Leading up to the Class A swimming and diving championship meet, Brunswick Coach David Bright was trying to figure out which two individual events versatile junior Nate Samson should enter.

As a sophomore, Samson had won the 100-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke state titles. Back in December at the Morse Invitational, he won the 200 individual medley in a time – 1 minute, 57.01 seconds – that would hold up as the fastest in Maine this winter. Samson also had a blazing 50-yard free time of 21.51 from the KVAC meet, second only to Ellsworth junior Talor Hamilton.

Coach and swimmer settled on the 100 free – Samson delivered a Class A meet record time of 46.64 seconds, the only meet record to fall in either boys’ state championship – and the 200 free. “He kind of talked me into that,” Bright said. “He thought we needed a more balanced lineup.”

Competing against Falmouth senior Jake Perron and Cheverus junior Michael O’Donovan, Samson swam to a time five seconds better than that of the Class B champion and third-best in the state – but well behind Perron and O’Donovan. It was the only individual race of the season Samson didn’t win.

“I wondered,” Bright said, “if that was going to be my throw a pass from the 1-yard-line thing.”

Perhaps, had someone other than Samson been on the blocks for the anchor leg of the concluding 400 free relay.

With one point separating Brunswick and Bangor in the race for overall runner-up behind champion Cheverus, Samson hit the water nearly half a second behind Bangor. But he surged and finished more than three and a half seconds ahead of the Bangor relay team, securing second-place hardware for the Dragons.

“I like going fast,” said Samson, the Maine Sunday Telegram’s choice as Boys’ Swimmer of the Year. “The practices, they get boring going back and forth, but I love the feeling of racing.”

The upcoming YMCA Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina, will mark the end of Samson’s swim season, one that started amid uncertainty because he broke his right foot last May when he slipped on stairs while wearing wool socks. He was in a cast from knee to toes for eight weeks, but even that failed to completely keep him out of the water.

“I had a rubberized boot that went around it and kept it dry,” he said. “I could swim with my arms.”

After hours of physical therapy and hard work, Samson returned to the level he attained last year (10th in the nation with a 49.99 time in the 100 backstroke).

He swam butterfly on the Brunswick medley relay team that set a state-best time in the season’s first dual meet, against Morse, and backstroke when the same quartet of Samson, Jacob Cost, Brian Hess and Henry Raker lowered it in early February to 1:38.18.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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