PORTLAND – Two days before Waynflete’s first swim meet in at least a half-century, the newly suited Flyers gathered in the shallow end of the YMCA pool on Forest Avenue and looked up at their coach.

Jim Harvey instructed them to bring a water bottle and something warm to wear on the pool deck to the meet. Oh, and one more thing.

“You need a cheer,” he said. “You’ve got two minutes to figure one out.”

The newest kids on the starting blocks are already making waves. With 13 girls and one boy, Waynflete reignited a program that won the 1949 Southwesterns title.

In its first meet, it beat a five-girl squad from North Yarmouth Academy 64-24, and more impressively, a team of 29 from Windham, 52-42.

Waynflete’s next meet is Thursday in Freeport against Portland, Falmouth and NYA.

“I have no official swimming experience besides at summer camp, they made us do laps every day, which I loved,” said Eliza Milliken, one of the two Flyers seniors. “It’s been really fun getting to know all these girls. A lot of them swim on teams outside this one every day, so it’s fun having them be the role models, even though I’m a senior.”

About half the team is made up of year-round swimmers, including the freshmen daughters of Harvey, the head coach, and David Silk, his assistant.

Harvey swam for Bucknell and the U.S. national team, and later coached at the University of Nebraska. He runs a master’s program at the YMCA. Silk is a swim official.

Together they oversee six freshmen, six sophomores and the two seniors, Milliken and Jaime Reagan, who swam for clubs in Freeport and Bath before reaching high school.

“I was a little skeptical, honestly,” Reagan said, “because whenever there are parents as coaches, I’m a little like, eh, I don’t know. But they’re doing a fantastic job. I’m kind of bummed I’m a senior and it’s starting. But it’s great and I hope it continues.”

Freshmen Colby Harvey and Amelia Deady swim for Coastal Maine Aquatics relay teams that broke five age-group state records, and Harvey has three individual marks, including a 57.4-second clocking in the 100-yard butterfly this November.

Last February’s Class B state champion, the since-graduated Lianne McCluskey of Camden Hills, was the only swimmer in the state meet to break a minute in that event. She won in 59.87.

“I didn’t think there would be this many people,” Colby Harvey said of her dozen female teammates. “Even though we’re small, I think it’s going to be a good team.”

Classmates Ellen Silk, Walker Foehl and Sofia Canning swim for the Portland Porpoises, and sophomore Luke Jeton, the only boy, swims for the Sanford Titans.

“We really wanted to swim high school because a lot of our older friends on our (club) teams told us how fun it was,” said Ellen Silk. “We don’t have as many practices. We only have two a week, but I think since the swim team is centered around club swimming, for the most part, it’s all right because most of us are getting a better workout.”

Waynflete Athletic Director Ross Burdick said two one-hour practices per week were as much pool time as he could arrange.

Some local coaches question whether Waynflete is violating the spirit of the Maine Principals’ Association’s bona fide rule, made to counter the trend of club swimmers jumping into high school meets without truly being part of high school teams.

“There’s no written expectation by the MPA swim committee that teams will practice more than two times a week,” said Falmouth assistant principal Jack Hardy, a committee member who prefaced his remarks by saying he doesn’t speak for the MPA in general. “From the information I have, there’s nothing that leads me to say they’re doing anything inappropriate.”

For his part, Jim Harvey is trying to integrate the year-round swimmers with the beginners and those returning to the sport.

“You’ve got a wide range of talents,” he said. “You want to spend 20 minutes on every person but you can’t. Pool time and getting a lot done in a short period of time have been the biggest challenges.”

After listening to the clear and peppy cheer the girls came up with, Harvey grinned.

“They seem to be having a lot of fun, which is the most important thing,” he said. “They’re becoming a team.”

 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

[email protected]