By Glenn Jordan
CAPE ELIZABETH - The sound of a packed natatorium at full roar, with the final 400-yard freestyle relay under way and a championship hinging on the outcome, is something to behold.
So it was Saturday, for the second night in a row, as the South Division of the Southwestern Swimming and Diving Championships took place at Donald Richards Pool.
On Friday night, it was Windham holding off Yarmouth by four points for the boys' title. On Saturday, it was the Waynflete girls clinging to a two-point victory over a deep and tenacious squad from Massabesic.
"It means so much to get this close," said Massabesic senior Abbey Auger, whose team had never placed at Southwesterns in her previous three years. "We're so excited. Waynflete's an amazing team."
The Flyers won the 200 medley relay and five individual events -- two of them in meet-record times and one of them a pool record -- but still nearly fell victim to Massabesic's depth and resiliency.
The final score was 200-198, with Yarmouth taking third (157), followed by Kennebunk (151), Gorham (144), Thornton Academy (130), Sanford (124) and six other schools.
Waynflete junior Ellen Silk earned Outstanding Performer of the Meet honors after setting meet and pool records with a clocking of 58.10 seconds in the 100 butterfly; coming from behind in the final yards of the 200 free to edge Massabesic freshman Elaine Dudley by three-hundredths of a second in 2:00.88; and swimming on the opening medley relay squad that gave Waynflete a lead it never relinquished.
"I was just trying to keep up with her until the last 25," Silk said of her victory in the 200 free, despite a seed time slower than that of three other swimmers. "That's when I didn't look at all. I just put my head down and swam into the wall."
Silk said she drew strength from her teammates, as well as friends and fellow students from Waynflete who came to a meet for the first time.
"That got me really hyped," she said. "I wanted to show them what the sport of swimming is all about and how fun it is."
Classmate Colby Harvey also won two events, lowering by more than two seconds the 200 IM record set by Sanford's Jenni Roberts, to 2:10.12.
Harvey won the 100 breast stroke (1:09.07) by more than four seconds and contributed to the medley relay victory. In the 200 IM, she won by more than 10 seconds.
Waynflete's other individual victory came from junior Walker Foehl in the 50 free (25.70). Classmate Amelia Deady was runner-up to double-winner Lindsey Thomsen of Gorham in the 100 free, but anchored both freestyle relays to help Waynflete score critical points. She moved the Flyers up to third in the 200 free relay and held off Gorham's Thomsen for fourth in the 400 free relay, won by Massabesic.
The Mustangs scored "B" relay points in both the medley and 200 free relays, but fell one second shy of Thornton Academy for the final spot (worth two points) in the 400 free relay.
The touch-out by Silk over Dudley in the 200 free also resulted in a six-point swing for Waynflete over Massabesic. Even so, Dudley's time of 2:00.91 set a school record that had stood since 1988.
"They have nothing to be upset about," said Mustangs Coach Christian Niven, in his first season after beloved coach Kevin Broad died of colon cancer in August at the age of 45. "It was an amazing performance."
There was a moment of silence before the meet for Broad, followed by everyone -- swimmers, officials and spectators -- joining in the singing of the national anthem, a particular specialty of Broad.
"A lot of emotions," said Auger, who joined with senior Kaylond Mauzerolle for a 3-5 finish in the 100 breast to give Massabesic a shot heading into the final relay, whittling an 18-point deficit down to 12.
Waynflete's final quartet of Sofia Canning, Renata Levine, Lucy Weaver and Deady held off both Gorham and Yarmouth to squeeze out fourth place and the overall two-point victory.
Gorham won the 200 free relay. The other individual winners were Kennebunk senior diver Tori Leonard (346.75 points) and Sanford senior Karina Urquhart, who took the 500 free in 5:35.34.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: