Bath, a community of fewer than 8,500 heralded for building elite destroyers for the United States Navy, has a distinguished swim program.
For each of Jay Morissette’s 32 years as head coach of Bath’s YMCA Long Reach Swim Club, swimmers have qualified for and competed at the YMCA Nationals.
Earlier this month, LRSC swimmers Olivia Harper, Ella Martin, Ann Tolan and Caitlyn Tycz set a new standard for the club with a gold-medal finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay at the Y Nationals.
The squad, which was timed in 1 minute, 33.2 seconds, became the first team in Maine YMCA swimming history to win a relay at nationals, according to Morissette.
While they completed the trials as the top qualifying relay, racing the nation’s fastest Y swimmers in the finals pushed the relay members to higher levels of performance.
Tycz’s anchor swim of 22.6 was the fastest split in the meet, and Martin added a 23.5. Harper (23.1) and Tolan 23.4, on the first leg, had “amazing swims,” Morissette noted.
Harper, a freshman, set Maine records in her 100 and 200 backstroke swims later in the meet.
“Anne and Caitlyn are veterans who know how to compete,” Morissette said. Their leadership on this year’s LRSC team of 191 swimmers and 11 national qualifiers has been impactful.
“Beginning at the start of the season in September they began encouraging the new swimmers and continued throughout the season to talk with them in practice and at meets about swimming confidently. At nationals, they encouraged their teammates helping the swimmers manage their nerves,” he added.
Tycz, who had been anticipating and focusing on nationals throughout her swim season, defended her title in the 100 butterfly (52.7) and won her first 200 butterfly (1:56.6) national gold medal. Her 2016 performance in the 100 butterfly is the national record.
“She was, as usual, amazing,” said Morissette.
Tycz has committed to the University of Southern California. The Trojans, coached by Dave Salo, finished ninth at this year’s NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships after placing in the top eight in each of the previous seven years.
“It has been my dream school. I could not be more excited,” the Brunswick senior said.
Tycz’s 100 butterfly performance at the Y Nationals would have placed among the leaders in the 200 fly on this year’s USC squad, as would her Y national record swim in the 100 butterfly.
Morse High School’s Tolan, who scored in the 50 free in addition to swimming relays for LRSC, will swim at Penn State University. The Nittany Lions, coached by Tim Murphy, Harvard University’s coach prior to PSU, were among the scoring teams at this year’s NCAA championship meet.
Morissette remains committed to providing LRSC swimmers an opportunity to compete at the national level.
Designing a plan to qualify swimmers for the 33rd consecutive year at the Y Nationals will emerge in the upcoming weeks.
“I haven’t spoken to the kids yet about next season. I want them to digest this year’s experience and then we will plot out a plan for next season,” he said.
Morissette, a member of Maine’s Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame, recently was honored as Maine’s United States Swimming Association Coach of the Year recently.
Sam Alvarado of Ellsworth and Tycz have been awarded Maine’s swimming scholarships. Alvarado will compete for Bates College of Lewiston during 2017-2018.