Sports

A Dive into Lewiston High School Swim

As a former swimmer at Lewiston High School, I wanted to look back at the good times pre-Covid and how the team has changed since. 11 of my former teammates look back at their times on the team pre Covid and during Covid (2016-2021)

Ahna Dostie swam for one season (2017) and remembers that season well. She found the meets collaborative, and that at the meets there was always high energy, and everyone was always cheering each other on. That is a staple at Lewiston High School. Dostie’s favorite thing about that season were the friends she made and all the team spirit. She only swam for one season and doesn’t regret quitting the team as it wasn’t for her, but she is glad that she tried it.

Lucas Duncan, remembers it as something that kept him in shape, and a place where he made a lot of friends. His favorite moment was his junior year at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference (KVAC), where he came in first and cut 3 seconds in a race; he was projected to finish dead last. Another was where he made states in another event. He tells me that his friend, Dominic, talked him into joining the team. He had a background in swimming, so it was natural for him. Entering his senior year, Duncan decided to quit the team saying, “I didn’t like what the team was becoming, and Dom and Isaac were gone, and we had a bad coach in my opinion, everything became too toxic, and I kept getting really sick from the YWCA pool.”.

Abbie Howe tells me “swimming was more of a social thing for me pre-Covid, as I hadn’t really taken the sport seriously prior to that.” She says that “Covid actually allowed me to have more individualized one-on-one time with my coaches and they helped me develop into a more serious and stronger athlete.”

After high school, Howe swam in college at Husson University and tells me that her favorite college swim moment was ‘when I went under 30 seconds for the 50 back. I never thought I’d be able to, and I shocked both myself and my coaches.” Howe tells me that she really only experienced one full Covid year which was the 2020-2021 season, and that it was weird because there were limited people at practice and she didn’t really see any other teammates unless she was at meets. But other than that, it was fairly normal, and “I think for a lot of people on my team we took it as an opportunity to get one on one work done.”

Abigail Small looks back on swim as a positive experience. “We were able to have huge, pre-meet spaghetti dinners and here we all just relaxed before the big meet and had a lot of bonding.” Her favorite memory of high school was being part of the team, creating bonds with people and being able to hang out before and after practice and games without a worry. She started to swim when she was about 12 but hasn’t swum in college.

Kwesi Akuffo-Anoff, looks back on swimming before Covid as a good experience. “I learned a lot by being on the team and I don’t think the experience would have been the same if I was experiencing it during Covid in terms of branching out socially and the more individualized learning I got from coaches.” He hasn’t done any intensive swimming post-Covid. He has done some swimming on his own a couple of summers after high school, but not competitively with a team or anything. Kwesi says that his favorite moment was the 2018-19 State meets. He was able to go to two State meets during his junior and senior year, “and just being there was validating as a new swimmer.”  He also liked the KVAC meets. Those were always the last meets we had as a full swim group, and it just was really fun to be in a competitive and simultaneously fun and warm environment with your swim friends.

Kate Bilodeau who swam for 3 years for Twin City Swim Team (TCST),a local swim team. Before joining the LHS swim team. She swam during the pandemic reminisces that  before Covid swim was spent mainly inside the pool and that it was fun. When she first started swimming for Lewiston HS, she felt like the team emphasized bonding. As many swimmers have mentioned, there were a lot of super fun-themed spaghetti dinners. These made Bilodeau look even more forward to meets. She also remembers that the team had fun traditions such as going out to eat after home meets and the boys shaving their heads for States. “Overall,  swimming was a lot more involved, and we had a lot of social gatherings that were taken away from us due to Covid.”

Her favorite moment from high school swimming was when she was a sophomore and the team played volleyball during practice on Christmas break. A lot of friends that she swam with were on the team and it was a really fun game. She didn’t swim competitively after high school but would often go and swim laps at the YMCA pool near school just to stick with it.

Katelyn Reny swam at a time when the team was large and looks back on it fondly because she did not have to be worried about trying to get everyone together. She mentions that today everyone is hesitant to be around large groups of people and it just doesn’t feel the same. 

