ORONO, Maine — Lianne McCluskey of Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport prepared for a strong finish to her high school swimming career, and she got it.
Two individual wins plus a second in one relay and a third in another earned her the title of Performer of the Meet Monday at the State Class B Swimming and Diving Championships at the University of Maine’s Wallace Pool.
Greely of Cumberland Center, the pre-meet favorite, raced to the team title, powering past the field with 344.50 points.
Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor came on strong at the end to finish second with 263.50 points. Defending champion Falmouth was third at 208, followed by Catherine McAuley of Portland (157), North Yarmouth Academy (152), Foxcroft Academy (146), Yarmouth (137) and Camden Hills (115) was eighth.
Of the other Eastern Maine teams, Orono was 11th, Belfast 12th, Ellsworth 14th, Presque Isle 15th, John Bapst of Bangor 16th, Old Town 18th, Bangor Christian 19th, Hampden 20th, Washington Academy of East Machias tied for 22nd and George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill 25th.
McCluskey admitted, “This morning I was really nervous. I knew the first two races would be really close.”
McCluskey started in the opening event by helping her 200-yard medley relay team come in second behind MDI. She swam the breaststroke leg, the first of three different strokes for her Monday.
Then she popped a 24.81-second time in the 50 free to edge Adrianne Madden of Falmouth by .03 seconds. After the conclusion of the diving, which was the next event, she blasted home in the 100 butterfly in 59.79, nearly two seconds ahead of Lauren Dwyer of Orono.
She was able to rest after that until swimming the fourth leg of the 400 free relay, the final event. The Windjammers finished third behind champion Greely and MDI.
Even with those results, McCluskey wasn’t sure she would be the top performer.
“I had hoped for it,” said McCluskey of her award. “It was kind of my big goal coming into the high school season this year.”
When it came time for the announcement, though, there was still some doubt she had pulled it off.
“I was kind of surprised because there were a couple of other girls who [had strong meets as well],” said McCluskey. “I’m really excited, though.”
McCluskey didn’t swim for the Windjammers last year as a junior because she was concentrating on her efforts for the PenBay YMCA team.
“I thought for my last year of high school, though, I would come in and [try to] do really well,” said McCluskey, who is still swimming for PenBay.
That meant she couldn’t prepare as much as she wanted because she will be trying to finish in the top 16 in the 50 free when she goes to the YMCA nationals in the spring.
“They weren’t exactly the times I wanted because I wasn’t tapered, I wasn’t rested [by dialing down her workouts], but I think I did pretty well for not resting,” she said with a big smile.
Rob Hale, the 20-year coach of the Greely Rangers, gave all the credit for the Rangers’ win to his girls.
“They swam awful this morning [in the preliminaries],” said Hale. “I mis-tapered them. They came back [in the finals] on their own.”
Hale said he got the girls prepared for meets a couple of weeks ago and it was too early. They made up for it in the afternoon.
“Even though we were slower [in the morning], we didn’t lose our seeds,” said Hale. The swimmers who were seeded before the meet to be in the championship finals or the consolation finals were still there, but maybe not in their usual lanes.
Hale said it was a mark of the maturity of his team, which featured 14 seniors among its 18 swimmers.
The size of his team and the swimmers’ ability both contributed to the title, his fourth with the Greely girls.
“We have a lot of frontline strength, but we have a lot of depth, too,” said Hale. “They contribute in every event.”
The key was setting up the target for them.
“What we talked about [after the prelims] was there was no sense of urgency. They needed to find that,” said Hale. “A meet is no fun without best times and getting into [the competition].”
Tony DeMuro, coach of MDI, knew his girls had a Herculean task in front of them, but he was impressed with the Trojans’ efforts.
“I had no illusions about beating them. That’s the understatement of the century. [But the girls] exceeded my expectations,” said DeMuro.
“They turned in some of their fastest times of the year,” he added. “A lot during the morning, and a lot at night.”
DeMuro pointed to juniors Chelsey Curran and Ryann Rourk as two of his best, but he was impressed with all of his lineup.
“Even the splits in the relays were not just good but phenomenal,” he said.
Also, Cece McEachern of Ellsworth posted a close win in the 100 breaststroke.
This year’s state meets were dedicated to Lonie Brown, a longtime high school and age-group coach and official, a trainer of swim officials and a state swimming and diving meet director.