WOONSOCKET — Mount St. Charles head coach Bill Evans huddled his young aquamen and women prior to a pair of Division II dual meets against South Kingstown on Wednesday afternoon and leveled the bad news.
In essence, he told the girls’ squad it didn’t stand a prayer of upsetting the female Rebels.
“They’re the defending state champions, and they didn’t graduate anybody from their team,” he explained on the Mounties’ side of the Woonsocket YMCA pool. “They’re well-trained, they’re fast and they’re big (in numbers).”
A few girls immediately moaned, “Oh, no!” and sophomore standout Liz Gross admitted to being one of them after South Kingstown sailed to a 74-20 triumph.
“I knew they were good, but not that good,” Gross laughed afterward, despite claiming the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:11.76 and taking a close second in the 100-yard butterfly (1:04.92). “I just told my teammates to have fun, enjoy our spot and to do the best they possible could.”
According to Gross, she was a bit disappointed with the clockings, but understood completely why they were slower than anticipated.
“I’m not really happy with the times, but I swim with the (USA Swimming-affiliated) Adirondack Aquatic Club out of Franklin, and we’ve been training really hard, working to improve,” she admitted. “I’ve been swimming 5,000-9,000 yards six days a week, and one day last week, we went about 14,000 (in two sessions).”
(To the swimming layperson, that latter number equals nearly nine miles of training).
“I’m not only swimming tired but exhausted,” she added. “Hopefully, once we slow down on the hard conditioning and start on our taper and I get more rest, my times will drop.”
By the time the R.I. Championships are held at Brown University on Feb. 23, she’s hoping to break the two-minute mark in the 200 freestyle and shatter the 60-second barrier in the 100 butterfly.
Gross also led off the third-place 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays for the Mounties, who fell to 0-3 in league action while South Kingstown remained unbeaten at 4-0.
While she had the most success against the super-strong Rebels on this day, Evans witnessed some solid outings from both his boys – who suffered a 68-25 defeat – and girls.
“I know (senior co-captain) Sarah Gardella had her best time in the 100 backstroke, and (junior) Lexa Lauzier did her PR in the 50 freestyle (29.70),” he noted. “A lot of our newer swimmers dropped their times tremendously, and in a lot of different of events. A lot of them are first-year swimmers, so posting best-ever times only will help their confidence soar.
“What I’m seeing, from both the newcomers on the boys’ and girls’ teams, is that they’re racing, not just swimming,” he added. “And, when it comes to relays, they’ll be standing on the starting blocks, and when they see someone in front of them, they’re thinking, ‘OK, let’s see if I can catch up and beat them.’ I love seeing that. Now that’s growth.”
On the guys’ side, MSC also fell to 0-3, but senior co-captain Jon Dow recorded a pair of solid performances. He captured the 50 freestyle with a PR of 25.17 before settling for second in the 100 freestyle (55.84); he also anchored the last event on the program, the 400 freestyle relay, which mustered runner-up honors.
“I hadn’t swum the 50 free since my freshman year because we’ve been so set on my routine of doing the 100 free and 100 back,” he grinned. “I found out I was in the 50 just as I got to the pool, and I was surprised. But I also was definitely ready to try something new.
“I was anticipating a drop in time, especially since I haven’t swum it (in competition) since the ninth grade, but not that much,” he continued of the 3.44 improvement in the shortest and fastest race. “It was a day full of shocks for me. I’m pleased by both of those times, but I want to get them down even more.”
Evans mentioned he switched that race for Dow for a couple of reasons.
“We had a meet against Cranston East on Monday, and I decided I’d switch it up for him, and some of other kids as well,” he explained. “I didn’t want him to get stale swimming just the 100 free and 100 back, so I’m loving it. What he did in the 50 hopefully will inspire him for all of the events he swims.
“It was a surprise, yes, But I know he’s happy about it.”
Fellow co-captain Carl Ciullo produced a pair of memorable races himself. After taking second in the 200 individual medley, he claimed the 100 backstroke with a season-best 1:07.30 (approximately a half-second slower than his previous lifetime best).
“He hasn’t swum the back in a long time, so that was a terrific race he had,” Evans stated. “He’s been 1:06-mid, so he’s right on it. I also thought (senior) Liam DeBeasi did a nice job in his two events.
DeBeasi mustered third in the 500 freestyle with a decent clocking of 6:31.55, but rebounded to place second in the 100 breaststroke (1:19.19). That happened to be only .62 off his best ever.
“Some of our younger kids swam faster than I thought they would,” Evans said. “I saw some great improvement, and that’s what it’s all about.”