After having a wonderful season last year for Lewiston, the senior was wondering how he could match that, or even top it, this winter.

“I definitely had an amazing year, one of the best of my swimming career,” Charest said. “Over the summer, I tried focusing a lot on lifting. That’s something I hadn’t really done in the past years. I thought that might give me an edge going into the season and help me at the end of the season.”

The lifting has been paying off so far, and that has Charest excited about the season. He had a meet with his club team last week in Portland. His times there were as good as times he finished with last season. His time in the breaststroke last week was 1:03. He was fourth in the state meet in that event in 1:01.46.

“I think all that lifting this summer has set me up great for the year,” Charest said. “I’m really excited to see what I can do. When I saw that time, I was wondering what I could do by the end of this season. I think I have what it takes to even improve my time from last season, one of the best seasons I’ve ever had.”

Charest finished second in the state meet in the 200 IM and was fourth in the 100 breaststroke. In addition to his success in the state meet, he also set new records while swimming for his Twin Cities Swim Team at an all-star meet that featured 200 of Maine’s top YMCA swimmers. He set a new mark in the individual medley and in the breaststroke. His 1:00.49 in the breaststroke qualified him for the YMCA Short Course Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. Reaching nationals was among his goals for last year.

It’s a tough season for Charest to duplicate.

“In past years, I’ve gone through a really good year and then had an okay year,” Charest said. “I dropped times, not crazy amounts of time. I definitely wanted to break that streak. So this summer, I thought about what I had to do.”

He concluded that he could eat better and be better conditioned. Though swimming as often as he does keeps him in fine shape, he wanted to improve upon that through lifting weights and a better diet. He started eating more vegetables and fruits, trying to maximize the vitamins and energy his diet can produce. He followed that with a lifting regimen.

When he did well in his meet last week, that was positive reinforcement for the work that he’s put in so far.

“It showed me how much lifting definitely did help me and I know I need to keep it going throughout the season,” Charest said. “Even thought I have two practices a night, I have to try to figure out how to fit it in somehow.”

Lewiston second-year coach Troy Boutin says the strength training will definitely benefit Charest during the season. One of the things he’s been stressing to Charest is work in the longer events.

“I think Matt is capable of being highly competitive in just about every event, including the 500 freestyle, if he puts his mind to it,” Boutin said. “He’s physically and mentally a couple of steps away from being within the top three or five. I think he’ll do very well.”

Boutin says in addition to the benefits of the weight training, Charest is older and more mature. He’s also stronger in the mental game. He’s evolved as a swimmer and as a competitor.

“I think he’ll be a stronger competitor,” Boutin said. “He’s already a strong competitor.”

Charest has been a captain and leader for the Lewiston team that finished 13th in the state meet last year. One of his goals this year is to win an individual state title. He’s been close in past seasons. As a sophomore, he was fourth in the 200 IM and third in the 100 breaststroke. He was second and fourth respectively in those events last year.

“I hope to improve upon the performances from last year and I think it’s possible to win those two this year,” Charest said.

He’s also hoping to help the team improve. The Lewiston boys were 10th in 2014 and 13th last year. Charest says his teammates are a big factor in his success as well.

“I’m really excited to see all the improvement of my teammates,” Charest said. “We’re going into the season with great energy. Everyone is doing great. I love my teammates. I think they’re the best around. They make everything better around the pool. They keep pushing me and I just keep on pushing them. I think the team will be very improved from last year. I’m excited to see where we end up.”

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2015-16 Winter Preview

Who to watch in high school sports this season:

Swimming:

Nordic Skiing: Ashley Pratt, Emily Thibodeau look to lead Leavitt

Boys’ Basketball: James Ouellette of Spruce Mountain pushes through injury, tragedy

Girls’ Basketball: Winthrop returns to varsity schedule

Boy’s Hockey: Edward Little looking to make a name for itself

Indoor Track: Soracco’s back in track for Lewiston High School

Wrestling: Dirigo aims to be class act, again

 Girls’ Hockey: Lewiston sets out on a different path


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