After learning that she would not have one last opportunity to qualify for the state swim meet because last weekend’s sectional meet at MIT was snowed out, Latin Academy junior Colby Cahill planned to accompany her younger sister Carly to Springfield College Saturday — keeping the O’Bryant freshman calm and under control, like a stable pony escorting a racehorse from the paddock to the starting gate.
But the elder Cahill, who would have been eight-100ths of a second away from qualifying for the state meet in the 100 backstroke going into the canceled North Sectional, awoke to the news Tuesday morning that the MIAA had reversed course and is now allowing all individual sectional qualifiers to advance to this weekend’s state championships.
“My mom called me and she told me this morning when I woke up,” Cahill said during a telephone interview. “It’s very exciting. I’m very happy that I’m going to be able to swim now.”
The younger Cahill, who was seeded No. 15 in the 50 freestyle going into sectionals with a time of 26.37 seconds, was happy for her sister.
“It’s good, I can get to see her swim and she how she swims,” said the younger Cahill, who turns 15 on Feb. 20.
The elder Cahill had a seed time of 1 minute 07.68 seconds for sectionals. She needed to swim a 1:07.60 to qualify for states.
Latin Academy also had two relay teams qualify for sectionals that will not be able to move on to states. The Dragons' 200-yard medley relay (Cahill, sophomore Ashley Hickey, senior Sydney McGrath, and eighth-grader Olivia McGrath) was seeded No. 23 at sectionals with a time of 2:12.97. And the school's 200 freestyle relay, which features the same swimmers as the medley, was seeded 19th with a time of 1:58.48.
The MIAA announced last Thursday that sectionals had been canceled because of the impending storm. At the time, it said only the swimmers who had already qualified for the state championships would compete this weekend.
So the elder Cahill hasn’t been practicing because she thought her season was over, while her sister hasn’t been practicing because of the storm.
Latin Academy coach Mark Thomas said the roller coaster of emotions, combined with the lack of practice, will make it difficult for the Cahills to have peak performances this weekend.
“I guess [Colby] is getting a chance to go If indeed she wants to go, but realistically she has two days to practice,” Thomas said. “She hasn’t’ practiced since we walked out of the pool on Thursday and we all walked into my office and checked the MIAA’s website.
“And that’s kind of firmly implanted in the kid's head. We basically all gave each other big hugs and said, ‘It’s sad to have it finish that way,’ but everyone moved on from that.”
But the long weekend also gave the swimmers a chance to rest.
“I’d rather be in my regular routine, actually, but it’s good to rest,” said the elder Cahill, who slept until 11 a.m. Tuesday before her mother broke the news to her about the state meet.
Last week, the younger Cahill said she planned to practice every day after school to prepare for the state meet. She was disappointed that she didn’t have sectionals to gear up for states.
“It’s going to be a big transition,” she said, “because I don’t know what to expect and sectionals prepares you to see how everyone else is going to swim and how you have to move up your ability to theirs.”
The younger Cahill use to follow her sister to the Charlestown Boys and Girls Club to swim when she was around 5 years old and her sister was 7.
“I always want to do what do my sister is doing,” she said. “My sister has always been there. She’s always been a big help. She’s always been at the end of the pool.”
Last week, the elder Cahill said she never even considered skipping the trek to Springfield to support her sister.
“I know she’ll be very nervous and she probably won’t know what to do with herself, but once she gets in that water, I know she’ll probably kick some butt,” she said.
This weekend, she will be there again for her younger sister, even though she will be preparing for her own race as well.
“I’ll still be able to do that,” she said of calming her sister down before the race. “I’m just going to have to show her I’m pretty calm myself.”
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