March 17, 2013

Girls Swimming: Easterling takes place among state's all-time greats

By Glenn Jordan
Staff Writer

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.

click image to enlarge

Sarah Easterling broke Jenni Roberts’ state record in the 100-yard backstroke and was just short of Roberts’ record in the 200 individual medley.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer


Sarah Easterling, Greely senior

Set a state record in the 100 backstroke (56.51 seconds) and a Class B meet record in the 200 individual medley (2:04.85) as she finished her career 8 for 8 in individual state finals. Our three-time Swimmer of the Year, she will continue swimming at Arkansas.

Colby Harvey, Waynflete junior

Won the 100 butterfly (56.22) and 200 freestyle (1:55.49) and swam on the winning 200 free and 400 free relays, both of which set Class B meet records. Ranked among the state's top 10 in all eight individual events, and first in butterfly.

Leila Johnston, Mt. Desert Island sophomore

Won the 50 freestyle in 24.54 and the 100 free in 53.78 to help the Trojans claim the Class B state championship, their second in three years. Also ranked eighth in the state in butterfly. Owns three school and two pool records.

Tori Leonard, Falmouth senior

A two-time Class A diving champion who holds school records for six and 11 dives. Unbeaten this season, including a third straight South Southwesterns title. Plans to continue diving at either Maine or New Hampshire.

Sonia Lin, North Yarmouth Academy freshman

Lin set a Class B meet record of 1:06.73 in the 100 breast stroke and was runner-up to Sarah Easterling in the 200 IM. One of only five girls statewide to break one minute in the 100 backstroke.

Celia Ouellette, Mt. Ararat senior

Won Class A 50 free in 23.84 seconds to break a 10-year-old state record. Also defended her 100 free title, in 53.29. Plans to continue her career at Western Kentucky.

Jessica Russell, Brunswick senior

Won her fourth individual Class A state title -- the 200 free in 1:56.49 -- and was runner-up in the 100 backstroke, an event she won twice before. Also anchored winning 200 free relay and, at KVACs, swam the season's top time in the 500 free (5:08.70). Holds five school records.

Emma Waddell, Bangor junior

Won her third straight Class A butterfly title, in 56.74 seconds. Runner-up to Worthley in a fast 200 IM. At PVC meet, swam the state's top time in the 200 free (1:53.88). Ranked among top six in the state in seven individual events.

Genevieve Worthley, Deering senior

Named Outstanding Performer of the Class A meet after winning her third straight title in the 200 individual medley (2:05.46), lowering her own state record to 1:03.72 in the 100 breast and anchoring Deering's winning 400 free relay. Plans to continue her swimming career at either Western Kentucky or Central Michigan.

Coach of the Year

Ben Raymond, Cape Elizabeth

In his seventh season since taking over the reins from Kerry Kertes, Raymond led a Capers squad with more depth than front-line talent to an unbeaten season that included the Southwesterns and the Class A state championship, both by close margins. "This group of girls was especially exciting to work with because of the amount of swimmers we had and the amount of variety in their ability levels," he wrote in an e-mail. "We had some non-swimmers, some of the top swimmers in the state, and everything in between. Every day was challenging."

"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:

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH


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