WOONSOCKET — The numbers game was truly unkind to the Lincoln boys’ swim team in its one-win campaign from a winter ago, and that was clearly evident in the final weeks of the season, when the Lions were forced to go into meets with just six swimmers at their disposal.
But this season, the numbers are high for the Lions, and so are their expectations at returning to their winning ways.
The Lions took a step toward that turnaround on Wednesday in their Division II season opener with Mount St. Charles at the Woonsocket YMCA. Sparked by senior Jason Kimball’s marvelous afternoon, the Lions were able to bus home with a 47-43 victory.
The news was also good on the girls’ side, as the Lions received a dominant meet from sophomore standout and returning All-Stater Mollie Westrick in securing a 47-44 triumph that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
The Lions, who were 5-3 last winter (their first winning season in nine years), stormed out to a 47-21 command after eight events before Lincoln coach Tom DiIorio opted to swim the final three events as exhibitions.
The boys, meanwhile, erased a 16-10 deficit after three events to grab the top two places in the next two, the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly, and claim a 24-18 lead that they never relinquished.
Once the Lions attained the 47-point mark that guaranteed them the victory, they also swam the final 400-yard freestyle relay as an exhibition, a courtesy they didn’t have during last winter’s 1-5 season.
“We have 16 boys this year,” reported DiIorio. “Last year, we only started out with 10 boys and ended up with six, and you can’t do anything with six boys. You can’t even have two relays.”
Kimball’s big meet included helping two of the Lions’ relay teams claim victories. He swam the first leg on the 200 freestyle team, which included Ben Chiacchia, Andrew Hebert, and Cameron Kimball and won in a 1:45.83 time, and he joined those three swimmers as the anchor of the 200 medley relay that took first in 2:01.03.
Kimball also captured a pair of individual freestyle events, the 50 in 25.18 seconds and the 100 in 59.05.
Cameron Kimball scored eight points by claiming the 100 backstroke in 1:18.22 and finishing second in the 500 freestyle, losing a close battle to Mount’s Carl Ciullio, who won in a 6:11.41 time.
Hebert also produced a first-place finish in the 100 butterfly (1:05.01) and a second in the 50 freestyle, and Chiacchia added six points with runner-up finishes in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly.
The Mounties were led by a multiple-victory meet by Ciullio, who also seized the 200 IM in 2:30.35 and anchored the 400 freestyle relay team of Greg Iovanel, Evan Giles, and Liam DeBeasi to a 4:26.34 victory.
The hosts also received victories from DeBeasi in the 100 breaststroke (1:18.89) and Iovanel in the 200 freestyle (2:25.25) and a pair of second place from Evan Giles in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
Westrick, who won state championships last year in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, took care of business in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle, as she easily captured both events in times of 1:06.22 and 2:09.08.
She also swam the first leg on the victorious 200 medley relay team of Melissa Gianetti, Nicole Moneghan, and Liza Korotrova that produced a 2:09.15 time.
Emily Jacobson added a first in the 50 freestyle (29 seconds) and second in the 100 butterfly, and Casey Gagnon (100 freestyle, 1:05:7) and the 200 freestyle relay team of Angela Gagne, Gagnon, Gianetti, and Korotrova (2:00.3) also won events. Moneghan contributed runner-up finishes in the 200 IM and 500 freestyle.
“The girls were upset that their times were a little high,” admitted DiIorio. “I said, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s the first meet. We only had two weeks of practice. What are you going to do?’ ”
The Mounties were led by Elizabeth Gross, who won a pair of events, the 200 IM (2:25.83) and 500 freestyle (5:43.39), and anchored the 400 freestyle relay squad of Caitlin Barnabe, Sarah Gardella, and Catherine Sherman to a 4:42.61 triumph.
Judith Dayaw (100 backstroke, 1:23.69) and Lexa Lauzier (100 breaststroke, 1:29.35) also won events for the hosts.
Follow Eric Benevides on Twitter @EricBen24