CAPE ELIZABETH -- The 2017 boys South Southwestern Swimming and Diving championships started with an almost unprecedented lead by Thornton Academy in the first half that ultimately led to their win by an 88 point margin. Kennebunk, a consummate swim culture, closed into an early third place behind Portland at the end of four of the twelve events, but closed in the gap to best Portland for second place by 4 points.
Kennebunk swim coach Andy Coulombe said, "That was an awesome day for us. I don't think at the beginning of the season if you had said we were going to come in second place, I don't think we would have agreed with you. Those boys worked their tails off and deserved every bit of that. We're going to miss our seniors, this is our third year with them. They really helped build a culture of hard work and putting in the effort at practice to make sure the times show up during swim meets."
Coulombe is looking forward to a fresh crop of young swimmers next year from a strong middle school program (60 kids and counting) as well as the YMCA's Manta Rays. In addition to winning first place in the 500 yard freestyle, Kennebunk senior Angus McLean also placed second in the 200 yard freestyle as well as the 400 yard freestyle relay with teammates Zach Matthews (FR), Tobias Macedo (FR) and Jason Albaum (SO).
In addition to winning their second Southwesterns championship in Thornton Academy history (the last Southwesterns championship win was in 1999), the TA boys also set two new Southwesterns South Division records. The strong junior team of Daniel Roch, Joe Vail, Joshua Roberts and Eli Steward broke a 2013 Yarmouth boys record in the 400 yard freestyle relay. The 2013 Yarmouth record was 3:29.60 and the Thornton Academy boys new record stands at 3:24.70 until broken.
TA also broke another 2013 Yarmouth South Southwesterns record in the boys 100 yard butterfly. Thornton's Eli Steward won in 53.72. The old record, set by Yarmouth's Evan Coleman, was 53.79.
Sanford placed fourth place at 151 points. The Massabesic swim team took home the top five spot, earning 128 total points. Biddeford's small outfit, sharing a coach with TA, took home ninth place (ahead of Gorham, Wells and Bonny Eagle) with 41 points.
The Wells delegate, playing to strengths, was lone warrior Nathaniel Hayward, who took home first place in the only event he, the one-man Wells team, competed. Hayward won the boys 1 meter diving Southwestern championship with a substantial 353.25 points against his two Massabesic competitors 184.30 and 180.25 scores.
Asking Thornton head coach Kathleen Leahy, who also coaches Biddeford and Old Orchard, how she led this team to their first Southwesterns win since 1999 reveled no secrets. Leahy, a true leader, loyally attributes all success to her team. Leahy said, "I didn't do it, they did. They worked real hard two seasons in a row and it's paid off completely. They're very excited and looking forward to states."
When asked if she saw anything special Tuesday night that she would like to repeat at states, Leahy simply said, "All of it."
First place winners by event:
Boys 200 yard medley relay: Sanford's David Winchell III, Joshua Webber, Marcus Gould and Mason Scully at 1:52.14
Boys 200 yard freestyle: Thornton Academy's Eli Steward in 1:50.18
Boys 200 yard IM: Thornton's Joshua Roberts in 2:07.60
Boys 50 yard freestyle: Thornton's Daniel Roch at 22.50
Boys 100 yard freestyle: Thornton's Daniel Roch in 49.40
Boys 500 yard freestyle: Kennebunk's Angus McLean in 5:15.64
Boys 200 yard freestyle relay: Thornton's Nolan Eisenhaur, Carl Pellerin, Felix Machacek, and Tom Cote in 1:39.89
Boys 100 yard backstroke: Thornton's Joshua Roberts in 57.58
Boys 100 yard breaststroke: Portland's Reed Foehl in 1:04.98