Concord High swim coach Bill Quinn tells his team that every meet is a gift this season.
Friday night’s meet, hosted by Bow at the Concord YMCA, featured 10 high school teams, the largest regular-season meet area swimmers have entered in the past two years. With cheering (masked) athletes and coaches all along the pool deck and balcony, there was the energy for it.
It was Concord’s third meeting of the season, only the second for Bow and Bishop Brady. But with the Division I and D-II championships looming on February 12, the season is already half, or more than half, over.
It raises the stakes for every meet, every event, every shot for athletes and teams aiming to compete in the state meet. So far, the local teams are on track to achieve these goals.
“We all had to stay in our places; we weren’t allowed to (mix) with the other teams on deck, so this year the energy is high and the atmosphere is great,” said Bow senior Sarah Guerrette, who will be competing at the Division I level for the University of New Hampshire next year.
“We can only run two individual events per competition, so it may only be the only time you swim in this event.”
The Falcons enjoyed the extra competition, finishing second out of nine women’s teams, only losing to DI runner-up Bishop Guertin.
Concord, Goffstown, Bishop Brady, John Stark, Pembroke, Merrimack Valley and Hopkinton complete the women’s ranking.
Defending DI runner-up Bishop Guertin topped the boys field, with Goffstown, Bow, Concord, Belmont, John Stark and Bishop Brady rounding out the team standings.
“I think it’s been a fantastic season,” Bow head coach Julie Guerrette said.
“The ability to have competitions with (more than two) other teams is a bonus. We have a full team, enough for a men’s relay. We have seniors; we have freshmen coming in. That’s has been a very busy season so far.”
The Bow girls bragged about their depth with senior quartet Guerrette and Sydney Mason and freshmen Lorraine Schaeffner and Lena Thompson winning the 200-yard freestyle relay and finishing second in the women’s 200-yard medley relay.
Schaeffner won the 50 freestyle and 500 freestyle, while fellow rookie Thompson was second in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
Guerrette won the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke and is the only returning girl to qualify in D-II for the Falcons, but she will already have more company than last year.
On the boys’ side, Ryan Thompson won the 100 freestyle and lost by just 0.11 seconds to Concord’s James LeMahieu in the 100 butterfly.
Thompson is the only Falcon boy to compete in the Division II championships last year, but fellow senior Andrew Conley (first in the 100 backstroke, first in the 50 freestyle) also qualified Friday night. Freshman Ian Klements (fourth 50 freestyle) also swam well.
Guerrette was second in the 100 freestyle and third in the 50 freestyle at last year’s D-II championship, while Ryan Thompson was fourth in the 100 freestyle and fifth in the 100 butterfly.
“We have four freshmen who qualified for States in more than one event, three seniors who qualified for two events,” said Julie Guerrette.
“We only brought four people to the States last year and we will bring a full team this year. They have a sense of team pride and are team oriented. There are no individuals, it’s the whole team. We have a few suitors. We will bring it.
Quinn was forced to make cuts last year. But with expanded competitive opportunities and new talent this year, Concord’s swim program has been “revitalized a bit”.
“We’re day to day because of close contact and quarantine, but the kids are working really hard and we’re getting good results,” said Quinn, who has been Tide’s head coach for seven years. “Planning is tough, but we kind of go as the season develops. I try to get them as fit as possible with two nights (in the pool) a week.
Sophomore Lily Peterson (second 200 freestyle, third 100 breaststroke), senior Rayya Burns (second 100 freestyle) and junior Molly Nyhan (third 50 freestyle) were the top individual finishers for the Tide girls, and were joined by Grace Qui for form the second -place 200 freestyle relays and 200 medley.
The Tide boys were led by senior LeMahieu (winner of the 200m individual medley and 100 butterfly), who is looking to crack the top three at the state level after finishing fourth in the 200 individual medley and fifth in the 100 butterfly at the DI Championships last year.
“It’s nice to see more than three teams and to have more competition,” LeMahieu said. “We lost a big team last year and had to make cuts. This year we welcome a lot more people with less experience or who are new to the team, so we try to recreate that team spirit.
David Wicks was Concord’s other winner, with a victory in the 500 freestyle.
Hopkinton senior Cailey Stockwell – another DI-linked senior who will swim for Fairfield University in Connecticut – won the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.
Other top performers in the area were: Kyle Dumais of Belmont (first 50 boys free, first 100 breaststroke) and Jake Dumais (second boys 100 breaststroke, fifth 50 free), Hannah Verville of Merrimack Valley (third girls 100 free) , Bishop Brady’s Cole Chaudhari (second boys 500 freestyle, fifth 100 breaststroke) and Roisin Lawlor (fourth girls 50 freestyle, fourth 100 freestyle), Pembroke’s Joslynn Hurley (third women’s 100 butterfly, fifth girls 50 freestyle) and John Stark’s Seth Boden (third 100m breaststroke boys, seventh 50m freestyle).
Details about the Feb. 12 state championships at the Salem Workout Club, such as whether or not the relays will be contested (they weren’t in 2020-21) and whether the teams will compete separately in the sessions of the morning and afternoon with merged results, are expected to be announced shortly.