WESTPORT, Conn. The Westport Weston Family Y Water Rat swim team had several strong performances at the New England Championships in Harvard University's Blodgett Pool.
The Water Rats were well-represented, with 44 swimmers competing in the 12-and-under age groups. There were 70 YMCAs represented at the meet.
The 11- and 12-year-old age group started the meet and set the tempo for a great championship. The girl's squad grabbed the gold in both the freestyle relay (Grace Holmberg, Briana Auray, Ingrid Duffy and Hannah Arman) and medley (Duffy, Emily Erickson, Arman and Auray) on their way to finishing second overall in the age group.
The Water Rat girls all had strong performances: Ingrid Duffy and Sarah Grinalds both swam personal bests in all their individual events. Grace Holmberg dropped over three seconds in her 100 freestyle to finish in 59.33 and grab crucial points with a top 12 finish. Katie Thornton also dropped almost half a second in her 100 free. Emily Erickson took second and third in the 50 and 100 breaststroke, respectively. Hannah Arman placed top five in all of her individual events, including a nail-biting race to the finish in the 50 freestyle where she dropped more than 0.3 seconds to just miss taking the gold by 2/100th of a second.
The 11- and 12-year-old boys had a small squad of just four competitors and swam very well to place 24th overall. Riley O'Boyle, MJ Duffy, Nicholas Ortega and Billy Duffy placed top 12 in the medley and freestyle relays. MJ Duffy led the boys individually with two top-16 finishes and two strong relay legs. With combined boys and girls scores, the 11- and 12-year-old Water Rats placed fourth overall.
The 9- and 10-year-old boys and girls turned in a very strong performance despite missing two of their strongest swimmers, who were representing the State of Connecticut at the Zone Championships. Meghan Phelan got the meet started in style, swimming three individual best times two of which included drops of over 2.5 seconds. Best times were plentiful for the Water Rat boys, with Dorian Phillips, Jack Rogers and Andrew Yu all setting at least two personal bests.
Relays were strong, with the girls placing fourth in the freestyle (Olivia Utter, Esme Hunter, Megan Phelan and Michelle Kennedy) and eighth in the medley relay (Hunter, Utter, Phelan, Kennedy). The boys took fourth place in the medley (Austin Twiss, Alec Keblish, Dorian Phillips and Andrew Yu) and fifth in the freestyle relay (Yu, Twiss, Danny Duffy and Phillips). The 9- and 10-year-old girls finished the meet eighth overall, and the boys took third. The combined team was fifth.
Last but certainly not least were the 8-and-unders, who came to Harvard on a mission. Last year the boys took home the age group title, and with two swimmers returning from last year's championship team, Justin Lessing and Sean Rogers, this year's crew wanted nothing less.
The boys took second in the medley relay (Tucker Ballou, Enzo Valadares, Sean Rogers and Justin Lessing) and first in the freestyle relay (Rogers, Ballou, Finn Johnston and Lessing). Every 8U swimmer posted a best time in at least one event. Justin Lessing set the standard with personal bests in all three of his individual races.
The boys finished first overall, and the girls were ninth. The combined boys and girls totals were good enough for second.
Two girls relays placed in the top eight, with a fourth-place finish in the freestyle relay (Quinn Cunningham, Sophie Mulhern, Lauranne DeVos and Caroline Lau). Caroline Lau and Quinn Cunningham both set two personal best times at the meet, and Quinn Cunningham broke a 17-year-old Water Rat team record in the 50 freestyle, sprinting to a time of 34.87.
The Water Rats placed fifth overall combined for all age groups. As a whole, the Water Rats swam to 53 best times in 101 individual events.
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