Four Cape Elizabeth swimmers set a school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay on Thursday. From left, Alicia Lawrence, Emily Ecker, Caroline Mahoney and Olivia Tighe turned in a time of 3:40.42. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Four Cape Elizabeth swimmers set a school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay on Thursday. From left, Alicia Lawrence, Emily Ecker, Caroline Mahoney and Olivia Tighe turned in a time of 3:40.42. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

CAPE ELIZABETH — Olivia Tighe, a sophomore at Cape Elizabeth High, has had plenty of time to stare up at the record board that hangs from a wall inside the Donald Richards Pool.

She grew up in town, started swimming in second grade and trains year-round with Coastal Maine Aquatics in addition to her hours with the high school team.

“I’m here close to twice a day,” she said after a recent practice. “I’ve been looking at them for a long time.”

On Thursday afternoon, Tighe was in the middle of a four-girl frenzied hug after she anchored a record-setting 400-yard freestyle relay to victory in a time of 3 minutes, 40.42 seconds. Classmate Alicia Lawrence led off the relay and freshmen Emily Ecker and Caroline Mahoney bridged the gap to Tighe, the defending Class B state champion in the 200 freestyle.

Their time was faster than what the record board listed for school, pool and state bests, but – as the girls learned shortly after their swim – it had not been updated since Brunswick High lowered the state mark for the 400 free relay to 3:39.10 last February.

So they settled for lowering their school and pool record of 3:40.84, which they had set shortly before Christmas against Bonny Eagle. The state record will have to wait.

“For a second there, it was pretty exciting,” Lawrence said.

“We can definitely get it at States,” Mahoney said.

“We’re so close,” Ecker said. “A second is nothing in a 400 race.”

“And now that we know (the Brunswick time to beat),” Tighe said, “we’re going to go even faster.”

Caroline Mahoney was part of the Cape Elizabeth relay team that set a school – and pool – record in the 400-yard freestyle relay Thursday, with a time of 3:40.42.

Caroline Mahoney was part of the Cape Elizabeth relay team that set a school – and pool – record in the 400-yard freestyle relay Thursday, with a time of 3:40.42. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

That Cape Elizabeth is challenging state relay records this early in the season, and entirely with underclass swimmers, should give the rest of the Class B field cause for concern. And the team is more than simply a fabulous foursome. Coach Ben Raymond had enough swimmers for eight 200 freestyle relay teams in the meet against Maine Girls Academy (formerly McAuley) last week, a 130-48 victory.

Already, 22 girls have qualified for the Class B state meet, scheduled for Feb. 20 at the University of Maine’s Wallace Pool. In addition to the quartet mentioned above, six sophomores (Jade Lindenau, Hope Campbell, Casey Concannon, Maddy Culkin and divers Maggie Pierce and Kelsey Kennedy) have turned in times or scores among the state’s top dozen in Class B this winter.

“Last year’s freshmen, this year’s sophomore class, is kind of an anomaly,” Raymond said. “It’s a great class. There’s so many of them that swim or have swum competitively growing up. Maybe they’re starting to veer off into other things as they get in high school, but they still already have a ton of talent and a ton of skill and they all get along really well, they all have fun. That makes it kind of easy.”

Senior Rose Baillie, one of three captains and currently ranked 10th in Class B in the 100 breast stroke, helped lead a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for Mahoney, celebrating her 15th birthday, after the 400 free relay ended Thursday’s meet.

“All of them work so hard,” Baillie said of the young stars. “They don’t walk around with any sort of air of, ‘I’m the superior swimmer.’ They’re all really conscientious about everyone on the team, which is nice.”

From top right, Emily Ecker, Alicia Lawrence, Caroline Mahoney and Olivia Tighe celebrate after setting a school record in the 400-yard free relay.

From top right, Emily Ecker, Alicia Lawrence, Caroline Mahoney and Olivia Tighe celebrate after setting a school record in the 400-yard free relay. Ben McCanna/ Staff Photographer

“Usually it’s the role of the senior or the captain to take charge and be the supportive one,” said senior captain Maddie Stephen. “But they’re the ones in the pool, teaching me how to do a flip turn.”

When Stephen, who endured a junior season of mononucleosis, qualified for the state meet for the first time since she was a sophomore, “they all came over and hugged me,” she said. “It’s like: You guys qualified in five events and I did one! But they were so happy for me. It means a lot.”

Sean Flaherty, the coach at Maine Girls’ Academy, remembers a lot of the names on Cape Elizabeth’s record board. One of them, on the boys’ board, is his own, from when he swam for Scarborough High in 2001.

“Ridiculous,” he said of Cape Elizabeth’s young talent. “They’re fun to watch. For the next four years, I don’t see anyone beating them.”

The Capers were runners-up last February to Greely but this year figure to face their biggest challenge from Morse High in Bath.

“Morse is fast,” Flaherty said, “but they don’t have these guys’ depth.”

“We’re not that deep into the season,” Tighe said, “and to have all the success so far, it’s pretty exciting, especially for what’s to come.”