Story by Zachary Lanning
Courtesy of The Ellsworth American
The 2023 YMCA State Swimming Championships were held March 10th – 12th with over 800 swimmers from all 12 Maine YMCA swim programs competing in events over the span of three days.
“We were thrilled to finish in third place this year,” said DEFY head coach Matt Montgomery, whose team brought 90 swimmers to compete at the meet. “We knew we had a shot at a top-five finish, especially since we went undefeated during the dual meet season. The coaches were most proud of how our athletes performed from top to bottom. It wasn’t just the state champions and record breakers that helped us finish as well as we did, it was all the kids who dropped time and snuck into the top 16. We’ve had more individual state champions in the past but finished lower in the standings. This was truly a group effort.”
The senior girls team, along with the 9-10 boys team, were overall age group state champions in their respective divisions. The program took home several championships in relay events, including the 9-10 boys 200-meter medley relay team of Austin Young, Lincoln Kent, Milo Rentosa and Jacob Parker as well as the 13-14 boys 200-meter freestyle relay team of Rafa Rentosa, Charlie Birdsall, Noah Frost and Cavan Jester. The senior girls 200 medley relay team of Gabby Rentosa, Caroline Mazgaj, Ella Montgomery, and Kiera Springer also took the top spot in their event.
Individual state championship winners included Jaymo Buck, 17, who won the senior boys 100 butterfly, Cavan Jester, 14, who won the 13-14 boys 100 butterfly, Ella Montgomery, 15, who won the senior girls 100 butterfly, along with the 100 backstroke, and Milo Rentosa, 10, who won both the 50 butterfly and 50 backstroke.
DEFY also had five new qualifiers for the YMCA National Championships to be held in North Carolina in April. The senior boys 200 medley relay team composed of Jaymo Buck, Nick Partridge, Owen Frank and Brodie Buck will be moving on to nationals, with Jaymo Buck also qualifying in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly events. Mazgaj also qualified with her record-breaking time in the 100 breaststroke while Montgomery did the same in the 100 backstroke.
“This has been one of the hardest working, most focused groups we’ve ever brought to a state championship,” said Matt Montgomery. “A huge amount of credit goes to our graduating seniors who have led the way through their dedication and teamwork. We’re really going to miss their leadership next season, but we also know that their legacy will carry on.”
Montgomery was also named Maine YMCA Coach of the Year at the event, the fourth time he has been recognized with this award.
“It’s an honor to receive the Coach of the Year award,” said Montgomery. “It’s honestly a reflection of our whole coaching staff. Zach Cravens, Jim Goodman, Ellie Clarke and Brian Townsend are the best staff I could hope for. We all share the philosophy that swimming should be rewarding every day, not just at competition. We work hard to help our athletes find a healthy balance between working hard and having fun. We know the skills they develop here: setting goals, balancing schedules, overcoming adversity, will help them out when they move on from our program, wherever life takes them.”