Lewiston senior Abbie Howe swims the 100-yard backstroke during the KVAC A swim meet Saturday at Bath Area Family YMCA. (Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan)

BATH — Another year, another victory jump into the Bath Family YMCA pool for the Cony girls’ swimming team at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships.

And this time, they weren’t alone.

Cony swept the KVAC Class A championships for the first time, with the girls’ team totaling 257 points to dominate a field led by Lewiston (173) and Messalonskee (162) for its second straight title, and the boys’ team scoring 214 to top Waterville/Winslow (209) and Brunswick (197) — sealing the victory with a win in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the last race of the day.

“There’s a lot of satisfaction (in) the way all the kids swam here,” Cony coach Jon Millett said. “We’d never done it before. … It was a good day for us.”

And a record-breaking day for a couple of his swimmers. Nathan Berry set a KVAC record in the 50-yard freestyle (21.18 seconds) while also winning the 100 backstroke, and Gabby Low set the conference record in the 100 butterfly (54.24) before taking the 100 backstroke as well.


With Low and Cecilia Guadalupi (wins in the 200 IM and 100 freestyle) leading the way, the Cony girls looked as strong as they ever have during a run that’s included two straight Class A state titles and a KVAC title.

“There’s a lot to be excited about here as we head into the state meet,” Millett said. “Hopefully we’ll have enough.”

The Lewiston girls finished second on the strength of wins by Brooke Cloutier in the 50 free (25.66) and 100 breaststroke (1:07.79), the latter giving her four straight titles in the event.

“I think it definitely added a little bit of pressure,” Cloutier said. “If I didn’t get that win, I knew I’d feel kind of bad about it, and I also had some pretty good competition in that event.”

Low and Guadalupi, both of whom won a pair of individual titles at states last year, were excellent again. Low had one of the day’s highlights when she finished first in the 100 fly, then got to celebrate again when she saw that the number was good enough to beat former Brunswick swimmer Caitlin Tycz’s mark of 54.72 from 2015.

“I wanted to go 54. I’ve wanted to go 54 for a long time,” she said. “One of my idols in swimming, Caitlin Tycz, that was her. I’ve always looked up to her. … Touching and seeing it, it was amazing. It doesn’t feel real.”


Low was just as dominant in the 100 back, winning with a time of 55.38 that would have been the KVAC mark had Morse’s Olivia Harper not broken the record the night before.

“I just focused on, the same in my fly, just the execution of my race,” she said. “I wanted to hit my underwater mark, I wanted to nail my times. I just wanted the pieces to fall into place.”

Guadalupi won the 200 IM at 2:07.52 and the 100 free at 53.03. She and Low were also legs on the winning 200 medley and 200 free relay teams.

“That (medley) relay just really set the tone for the meet for us, to get after it and do our hardest,” she said. “We definitely lost a lot of people who were good swimmers, but we also gained a lot of freshmen, and people who really bring a unique skill set to our team.”

And those freshmen quickly dispelled any thoughts that Cony might be falling back to the pack this year. Emma Thomas won the 200 (1:59.15) and 500 freestyles (5:26.47), and Lunden Dinkel was second in the 50 free and third in the 100 breaststroke. Both were also on the 200 medley and free relay teams.

“The difference between this year and last year, last year there were a few kids that did a lot,” Millett said. “Today, there were a lot of kids that did a lot.”


On the boys’ side, Cony already had had a memorable day with Berry earning both of his wins, including the record-setting performance in the 50 free.

“I saw the meet record, and I said, ‘You know what, I want to get that,’” he said. “Senior year, this is the meet to do it.”

The Rams weren’t done, however. Top-fives from Caleb Richardson (fourth, 100 fly) and Cade Parker (fourth, 100 free) helped put Cony in position to take the meet going into the final event. Anchored by Berry — named one of the swimmers of the meet, along with Low — the Rams took the 400 free relay at 3:35.78, setting off a celebration behind the starting area once Berry touched.

“With Nathan anchoring it, if we’re within three body lengths, it’s a sure thing,” said Millett, who also had Parker, Richardson and Jacob Mills in the final event. “It’s easy money. Nathan’s the fastest freestyler in the state.”

Led by Carter Jones (second 100 fly, second 100 breaststroke) and Alex Renaud (second, 200 IM), Waterville/Winslow rolled to second in the boys’ event.

Messalonskee got a pair of wins from Edmund Couture, who was first in the 200 free (1:50.99) and 100 fly (53.39).


“I’m trying to make nationals in the 100 fly. I’m pretty close,” he said. “I think my technique’s there. I’ve just got to work on it and get stronger. I have less than a half a second now to make it. I’m pretty close, so I’m pretty happy about that.”

The Eagles also got a win from Martin Guarnieri, who took the 200 IM title after being seeded first at 2:10.13 before finishing third in the 100 breaststroke.

“(The seeding) definitely took pressure away,” he said. “I like to think that I’m an IMer. I’m pretty versatile in all the strokes. It’s maybe not my favorite event, but definitely my best.”

Lawrence got a win from Nate Pierce, who took the 500 free at 5:21.38, more than 30 seconds better than a seed time that Pierce said was misleading.

“I’d swum (the 500) once before this year, and I did not feel great that day,” said the freshman, who added that he’s been as fast as 5:13. “I have splits that I want to make. … I just swam my own race, and went off what my times were.”

Mt. Ararat’s Sterling Kloberdans swims the 100-yard backstroke during the KVAC A swim meet Saturday at Bath Area Family YMCA. (Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan)

Brunswick freshman Julia Barron swims the 100-yard back stroke during the KVAC A swim meet Saturday at Bath Area Family YMCA. (Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan)

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