There’s more of a buzz than there has been in a long time for the upcoming Cape Ann League Meet.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a few years since every CAL team has had the opportunity to gather in one spot all physically and compete against one another in one season-ending celebration of the sport of swimming. That is due to happen on Saturday afternoon (February 5 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sterling Center YMCA in Beverly), and swimmers from both the boys and girls team are looking forward to the event for multiple reasons.
“The kids are really excited because this is the first big league meet we’ve had in a few years,” explains ME swim coach Caitlin Eramo. “There’s a lot more excitement around it than in past years.”
The CAL Meet represents a change in format and focus for the Hornets. Rather than focusing on filling out every event, most swimmers will get the opportunity to compete in their favorites and work toward qualifying for the upcoming sectional and state meets by getting another opportunity against competition in their own conference. Both the sectional meet (scheduled to start on February 12 at Milford High School) and state meet were no sure thing to happen, and were just announced by the MIAA, adding to the extra buzz surround the team now that the regular season has concluded.
The Hornets have two individuals who have already qualified for the states and sectionals (one from the boys team and one from the girls team), and will send three relay teams to the sectional meet and two relay teams to the state meet. The CAL Meet offers the opportunity for more swimmers to qualify, and its possible relay teams from both squads are able to do so on Saturday.
“Numbers-wise, we don’t have a chance of winning,” says Eramo, pointing to the small roster both squads boasted this season, “but we should score high, and we should have individual winners for events. I’m excited specifically for the girls’ relays, hoping to get wins there.”
Another change in format is the fact that spectators won’t be allowed to attend the meet, but the sheer number of participants should make up for that change and keep the atmosphere at the event humming.
“It will be different not having any spectators but being able to have all the teams together for the first time in a while will increase the competitive feel without the same fanfare,” says Eramo.
Shea Furse has already qualified for the states and sectionals in every event she has participated in so far – including the 100 back, 100 fly, 500 free, 200 free and 200 IM. She’s looking to improve in her strongest events this weekend.
“She’s going to be competing in the 500 and 200 as her top events, and she has a high chance of winning those events at the states and sectionals,” says Eramo. “I’m excited to see where she’s ranked.”
The girls relay teams feature differing configurations of at least five swimmers who are looking to make waves this postseason: Emma Ketchum, Carson Komishane, Sidney Hemme, Megan Graeter and Shea Furse, all key figures in a team that excelled in relays and individually despite finishing the regular season with a record of 1-5.
“Our girls haven’t won as many meets this season, but we have pretty strong depth in terms of the girls we have,” says Eramo. “All are decently fast, especially on the stroke side of things.”
For the boys, Diego Sampson has already qualified for the 500 freestyle, and many of his teammates from a squad that went 3-3 this season will be looking to join him with strong finishes on Saturday.
“The boys haven’t been quite as strong qualifying, but they were a stronger team in terms of wins,” explains Eramo. “It’s a nice change of pace from past years when the girls have been stronger on that side.”