This past weekend swimmers who have devoted their summers (at least partially) to the sport they love competed in St. John, New Brunswick at the newly named Maine Swimming International Invitational. Formerly known as “summer champs” this meet gives Mainers an opportunity to swim long course, which is the international standard for swimming. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to watch the racing.
On the first day of racing, 14 year old Caitlin Tycz won the 13-14 200m freestyle in 2:13.47 by five seconds and setting a new meet record. Jessica Russell soon-to-be sophomore at William and Mary won the 15 and over age group in 2:10.09. On the men’s side Portland Porpoise Booway Bikales won by almost three seconds in 2:06.47.
Tycz continued to dominate in the 13-14 100m butterfly winning by six full seconds with a new state record time of 1:03.94. Had she swam in the 15 and over age group she would have still won the event by almost five seconds. Talor Hamilton won the 15 and over butterfly in a time of 1:01.67.
In the women’s 200m IM Russell convincingly won (2:31.75) out touching second place by almost six seconds. The men’s side saw a spectacular performance from 13 year old phenom Liam Sullivan. In a new meet record time of 2:21.18, Sullivan won the event by 17 full seconds and would have won the 15 and over age group by over two seconds.
Day two saw Tycz again dominating her own age group and above. In the 50m freestyle Tycz set a new meet record in 27.80 winning by over a second and again would have won for the 15 and over age group. Talor Hamilton took another victory in 25.28 for the Downeast Family Y.
Sullivan earned first place again in the 200m breaststroke in 2:35.49 winning by a staggering 13 seconds. That time would also have earned him first in the 15 and over age group.
Tycz managed to out-touch Adirondack Aquatics (a team from Mass) swimmer Taylor Eck in the 13-14 100m backstroke with a time of 1:10.03 to Eck’s 1:10.89. Long Reach’s (LRSC) Jessica Russell earned another victory in a speedy 1:06.34. Jacob Cost of Long Reach earned gold in 1:03.23 for the 15 and over age group.
The girl’s 200m backstroke gave LRSC’s Russell another victory with a time of 2:27.15. MDI Y’s Liam Sullivan won the 13-14 event in 2:27.34 which was 11 seconds ahead of second place. DEFY’s Talor Hamilton earned his third victory with a 2:21.99 swim in the 15 and over age group.
The Portland Porpoises’ Emily Ecker won the girls 11-12 100m freestyle in 1:05.84 narrowly missing the meet record. Caitlin Tycz put forth another speedy effort in the 13-14 age group at 1:01.10. Tycz could have, again, won the 15 and over age group. By a lesser margin than most of his races, Sullivan took first place honors in the men’s 100m freestyle at 58.76 followed closely by Hurricane swimmer Colby Prouty at 59.68. In the 15 and over age group Hamilton earned his fourth gold at 56.89.
Tycz continued her winning ways in the 200m butterfly earning first in 2:30.72. Her biggest accomplishment may be beating multiple gold medalist Jessica Russell’s time of 2:31.85 in the event. Russell was the winner of the 15 and over age group.
My overall impression of the meet is the lack of 15 and over competition. There was a substantial drop in college age swimmers at the meet which is abnormal. It seems obvious that many swimmers were not prepared for the meet. Some may not have tapered and some may not have trained. Nate Samson, who posted a 49.9 in the 100 yard backstroke at Y Nationals was not a factor in either the 100m or 200m backstroke. Its becoming apparent that the MSII (Maine Swimming International Invitiation) is not an extremely important meet to many swimmers. This is partly because there are no long course pools in Maine and swimmers have difficulty preparing for a long course meet. The times swimmers post are foreign to them and have little meaning. Some swimmers find it difficult to commit during the summer season, but the most dedicated figure out how. This is what Maine swimmers, coaches, officials, and board members need to realize: the MSII should be the most important meet of the year. Long course swimming is the international standard. For Maine swimmers to become competitive at the national or international level we need to focus more on long course swimming. This means building a long course pool in Maine. Short course swimming is only important at the collegiate level and the transfer from being a long course swimmer to short course is easier than the other way around. Besides, college coaches love seeing fast long course times just as much as fast short course times – or at least they should…
With some extremely promising talent in the younger age groups (Sullivan, Prouty, Tycz) there needs to be a focus on fostering that talent in a pool that actually matters.