ELLSWORTH — With a memorable decade behind them, the Ellsworth and Mount Desert Island swim teams have entered the 2020s primed for even more success.
Whether they’re meeting early in the season or competing for championships in February, the Eagles and Trojans have made memorable battles between them the norm in recent years. As the two prepare to face one another, both teams are pleased with the progress they’ve made.
“We are in a good spot,” MDI head coach David Blaney said. “As a whole, our team is working really hard coming into the new year with [swimmers focusing] on improving in all facets of their events.”
Blaney’s Trojans started the new year on a roll. A successful December included boys’ and girls’ wins in the Ram Invitational in Bangor and head-to-head wins against Belfast and George Stevens Academy. MDI continued its success Saturday with boys’ and girls’ wins against Old Town.
MDI’s wins over Old Town included a complete sweep of all girls’ events and wins in 10 of 12 boys’ events. The Trojans breezed to a 134-48 win on the girls’ side and posted a 133-32 victory on the boys’ side.
Ellsworth also had a strong Ram Invitational with third-place efforts in the boys’ and girls’ team events. The Eagles then posted sweeps over Camden Hills and Washington Academy before falling to a tough Bangor team to begin the new year.
The Eagles’ success on the girls’ side included two wins apiece from Ellie Anderson (50- and 100-yard freestyles) and Kristy Barry (200-yard individual medley and 100-yard backstroke) and a team win in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The Ellsworth boys won the 200-yard medley relay and got individual wins from Sean Hill (200- and 500-yard freestyles) and Nick Partridge (100-yard breaststroke).
Whereas MDI boasts a large team of 28 girls and 20 boys, Ellsworth’s team is just half that size with 16 and eight, respectively. Yet with strong swimmers in Anderson, Barry, Hill and Partridge as well as Caroline Mazgaj, Caitlin MacPherson and Henry Scheff, the Eagles have been a force despite their disadvantageous roster size.
“We are light on numbers and have a young team, but the current swimmers are doing great, and a few are top in the state,” Ellsworth head coach Jim Goodman said. “It will be tough against the larger teams as numbers do count, but we have awesome swimmers who will make the mark and the wins.”
Both the Eagles and Trojans have also made breakthroughs in diving with Ellsworth’s Elena Springer and Aliyah Washburn competing alongside MDI’s Oakley Bench, Gaia Daul, Susanna Davis, Zoe Horton, Lily James, Sam Mitchell, Claire Moore, Nina Rozeff and Sam Schleif. James and Mitchell have enjoyed winning campaigns for the Trojans, and Springer set a team record with a score of 197.1 in MDI’s meet against Old Town.
“Both [Elena and Aliyah] are doing very well this season,” Goodman said. “They will certainly do well in upcoming events as they continually improve on the board.”
The teams will face off at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, at Ellsworth’s Down East Family YMCA. The meeting will be the first as head coaches between Goodman and Blaney, the latter of whom took over Tony DeMuro in the fall.
With swimmers still looking to post personal bests and qualify for state tournaments, the meet will be a passionate won for swimmers and fans on both sides. It will also test competitors’ resolves as they try to navigate one of the season’s most difficult stretches.
“January is a tough month for these student athletes with the intensity of their mental and physical training and also finishing up their first-semester schoolwork,” Blaney said, “but again, I feel we are in a good spot coming out of the holiday break.”