Brooke Cloutier competes in the 100-yard freestyle event at Bates College on Wednesday evening. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

LEWISTON — The Leslie Martin and Chris Campbell Memorial Swim Meet is an annual celebration of swimming for Lewiston and Edward Little competitors, but it always comes with conflicting emotions, particularly for the seniors participating in their final dual meet against their Twin City friends and rivals.

“It’s bittersweet,” Lewiston senior co-captain Brooke Cloutier said. “I’m excited for new things, but at the same time, I don’t want to leave this team and my friends.”

Cloutier helped make Wednesday night’s meet a historic one as she and teammates Melina Masselli, Taylor Belanger and Kate Bilodeau broke the school record in the 200-yard freestyle relay. In the process, they helped the Blue Devils sweep the meet in front of a packed house at Bates College’s Tarbell Pool.

It was the second school record of the season for Cloutier, Masselli and Belanger, who were part of the 200 medley relay team that broke a 36-year-old school record earlier this season.

“It was a little unexpected,” Cloutier said. “But like the 200 medley, we’d been inching to it all season, so it was just a matter of time.”

“I don’t think we’ve really had those four girls swim it together (in a meet),” Lewiston coach Troy Boutin said. “I know that, together, they made up the fastest relay that we’ve had. There were some improvements for one of the girls during the season, and this is really the first time to prove themselves. But to be honest, I wasn’t really thinking they were going to break the record tonight. And they lowered it by almost a second.”

Lewiston’s girls won, 57-29, while the boys secured a 46-22 victory. But it’s always been about more than the final results ever since Edward Little coach Scott Morrison first organized it 17 years ago to pay tribute to Martin, who died in a car accident just after graduating from Lewiston in 2001, and Campbell, an Edward Little senior who tragically passed away just six months later.

“These kids all swim together,” Morrison said. “It’s so important to have a tight community program, and I think you felt it with the atmosphere here tonight. Parents, kids, everyone cheering for everyone. It’s just an amazing thing.”

The event brings out the best in sportsmanship between the rival schools while also maintaining the competitive trappings of a true rivalry.

“I think the kids are a bit more relaxed because they know who they’re swimming against, yet at the same time, they’re motivated because they want to swim with their friends,” Boutin said. “For the seniors, this is their last dual meet of their high school career. Lots of parents and relatives turn out for the meet and it makes it a pretty special occasion.”

This year’s meet was particularly poignant for many of the competitors, as it marked the first without Tom Manduca, a beloved swim coach for the YMCA’s Twin Cities Swim Team, for which many swimmers on both sides have competed.

Manduca passed away last June after suffering a heart attack. He was 55.

“That team has really fed the two high schools,” said Boutin, who first joined the YMCA team in 1982. “We owe a lot of gratitude to Tom Manduca, for really bringing up these swimmers so they could get to high school and swim for us and have that experience.”

Manduca remained in the thoughts of many of the swimmers competing in the meet, which also included representatives from Hebron, Leavitt, Lisbon and St. Dom’s.

“It definitely means a lot more,” said Edward Little sophomore Samantha Poirier. “You want to do it for him, because he would have been here tonight, and he would have been watching all of us. So it means a lot to keep doing it in his memory.”

“Every time I swim, I think about him, what he taught me,” Edward Little senior Brendan Whitman, a three-year captain. “He’s always in my head and in my heart. Every meet is a tribute to him.”

Edward Little’s Leila Chirayath was among the seniors from both schools who paid tribute to Manduca in the meet programs. For her, Manduca’s passing and competing with and against her Twin City teammates added another layer of emotion to a meet that gets her adrenaline going unlike any other she swims in.

“They’re like my family,” she said. “I was nervous because it was against my family. There’s always a rivalry between us. We always want to beat each other. I had so much adrenaline. I had to go in and take cold showers, because I was so pumped up with adrenaline I needed to cool down.”

Masselli earned the Leslie Martin Award and Whitman earned the Chris Campbell Award as the meet’s outstanding swimmers.

Brendan Whitman competes in the 100-yard freestyle event at Bates College on Wednesday evening. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Edward Little’s Olivia Dubois gets a high five from both the Lewiston and Edward Little teams during a mid-competition ceremony at Bates College honoring both teams senior swimmers. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Lewiston’s Abigail Small gets a high five from both the Lewiston and Edward Little teams during a mid-competition ceremony at Bates College honoring both teams senior swimmers. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Edward Little’s Abby Hart gets a high five from both the Lewiston and Edward Little teams during a mid-competition ceremony at Bates College honoring both teams senior swimmers. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)


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