This past Saturday, the ORHS swimming and diving team attended the NHIAA DII state championships at the Salem Workout Club. While at the meet three school records were broken by two members of the team.
Both the girls and boys teams placed in the top ten overall, with the girls team placing third, and the boy’s team placing second. There were three notable records broken including, Paige Spencer (22’) who broke the record for the 100 meter girl’s breaststroke. William Carrico (23’) broke both the 200 meter Individual Medley (IM) and the 100 meter breaststroke boy’s record. There were also several ties on just the ORHS team, which in swimming is rare. Una Bleckmann (25’) tied in the 200 meter freestyle with Molly Mahar from Derryfield, Tess Pueschel (22’) tied in the 100 meter freestyle with Jasmine Blay from Milford, and the ORHS 400 meter freestyle relay team tied with Windham.
Bleckmann spoke about her tied race saying “[having an exact tie] had never happened to me before [and] it was really cool. It was actually really crazy because after that there was another relay that got an exact tie.” As a freshman, Bleckmann has three more years of high school swimming. Though, starting her high school swim career during a pandemic was challenging. “[During] my meets before Covid a lot of people came and not having people cheering was kind of weird.” Not having spectators at this event was hard for a lot of swimmers. Carrico said that athletes feed off of the crowd so not having spectators was a struggle this season.
Carrico, like Bleckmann, was disappointed with the lack of spectators this season. “[Having no spectators] takes away from the experience. Everyone’s main goal going into high school [swimming] is to make states and part of the experience is the crowd and the hype and not having spectators makes it a little less exciting.” Though, Carrico had more to be excited about after breaking the two school records during his time at states. “Looking up at the scoreboard and seeing I broke school records was a really good feeling. I am looking forward to next season too because I have more opportunities to break school records.”
Overall, the team had a successful season, though some swimmers are hoping for a more “normal” season next year.
“There were fewer meets and practices so there was not a lot of time to get ready for states, and then the layout of states was weird because it was split into two sections. Hopefully, next year it will go back to normal,” said Carrico. This year states competition was split in two to decrease the number of swimmers on deck at once. Some swimmers swam in the morning and then some in the afternoon. Carrico felt this gave the afternoon swimmers an advantage because they knew what times to beat.
Bleckmann had a positive outlook on the season despite different circumstances. “I think we had a really good season. We didn’t have a lot of practice time in the beginning and we didn’t have a lot of meet opportunities, but I still think it was really good.” All of the swimmers are hoping for an even better season next year, even with losing a large group of seniors.
The team is always welcoming new members, and they are especially looking for underclassmen that are interested in joining. Bleckmann shared that the team is taking a big loss this year with the seniors leaving. If you are interested in joining the swimming and diving team give it a try, it may end up being your thing.
Photos by Grace Keslar