The Kent County YMCA Sea Otters swim team has adopted a slogan: “Swimming fast is fun.”
They proved it this year.
The Sea Otters won their league championship for the fifth year in a row then reached new heights at the New England championships when they finished third overall, by far their best finish ever.
“The kids work really hard,” said coach Jason Buchanan. “Our big quote is swimming fast is fun. They had lots of fun this year.”
The Sea Otters made their biggest waves at the Southeastern New England Cluster of YMCAs championship meet, which was held in March in East Lyme, Conn. The team finished top three in all 10 age groups, won 23 out of the 92 events and finished almost 900 points ahead of the second place team.
Ten swimmers won championships in their age groups, and five won multiple titles. Those five are: Ian MacDonald (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle); William McClelland (25 butterfly, 50 freestyle); Annabelle Redding (100 IM, 100 freestyle); Madalyn Redding (200 freestyle, 100 freestyle) and Lauren Salvadore (50 butterfly, 50 breaststroke). McClelland, Madalyn Redding, Lauren Salvadore and Ian MacDonald all set SENECY meet records.
Also winning titles were Joey Allen in the 50 freestyle, Carolyn Cote in the 500 free, Kelsa Dator in the 25 breaststroke, Michael Jarrell in the 25 freestyle and Jacob Hack in the 100 free.
The Sea Otters also won eight relays. Jarrell, McClelland, Jacob Coutu and John Tucker won the 8-and-under boys’ medley relay and set a meet record in the process. Salvadore, Emma MacDonald, Aubrey Forman and Madalyn Redding also set a record while winning the 11-12 girls’ medley relay. Redding, Forman, Salvadore and Wenona Alexander won the 11-12 girls’ freestyle relay in a record-breaking time.
In other relays, Annabelle Redding, Cece Mascena, Grace MacDonald and Ana Karabots won the 9-10 girls’ medley; Redding, Karabots, MacDonald and Mascena won the 9-10 girls’ freestyle; Allen, Hack, Jonathan Smith and Sean Miranda won the 9-10 boys’ medley and the 9-10 boys’ freestyle; and Will Bailer, Mike Sundberg, Nick Tomasso and Stanley Chan won the 15-18 boys’ 400 freestyle.
In addition to the titles, the Sea Otters set 15 new team records and 86 percent of their swimmers who competed achieved at least one personal best time.
Building off their performance at the SENECY meet, the Sea Otters competed in the YMCA of New England meet and finished third overall. The club’s previous best finish was ninth.
Four swimmers won individual New England championships: William McClelland in the 8U 25 butterfly, 50 free and 25 free; Lauren Salvadore in the 11-12 100 breaststroke; Madalyn Redding in the 11-12 200 free; and Ian MacDonald in the 13-14 200 free.
The Sea Otters also got top eight finishes from Michael Jarrell, Annabelle Redding, Kelsa Dator, Grace MacDonald, Cece Mascena, Jacob Hack, Timucin Marino, Will Bailer and Mike Sundberg.
The Sea Otters also had 11 relays place in the top eight.
“It started with our high school kids,” Buchanan said. “YMCA teams in this area are generally known for having a younger group of swimmers who leave when they get to high school. They’re not leaving here anymore. The older kids are starting to lead and make our younger kids want to swim faster.”
Every age group scored points at the meet, with the 8U boys grabbing third in their division, tied for the club’s highest age group finish ever. The 11-12 girls also shined with a fourth-place finish.
The third place overall finish for the Sea Otters was out of 66 teams competing.