Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 01-10-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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Smithfield Scituate Foster Glocester Edition Sports & Recreation valleybreeze.com @ JANUARY 10-16, 2019 Smithfield swimmers finally begin season Two-time Div. III champion girls' team eyes another outstanding winter By KAYLA PANU Valley Breeze & Observer Sports Writer kayla@valleybreeze.com SMITHFIELD – With its core group of swimmers returning from last season's team that repeated as Division III champions, the Smithfield High girls' swim team finally opened its season last Thursday afternoon by rolling past East Providence, 69-25, at the Smithfield YMCA's pool. The late start to the season was an unusual one, especially since every other high school team in the state began their respective seasons last month. Head coach Jennifer Bibeault said that her teams were supposed to start their season before the winter break against Mount Saint Charles Academy, but because of Mount's exam schedule, they had to move the meet. Because of this, the Sentinels spent the first five weeks of the sea- son exclusively working out at the YMCA. But they will be making up for lost time, because last Thursday's meet kicked off a stretch that will see Smithfield compete in four meet in a nine-day stretch. "That won't be too bad," Bibeault added. "It gave us a chance to prac- tice for a full month before we got into our meets." The core of the girls' team came back this season, but the Sentinels graduated six seniors last year, and a few girls also didn't return because they decided to play other sports this year. Bibeault said that last year's team had 21 girls on its roster, but while this year's squad is down to 13, it does have experience. Leading the way for the Sentinels are senior co-captain Emily DiDonato, who competes in the freestyle and butterfly events, and junior co-captain Meghan LaFlamme, who swims in the freestyle and backstroke events. Bibeault also highlighted sophomore Autumn Blakely as one of their top swimmers, as she swims the butterfly and individual medley, and junior Megan Devlin, who does the breast- stroke. Those four swimmers played big roles in leading the Sentinels to last year's championship, as well as a 7-3 record competing in the Division II dual-meet season. But while the Sentinels will return to next month's D-III championship meet at Roger Williams University, they are cur- rently swimming in the new Brother Anthony Division, which features most of the school that will be com- peting at the Division III meet. In addition to swimming against the Townies and Mounties, the Sentinels will host the Tolman/Shea co-op squad on Thursday at 4 p.m. and visit Burrillville the following day at CCRI-Lincoln's pool. Classical, Mount Hope, Pilgrim, and Toll Gate are also in the division, but the boys will not swim against Pilgrim and Toll Gate because neither school has a boys' team. Speaking of the boys' team, which unlike the girls, will swim in next month's Division II championship meet, it has grown a little bit. Last season, Smithfield had three boys, but this year's squad has five, includ- ing returning juniors Nick Bottone and Ben Iannuzzi, and Bibeault said it will be a little more competitive this year because it will have a relay team and won't have to give up points in those events. "Two of them have been swim- ming for most of their lives," Bibeault said. "The other three are new, but they can swim at least two out of the four strokes. We're working on it and building them up. And none of them are seniors. We have four juniors and one freshman. Hopefully, they'll all come back next year, and we'll have some more incoming freshmen and build some more." Overall, Bibeault said that winning is fun, but she is not emphasizing it. She enjoys the camaraderie of her program – the boys and girls as one – and she wants to see her teams swim and have fun, as well as see her swimmers "excel and improve their times," she added. "And I know they BREEZE PHOTOS BY KAYLA PANU Above, Smithfield sophomore AUTUMN BLAKELY swims the breaststroke portion of the 200-yard individual medley during last Thursday afternoon's season-opening meet against East Providence at the Smithfield YMCA's pool. Blakely won the IM in a time of 2:20.73 and the 100-yard butterfly in 1:03.48 to help lead the Sentinels to a 69-25 victory. Smithfield junior NICK BOTTONE dives into the water for the start of his freestyle event during last Thursday afternoon's meet. The visiting Townies won 10 of the boys' meet's 11 events en route to a 57-22 victory. See SENTINELS, Page 14 Creative Pool System, Inc. 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