No matter where she is in life, Melissa Paione says she won’t be too far from the water’s edge.

Paione spent years in pools around the state training as a swimmer. Her aquatic exploits at Edward Little High School brought her to Bates College where she wrapped up her final season with stellar performances.

The Bates senior knows it would be impossible to turn her back on the water where so many fond memories were made — and records broken.

So what’s next for the psychology major after four successful years as a Bates swimmer?

“Am I going on to grad school? What are my plans after?” Paione said. “I have no idea. I am going to be open to a master’s program. Just going to stay in touch with the water. I think I would miss it too much if I quit cold turkey.”

After all, she has been a competitive swimmer since she was a child. Staying out of the water won’t be easy.


At Bates, Paione owns the records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke with times of 1:04.41 and 2:21.01, respectively. She was also a member of the 400 medley relay team that set a record of 3:48.68. All of her records were set in February 2016.

“I had been gunning for (the 200 breaststroke) for awhile,” Paione said. “It’s been in the back of my mind.”

She also competed in the individual medley when teammates were competing in other events.

“I dabbled in the individual medley,” Paione said. “Normally, breaststrokers make pretty decent IMers.”

Becoming a Bobcat

Paione thrived in the Edward Little swim program. EL coach Scott Morrison encouraged Paione to attend Bates, believing the college’s swim program and academic environment was the perfect fit for her.


“I appreciate everything that (Scott Morrison) did for me in high school,” Paione said. “He is the reason why I am swimming in college, because he believed in my ability. I trusted him and I still do trust him. He’s a great guy.”

But Paione also had a game plan for choosing a college before she graduated from Edward Little.

“I was really looking for a school academically challenging, and then I also looked at the swim program,” Paione said. “I didn’t want to be in a program that was too easy. I wanted to be somewhere in the middle, where I wasn’t the fastest and I wasn’t the slowest.

“I wanted to be in the middle of the pack. I wanted to work my way up and kind of learn from the people who are faster. I kind of had a plan going into it and it ended up working out.”

Participating in the Bates swim program was an eye-opener for the EL grad from Auburn.

“Coming to Bates, there is just, like, an extra level of wanting to get faster, and that is an amazing thing to be a part of,” she said.


Swimming runs in the family. Melissa’s sister, Olivia, a swimmer at Springfield College, and brother Andrew all participated in the Edward Little swim programs. Melissa credits her family for making things go smoothly at Bates.

“My parents are very supportive people,” Melissa said. “They are kind of my backbone. Without them, Bates is hard. They made it a lot easier for me by supporting me.”

They go way back

Bates swim coach Peter Casares started taking an interest in Paione well before he began recruiting her in high school for the Bobcats team.

Paione attended Bates swim camps for several years before making a splash in high school.

“Melissa is one of the most technically proficient swimmers I have ever coached in my career,” Casares said. “Her strokes are not beautiful, but efficient. She’s great at all four of them.


“She could have been extremely talented in any of the ones she chose to work on. She is clearly a breaststroker. So she chose that path and we worked on that for four years and her improvement has been drastic.

“Seeing somebody drop four seconds from freshman to senior year, when they were already a state champion coming out of high school, is an outstanding achievement and something she should take full credit for all her hard work.”

Thanks to Paione and an array of other talented swimmers on the boys’ and girls’ teams, Bates had an excellent season.

“I tell the kids Bates has been around since 1855 and you are the fastest ever to have swum here,” Casares proudly said. “That puts things in perspective because you don’t realize what it is to be the best there ever was.”

And Melissa Paione went out on top with the rest of them.

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