KINGSTON â Cumberland High junior Courtney Kent explained Saturday afternoon that she hadnât really âtaperedâ for these R.I. Interscholastic Swimming Championships.
In essence, that just means she hadnât cut down on the amount of practice yardage she swims day-in and day-out as a member of Crimson Aquatics, based out of Cambridge. A slice in distance, a swimmer always hopes, results in faster times due to the bodyâs ability to recuperate.
The reason for the âuntaperâ: Her USA Swimming club coaches want her to focus on producing premier times when she travels to the U.S. Junior National Short-Course Swimming Championships in Orlando, Fla. next month.
Kent nevertheless wowed the jammed Tootell Natatorium at the University of Rhode Island. In the meetâs second event, Kent cruised to the 200-yard freestyle state title with a personal-best 1:54.38.
That clocking was 1.38 seconds faster than the one she posted in capturing the same crown last year.
Then, in the 500-yard freestyle, she manufactured a triumphant 5:00.39, an incredible 22 seconds faster than runner-up Marykate McCutheon of Smithfield (5:22.16). In the process, she defended her title in that event as well.
Still, that 5:00.39 clocking was far off her best-ever 4:53.50, achieved at the New England Senior Championships held at Boston University last year.
âI wanted to be a little faster in the 200 (freestyle), like 1:53-something, but itâs a PR (personal record) so Iâm psyched,â Kent stated. âI wouldâve liked to break my own school record.â
As for the 500, she claimed she really wanted to break U.S. Olympian and North Kingstown native Elizabeth Beiselâs state record of 4:52.06, and laughed when she said, âI didnât do it this year, so Iâll go for it next year at states.
âI havenât really tapered yet because I have the Junior Nationals coming up in March,â she added. âIâll be swimming the 200, 500, 1,000 and 1,650 (freestyles), and I really want to do my best times there. Iâve rested a little bit, but not completely.
âI guess Iâm satisfied; Iâm not disappointed. I mean, Iâm very happy with two state titles.â
When told she actually now has four individual golds (dating back to her sophomore campaign), she giggled, âOK, two more.â
Stated Clippersâ head coach Heidi Josephson: âShe swims for another swim club (a satellite of Crimson Aquatics, that mentored by Carl Cedarquist, at the Whitinsville Community Center), and she hasnât tapered yet. Sheâs still swimming 5,000-plus yards a day, six days a week.
âShe is truly a spectacular girl in every facet,â she continued. âSheâs one of those swimmers who comes around very, very rarely. Sheâs also very coachable. You know, a lot of our swimmers are very intelligent swimmers. They understand the physics of swimming, that â if youâre a missile â youâre going to swim faster.
âThey understand the concept of streamlining, and getting in and out of the walls (on their turns) as quickly as they can. Sheâs an outstanding talent and a very determined young sportswoman. I canât say enough about her.â
Prior to the meetâs start, Josephson had hoped her squad would finish in the top four in the team standings. When the announcer read the placements, and deemed the Clippers fifth with 184 points (just two behind fourth-place South Kingstown), the coach turned as if to say, âAw, shucks!â
âIf I had to do it again, Iâd have rested the girls more,â she noted. âGirls are really hard to taper. I mean, you look at La Salle, and theyâre a huge team, and so is Prout and North Kingstown. I came with 10 girls, and some of them didnât even swim individual events, just relays.
âIâm still thrilled; across the board, it seemed like everyone posted their best times,â she continued. âIâd guess, when it comes to success rate percentage of PRs, we had to be over 80 percent. They swam very, very well.â
Josephson wasnât kidding.
Though Cumberland didnât produce any more individual crowns, it was the recipient of some outstanding performances.
After capturing fifth in the 200 freestyle with a PR of 2:05.31, sophomore Kenzie McCormick shocked herself when she placed third in the 100 butterfly in 1:03.68.
âThat was my best time in the 200 by four seconds, and my best in the fly by two seconds,â McCormick gushed. âIf someone had told me before states that Iâd be so fast, I wouldnât have thought it. I canât believe that Iâve improved so much, especially in the fly.
âBack in November, my best was, like, 1:09, and in January, I went 1:05,â she added. âI thought I was done improving, but Iâve been working really hard in practice. When we do drills, Iâve been focusing on my butterfly, so I think thatâs the reason.â
Then there was junior Kate LeBeau, who took sixth in the 100 freestyle in 58.77; she also placed 10th in the 200 freestyle in 2:10.00.
The 100 free marked her PR by .46, and she just missed her personal-best time in the 200 free by .49. LeBeau claimed she didnât even compete in the 200 distance last winter, but had dropped nine seconds in that event since early December.
Kent and McCormick also teamed with Jill Chopy and Kayla Zerva to finish fourth in the 200 medley relay, that in a season-best 1:59.98. And, in the meetâs final 400 freestyle relay, the contingent of LeBeau, Zerva, Kent and McCormick manufactured a season-best
In between, the 200 freestyle relay quartet of LeBeau, Jill Rossi, Nicolette Bernardi and Jennie Hook managed 11th in 1:55.86.
As a team, Mount St. Charles finished in a 12th-place deadlock with 53 points. Pacing the Mounties were the eighth-place 200 medley relay foursome of Kelly OâNeill, Amy Quistberg, Kathryn Yorke and Stephanie Morelle (2:09.24).
Lincoln closed with 23 points, good for 17th of 27 teams, with Melissa Gianetti finishing ninth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:17.57.
St. Raphael mustered a 20th-place tie with Rogers in the team standings, and Carol Santos scored all nine points after placing ninth in the 100 butterfly in 1:08.05.