KINGSTON — Cumberland High junior Courtney Kent explained Saturday afternoon that she hadn’t really “tapered” for these R.I. Interscholastic Swimming Championships.
In essence, that just means she hadn’t 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 body’s ability to recuperate.
The reason for the “untaper”: 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 meet’s 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.
“I wanted to be a little faster in the 200 (freestyle), like 1:53-something, but it’s a PR (personal record) so I’m psyched,” Kent stated. “I would’ve liked to break my own school record.”
As for the 500, she claimed she really wanted to break U.S. Olympian and North Kingstown native Elizabeth Beisel’s state record of 4:52.06, and laughed when she said, “I didn’t do it this year, so I’ll go for it next year at states.
“I haven’t really tapered yet because I have the Junior Nationals coming up in March,” she added. “I’ll be swimming the 200, 500, 1,000 and 1,650 (freestyles), and I really want to do my best times there. I’ve rested a little bit, but not completely.
“I guess I’m satisfied; I’m not disappointed. I mean, I’m very happy with two state titles.”
When told she actually now has four individual golds (dating back to her sophomore campaign), she giggled, “OK, two more.”
Stated Clippers’ head coach Heidi Josephson: “She swims for another swim club (a satellite of Crimson Aquatics, that mentored by Carl Cedarquist, at the Whitinsville Community Center), and she hasn’t tapered yet. She’s still swimming 5,000-plus yards a day, six days a week.
“She is truly a spectacular girl in every facet,” she continued. “She’s one of those swimmers who comes around very, very rarely. She’s also very coachable. You know, a lot of our swimmers are very intelligent swimmers. They understand the physics of swimming, that – if you’re a missile – you’re going to swim faster.
“They understand the concept of streamlining, and getting in and out of the walls (on their turns) as quickly as they can. She’s an outstanding talent and a very determined young sportswoman. I can’t say enough about her.”
Prior to the meet’s 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, “Aw, shucks!”
“If I had to do it again, I’d have rested the girls more,” she noted. “Girls are really hard to taper. I mean, you look at La Salle, and they’re a huge team, and so is Prout and North Kingstown. I came with 10 girls, and some of them didn’t even swim individual events, just relays.
“I’m still thrilled; across the board, it seemed like everyone posted their best times,” she continued. “I’d guess, when it comes to success rate percentage of PRs, we had to be over 80 percent. They swam very, very well.”
Josephson wasn’t kidding.
Though Cumberland didn’t 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.
“That was my best time in the 200 by four seconds, and my best in the fly by two seconds,” McCormick gushed. “If someone had told me before states that I’d be so fast, I wouldn’t have thought it. I can’t believe that I’ve improved so much, especially in the fly.
“Back in November, my best was, like, 1:09, and in January, I went 1:05,” she added. “I thought I was done improving, but I’ve been working really hard in practice. When we do drills, I’ve been focusing on my butterfly, so I think that’s the reason.”
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 didn’t 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 meet’s 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 O’Neill, 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.