Lelia Johnston Qualifies for Y Nationals



BAR HARBOR — With a stellar performance at the Maine Winter Championships, Leila Johnston of Bar Harbor qualified for the Y Nationals in the 100-yard butterfly and the 50-yard freestyle. Johnston is the first 13-year-old girl from the MDI Y to qualify for Nationals since Gillian Beamer and Erin Fisher in 1988.

Both of Johnston’s times were team records; she swam the 50-yard freestyle in 25.07 ‘11 seconds and the 100-yard butterfly in 59.40 ’11. She will compete in the meet at the Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. April 5 through 8.

“Leila has been to four Zone meets but this will be her first trip to a national meet,” Coach Willis said. “I am expecting Leila to swim at her best and begin to focus on being a national-level swimmer.”

Overall, the Sharks swam at an exceedingly high level of competition this season. The 8-and-under boys’ and girls’ won their divisions at the Maine 8-and-under championships, while also taking the combined title.

The Sharks placed second at the Y state meet for the sixth time in the last eight years behind state champion (for 22 years in a row) Bath YMCA.

The 10-and-under girls won their age group and won the combined 10-and-under group with the boys. And at the winter championships (Junior Olympics) the team was hugely successful with swimmers producing personal best times in almost every trip to the pool. The team placed fourth behind the local teams of Long Reach Swim Club (Bath YMCA), Coastal Maine Aquatics (Cape Elizabeth-Scarborough area), and the Westbrook Seals.

“Our swimmers simply had a great meet. We were by far the best team for the 10-and-under and the 11-12 age groups,” said Willis. “We did not have a lot of older swimmers but they performed very well with numerous best times and some making it back to the finals at night.”

Check next week’s Islander for continuing coverage of the Sharks.

For more sports news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

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