Cindi Howard, coach of the Bangor High girls swim team, subscribes to the coaching strategy that the first event, the 200 medley relay, establishes the tone for the meet, particularly in a keenly competitive meet.

So, in the Rams’ recent meet against the always-quick Mount Desert Island team, Howard entered the Rams’ most competitive relay and the four sped to an unusually fast dual-meet season finish of 1 minute, 56 seconds — fourth-tenths ahead of MDI.

“They all did an awesome job,” Howard said.

Actually, the Rams fell behind early in the relay, not unexpectedly, since the Trojans led off with one of the state’s elite backstrokers in Chelsey Curran, who split 28.6.

But a strong backstroke leg from Julie Ann McDonald and then sharp swims from Jamie Hunsaker (34.2), Emma Waddell (25.6) and Meri Wicks (25.5) and the Rams claimed the relay and began to generate the momentum Howard had identified as key to a win against MDI.

Fed by the excitement and energy of the relay win and with their teammates on the edge of the pool watching their every stroke, Hunsaker, Jenny Dickson and McDonald scored first, third and fourth in the 200 free, the next event. The Rams’ march to a victory at MDI was on the move. Hunsaker and Dickson turned in personal records in their swims.

“I was pleased to see the excitement and to see everyone up. The girls swam really well,” Howard said. “The girls can see what they are capable of doing. I think now they can begin to see what they could do at the state meet,” Howard continued.

The Rams set three pool records at MDI. Waddell’s 200 individual medley (2:13.3) and 100 fly (1:00.1) and Bangor’s 400 free relay (3:50.2) were all new performance standards.

Bangor boys show strength

Coach Phil Emery’s Rams, too, turned in several highlight swims at MDI, a meet the Rams won. Like the girls medley relay, the boys finished in a season’s best (1:46.2). And, also, in the final relay, Emery’s boys recorded a season best at 3:33. Jeff Rogers slipped under two minutes for the first time in the 200 free and Louis Booyson lowered his 200 IM by better than two seconds, also a personal record at 2:16.8.

Bangor’s teams close out the dual-meet season in competitions this week against Old Town.

Babin excited despite loss

Interim Husson University swim coach Bruce Babin is pleased with the progress of his young Eagles, despite his team’s loss Saturday against Smith College, one of New England’s traditionally respected and competitive Division III programs.

“It turned out to be one of best meets of this season. Everyone swam extremely well, and we all had a good feeling about our swimming,” Babin explained.

Several swimmers continued their improvement anticipating this Saturday’s final meet action of the season in Standish against St. Joseph’s College and Elms College prior to the New England Championships scheduled later this month in Vermont. Megan Call, a sophomore from Glenburn, who interscholastically swam at John Bapst Memorial, turned in a personal record in the 50 breaststroke (36.3), while Bethany Beaulieu recorded a PR in the 1,000 free. Olivia Grazak from Germany swam her fastest 50 butterfly and Brewer’s Haley Fleishman raced a best time in the 100 free.

“There is an opportunity for us to get a win this weekend and an opportunity leading into New Englands to swim New England events,” Babin commented.

Mainers make a splash

Meanwhile, in the NCAA’s most competitive division, swimmers who competed interscholastically at the elite level in Maine continue to contribute to top-25 teams in NCAA Div. I.

Bangor’s Erin Thomas, swimming the third leg on Penn State’s 400 free relay against the University of Michigan, split a sizzling 50.9, compared to the Michigan swimmer’s 52-second split. The Nittany Lions edged Michigan 3:22.6 to 3:23.1 and went on to defeat the Spartans 123-120 last week.

In Bloomington, Ind., James Wells and the Hoosiers picked up wins against Virginia Tech and the University of Louisville. Bath’s Wells, a frosh Hoosier, recorded a third-place finish in the 100 back with an impressive 49.6 finish. Actually, Wells was in second place at the 50 with a 23.9 split before closing in 25.6.

And, in Austin, Texas, where the fourth-ranked Texas Longhorns defeated sixth-ranked Arizona, former Mount Desert High swimmer, Ian Carbone stroked a 58.3 100 breaststroke and a 1:56.7 200 individual medley for the Longhorns, the defending national champions. Carbone’s primary racing for the Longhorns this year has been in the breaststroke events (100 and 200). In the 200 IM field of 23 swimmers, the frosh recorded the seventh fastest breaststroke split at 32.6.