Since returning to high school competition after two years of exclusively club swimming, Jerry Gravel of Scarborough has made a splash. He has set two pool records, of 54.51 seconds in the 100-yard backstroke at Greely High and of 1 minute, 57.66 seconds in the 200 individual medley at Cape Elizabeth.
Both times are tops in the state this season. In five of the other six events, Gravel’s times are among the top three. He’s also one of only five swimmers this season to finish the 500 freestyle in under 5 minutes.
“After my freshman year I was more focused on improving my times and really getting into a school I wanted to for college,” he said after returning from a high school practice on a day that included a 5:30 a.m. Coastal Maine Aquatics practice.
After accepting a full scholarship to LaSalle University in Philadelphia to swim with his brother, Kip, a sophomore, Jerry could relax a little.
“I definitely wanted to give back to Scarborough,” he said. “Now I’m spending more time with my friends. Even though I’m going to more practices, it’s definitely a more relaxing environment.”
On Friday afternoon Gravel sparked the Red Storm to an 88-86 victory over host Cape Elizabeth by winning two individual events and two relays. In the 200 medley and 200 free relays, Gravel inherited deficits and turned them into leads. His split on the final leg of the 200 free was 21.91 — faster than anybody has swum the 50 free this season.
Scarborough Coach Eric French said Gravel has helped teammates with starts, turns and technique.
“He makes our team a contender every week with his speed and his team-inspired meet presence,” French said.
In early November, Gravel and Colby Harvey of Waynflete advanced to the finals of the Minneapolis Grand Prix. Gravel placed 12th in the 200 individual medley in a time of 1:54.85, which would be a state record if he repeats it in February at Bowdoin. The winner of that event in Minneapolis? Olympian Ryan Lochte.
“In (a heat of) the 50 free I was two lanes over from him,” Gravel said. “That was pretty cool.”
Harvey reached the finals of the 100 butterfly (sixth in 55.73) and 200 individual medley (13th in 2:09.79), and was 18th in the 100 free (52.82).
BANGOR HAS won the Class A boys’ state title for six straight years, but that streak may be in jeopardy against Cheverus, which has dominated competition in southern Maine. In a meet Friday, the Stags set a school record in the 200 free when Trebor Lawton, Spencer Lindsley, Michael O’Donovan and Kevin Kane finished in 1:33.49.
Two other school marks fell. Diver Courtney Kane scored 160 points and Tessa Lindsley won the 200 free in 2:01.54.
Earlier this season, Thornton Academy lowered a school record in the 200 medley relay that had stood since 1999. Chris Steward, Alex Pickering, Alexey Savelyev and Alexander Savelyev swam a 1:52.55 to cut eight-hundredths off the previous mark.
THE STATE’S highest-scoring diver this season is Dylan Farber of Deering, who earned 191.05 points on six dives from the 1-meter board last month.
Farber won’t be diving in college, however. He has been snowboarding since the age of 7 and is a certified instructor at Shawnee Peak. He’s been accepted to colleges in Utah and Vermont, and plans to spend a lot of time on the slopes.
Tori Leonard, the defending Class A state champion in diving from Kennebunk, turned back a challenge from the top-scoring diver in Class B this season, Falmouth freshman Charlotte Janelle, during a dual meet Friday in Biddeford. Janelle finished with a season-high 177.55 points to 188.95 for Leonard, who topped out at 196.30 points earlier this season.
“Unfortunately they will not meet again,” said Falmouth Coach Dave Cox, “but it was the best diving competition we have seen this season.”
THE SOUTHWESTERNS are scheduled for the first two weekends in February, with the South Division competing in Cape Elizabeth on Feb. 1-2 and the North Division competing in Westbrook on Feb. 8-9.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: