn’t always so great.”

In the boys meet, Belfast’s Carson (200 IM, 2:18.59) and Graf (100 freestyle, 51.51) won events, while Lincoln’s Arden Carleton (100 butterfly, 1:04.85) was a winner in the girls meet.

The Waterville/Winslow girls also got strong efforts from Elza Dubrowka (third 200 IM, fourth 500 freestyle) and Robyn Brochu (fourth, 50 freestyle). In addition to Turlo’s win, the boys were also led by Sam Bernier (second 100 backstroke, third 100 butterfly) and Addison Bernier (fourth 500 freestyle, fifth 200 freestyle).

The Gardiner/Hall-Dale girls were led by Renee Molesworth, who was fourth in the 100 butterfly and fifth in the 100 backstroke, and Livi Pekins, who was fifth in the 100 breaststroke. The boys were led by Alex Hembree, who was fourth in the 50 freestyle and fifth in the 100 backstroke.

Stephanie Kumnick placed third in the 100 breaststroke for Erskine.

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