Even though she was fighting the midwinter malaise that hits so many of us, at the worst possible time, Olivia Paione still found her way to the third step of the podium in a Class A swimming final a year ago.
Perhaps that makes it clear why Paione, the picture of perfect health on Saturday, wasn’t intimidated by entering the 100-yard freestyle as the No. 3 seed.
Paione set a blistering time in the qualifying round and topped it with a personal record in the final, winning her first state title at the University of Maine in Orono.
“Scott (Morrison, EL coach) told me I could win it,” Paione said. “And the first round I got first, but I was still nervous because everybody was a second behind. I just decided let’s go for it, and whatever happens, happens.”
What happened was a time of 54.52 seconds, 1.99 ahead of top-seeded Abby Longstaff of Cheverus.
It was good for the Red Eddies’ first individual state champion since Andrew Brodsky in 2007.
Paione was only 21-hundredths of a second off the school record pace in the event, set by Maureen Berube in 1982.
She is also the first state champion from her prominent swimming family. Older sister Melissa and brother Andrew starred for EL in recent years.
And she wasn’t done.
Paione finished second in the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:08.36, three-tenths of a second off her personal best but still good for the silver behind Kristy Prelgovisk of Messalonskee.
“I was healthy this year,” Paione said. “It was a very good day.”
Her relay teams also performed well, winning the consolation final in the 200 medley and finishing second in the 4×400 consolation final.
“That was great, because we moved up in both, from 14th to 10th and from 12th to ninth,” she said.
Paione will compete in a state meet for her YMCA club team in a few weeks.
“The high school state meet feels bigger to me,” she said. “This was at the top of my list, right here.”
Maggie Chiriyath of EL finished 12th in the 200 freestyle and 14th in the 100 butterfly.
Additionally, two students from neighboring schools who train with EL scored in multiple events.
Lily Wade of Lisbon was 15th in the 200 freestyle and 14th in the 500 freestyle. Kristen Morissette of Leavitt took 10th in the 100 backstroke and 14th in the 100 freestyle.
EL was 13th in the team competition. Cheverus won the state title by six points over Brunswick.