Falmouth senior Patrick Gill set a Southwesterns record in the 50-yard freestyle, winning the North race in 21.12 seconds. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

It was a Southwesterns experience like no other.

Approximately 450 swimmers and divers from 21 schools throughout York and Cumberland counties competed in seven different meets – plus a diving invitational – at seven pools last weekend. By Sunday night, the results had been compiled and four schools had earned conference championships.

The Greely High girls and Cape Elizabeth boys won North Southwestern titles, and the Yarmouth girls and Kennebunk boys were winners in the South Southwesterns.

“It was a blast,” said Yarmouth Coach Dave Cox, whose team joined Freeport, Bonny Eagle and Windham at the St. Joseph’s College pool in Standish. “There was a lot of good energy and everybody swam so well.”

Yarmouth’s girls prevailed over runner-up Thornton Academy, 233-204, in the 12-school South meet, with Kennebunk finishing third at 193. Clippers junior Alex Ericson earned Performer of the Meet honors after winning the 100-yard breast stroke in 1:10:45 and the 200 individual medley in 2:10.76, and helping Yarmouth to a four-second victory in the 200 medley relay.

Ericson is the top seed in both the 200 IM and 100 backstroke for the Class B state meet, scheduled for Tuesday evening at Cape Elizabeth High’s Richards Pool.

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All four state championship meets will be held in Cape Elizabeth, with the boys on Monday (Class A at 10:30 a.m. and Class B at 5:30 p.m.) and the girls on Tuesday (same schedule). No spectators will be allowed.

Senior Amelia Kostin also played a major role in Yarmouth’s victory, with runner-up finishes in both the 50 (to Thornton’s McKenzie Lowry) and 100 freestyle (to Kennebunk’s Campbell Maurer).

This year marked the 75th anniversary of the meet, which was started as a girls-only alternative to the state championship meets because the latter didn’t welcome girls until 1973. Yarmouth’s girls had never won until this year.

Although the meet wasn’t the everybody-at-one-pool extravaganza from days of old, it still sparked plenty of enthusiasm and resulted in significant time drops for nine out of Yarmouth’s 10 swimmers.

“It was the best experience the team has had during the pandemic,” said Cox, who expressed his gratitude to Greely and Coach Rob Hale for allowing the Clippers to practice and compete in Cumberland after losing Yarmouth’s regular facility in Freeport (the Casco Bay YMCA).

The Greely girls took the North title by 290-270 over Cape Elizabeth, with a combined Deering-Portland squad a distant third at 182. Sophomore Audrey Cohen earned Performer of the Meet honors after lowering a 19-year-old meet record in the 200 individual medley to 2:06.75. Taylor McFarlane of Cape Elizabeth held the old mark of 2:07.64 in 2003.

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Cohen also won the 100 free in 52.88 and anchored the winning 400 free relay. She’s seeded first in the Class B state meet in two other events – the 50 free and 100 breast. Cape Elizabeth was missing two top girls – senior Ali Bragg and freshman Hope Taylor – because of injuries, but Capers Coach Ben Raymond said both have been cleared to return and are on track to compete in the state meet.

Hale said his girls knew they had a chance against the traditionally powerful Capers.

“The door was open and they took advantage and swam really well,” he said. “But as well as we swam, it’s still only a 20-point (margin). That shows you how strong Cape is.”

Three other Southwesterns records fell, all of them on the boys’ side – two in the 50 freestyle. Falmouth senior Patrick Gill won the North race in 21.12 to lower the mark set in 2009 (by Westbrook’s Kyle Goan), and Freeport senior Brian Brogan won the South race in 22.22 to lower the mark set in 2013.

Scarborough junior Ethan Schulz established a new record of 46.70 in the North 100 freestyle. The old mark of 47.41, set by Tom Alberi of Cape Elizabeth, had stood since 2002.

None of the three male record-setters was named Performer of the Meet. Instead, those honors went to seniors Jack Pillsbury of Scarborough for the North and Evan Russo of Gorham for the South. Pillsbury won the 200 IM and 100 breast and swam on the winning 200 medley relay. Russo did the same individually and anchored the winning 400 free relay.

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Cape Elizabeth edged Scarborough 301-298 in the closest of the four meets, with Greely a distant third at 197. The South meet was similarly close, with Kennebunk holding off Gorham, 232-227, for the top spot and Thornton Academy third at 151.

Per tradition, Southern Maine swim officials donated their time and their association awarded $5,500 in college scholarships to 10 seniors from seven different schools. Bragg and Ethan Smith of Cape Elizabeth were the Emily Caras Snyder and Randy Comeau Memorial scholarship winners, respectively.

Hale said the Southwesterns are more enjoyable than any state meet because everyone on his team could compete. Had Southwesterns not been a virtual affair, the available slots would have precluded four of his girls and 10 of his boys from taking part.

As for the state meets, seeding suggests that Scarborough (boys) and Camden Hills (girls) will be favored in Class A, and Cape Elizabeth (boys and girls) in Class B. Greely, Ellsworth and Mt. Desert Island will challenge the Capers in the B girls’ meet.


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