Sarah Easterling remembers what it was like as a high school freshman, how proud she was to win the Class B state title in the 200-yard individual medley, and then realizing that her winning time was nearly 10 seconds slower than that of the Class A winner, a senior from Sanford named Jenni Roberts.
“I remember thinking, ‘No way. Those times are insane’,” said Easterling, a senior at Greely High in Cumberland.
Similar thoughts must have occurred these past few seasons to nascent high school swimmers admiring the performances turned in by Easterling, whose fourth straight 200 IM title last month came within a quarter second of Roberts’ state record time of 2 minutes, 4.63 seconds.
While Roberts still holds the medley record, her standard in the 100 backstroke has been surpassed. Easterling lowered it by more than a second to 56.51 in a race that gave her an eighth individual state title, the most anyone can win.
For the third year in a row, she is our choice as Maine Sunday Telegram Swimmer of the Year.
“Sarah leaves as the most-decorated swimmer in Greely history,” said Greely Coach Rob Hale. “Some of her times (would) rank her in the top 10 for all-time performances in Greely history for boys’ swimming.”
Before the season began, Easterling accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Arkansas. As impressive as her accomplishments are, Easterling’s sunny personality and infectious good nature will be what Hale remembers most.
“Obviously, she will be missed,” he said, “but it will be more for the person she is, not the swimmer she is. She has been a great ambassador for our program and for Maine swimming.”
Easterling set school records in six of the eight individual swimming events and was a member of all three school-record relays. She holds six pool records, two state records (butterfly and 400 free relay), two Class B meet records (IM and 200 free relay), and led Greely to a pair of state titles and a pair of runner-up finishes to Mt. Desert Island.
She also was named Outstanding Performer of the Class B state meet three years in a row. Deering senior Genevieve Worthley, the two-time Outstanding Performer of the Class A meet, also capped a superb career with a state record in the 100 breast stroke and was considered for this award.
They went head-to-head just once this season, in early January, and Easterling won the 200 individual medley race by three seconds, although their victorious times in their respective state meets were less than one second apart.
“Racing her is fun,” Easterling said. “She’s a teammate of mine on the (Westbrook) Seals (club program) so we get along really well.”
Easterling has a twin sister, Sidney, who plans to attend Mississippi State. Their parents both started at Arkansas before transferring to Mississippi State.
“Sidney’s a little better when it comes to chores and stuff,” Easterling allowed. “And academically, she has the stronger points.”
In Maine pools this year, however, Easterling was without peer.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: