Berkshire league leader Spartans sweep MAU

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BENNINGTON — On a day when the only coach the Mount Anthony swim team has ever had announced publicly this would be her final year coaching, Anna Swierad said it's bittersweet to step away.

"I feel comfortable turning it over now," said Swierad, who has led the team for all 15 years of its existence. "I put a lot of time and energy into this. It was a family thing, that's why we started it. One of the reasons I'm glad [to step down] is because the program is in a good place."

On Wednesday, in Swierad's penultimate home meet, the Monument Mountain squad got the better of the Patriots, sweeping the meet with the boys winning 91-52 and the girls winning 122-44.

"I have a lot of respect for her team, they're excellent swimmers," Swierad said. "It was a relaxed meet, we knew they were a powerhouse. The kids went out, swam their hardest and did the best they can."

Mount Anthony had winners in both meets. Zach LaForest won the 50 free in 25.05 seconds and anchored the 400 free relay with Kevin Gorry, Andrew Spencer and Caden Watson for Mount Anthony's victories on the boys side. They won that event in 4 minutes, 15.68 seconds, beating the Spartans by more than nine seconds.

"Zach wants to win, it's in his head and he goes all out for it," Swierad said. "Sometimes they'll focus on one event and do the best they can for the rest."

LaForest was second in the 100 free as well.

On the girls side, Phebe Hall was the only winner for the Patriots, taking the 100 backstroke in 1 minute, 8.81 seconds, a time closing in on the school record set by assistant coach Ashley Dunican.

Kevin Gorry swam the first leg of the 400 relay and had two second-place finishes in individual events, the 200 free and 100 back.

For the girls, Mount Anthony finished second in the 200 medley relay and the 200 free relay. Other second-place finishers in individual events included Bridget Ahearn in the 50 free and the 100 free, Hall was second in the 100 butterfly and Lily Spencer was second in the 100 breaststroke.

The Spartans, who are undefeated on the season, had two swimmers, Sophie Burnell and Kayla Dillon, qualify for the Western Mass. championships in the 200 IM, with Burnell topping Dillon by three-tenths of a second.

"We have such a solid team, it's great. I can mix the lineup any way I want," said Monument Mountain coach Jill Svirida. "Sophie and Kayla raced against each other and pushed each other. We've had a tough two days of practice, they are tired, but they just get in and race hard, no matter the circumstances."

Brandon Louison was the top swimmer on the guys side for the Spartans, with victories in the 100 free and anchoring the relays.

"They're just eager to win, they care about the team and each other," Svirida said.

Swierad's final home meet will be Tuesday at the Bennington Rec Center.

"I was going to step out last year, I wasn't ready, but now I am," Swierad said. "Going through everything personally last year, it was nice for [her husband] Ken to come back and be a part of it. We're going out on a good note."


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