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Feb. 15—Editor's note: The Sun Journal previewed Franklin- and Kennebec-county teams as their seasons were starting last month. Now, we are previewing the Androscoggin, Oxford and Cumberland teams from the Sun Journal's coverage area.
The numbers may look high to some, but the Lewiston swim team actually has a much smaller squad than most years because of the pandemic.
"But our swimmers are so grateful to be in the pool (and) practicing," seventh-year coach Troy Boutin said. "The team seems closer than ever, where all swimmers have an awareness and knowledge of each other."
The swimmers have been flexible and Boutin said he has rarely heard a single complaint. They have also been supportive, including with a group of underclassmen newcomers.
Both the Blue Devils boys and girls won Class A North sportsmanship awards last year, and Boutin, who is being assisted by John Breerwood for the third year, said the team has grown even more in that area.
Once again, coach Scott Morrison will have more than just the Edward Little swimmers on his hands, though the more is always the merrier.
In addition to swimmers from Edward Little, students from Leavitt, Lisbon, Oxford Hills and St. Dom's will all be participating in practice and meets with the Red Eddies.
Morrison also has former EL and Bates standout Melissa Paione as an assistant this season.
Like Lewiston, the Red Eddies have a smaller team than previous years due to the pandemic. Still, there is some strength in the ranks for both the EL girls and boys.
The girls will be led by seniors Izzy Bellefleur, who was last year's Sun Journal All-Region Girls Swimmer of the Year, Emma Hefty and Samantha Poirier, and Morrison said the Red Eddies should be competitive with most of their KVAC rivals. The boys will be paced by senior captain Konnor Simpson and classmate Jack Hart, as well as sophomore Andrew Casares. The Red Eddies' lack of numbers will make winning meets challenging, but there should be some standout individual performances.
— The Leavitt contingent is the biggest from the school in at least 20 years, Morrison said.
With four girls on the team (returners Jaylee Boucher and Haley Cote, newcomers Samantha Deblois and Elizabeth Bean), the Hornets will be able to compete in scoring relays at the KVAC championships. There are only two boys, but both returner Nick Tirrell and newcomer Gavin Holcomb have already qualified for the Class A state championship individually.
— Senior Garrett Perron is the only Lisbon swimmer, though Morrison said there was interest from several others at the school.
"However, due to COVID-19 and facility limitations, only Garrett will represent Lisbon this season," Morrison added.
Perron will be looking for redemption after suffering injuries in a car accident late last season and is hoping to get back into swim form and qualify for states.
— Emily Cummings will be the lone Oxford Hills swimmer for the second year in a row. She competes in freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke, and will represent Oxford Hills at the virtual KVAC championships in March.
— The St. Dom's contingent for this season includes three returners (Patrick Manson, Gage Smith and Ellie Russell) and a newcomer in freshman Natalia Russell.
Morrison is hoping to have multiple Saints swimmers qualify for states, and they will be able to compete in KVAC meets as well.
Ethan Frumiento was also supposed to be a part of Morrison's squad this season, but the Hebron Academy student-athlete won't be able to participate this year. Morrison said Frumiento intends to swim with the Red Eddies again next season.
Last year, Frumiento finished 16th in the 500-yard freestyle to earn Hebron's first points in a Class A state meet in more than 20 years.