BANGOR — All of the attention at Friday evening’s Old Town-Bangor boys swimming meet was supposed to be on Bangor’s seniors, swimming in their last home meet at Husson College. They have won two state titles, two Penobscot Valley Conference championships and now have a career 32-1 dual-meet record after earning a 119-67 victory over Old Town.
But “Senior Night” belonged to a freshman.
When Jason Thomas finished the last length of the 500 freestyle and touched the wall in a mass of churning water, he looked up at the clock and found that he had shattered a six-year-old state record.
With his time of 4 minutes, 42.72 seconds, Thomas is the first Bangor boys swimmer to earn All-America consideration, according to veteran coach Phil Emery.
The old state record of 4:46.28 was set at the 1992 state meet by Brian Herrick of Noble High School of Berwick.
Thomas’ 2:01.58 in the 200 individual medley also set a school record, one he had already broken at the beginning of the season. His old time was 2:04.25.
From the spectators’ gallery it looked as if Thomas sprinted the whole 500, using his legs more than most distance swimmers do in the first stages of the race. Thomas claimed his first 100 felt slow.
“I didn’t feel it was that great,” Thomas said as he accepted postmeet congratulations from both Old Town and Bangor swimmers. “But I think that loosened me up a lot.
“Obviously you can’t hear that much in the water, but the kids were on their feet. I had an idea of what was going on,” Thomas added.
Emery knew exactly what was happening as he kept track of Thomas’ split times on his stopwatch.
“I knew at the 200, once I started to see the splits, what he was doing,” Emery said. “It was just his consistency. He got into a groove.”
The significance of Thomas’ record on Senior Night, as well as the performances of the other Bangor freshmen, wasn’t lost on senior Peter Currie, who won the 100 backstroke with a time of 57.24. Currie said he’s confident the rookies can lead the team next year.
“[Thomas’ swims] were unbelievable,” he said. “I just can’t believe it. We have some really great freshmen who will do well next year.”
Mike Reid was the only other Bangor senior to win an individual event. He took the 200 free with a time of 1:53.40.
Reid and Currie were both members of the victorious 200 medley relay. Freshmen Dan Soucie and Jim Soucie swam the other two legs of the relay, which touched in at 1:44.52.
Jim Soucie took the 50 free with a 23.44 finish and the 100 free in 51.67. Freshman Alex Small led off Bangor’s first-place 200 free relay and Reid, Dan Soucie and Thomas finished with a time of 1:34.26.
And the parade of first-year swimmers continued in the 400 free relay, when Tae Chung led off for Reid, Jim Soucie and Thomas.
Old Town’s premier breaststroker, Zach Gasaway, won the 100 breaststroke and the 100 butterfly in 1:05.16 and 55.32, respectively.
Diver Doug Emerson claimed the only other Old Town win, with a score of 183.35 on the 1-meter board.
But the Indians did have some personal bests and state-qualifying times, including Bryce Boynton’s eight-second drop in the 500 free and Chris Comeau’s 59.75 in the 100 fly.
“He’s wanted to [finish under one minute] in the fly all year,” Old Town coach Matt Byther said.