Alison MacEachern found another gear to capture a pair of come-from-behind victories last weekend at an invitation swim meet in Brunswick, Me.
The 17-year-old Charlottetown resident won gold in the 200-metre fly and IM at the 20th annual Bowdoin invitational, which attracted more than 700 of the top swimmers in the northeastern United States. She added a pair of third-place finishes and helped the relay teams earn two silvers and a bronze.
MacEachern's success led to her being named the female swimmer of the meet.
"It was great. I wasn't expecting to do that well at all, so it really boosted my confidence," she said earlier this week. "My coach says it was probably one of the highlights of my career and I agree."
The Charlottetown Bluephin team captain's best event the past few years has been the 200-metre fly. She qualified for the final in the morning, but her time (2:15) didn't provide her a great lane for the finale.
"It didn't go very well in the morning. I was going in to the race fifth and wasn't expecting to come out first," she explained.
But her determination proved too much for the competition. She was third going into the final 50 metres before pulling ahead.
"I just wanted that gold," MacEachern said.
Bluephins coach William Calhoun was proud of her accomplishments.
"Taking home the swimmer of the meet award is a huge honour and accomplishment for Alison," he said. "She has put in years of hard work and having that pay off is so rewarding for her."
MacEachern is a second-generation swimmer, as her father, John, also swam for the Bluephins.
Alison said she has been swimming for half her life. She swims eight times a week, usually two-hour sessions before or after school. She made the Canada Games team as a 13-year-old for the 2009 Games and this past summer in Sherbrooke, Que. She plans to swim varsity next year and is currently weighing offers.
MacEachern was part of a 25-swimmer contingent from the Bluephins attending the Maine meet. Summerside Dolphins members also swam during the three-day competition against top-level competition.
"Racing against swimmers they don't know and racing so far from home was a huge challenge. They elevated their game and posted some phenomenal performances," said Calhoun.
"Every swimmer dove into the pool and raced hard every single race. Racing was the main theme of the weekend and they rose to the challenge."
He was impressed by many of his swimers, including Sarah Williams, who was disqualified in the 100-metre backstroke on Saturday, but persevered in the 200-metre backstroke.
"She came home strong on Sunday night to win the silver," he said, noting "at one point in the race she was sixth."
MacEachern said the recent accomplishment is something to build on for the rest of the season.
"That really set me up well for nationals and really boosted my confidence," she said, noting the nationals will be held in mid February in Ontario. "I will be ready to go into that and hopefully make some finals there."
A look at the Charlottetown Bluephins results from a recent meet in Maine.
Swimmers making A finals (top-10 finish)
Alison MacEachern (13 and older) - Awarded the Female Swimmer of the meet award. She earned gold in the 200m fly and IM, bronze in the 200m free and 100m free. She also placed fifth in the 400m IM and 100m fly and was sixth in the 50m freestyle.
Sarah Williams (13 and older) - Silver in the 200m backstroke and seventh in the 200m IM.
Nicholas Tweel (13 and older) - Seventh in the 100m breast.
Matthew Smith (13 and older) - Fifth in the 1650 freestyle and 10th in the 200m freestyle.
Alexa McQuaid (11- to 12-year-old girls) - Ninth in the 50m breast and eighth in the 100m breast.
Bronze -A Girls 4x200m freestyle relay (Emily Swaine, Alison MacEachern, Emma Smith and Sarah Williams).
Silver - Girls 4x100m freestyle relay (Emily Swaine, Alison MacEachern, Emma Smith and Sarah Williams).
Silver - Girls 4x100m medley relay (Sarah Williams, Hannah Jenkins, Alison MacEachern and Emily Swaine).
Swimmers making B and C finals
Hannah Jenkins, William Stewart, Alexis Craig, Matthew Addison, Iain Crowell, Emma Smith and Emily Swaine.
Swimmers posting personal bests and contributing to successful relay teams
Julia Woods, Samantha Williams, Nicholas Wilkie, MacKenzie Stead, Charlie Morse, Jacqueline McQuaid, Bridget Keedwell, Brittany Hill, Katlyn Ford, Olivia Craig, Lexie Carruthers, Tristan Atkins and Mairin Arsenault.