2012-02-02 / News

Boys’, girls’ swimming teams both optimistic about chances at state

8 Jametowners fill the two rosters, including girls’ team captain Jess Rudman

Jamestowners Robert Cassidy, on the first block, and Isabel Crabtree, on the second block, prepare to dive into the pool during practice Sunday at St. George’s School. 
PHOTO BY MARGO SULLIVAN Jamestowners Robert Cassidy, on the first block, and Isabel Crabtree, on the second block, prepare to dive into the pool during practice Sunday at St. George’s School. PHOTO BY MARGO SULLIVAN The North Kingstown High School varsity swimming teams – both the boys and girls – have a shot at a state championship, said Jess Rudman, the girls’ team captain. The championships start Feb. 25.

So far, with the playoffs around the corner, the North Kingstown girls, who racked up a 6-0-0 record, top the Division I standings.

In the boys’ team standings, the Skippers are in third place with a 5-2-0 record – they’re trailing two undefeated teams, Bishop Hendricken, which is in first place with six victories, and Barrington High, in second place with five.

Tuesday, both the girls’ and boys’ teams dispatched opponents from Cumberland High. The boys took care of Cumberland 58-35. The girls’ swimming team, with Jess swimming the final winning 400-relay, won 51-43.

For the girls’ team, that result means only one more meet against Bay View Academy is standing in the way of the undefeated season. Their final meet is Thursday, Feb. 2.

“We’re undefeated right now,” she said. “We just had a meet against La Salle. They’re our main competition.”

The Skippers knocked off La Salle 48-46 in a contest that came down to the last relay race. It was fun to win at home too, Jess said.

“The stands were full,” she said, with parents and siblings anxious to see the outcome.

There were four swimmers on each relay team and both teams “had to place,” meaning come in first, second or third, for the Skippers to win the meet.

Both teams got the job done and handed La Salle the loss. During the regular season at least, they won’t have to deal with La Salle again, she said.

Besides winning, Jess enjoys the camaraderie with the team.

“I’ve been doing it for a while,” she said. “I’m really close with a lot of people.”

She added many people don’t understand swimming as a sport. “They think it’s easy.”

Jess isn’t looking ahead, but she figures an 8-0 record will give the team confidence and an edge go- ing into the Division I playoffs.

Jess, 17, a senior at North Kingstown High, is one of eight islanders helping the girls’ and boys’ squads in their quest for a state title.

At the start of the season, Jess said no one expected the girls would go without a single loss all season. They have been training harder this year, compared to last year.

Jess said the team practices two or three times a week. She swims on the University of Rhode Island’s club team, and she’s in the pool every day. She’d like to continue swimming in college.

Last year, the girls’ team finished in third place, according to Margot Janson, 16.

Senior Kelsey Brewster, 18, Isabel Crabtree, Rex Leonard and Ben Rudman, all 15 and sophomores, and freshmen Robert and Hailey Cassidy, twins and both 14, round out the Jamestown contingent.

Going into the tryouts, everyone knew the team is good and the level of competition would be high, the students said.

“I was really nervous,” Isabel said. She thought she might have had a tough time because she didn’t know what to expect. “I’d never been on a swim team.” She never really relaxed during the two days of tryouts.

“It got worse as it went on,” she said, but she did make the cut. Everybody didn’t make it through the tryouts, though.

“Some people got cut,” Margot said. If that happens, they can try again next year.

Margot made the varsity team her freshman year and she is now in her second year.

Hailey and Robert also made the team freshmen year. They have been swimming on the YMCA team since fourth grade and have won lots of ribbons, Hailey said.

“I was scared,” Hailey conceded, but added she also felt some confidence because she has been swimming with other teams.

“I just didn’t know about the other competition. I was also really excited when I did make it.”

Robert, her twin, likes the freestyle, the backstroke and the individual medley. The coach usually chooses which events they swim during a meet. Rex feels the freestyle is the easiest stroke, and he doesn’t enjoy the butterfly. He also swims on the YMCA team and went out for the high school team because “Ben said it was fun.”

Ben likes the breaststroke best. “I think it’s easy because it’s not as fast,” he said. “It doesn’t take as much effort.”

Hailey said the coach, Leslie Becki, has asked her to swim backstroke, although Hailey thinks freestyle is her strongest event.

“I like freestyle best, but coach keeps putting me in backstroke.”

She swam the backstroke in the meet against La Salle and also swam the 200-meter relay.

Kelsey also swims the backstroke, but this season is her first with the North Kingstown team.

“I just moved here,” she said, explaining her family is with the Naval War College in Newport. She was living in Germany and spent the last two years with club teams. She finds the U.S. players “more competitive” than the Germans.

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