By Dave Dyer firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — METHUEN — Haverhill diver Michaela Sliney is one impressive freshman, but she’s hardly the only highly regarded rookie among Merrimack Valley swim teams.
In fact, there are a plethora of impressive newcomers, including two on the Methuen team — freshmen Rachelle Gauvin and Jenna Albrecht.
Gauvin, in particular, has gotten off to an auspicious start to her career. Her specialty is the backstroke and she has already broken the school record in the 100 backstroke, held by former Methuen and University of North Carolina star Laura Moriarty, swimming a 1:00.35
Gauvin has qualified for state in eight events and has won all but two of her races this year, finishing second in the 100 freestyle against powerful Andover and taking runner-up to a boy in the 50 freestyle.
“She’s already one of the best backstrokers in the state and, without putting any pressure on her, we’re hoping she’s as successful as Laura,” said Methuen coach Jason Smith. “That’s our goal.”
Providing a dynamic one-two freshman punch is Albrecht, whose strongest event is the breaststroke, but who is also skilled at virtually every event.
What has helped bring the two freshmen along, says Smith, is the guidance of standout junior Kelly Lennon who, he says, “will be one of the best swimmers in the state next year if not at the end of this year.”
“Kelly is a role model and has really helped assimilate Rachelle and Jenna onto the team,” said Smith. “She’s a hard worker and the heart of the team, and it helps the freshmen to have her around.”
The threesome is a major reason why the Rangers are enjoying a fine season and could really take off next year.