Saturday January 5, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- George Sommerville has plenty of time to admire his teammates' work.

When you're winning by 16 seconds, like the Taconic swimmer did twice against Monument Mountain on Friday, you can do that.

"I feel like the boys seeing him swim it kind of gives them that boost, like ‘If he can do it, then I can do it,' " said Braves coach Marisa Plant. "He really gets them going."

Sommerville got a front row seat to teammate Dylan LeSage's second-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Pittsfield Family YMCA. The 1-2 finish helped the Braves to a come-from-behind 82-73 win over Monument. The Spartan girls beat Taconic 106-63 behind a dominant swimmer of their own, Maeve Wilber. The sophomore won the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke by 14 and 15 seconds, respectively.

Both swimmers, who have qualified for a laundry list of Western Massachusetts events, were comfortably ahead by the time they came up for air. The lead could be a body length by the first turn. Wilber said she sometimes imagines faster swimmers alongside or in front of her. Though her high school races are often comfortable wins, Wilber said they can be confidence boosters, just like Sommerville's are for his teammates.

"It makes me feel like I can do really well in swimming in high school," she said. "I want to try and win a state title or something like that. I think just winning is getting me in the mindset of always being on top."

For dominant high school swimmers, there are long-term goals beyond each meet said Monument coach Jill Svirida. It's not just about racking up victories.

"For these guys they look down the road toward whatever goal they may be setting for themselves: what they're going to swim at Western Mass., what place they might want to get, what they're going to swim at states," Svirida said. "Can they do better than the year before? Can they win?

"Every race is just a little step in that direction. We may not worry necessarily about what her time is in a race but we're looking at how many kicks did she do underwater on her backstroke off the turns, how many breaths did she take in a freestyle race. We're always looking at the little things each race instead of worrying about the competition she is or isn't having to swim against."

For Sommerville, his junior year has been about developing as a leader. He'll speak about his times getting better, but he'll also quickly say he doesn't want to gloat. His focus seems to be on winning relays and bobbing in the water, cheering on teammates after he's secured his own victory.

"I like how the team's come together over the past two years," Sommerville said. "We've kind of become more of one team instead of separate [swimmers]."

To reach Christopher James:
cjames@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6252.
On Twitter: @BECJ2k.