CLAYTON — The Watertown girls swimming team got a glimpse of its present and future at Saturday’s Frontier League championships at Thousand Islands High School.
Junior Sarah Kilburn and eighth-grader Jasmine Ferguson won two relays and two individual events as the Cyclones picked up their 10th straight meet championship. Kilburn won both sprints in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle for Watertown.
Ferguson took first in the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley for the Cyclones. The duo teamed up with McKenzie Way and Emily Alvarado to win the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays for Watertown.
Ferguson credited the leadership from the upperclassmen for making her transition to varsity an easy one.
“They’re all very supportive and always there for me and that’s a big part of it,” Ferguson said. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Ferguson and Mallory Peters, who won the 200 freestyle, are part of a talented underclassmen group that looks to keep the Cyclones program atop the league and challenge for Section 3 titles for seasons to come.
“Those younger eighth-graders are definitely a force on this team,” Longtime Watertown coach Lori Peters said. “The girls have been swimming for a long time, they work hard and bring another element to our program.”
Watertown totaled 494 points while Lowville placed second with 310.5. South Jefferson took third with 261.5 and South Lewis was fourth with a 252.5. Host Thousand Islands was fifth with 251.5 points.
The Cyclones took all but two events as Way also won the 100 breaststroke. Lowville sophomore Meredith Lovenduski took the victory in the 100 backstroke and seventh-grader Ava Burns of South Jefferson placed fist in the 500 freestyle. The win by Burns demonstrated that Watertown isn’t the only squad with young talent.
“I coach Ava in the (Watertown YMCA) Blue Sharks program and I’m really happy for her,” Peters said. “That was a great swim and helped McKenzie (Way) get a PR (personal record).”
Kilburn eclipsed her meet record in the 50 freestyle with a time of 25.12, which is .01 seconds better than least year’s event. She also holds meet records in the 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle over the last three seasons.
Coach Peters hands out goal sheets at the beginning of the season and Kilburn is glad to be able to check most of those off the list.
“At the end of the year, Coach Peters hand back our sheets and she tells us which ones we’ve achieved,” Kilburn said. “It’s such an accomplishment when you check one of those goals off.”
Kilburn had already qualified for the states in the 50 freestyle after registering a time of 24.73 seconds on Oct. 22 against New Hartford. She said it’s taken some of the pressure off her.
“Now that I don’t have to worry about that, it takes a lot of weight off my shoulders,” Kilburn said. “I can focus on getting the relays there and my other teammates there.”
Watertown started off fast as it won the first seven events before Burns’ victory in the 500 freestyle. Despite having control of the meet early, the Cyclones were fired up and supporting their team until the end. The team, including coach Peters and her assistants, celebrated with a dip into the pool.
“That’s my favorite thing ever,” Ferguson said.
The meet serves as a tuneup to the upcoming sectional meets set for Nov. 8 and state qualifiers on Nov. 10. Swimmers like Kayley Walsh of South Lewis use the Frontier League meet to hone their skills for the homestretch of the season.
“Pretty much all of this is a warm-up for sectionals,” said Walsh, who has school records in the 200 individual medley, 500 freestyle and set two more in the 100 butterfly and 400 freestyle relay at the league meet. “I’m hoping to take first in the butterfly at sectionals, but we’ll see what happens.”