Skipper swimmers given sportsmanship awards
Both squads swam on Feb. 23 at the state championships at Brown University. The girls finished third out of 23 teams, and the boys finished seventh out of 25. Although they didn’t win the state title, the Skippers once again didn’t go home empty handed.
The award recognizes the entire team, said coach Kelly Carlson. Their peers – the athletes at the other high schools – do the voting.
“It says a lot about our program,” said Carlson.
She credited the team captains for setting the tone and making the coaches’ expectations clear. Emily Landon and Ben Rudman, both seniors, are Jamestown’s co-captains and share the team leadership with their North Kingstown counterparts.
No matter how tough the loss, the Skippers thank their opponents for a great competition, Carlson said. Their actions go beyond an obligatory handshake with a foe. If a swimmer falls behind the pack, the entire North Kingstown team stands and cheers on the athlete, regardless of which team the swimmer represents.
“I like seeing that,” she said.
Rudman said Dan Beisel, Olympic medalist Elizabeth’s brother, was the upperclassman who helped him when he first joined the squad.
“He gave me a warm welcome,” Rudman said.
Ben has followed Dan’s example, taking the new swimmers under his wing.
Looking back on his highschool career, the big highlight, he says, had to be the dual meet last season when the Skippers spoiled Hendricken’s bid for 100 straight victories. The Skippers handed the Hawks an unexpected upset.
Rudman made the All-State First Team last year for the 200- yard medley relay. He doesn’t expect to be named to the team again, but expects to continue competitive swimming in college.
Also representing Jamestown at the boys’ state championships were junior Robert Cassidy and sophomores Marcel Desvaux and Noah Simmons. All four islanders represented the Skippers on the 200-meter freestyle medley, finishing fourth with a time of 1:36.96. Desvaux, Cassidy and Rudman were also part of the seventh-place 200-meter medley relay.
In the individual events, Rudman scored points in the 100- yard breaststroke and 100-yard butterfly. Simmons scored points in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley, while Cassidy scored points in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.
In Desvaux’s only individual event, he finished in 19th place in the 50-yard freestyle, less than a quarter second behind the point scorers. Junior Mike Toolin, of North Kingstown, led the Skippers in their individual success. He won state titles in the 100-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle.
At the girls’ state meet, Emily and her sister, Isabelle, turned in top performances, Carlson said. The Skippers broke the state record in two relay races, but, incredibly, lost both races to South Kingstown, the eventual state champs.
The winner barely “out touched” the loser, Carlson said, meaning the races literally came down to fractions of a second.
In the 200-yard freestyle relay, the old state record, which La Salle set in 2007, was 1:41.54. The Rebels set a new state record of 1:39.84, and the Skippers, in a losing effort, also broke the Rams’ record with a time of 1:40.78.
History repeated itself in the 400-yard freestyle relay when Prout’s state record fell. The Rebels swam the race in 3:39.56, while the Skippers did it in 3:39.85, missing out by hundredths of a second. The old Prout record was 3:40.27.
Emily swam on the two relay races that broke the state record but just missed setting a new mark.
Previously, she made the All- State First Team last year for the 50-yard freestyle and the 100- yard freestyle, and was named to the second team for the 200-yard medley relay and the 100-yard freestyle.
Isabelle, a sophomore, also produced points at the state meet. She swam the 200-yard medley and helped North Kingstown to a sixth-place finish.
In the individual events, Emily placed second in the 50-yard freestyle, losing by fractions of a second to Barrington’s Haley Ryan. Ryan finished with a time of 24.82 versus Emily’s time of 24.83. The Skippers’ Megan David managed a seventh-place finish in the race.
Coming back in the 100-yard freestyle, Emily placed second, this time finishing by a shade more than a second behind South Kingstown’s Jackie Karpowicz.
In the 200-yard individual medley, North Kingstown’s Hannah Pariseault finished second with a time of 2:10.26, just 0.13 seconds behind Kristin Karpowicz of South Kingstown. Pariseault was also second in the 500-yard freestyle behind Bay View’s Kate Magill.
“It was a great competition,” Carlson said.
Asked how the coaches deal with that kind of loss, when the winner and the runner-up are in a virtual dead heat, Carlson said she has a simple message for her swimmer. “You swam your heart out,” she tells them.
Sure, losing the race by fractions of a second can hurt, she allowed, but the tradeoff is that they had a great competition.
“We wish we could have won,” she said, “but it’s great to have races like that.”
Going into the states, the coaches wanted the girls to focus their training on the 200-yard and 400- yard freestyle relays. The medley was strong, too, but they decided the relays were their best shot. The coaches did a lot of preparation with the swimmers on the mechanics.
“Relay starts are huge,” she said. “They have to get used to each other.”
The swimmers do understand small margins separate winners and losers.
The boys finished fifth in the Division I standings and came in sixth at the class meet. This was a rebuilding year for the squad, which lost several seniors to graduation.
Carlson said the coaches hoped the boys would finish in the top seven at the states.
When they came in seventh, she said, they had accomplished all the coaches asked.
The expectations ran higher for the girls, who placed third in both the Division I standings and at the class meet.
“We knew we would be in the top four,” she said, but the exact order was “anyone’s game.”
At the class meet, for example, Barrington edged the Skippers, but the Eagles could not repeat the feat at states. The point total at the championship meet was close. The difference between South Kingstown and Prout, the two top teams, amounted to just 13 points. The Skippers finished with 253 points, 59 behind South Kingstown’s 312. North Kingstown nipped the fourth-place Eagles by just five points.