Greely junior Audrey Cohen swims to a victory in the 100-yard butterfly at the Class B girls’ state championships on Feb. 21 at Colby College in Waterville. Cohen also won the 100 breaststroke at the state meet. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

There’s a running joke that Audrey Cohen’s dad is the fastest swimmer in the family. And it’s certainly true that, while on vacation, he beat his daughter in a swimming race in a hotel pool.

She was 5 years old.

He wisely decided never to race her again.

Audrey Cohen

Plenty of Maine schoolgirls have lined up against Cohen over the past two years, however, and not one of them has been able to do what Dad did.

Now a junior at Greely High in Cumberland, Cohen has won every individual race in her high school career. This winter, she won her second straight Class B 100-yard breaststroke title – an event in which she holds the state record – and won the 100 butterfly as well.

In four of the eight individual swimming events, she has times that rank among the top 10 in Maine schoolgirl history. Before this season started, she verbally committed to continuing her career at the University of Alabama.


For the second straight year, she is our choice as Varsity Maine Girls’ Swimmer of the Year.

“The biggest thing I learned about her this year,” said Greely Coach Rob Hale, “is that she wants to race the best because the best will bring the best out of her. I learned not to say, ‘I’m not sure you can win that’ or ‘I’m not sure that’s the best event for you.’ If you challenge her, she accepts it.”

Neither of Cohen’s individual races at the state meet was close. She won butterfly by more than two seconds. She won the breaststroke by nearly three seconds. Her opening leg of the 400 freestyle relay – in which Greely placed second to five-time overall champion Cape Elizabeth – was clocked in 51.72 seconds. Not only was that faster than the winning 100 free times in the Class A and B state meets, it also vaulted Cohen to eighth on Maine’s all-time list. Her other top historical rankings are in the breaststroke (first, 1:03.27), 200 individual medley (fifth, 2:05.07) and 100 butterfly (sixth, 55.74).

Cohen also swam breaststroke for Greely’s 200 medley relay, which finished second to Ellsworth, the overall runner-up. As a team, Greely placed third of 21 schools.

Her tightest race of the season came at Southwesterns, where she swam the 200 individual medley next to Cape Elizabeth junior Brooke Mahoney. Cohen led after the opening backstroke leg, but Mahoney surged in front after butterfly. Cohen regained the lead in breaststroke and held off Mahoney in the concluding freestyle leg.

Both girls broke 2:07, a feat achieved by only seven others in Maine history, and more than six seconds faster than any other girl in the state this winter.


“That was probably the race I was most nervous for,” Cohen said. “All season, I knew if I wanted to be competitive in IM, I had to work on my backstroke, because all my other strokes are pretty strong. I don’t enjoy swimming backstroke, but I know it’s something I have to do to get better.”

Cohen trains year-round with the Southern Maine Aquatic Club and does a lot of workouts on her own. Sometimes, that means churning out laps alongside folks who are three or four times older.

“It takes a special teenager to find a lane among geriatrics and be motivated to work hard,” Hale said. “I know here (at Greely’s pool), she’s developed a lot of friends among the older lap swimmers. They’re always asking her questions and checking the paper. It’s kind of a 60-plus fan club.”

Last weekend, Cohen raced at the Speedo Short Course Sectionals in Ithaca, New York, where she won the 100 breast and placed second in the 200 breast. She has qualified to race later this year in the Summer Junior Nationals in California and the U.S. Open in North Carolina.

Out of the pool, Cohen is active in Maine Swimming, the state’s governing body for club swimming, and serves as chair of the Safe Sport committee. In that role, she will attend a leadership workshop at USA Swimming headquarters in Colorado later this month.

“She’s a year older, a year wiser and a year more of a leader,” Hale said. “I am still in awe of how she rises to the occasion.”

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