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Despite Loss, Belmont Girls' Swimming League Co-Champs

Lexington turn back late Marauder run with strong showing in final relay.

If, as the old sporting adage goes, a tie is like kissing your sister, is a three way tie for the Middlesex League championship like kissing your twin sisters?

After coming back from a sizable deficit to visiting Lexington Wednesday, Oct. 24, with a clean 1-2-3 sweep in the penultimate race, Belmont Girls' Swimming's could not reel in the especially strong set of Minutemen free-stylists in the 400 yard free relay to fall short, 96-84, in the final duel meet of the season at the pool in the Wenner Field House.

Down by 16 points with three events to go, Belmont clawed back 4 points from the Lexington lead with Maya Nagashima winning the 100 yard backstroke going away in 1:04.75 with Angela Li taking third with a 1:07.38 and Anna Corning grabbing a valuable fifth place in 1:08.61.

With the volume and humidity inside the pool rising, Belmont's stellar 100 yard breaststroke team of Emily Quinn, Taylor Coutinho, and Sarah Osborn blasted off the starting blocks cut the Minutemen lead to a pair of points with an emphatic sweep led by Quinn (1:13.12) followed by Coutinho (1:15.88) with Osborn (1:17.25) taking third by nearly three seconds.

By now the noise was ear-hurting and the temperature hitting well over 80 degrees, the two squad's three relay teams huddled for final words on strategy and encouragement.

But Lexington's dominance in the freestyle all meet long was the difference in the final relay, the 400 yard free as the Minuteman's number one team anchored by 50-yard free winner Briony Waite and 100-yard and 500 yard free champ Jayne Vogelzang edged away from the Belmont number one quartet of Eunice Lee, Haruka Uchida, Nagashima and Jessie Blake-West to win by three seconds.

With Lexington's second team taking third ended the meet with that touch of the wall.

"I loved the way these kids competed. The fought until the very end and didn't show any quit," said Belmont's long-time coach Ev Crosscup after the meet.

"We just didn't have quite enough for the win," said Crosscup.

The defeat left the Middlesex League with three teams with one loss and a rare three-way championship tie; Belmont, Lexington and perennial league champions Reading which the Marauders' defeated last week.

"We can certainly be proud of that," said Crosscup, who praised the Minutemen – a team made up of several swimmers who are coached by Crosscup on the club level – for taking maximum points early in the meet.

"They picked up points in the 200 IM and the 100 and 50 yard freestyle. They swam very well, I give them a lot of credit," Crosscup said.

Not lost to him or the other swimmers was the outstanding race by Blake-West in her speciality, the 100 yard butterfly in which she dipped under the one-minute barrier finishing first in 59.81.

"You have to give credit to Jessie Blake-West and that's a nice accomplishment," said Crosscup.

And despite losing their final home meet of their high school careers, nine seniors – Daphne Assimakopoulos, Briana Bertolami, Emily Butte, Anna Corning, Lily Jones, Jung Lee, Alison McIsaac, Georga Morgan-Fleming and Kate Zolner – finished as champions.

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