It happened twice, in the 500-yard freestyle at the 2016 Class B state meet and again in the 200 individual medley at the 2017 North Southwesterns swimming and diving championships.

In the illustrious high school career of Cape Elizabeth senior Olivia Tighe, those marked the only two championship-meet races – individual or relay – that she failed to win.

She was runner-up as a freshman to Lydia DaCorte of Mt. Desert Island (who went on to swim at Wheaton) and as a sophomore to Ana Neff-Jendrasko of Maine Girls’ Academy (now swimming for Florida Atlantic).

As Tighe prepares to continue her career at Duke University, she leaves behind three straight Class B state championships for Cape Elizabeth, two individual state records (in the 100 and 200 freestyle) and three relay state records.

“She was incredible, as a swimmer and as a teammate and as a young lady,” said Capers Coach Ben Raymond. “When your best athlete is your hardest-working athlete, it always makes things easier.”

For the second year in a row, Tighe (pronounced TIE) is our choice as Varsity Maine Girls’ Swimmer of the Year.

The only other Maine swimmer in the same class as Tighe was junior Olivia Harper of Morse High in Bath. Harper, who holds the state record in the 100 backstroke, opted instead to swim the 100 butterfly at the Class B state meet (she won for second year in a row) and to challenge Tighe in the 200 free.

Spurred on by Harper, Tighe surged to a state-record time of 1 minute, 50.21 seconds to win by nearly three seconds. She surpassed the mark established two years earlier by Brunswick’s Caitlin Tycz, who now swims for the University of Southern California.

“I think it was cool that she went out of her comfort zone, or what she would normally race,” Tighe said of Harper. “She’s a really great person and swimmer.”

A bit later in the state meet, Tighe won her third straight 100 freestyle title (half a second off the state record of 50.23 she set a year earlier) and teamed with Alicia Lawrence, Hope Campbell and Caroline Mahoney to lower their state record in the 200 freestyle relay to 1:35.24. They also lopped more than two full seconds off their state record in the 400 free relay to 3:30.27.

“Those were both incredibly sad but special,” Tighe said of her final two relays, “because I’ve grown up with those girls and we’ve had some killer swims.”

Tighe, Lawrence, Mahoney and Rose Baillie (then a senior) set the 200 medley relay state mark of 1:48.61 two years ago.

Aside from athletic skills that helped the Capers amass an astounding 487 points in the state meet (having won with 351 and 440 the previous two years) and be named Perfomer of the Meet in Class B three years running, Tighe radiates an exuberance that makes the pool deck a welcome environment.

“She is able to do some different things that allow everybody to have a little more fun,” Raymond said. “I think she wants everyone else to enjoy swimming the way she enjoys swimming.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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