Morse’s Rebecca Bonnett swims in the 100 yard butterfly during the Class A state championships at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Portland Press Herald file photo
Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of our series, “Catching Up With,” in which we catch up with some people we’ve covered over the last few decades.
BATH— For years, the Morse girls swim team had been doing everything they could to claw their way to the top. When the 2010 season rolled around, things felt different for the better, and head coach Todd Marco knew he could have something special brewing.
“We had a great group of swimmers who were committed to the grind to try and win a state title,” Marco said. “They all worked really hard and were friends away from the pool, which helped our team develop the chemistry we needed to be successful.”
The Shipbuilders were loaded with talent for years when it came to the pool racing events, but were held back in the diving portion of the meets.
“We didn’t have a diving board, thus we didn’t have a diving team,” Marco explained. “It had held us back in the points column in previous years, but that was not the case in 2010.”
In previous years, the Shipbuilders would place in the top five at the state meet, but couldn’t seem to get past Bangor and Cape Elizabeth, who had captured seven of the previous eight Class A state championships.
During the 2010 meet, the Shipbuilders rolled through the competition and finally captured their elusive Class A title. Despite having no divers, Morse earned 255 points, 45 more points than second place Scarborough. Bangor rounded out the top three, finishing with 169 points.
“It felt good to get over the hump and be a part of a winning team,” said Emily Buczkowski, who graduated in 2011. “We were just so proud of ourselves, the feeling of achieving the goal you set out for yourselves is indescribable.”
Going into the season, the Shipbuilders knew they had the pieces in place to make a run at the state title, but those thoughts quickly took a turn when senior Mallory Plummer broke her leg in the first meet of the season.
“It was definitely a letdown to know I would be missing a good chunk of the season,” Plummer said.
Despite the loss of Plummer early on, the Shipbuilders maintained their focus and kept their composure, winning several regular season meets.
“We started out really strong, which gave us the confidence we needed to ensure ourselves that we could go all the way,” said Guerin Morrisette, who was a sophomore during the 2010 season.
Despite being one the higher-ranked teams in the state, Marco and the Shipbuilders kept an underdog mentality during the postseason.
“No one expects Morse to be competitive on the biggest stage, we just wanted to prove everyone wrong and keep that mentality going the whole way,” said Marco.
The state meet was held at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, which was a familiar pool for Morse to swim in.
“The atmosphere was definitely different yet familiar, but I was a little nervous. Once the nerves calmed down I was ready to roll,” Buczkowski said.
The Shipbuilders also got a boost with Plummer returning from injury to take part in the final race of her high school career.
“I was excited but anxious to come back for the state meet, but to be able to come back and help my team was a great feeling,” said Plummer.
In the individual events, several swimmers from Morse shined, with many earning their personal bests. Buczkowski placed first in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle, and was one of the four swimmers on the relay team that placed first in the 200 and second in the 100.
Morse’s Emily Buczkowski performs the backstroke during the 200-yard medley relay at the Class A swim meet at Greason Pool at Bowdoin College. Portland Press Herald file photo
Rebecca Bonnett, who was unavailable for comment, was another key member in helping Morse capture the state championship. Bonnett placed sixth in the 200 individual medley, fourth in the 100 butterfly, and was another member of the relay team that finished in the top two in two events. Buczkowski and Bonnett would go on to become teammates in college while swimming at The University of Maine in Orono.
“Our lack of diving just emphasized more the importance of the swimming events,” Buczkowski added. “The relays were intense, to be able to win one and place second in the other was a huge boost for our team.”
Buczkowski and Bonnett would go on to become teammates in college while swimming at The University of Maine in Orono.
Members of the team recalled the tremendous support they received from the community during the championship run.
“It meant quite a bit to not only our team, but to our community,” Buczkowski added. “We were given the key to the city and had an assembly to recognize us. It felt good that the community appreciated the work that we did.”
Added Plummer: “It felt great to get one for Todd, he’s put in so much time and effort into the program. To see how excited he was when he won was one of the highlights for me.
One thing that seems to not be forgotten from the 2010 team is how close the team was in and out of the pool.
“A lot of us were teammates on a club team as well, the friendships and comradery we had together was something I will never forget,” added Buczkowski.
For Marco, it’s a day he surely won’t forget.
“All the stars aligned that day for us to bring one home,” Marco said. “I’ve been coaching swimming for years, and that will remain as one of my favorite memories when I think about my coaching career.”