WOONSOCKET – In her freshman year of high school swimming last winter for Cumberland High, all Courtney Kent did was win a state title. Kent shocked the field by capturing the 500-yard freestyle with an impressive time of 5 minutes, 6.45 seconds at the Tootel Aquatic Center at URI.
What does the tenth-grader expect to do for the encore?
How about cop two individual titles at the Feb. 19 state championship and possibly break a state record by a certain U.S. Olympian, who makes Rhode Island her home.
That’s the plans for the Clippers’ sensational sophomore, who was competing in her final tune-up on Tuesday before she heads down to South County for the tile meet. Kent along with her Cumberland teammates capped off their dual meet season in Division I with a victory over Mount St. Charles at the Woonsocket YMCA.
Kent did not disappoint in the league finale capturing the 200 intermediate (2:23.99) and the 500 freestyle (5:33.96) and also swimming a pair of legs on the Clippers’ victorious 200 medley (2:03.13) and 200 freestyle (1:51.24) relays.
At the state meet in less than two weeks, Kent will focus primarily on the 200 and 500 freestyle, events she ranks No. 1 in the state. The talented Clipper, a year-round swimmer for Harvard’s Crimson Aquatic Team, owns best of 1:54.3 in the 200 and 4:53.5 in the 500.
“The girl is phenomenal,” said CHS coach Heidi Josephson, whose squad finished out its league season with a 3-5 mark. “She’s a great person to have on our team. She’s not just a great swimmer but a great person, and she dominates freestyle. Beyond high school, when she swims for her club team and goes to national competition, where there are events longer than the 500 like the 1,000 and the 1.650, she shatters her times in those (events) there. She is just a powerhouse.”
At the recent Division I Class Meet on Sunday at Roger Williams University, Kent demonstrated that dominance, winning both events with ease. She took the 500 freestyle by nearly 50 yards with a 5:06.39 clocking and was a six-second winner in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:57.38.
Kent feels she’s beginning to gain some momentum for the upcoming states.
“It started off pretty slow,” she said. “It’s high school swim and I’m a year-round swimmer so getting back into it is pretty rough. You are not used to having a meet twice a week. For the most part, I didn’t do great times but I was way ahead of the field and I was able to help out my teammates. I wasn’t too worried about time. Now it’s starting to get more exciting, getting closer to our state meet.
One particular race that may draw a little interest at URI is the 500 freestyle where Kent may attempt an assault on the current state record of 4:52.06 set by 2008 U.S. Olympian and former South Kingstown great Elizabeth Beisel, now a freshman standout at the University of Florida.
“Maybe not this year but throughout the next three years I am going to try for (the) record,” she said. “If it doesn’t happen this year I am going to at least try for All-American consideration…I think that’s pretty doable in the next three years. I have a lot of time to improve.”
“I know she is going to really go for it,” Josephson said. “She’ll give it her best effort and we’ll hope for big things.”
Kent isn’t the only Cumberland swimmer that has a legitimate chance to excel at the state championships. Another sophomore, Andrew Bauer, could do some damage in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles.
Bauer won both those events at Sunday’s class meet. In yesterday afternoon’s dual meet with the Mounties, the strong tenth-grader copped the 100 freestyle (55.55) and then finished off the day with a blazing 50-second leg in his team’s winning 400 freestyle, a victory that enabled the Clippers (4-3) to earn a tight 49-44 decision over their rivals.
“He just really puts us in a situation where we have a good opportunity to win every time he jumps in the pool,” Josephson said.
Bauer finished among the top five in the 50 and 100 freestyles in last year’s state championship and now ranks second among his peers in both those events with best of 22.75 and 49.1, respectively. The top spot is held multiple state titlist Luca Spinazzola of Narragansett.
Spinazzola, a senior, is the defending champion in both freestyle events. He cracked 47 seconds for the 100 and has swan in the low 21s for the 50.
Bauer doesn’t expect to beat the Mariner swimmer if he chooses to swim his events, but he’ll give it his best try at the boys’ meet, to be held on Feb. 20.
“I heard from a friend that he was going to do the 200 and the 500 freestyle. I don’t know if that’s true or not. Last year he did the 50 and 100 freestyle. Who knows?” Bauer said. “I am looking to win or do my best times. I am really looking forward to going up there and competing and have some good races. It should be a lot of fun.”
In Tuesday’s meet, the Mount boys (2-5) had a multiple-winning effort from senior Justin McCarthy. McCarthy captured the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.21 and the 100 butterfly in 1:03.22. He also swam legs on the Mounties’ winning 200 medley (1:54.05) and 200 freestyle (1:43.16) relays.
The Clippers’ Matt Redihan, a sophomore, and Dan O’Brien, a senior, also saw victory twice. Redihan was first in the 200 freestyle (2:09.66) and O’Brien beat his competition in the 100 backstroke (1:04.15). The duo also combined with junior Dan Crocker and Bauer on the Clippers’ meet-winning 400 freestyle relay.
“The relay wasn’t just (Bauer),” Josephson said. “You can’t beat teams with one talented person. The rest of our kids pulled it off. Danny O’Brien has been swimming a long time. He went 55 seconds. Matt Redihan has a broken hand and he did a good time. Dan Crocker jumped in and swam the best he could do today. It was really them all together.”
Mount (1-7) had dual wins from sophomore Katie Yorke and sophomore Stephanie Morelle. Yorke won the 200 freestyle (2:11.10) and Morelle took the 100 freestyle (1:01.05). The two teammates also combined with senior Mary Hanahan and sophomore Grace Teel on the first-place 400 freestyle (4:14.99) relay.
Cumberland sophomore Kayla Zerva copped two individual events, taking the 50 freestyle with a time of 27.14 and the 100 backstroke at 1:10.22. She also swam a leg on the Clippers’ 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays that struck gold.
Cumberland 49, Mount St. Charles 44
200 medley relay – MSC (Justin McCarthy, Ben Whitney, Jack McCarthy, Connor McCarthy) 1:54.05.
200 freestyle – Matt Redihan, C, 2:09.66.
200IM – Andrew Bauer, C, 2:17.07.
50 freestyle – Justin McCarthy, MSC, 24.21
100 butterfly – Justin McCarthy, 1:03.22.
100 freestyle – Bauer, C, 55.55.
500 freestyle – Lucas Rundlett, C, 5:50.58.
200 freestyle – MSC (Mike Harrigan, Justin McCarthy, Jack McCarthy, Zach Sarapas) 1:43.16.
100 backstroke – Dan O’Brien, C, 1:04.15.
100 breaststroke – Connor McCarthy, MSC, 1:11.72.
400 freestyle relay – C (Dan Crocker, Andrew Bauer, Dan O’Brien, Matt Redihan) 3:45.53.
Cumberland 55, Mount St. Charles 39
200 medley relay – C (Emily Thompson, Courtney Kent, Kayla Zerva, Jill Rossi) 2:03.13.
200 freestyle – Katie Yorke, MSC, 2:11.10.
200 intermediate – Kent, C, 2:23.99.
50 freestyle – Zerva, C, 27.14.
100 butterfly – Thompson, C, 1:05.23.
100 freestyle – Stephanie Morelle, MSC, 1:01.05.
500 freestyle – Kent, 5:33.96.
200 freestyle relay – C (Katie LeBeau, Kent, Kenzie McCormick, Kayla Zerva) 1:51.24.
100 backstroke – Zerva, C, 1:10.22
100 breaststroke – Rossi, C, 1:18.85.
400 freestyle relay – MSC (Yorke, Morelle, Mary Hanahan, Grace Teel) 4:14.99