Her favorite moment from high school swimming would have to be senior night at the Battle of the Bridges meet where all of her family and friends came and she got to recognize her parents for all their support. “That was always a fun meet every year in general.” The Battle of the Bridges is the annual swim meet between LHS and Edward Little. Reny swam in college before and after Covid. The Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) team took an especially hard hit her freshman year, which was the first year the school had a team, so right as they were getting momentum for the program everything shut down. But during that time they focused on recruiting and building strong core values for the team and they came out stronger in the end. 

Reny is now coaching a swim team and is really excited to be back on the pool deck. “I’m looking forward to learning new parts of the sport that I haven’t been involved in before and building a personal philosophy I can carry with me to any swim team.”

Natalie Hamal looks at swimming as a fun memory. She joined a lot of her friends, so it was another way for her to spend time with them. She mentions how It was also a great way to exercise and keep her body moving through the winter season. Her favorite swim moment would be the time she had a meet at Bates college. “I just remember feeling very happy and I could tell the team was happy as well.” A group of us gathered together for my mom to take a picture. Hamel only swam for one season. When asked if she regrets quitting, she reveals that a part of her does but the reason she doesn’t was a big reason. “Yes and no,” she said. “Swim was a great way for me to unwind. I found it relaxing and somewhat therapeutic. I wasn’t very fond of the coaches, which kind of ruined swim for me.” She joined the team because she was looking to try something new, and my friends wanted to join as well.

Caleb Suli explains how swimming before Covid was very different it was simpler, and he could swim more pre Covid compared to post Covid. He was able to swim better and was able to swim more often for TCST. Since High School he has swam, it’s just more leisurely and not high-paced like he used to in high school. Occasionally he swims high-paced but not often. “I’m thinking about signing up for masters swimming, but it will have to be at a later time.” Suli said that his favorite moment “had to be all the spaghetti dinners. There was so much genuine camaraderie during the dinners it always got you excited for the next one, especially with each one being its own unique theme.” His father was the main person who got him into swimming, mainly because he thought that was the sport, he could provide the most help with.

Isaac Madore remembers swimming as a great bonding experience with teammates and a relaxed environment where he could push himself at his own pace. His favorite moment from high school swimming was the Edward Little vs Lewiston meet, where seniors were recognized, and everyone got super into cheering for each other. It was also one of his best meets.  Madore has not swam since high school because University of Southern Maine does not have a team. He joined the swim team because he was looking for a different sport since he had a knee injury. He also had a friend who encouraged him to join. 

Liz McNally swam in high school and tells me that she was lucky to be out of high school when Covid started.  She started swimming during her sophomore year of high school which was 2015. The team does events during the offseason and she volunteered with them at festivals, face painting and stuff for a couple years before that because her older brother was on the swim team and her mother was in the boosters.

She explains that her first year was definitely the best, it is when she felt the most camaraderie with the team. During the next two years she felt that it started to fade as seniors  left and new people joined. She mentions that the decrease in the amount of fun she was having was likely due to the loss of the team that she knew “even though the team that was built after was still really great and friendship building for me” and the change of coaches. She recalls that there was one coach that she did not like. Swimming is  a sports team,  and it has its ups and downs. She describes that practices were  after school every day in the winter and that the team swam for about two and a half hours, She remembers that meets were every week or every other week of the season and sometimes they would all hop on a bus and drive to another pool if it wasn’t a home meet at the YWCA, for those we would all just meet up at the pool and afterwards the whole team would go to George’s Pizza for a celebratory dinner. She states that her favorite part was the spaghetti dinners that they had before meets where the whole team would meet up and have dinner at someone’s house and just have a little fun before the next day of the meet. 

Her  favorite moment was probably the last meet of the first year she swam, the alumni meet. “Feeling like a part of a sports team for the first time and completing a whole season was a really great feeling,” she said.

McNally did not swim in college since her college (College of the Atlantic) did not have a team and indicates that she probably wouldn’t even if they had a team. 

Categories: Sports

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