There are no qualifying times for the Southwestern swimming and diving championships, which get under way this weekend in Cape Elizabeth (with the South Division) and continue next weekend in Westbrook (with the North).
To Yarmouth Coach Brian Townsend, that distinction gives the Southwesterns a leg up on the state championships, scheduled for Feb. 18-19 in Brunswick (Class A) and Orono (Class B).
“I think it captures the essence of high school swimming a little better,” Townsend said. “You get everybody. It’s not just the elite.”
No one has ever accused Yarmouth of being among the elite swim programs in the state. The Clippers have never won a state title or even a Southwesterns title.
That may change Friday night. Led by a quartet of senior boys — Conner Lajoie, John O’Gorman, Luca Seid and Evan Coleman — the Clippers appear to be the biggest obstacle to a third consecutive South Southwestern title for Windham.
“Yarmouth is tough,” said Windham Coach Peter Small, whose team edged Yarmouth 87-78 in a Jan. 3 dual meet when neither squad was at full strength.”
On both weekends, diving preliminaries will be held Thursday night (in Biddeford this week and South Portland next week) followed by the boys’ meet at 5 p.m. Friday and the girls’ meet at 3 p.m. Saturday. Seventeen schools will take part in the South Southwesterns and 11 in the North Southwesterns.
Defending South champions are the Windham boys and Waynflete girls; in the North, it’s the Greely boys and Cape Elizabeth girls.
“I’m very biased about this, but the Southwesterns is probably my favorite meet I’ve ever been associated with,” said Small, who swam for South Portland High. “You can only participate in three events, not four (as in regular-season and state meets), so you rely more on team depth. The energy around the pool is absolutely exciting.”
Teams with sufficient depth can enter two squads in each relay, although by rule a B relay can never score more points than another team’s A relay, regardless of time.
Windham senior Nick Sundquist, who set a meet record of 48.42 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle last year, is seeded first in the 100 and 200 free. Yarmouth’s Coleman is tops in the 100 butterfly, and only two-tenths behind Massabesic senior Connor Mayhew in the 100 backstroke.
Yarmouth is seeded first in both freestyle relays, while Windham is well ahead in the medley relay.
YARMOUTH will say goodbye to 10 seniors — boys and girls — after the season, along with Townsend. Currently the aquatics director of the Casco Bay YMCA in Freeport, Townsend said he will be moving to Blue Hill.
ANOTHER NEAT aspect of the Southwesterns is that members of the Southern Maine Swim Officials Association donate their fees to help fund — along with other proceeds of the meets — 10 scholarships for graduating seniors.
THE OLDEST record in any of the four meets remains the 59.83 mark in the 100 breast stroke set by Greely’s Dewey Wyatt in 1982.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: