Cape Elizabeth swimmers hoist the championship plaque after winning the Class B boys’ state title on Monday night. Glenn Jordan photo

CAPE ELIZABETH — The outcome was a foregone conclusion.

Cape Elizabeth had clinched the Class B boys’ swimming and diving title after the 100-yard breast stroke, so it didn’t really matter what the Capers did in the concluding 400 freestyle relay Monday night at Richards Pool. And yet, amid a lengthy pause before the second and final heat of that relay came the sound … of clapping.

No, no quite clapping. The sound was of … slapping. Open palms repeatedly swatting bare chests and supple thighs. Without any spectators, without any public address announcements, the swimmers themselves filled the void with a gathering noise that might give mountain gorillas pause.

“Everybody was getting super stoked behind the blocks, all the teams together,” said Cape Elizabeth senior Keegan McKenney. “It was a good vibe, a good atmosphere.”

Sufficiently pumped up, McKenney and teammates David Steinbrick, Ethan Smith and brother Cormac McKenney slapped an exclamation point on their state championship by setting a meet record that also bettered a school mark that had stood since 1983, over twice their lifetimes ago.

Their time of 3 minutes, 16.50 seconds was nearly 10 seconds better than that of their closest challengers, from Greely High, and another 12 seconds faster than that of Mt. Desert Island, which had won the previous three Class B state titles.


“We’ve been trying to break that record since we were freshmen,” Keegan McKenney said. “It means a lot to finally do it on my last race, Ethan’s last race. We were all super excited.”

The Capers finished with 409 points to easily outdistance MDI (345). Greely was a distant third at 290, followed by Ellsworth (199.5), Morse (168.5), Belfast (149), Freeport (111), John Bapst (105) and a dozen other schools.

McKenney had two individual victories (500 freestyle and 200 individual medley) to go along with anchoring the winning 200 and 400 free relays. He was named Performer of the Meet for the second time, having won it as a sophomore in 2020.

Smith, a fellow senior, was Cape’s only other individual winner. He took the 100 butterfly in 51.45 and placed second in the 50 free. Cape Elizabeth also got top-three performances from sophomores Steinbrick (second in 100 back and third in 200 free), Cormac McKenney (third in 200 IM and 100 breast) and Jack McCormick (third in 100 free and 100 back).

Those three sophomores, along with freshman Graham Plourde, led off the meet by winning the 200 medley relay in 1:41.49.

Freeport senior Brian Brogan was the only individual double winner besides McKenney. Brogan won the 50 and 100 free as the top seed in both events.


The only event with an upset winner was the 200 freestyle, in which Greely junior Matt Desmond rose from more than a five-second seed deficit past both senior teammate Charter Sasseville and Steinbrick to win in 1:46.79. Desmond has a long history of competing with Sasseville.

“I’ve been racing against him since sixth grade,” Desmond said. “That was the first time I’ve beaten him.”

That he fell a tenth of a second short of a school record did not seem to bother him. “I’m just so happy,” he said.

Sasseville came back to win the 100 backstroke in 55.04. Ellsworth senior Nick Patridge won the 100 breast in 57.70, and Belfast senior Ronin Deschamps won diving (227.50 points), which took place Saturday.

Although seeding showed Cape Elizabeth with a comfortable advantage entering the meet, Coach Ben Raymond told his team to ignore the score.

“It starts zero-zero,” he said. “You’re not given any points. You have to earn everything that you get throughout the meet.”

So given the chance to coast through the final race, they opted for a different path to cap their first state title since 2015.

“We like to finish strong,” McKenney said. “Last one, fast one.”

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