Senior collects medals & break records; swimmers earn 6 medals

MEMBERS OF the Melrose High School girls swim team celebrate their record-breaking performance at State Finals (courtesy photo)

MEMBERS OF the Melrose High School girls swim team celebrate their record-breaking performance at State Finals (courtesy photo)

MELROSE — In terms of dramatics, it was about as amazing a way to wrap up a high school swim career for Melrose High’s Anna Steele.

On Sunday night the senior captain had the swim of her life for the Melrose Lady Raider swim team at the MIAA Div. 2 State Championship at the Blodgett Pool at Harvard University. Steele earned four medals and broke two school records in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke while leading the charge for Melrose, who earned a stunning eighth place out of 24 Division 2 teams, including tough Catholic school teams such as Central Catholic and Ursuline Academy. This represents the final leg of the Lady Raiders’ Cinderella season.

Steele’s teammate, frosh phenom Samantha D’Allesandro, officially gave her competition in the state notice with her top-of-the-pack finishes that earned her four medals, including a bronze in the 100 freestyle.

The results overall for this deeply talented team left their coach flabbergasted. She was quick to salute her senior captain for her outstanding performances.

“The quote I loved to use with Anna was ‘Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard,'” said Deb Deacon. “But when talent works hard, talent breaks two individual and two relay records and swims the best meet, in her last meet of her high school career.”

Steele started her evening by helping lead the 200 yard medley team to a fifth place finish, earning a medal with teammates Madeline Hughes, Virginia Guanci and D’Allesandro. Steele then broke the school record in the 100 butterfly, which was set by teammate D’Allesandro this season. Her time of 59.39 was good enough for a fourth place medal. She collected more hardware in the 100 backstroke, medaling in seventh place with a time of 1:01.77, which broke a MHS record held by S. Doherty in 1987. She then swam a leg of the 400 freestyle relay and nabbed fifth place with teammates Hollis Cohan, Virginia Guanci and Samantha D’Allesandro. It was an overall 54.09 finish and another medal for the Lady Raiders.

D’Allesandro earned her bronze medal in the 100 free with a time of 54.75 for a personal best and another personal best in the 50 free with a time of 25.30, her third medal of the night in seventh place. Melrose’s Hollis Cohan also muscled her way to the best of the state with a personal best time in the 200 free (2:07.79) and earned five points for Melrose with a 12th place finish in the 100 freestyle, also a personal best at 57.73. Her freshman teammate Virginia Guanci put her name on the map with a 16th finish in the 200 IM, swam in the 100 breast and medaled in the 400 freestyle relay. Freshman Madeline Hughes also swam strong with a time of 2:14.81 in the 200 freestyle and a 17th place finish in the 100 backstroke.

“We worked the girls hard all season but in the last two weeks we prepared them mentally as well as physically,” said Deacon. “I told them to practice a mantra: I am stronger and faster and I will finish this race.”

Deacon spoke of the importance of endurance in the final stretches of their laps. “In the 200 it was the third 50 they had to push harder, in the 100 it was the third 25 that required them to push their mental game to match their physical game. They did and achieved record breaking times and top performances.”

Overall, it was a sweet end to a record-shattering year. “This was the best showing in all of my 16 coaching years,” says Deacon. “It’s always great to see the individual achievement but this year with seven overall wins and the girls coming together as a team they pushed themselves to great heights.”

This is only the beginning for Melrose swim, who return a lot of underclassmen next season who will continue to break records in the upcoming years. But as for her outgoing seniors, Ariana Swift, Olivia Terranova, Anna Steele and Bea Affato, Deacon expresses great pride. “I will miss them. They’re great girls who have worked hard and they’re a lot of fun — but even the coach has to let go.”