By Lydia Concannon
“It was a huge reward. All that hard work that we put in finally payed off. During the finals, there were so many people cheering. I felt we really came together as a team,” says ORHS swimmer Jordan Zercher (‘19).
On February 14th, 2016 the Oyster River High School’s boys and girls Swimming and Diving team swept both Division 2 state titles at the University of New Hampshire’s Swasey Pool.
The girl’s team has won states in the previous four years and the boy’s team has won three years in a row. The boy’s team won with 295 points to runner ups St. Thomas that had a total of 181 points. The girls scored 285 point to the St. Thomas girls who scored 151 points.
The meet was set up with a “trials-finals” format meaning in the morning every swimmer that qualified for states competed and during the afternoon session the top 12 swimmers in every event came back to swim their events again. Oyster River had at least one swimmer in each final so that combined with the points from divers is how they managed to score so high.
The final session started out with the girls 200 medley relay with swimmers Tessa Oakes (‘16), Audrey Duvall (‘17), Sydnee Aubin (‘17), and Eleanor Zwart (‘18). They captured the meet record and the state record with a time of 1:49.11.
Zwart states, “It was super exciting to win because it was the first event in the meet, so winning that race and setting the record and setting the record got us off to a great start and set the tone for the rest of the meet.”
The boy’s team consisted of Andrew Hodge (‘18), Forrest Spinney (‘16), Matt Jones (‘16), and Brian Stevens (‘16). They placed first with a time of 1:43.22.
Many swimmers on the team placed well during finals scoring many points for the team. Duvall placed first in the 200 Individual Medley (IM) and first in the 100 breaststroke setting a new school record with a time of 1:07.69. Aubin placed third in the 200 free and first in the 500 free with a time of 5:11.41. Zwart placed 3rd in the 50 free and fourth in the 100 fly. Oakes placed fifth in the 100 back and third in the 100 freestyle. Liesey Parsons (‘19) came in sixth in the 100 freestyle. Lily Wong (‘17) placed fifth in the 200 IM.
On the boy’s team many of the swimmers placed in the top 6 as well. Jones placed second in the 100 fly and third in the 100 backstroke. Hodge placed second in the 100 backstroke and second in the 200 IM. Spinney placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke. Stevens placed fourth in the 100 free. Alex Szymanski (‘17) placed sixth in the 50 free and fifth in the 100 free. Sam Lippmann (‘17) placed second in the 500 free and second in the 200 free. Reed Gibson (‘17) placed fifth in the 200 free and fourth in the 500 free.
Half way through the meet the diving portion of the meet took place. The top six boys and girls finished their last three dives. The diving is scored separately from swimming but the points they earn are scaled and added into the team’s total.
Emma Larson (‘16) placed first for the girls scoring 287.1 points. Tyler Moore (‘17) scored third with 226.50 points. Gabby Trombley (‘16), who has been diving for two years and finished sixth at states said, “It was pretty nerve wracking diving at states, especially since I knew it would be my last time diving in high school. My favorite part was seeing how happy my coach was because I knew that we had all made her proud.” The girls received 40 points from their divers while the boys contributed 31 to their total.
The girls placed second in the 200 freestyle relay to Lebanon by less than a second. The boys also came in second in the 200 freestyle relay to Campbell.
The meet finished out with the girls 400 freestyle relay with Wong, Parsons, Aubin, and Duvall. The relay was trying to beat Exeter’s record from the Division I state meet the day before. They managed to beat Exeter’s record and set a new state and school record with a time of 3:40.63.
The boy’s team went into the 400 free relay seeded second to St. Thomas Aquinas. Jones, Stevens, Szymanski, and Hodge captured the final race in a time of 3:20.30, beating St. Thomas by a mere 16 hundredths of a second. Jones, who anchored for Oyster River recalls, “The final relay was very exciting. I had no idea we were going to be able to go that fast and break the school record by so much. During the race all I could think about was where St. Thomas was compared to me.”
Many team members came together to cheer for swimmers. The pool was crowded with spectators and swimmers from all over the state. Szymanski states, “It was both exhilarating and exhausting. I didn’t really think that we could win it going into it let alone break the record but we stuck to the training and dug deep and raced hard. Knowing that the whole team was watching definitely put the pressure on but we kept our heads on straight and focused. The race was incredibly close and I think that at the end of the day we just wanted it more.”
The team will be losing some valuable seniors next season but will continue to recruit new swimmers and divers. Oakes, who ended her 12 year swimming career with this win recalls, “It was a blast. The whole season was so much fun, and I’m so lucky to have gotten to spend my last one with the kids that I did. Being able to say I won a state championship every year of my high school career is a huge accomplishment and it just feels really great.”
The ORHS Swimming and Diving team will continue to train hard next season and hopes to continue to win even more state championships in their future.
Boys 400 Freestyle Relay (Video Credit Patty Hodge)
Girls 400 Freestyle Relay (Video Credit Dan Duvall)