WATERVILLE — There is a caveat to Ben Raymond’s oft-repeated guidance for his Cape Elizabeth swimmers regarding championship competitions.

At big meets, don’t worry about the score until after the 100-yard breaststroke, he will say. That way, only the 400 freestyle relay remains, and strategy will become clear: Either fast starts because you need to win the relay, or cautious starts because it’s more important to avoid disqualification.

His guidance holds true when, as is often the case, Cape Elizabeth builds up a substantial lead. On Wednesday afternoon, the defending state champions found themselves looking up at Mt. Desert Island through nine of 12 events at the Class B state meet.

“We made them aware of how close it was,” Raymond said with a smile. “I don’t want them to focus on the score if we’re ahead, but when things get tight, I needed to remind them a little bit of ‘Hey, we are in a swim meet here.’ Things are happening.”

The Capers responded, retaking the lead in the 100 backstroke, extending it in the 100 breaststroke and icing their victory with a dominant performance in the 400 freestyle relay. They finished with 355 points to 319 for runner-up MDI. Greely was third at 281, followed by Morse (242), Belfast (192), Ellsworth (172) and four other schools.


Juniors David Steinbrick and Cormac McKenney each won two individual events and collaborated on Cape Elizabeth’s winning 200 medley and 400 free relays.

McKenney won the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke and was named Performer of the Meet. Seeded third in butterfly, he cut more than two seconds off his best time of the season to win in 52.16 seconds.

“I was focused on my underwaters and moving myself as fast as possible and having a nice finish,” McKenney said. “After you push off each wall and off the dive, before you reach the surface you try to dolphin kick really fast. Those are great ways to gain more ground on your opponent.”

He also won the breaststroke by nearly three seconds in 59.77. Steinbrick prevailed in the 100 and 200 freestyle (in 48.24 and 1:44.53, respectively) and anchored the winning relays.

“I love swimming here,” Steinbrick said as he looked around the Olympic-sized pool inside the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center on the campus of Colby College. “I love high school (competition). It’s a lot more team-oriented than club, especially doing all these relays. The camaraderie between the teams and then within the teams, it’s so nice.”

Sophomore Graham Plourde provided Cape Elizabeth’s other individual title by winning the 200 individual medley in 2:03.60. He also placed fourth in butterfly.


Further Cape Elizabeth support came from seniors Ian Plourde (fifth in 500 free), Rohan Yadav (sixth in 200 IM and breaststroke) and Max Hemeon (12th in 100 free and 14th in 50 free), juniors Jack McCormick (second in backstroke and 50 free) and Weston Lowe (eighth in 200 free), sophomore Tiger McCormick (11th in butterfly, 12th in backstroke) and freshmen Ian Connolly (eighth in 500 free) and Nick Eremita (11th in breaststroke).

That depth helped overcome a false start disqualification in the 500 free that cost Cape Elizabeth an expected third place.

“What made it closer was how well MDI swam, more than the false start,” Raymond said. “They moved up quite a bit in every single event. Luckily, our kids continued to hold their place and move up.”

MDI won the 200 free relay (1:32.23) and had the meet’s only diver, junior Riley Donahue, whose winning score was 213.10 points. Other individual winners were Belfast senior Brigham Graf in the 50 free (22.16 seconds), Morse senior Andrew Leighton in the 100 backstroke (54.34) and Greely sophomore Asa Giffune in the 500 free (5:05.63).

Leighton came from behind to catch Cape Elizabeth’s Jack McCormick by four tenths. McCormick was even closer to Graf in the 50.

Leighton said his strength is underwater propulsion, so he undulates below the surface as long as he’s allowed. “I go to the max and hope that gets me ahead,” he said. “I know my weakness is my swimming, so at the end, I’ll use the rest of my arm strength to finish off.”


The meet’s longest race provided another thrilling finish. Giffune, seeded fifth, held off Morse sophomore Sawyer Wright by two tenths of a second.

“I was trying to break five (minutes),” Giffune said. “That didn’t really happen. But midway through, I saw I had a race, so I took it from there and tried to go for it.”

For the second day in succession, Raymond enjoyed a celebratory plunge with his Capers. McKenney was a volunteer timer for the girls’ meet on Tuesday, when Cape Elizabeth extended its championship winning streak to five.

“That was cool to see them win,” McKenney said. “We got it, too, so it’s a whole team victory.”

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