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Water Rat Swimmers Make Strong Showing at Y New England Championships

The winning Water Rat 8&Under Relay team of Sean Rogers, Tucker Ballou, Finn Johnston & Justin Lessing, with coach John Scaldini and Barb Pennington.

The Westport Weston Family Y Water Rat swim team traveled to Boston March 24-25 and March 31-Apr.1 to compete in the Y New England Swim Championships at Harvard University’s Blodgett Pool. In attendance were more than 70 YMCAs from all over the New England area. The Water Rats were well represented with 44 swimmers competing in the 12 & under age groups.

The 11&12 age group started the meet and set the tempo for a great championship. The girl’s squad grabbed the gold in both the Freestyle relay (Grace Holmberg, Briana Auray, Ingrid Duffy and Hannah Arman) and Medley (Duffy, Emily Erickson, Arman and Auray) on their way to finishing 2nd overall in the age group.

The Water Rat Girls all had strong performances:  Ingrid Duffy and Sarah Grinalds both swam personal bests in all their individual events. Grace Holmberg dropped over 3 seconds in her 100 Freestyle to finish in 59.33 and grab crucial points with a top 12 finish. Katie Thornton also dropped almost half a second in her 100 Free. Emily Erickson took 2nd & 3rd in the 50 and 100 Breaststroke, respectively.  Hannah Arman placed top 5 in all of her individual events, including a nail-biting race to the finish in the 50 Freestyle where she dropped more than .3 seconds to just miss taking the gold by 2/100th of a second.

The 11&12 Boys had a small squad of just 4 swimmers and swam very well to place 24th overall. Riley O’Boyle, MJ Duffy, Nicholas Ortega and Billy Duffy placed top 12 in the Medley and Freestyle relays.  MJ Duffy led the boys individually with two top 16 finishes and two strong relay legs. Combined Girls & Boys, the 11&12 Wrats placed 4th overall!

The 9&10 Boys and Girl Water Rats turned in a very strong performance despite missing two of their strongest swimmers, who were representing the State of Connecticut at the Zone Championships.  Meghan Phelan got the meet started in style, swimming three individual best times — two of which included drops of over 2.5 seconds. Best times were plentiful for the Water Rate boys, with Dorian Phillips, Jack Rogers and Andrew Yu all setting at least two personal bests.

Relays were strong with the Girls placing 4th in the Freestyle (Olivia Utter, Esme Hunter, Megan Phelan & Michelle Kennedy) and 8th in the Medley Relay (Hunter, Utter, Phelan, Kennedy). The Boys took  4th place in the Medley (Austin Twiss, Alec Keblish, Dorian Phillips and Andrew Yu) and 5th place in the Freestyle relay ( Yu, Twiss, Danny Duffy and Phillips). The 9&10 Girls finished the meet placing 8th overall and the Boys brought in the third place trophy. Combined, the 9&10s placed 5th overall!!

Water Rat 8&Under swimmers Justin Lessing and Sean Rogers, back-to-back champions at the past two Y New England Championships.

Last but certainly not least were the 8&unders, who came to Harvard on a mission. Last year the 8&under Boys took home the age group title, and with two swimmers returning from last year’s championship team, Justin Lessing and Sean Rogers, this year’s crew wanted nothing less.

The 8&Under Boys brought their A game, placing 2nd in the Medley relay (Tucker Ballou, Enzo Valadares, Sean Rogers and Justin Lessing) and 1st in the Freestyle Relay (Rogers, Ballou, Finn Johnston and Lessing). Every  Water Rat 8&Under swimmer posted a best time in at least one event.  Justin Lessing set the standard with personal bests in all three of his individual races. Once again, the “Wrat-tastic” Boys took home the First Place trophy while the Wrat Girls finished 9th overall. Combined Boys & Girls, the 8&unders placed 2nd overall at the meet showing evidence of years of great swimming to come.

The two female Water Rat relays placed in the top 8 with a fantastic 4th place finish in the Freestyle relay (Quinn Cunningham, Sophie Mulhern, Lauranne DeVos and Caroline Lau) at the end of the meet. Caroline Lau and Quinn Cunningham both set two personal best times at the meet, and Quinn Cunningham broke a 17-year-old Water Rat Team Record in the 50-Yard Freestyle, sprinting to a time of 34.87.

The Water Rats Placed 5th overall combined for all age groups. An impressive feat with consideration of the fact that not a single swimmer age 13&over attended since they were preparing for Nationals the following week down in Greensboro, NC. As a whole the Water Rats swam to 53 best times in 101 individual events and had a tremendously good time representing our fine community in the process. Thank you to all the parents, and volunteers who helped during this past season. We look forward to many more!

Quinn Cunningham broke a 17-year-old Water Rat Team Record in the 50-Yard Freestyle, sprinting to a time of 34.87.