NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

February 12, 2014

Triton swim team to compete at states

By Mac Cerullo
Sports Editor

---- — BYFIELD — With a successful performance at sectionals under its belt, the Triton swim team is looking to wrap up its inaugural season with a strong showing at Saturday’s State Swimming and Diving Championship meet at MIT.

“We’re looking to score some points as a first-time team in there,” said head coach Diane Sagaser. “It’s a great way to promote the sport.”

Though the group didn’t have much success as a team in its inaugural season — the varsity squad went winless and the JV team won only one meet — several swimmers had substantial individual success, especially on the girls side.

This past Saturday, the team finished 12th out of 28 teams at the MIAA North Sectionals at Wellesley College. The strongest performances of the day came from Jennifer Nutter, Nikki Samuelson, Caroline Cullen and Maggie Summit, who finished seventh in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:47.36) and eighth in the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:57.88).

Cullen and Samuelson also placed in the 500-yard freestyle, finishing 10th (5:37.40) and 15th (5:47.57) respectively; Nutter finished 13th in the 200-yard individual medley (2:20.42) and in the 100-yard backstroke (1:04.28); and Summit placed 14th in the 200-yard IM (2:20.93). Kiersten Flodman, Molly Beluk, Cullen and Kali Vetree also participated in the 200-yard medley relay, though they were disqualified and did not place as a result.

“The girls did fantastic,” Sagaser said. “It was a good show for the girls and it was definitely a positive experience for everybody.”

The appearance in the state championship meet marks a significant achievement for the young team, which is comprised of 22 boys and girls from Newburyport, Triton and Georgetown high schools.

Triton formed its swim team this year in order to give local swimmers a chance to compete for their high school, and Sagaser said those who joined ranged from swimmers who swam competitively on club teams to kids who had never swum before and just wanted to give it a try.

The team competed against six other Cape Ann League teams, including North Reading, Manchester Essex, Lynnfield, Masconomet, Ipswich and Hamilton-Wenham. Despite being rivals in just about every other sport, Sagaser said the athletes from the team’s three schools have become close, relishing the shared experience of getting to compete for their schools.

“It’s been a very positive experience. The kids from these three towns have come together as a team and bonded, they feel pride in what they’re doing,” Sagaser said.

Now with the first season nearly in the books, Sagaser said she hopes that the team’s run to the state championship meet will attract more students to swimming and ultimately help grow the program into something bigger.

“We’re looking to build the team,” she said. “And with the publicity people learn we have a swim team and it’s there as a winter sport that wasn’t there before.”