BATH — Standing behind the blocks at the YMCA Short Course Nationals in April, waiting for their turn to hit the water at the Greensboro Aquatics Center in North Carolina, Ann Tolan and Caitlin Tycz talked about random stuff: Who they knew at the meet; which coaches they think are funny; maybe reminding each other to bring an air mattress for the tent they share at a big summer meet in New Brunswick.

“We laugh a lot behind the block before relays, trying to calm each other down,” Tolan said.

“It’s good, because you’re not thinking about swimming,” Tycz said. “You’re just thinking about being with your friends.”

Tolan and Tycz are seniors at Morse and Brunswick high schools, respectively. They are also longtime teammates on the Long Reach Swim Club that trains out of the Bath Area Family YMCA. Each ranks among the top 10 students academically at her high school, and each has accepted an athletic scholarship to continue swimming at a major NCAA institution – Penn State for Tolan and the University of Southern California for Tycz.

“Every year in Maine, there seems to be somebody going to some really good swim school,” said Jay Morissette, who has coached at Long Reach since 1985. “I don’t have statistics, but I almost think swimming does better than other sports in terms of consistently sending high-end athletes recruited to high-end colleges.”

After practicing together in the afternoon, Tolan and Tycz join their high school teams for evening practices. Tolan holds the state record of 23.39 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle and placed sixth in that event at the YMCA Nationals. She also holds Morse High records in six of the eight individual events and owns Bowdoin and University of Maine pool records in the 50 free.


Tycz, who swam in the U.S. Olympic trials the summer, holds the YMCA national record in the 100 butterfly (52.43) as well as the state record in that event (53.32). She, too, holds six records at her high school, lacking only the 100 breast stroke and 500 freestyle.

“I’m working on them,” she said with a smile.

Tolan and Tycz, both 17, have been swimming together at Long Reach for the past decade. Tolan started first, at age 6. Tycz arrived a year or so later, after first taking lessons at the Casco Bay YMCA.

At 5-foot-11, Tolan is four inches taller and specializes in sprinting. Tycz has the broad shoulders of a butterfly swimmer. They occasionally go head-to-head when Brunswick and Morse hold their annual dual meet. But because Brunswick competes in Class A and Morse in Class B, they don’t see each other at state meets.

“It’s a fun type of competitive,” Tolan said. “We want our teams to do well and we want each other to do well.”

“We’ve always been friends,” Tycz said. “Ann is really focused. When she needs to accomplish something, she always gets it done, which I really admire.”


The recruitment process started earlier for Tycz, who honed in on USC as a sophomore and twice attended summer camps there. She also visited Yale and the University of Virginia, but opted for Southern Cal, whose women’s team finished sixth in the 2016 NCAA championships and featured eight All-Americans.

“I liked the other schools,” Tycz said, “but they would have had to be perfect, in my mind, to top USC. They train outdoors (at times) and have a 50-meter pool, which we don’t have in Maine. So having that training for when I go to the Olympic Trials in four years or international competition will give me a chance to do my best.”

Tolan played soccer and lacrosse her freshman year at Morse before going all-in on swimming. She came later to the college recruitment process and asked Tycz plenty of questions.

“I was never really the best until, like, last year,” Tolan said of her sprinting. “I was always good, but I wasn’t great. She’s always been really good.”

Penn State placed 25th at the NCAA meet last March. Tolan also visited Yale and North Carolina State.

“It’s definitely an up-and-coming team,” Tolan said of Penn State, which also boasts an outdoor pool to go along with two indoor pools. “It will be fun to be part of a team that’s improving so much, and hopefully I’ll be able to help bring them to a new level.”

For her final season of high school swimming, Tolan has her sights set on the Class B state championship. The Shipbuilders were fifth last winter but have their deepest team in a decade.

Brunswick, meanwhile, has won two straight Class A titles, but graduation left holes that may be too big to fill.

“We’re rebuilding,” Tycz said. “My goal is to get all of the new swimmers and returning swimmers to enjoy the year. I’m a captain this year, which gives me a new perspective on it.”

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