BANGOR — Former Belfast Area High School standout swimmer Kayla Payson has made waves north of the Passagassawakeag River this winter.

Now in her sophomore year at Husson University, Payson has had a stellar season in the pool for the Eagles as a member of the school’s Division III swim team, capped by her performance at the 2022 New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association Championship on Sunday, Feb. 27 at the University of Rhode Island’s Tootell Aquatic Center.

The event was held over four days, Thursday, Feb. 24 through Sunday, Feb. 27.

Payson finished fifth in the 200-yard butterfly (2:21.72) on Sunday, a performance that earned her All-New England honors on the final day of the event.

Husson University’s Kayla Payson. Photo courtesy of Eric Ogden

She also finished third in the 1,000 freestyle (11:34.23) and 12th in the 100-yard fly (1:03.20).

In addition, Payson holds school records in the 200-yard fly (2:21.36), 100-yard fly (1:02.34), 1,000-yard freestyle (11.36.33) and also is a member of the 200-yard medley relay (1:58.87) and 400-yard medley relay (4:32.80) teams that broke school records.

“I am very excited with how my swim season has turned out this year,” said Payson, a nursing major with a 3.7 grade-point average. “I have been working really hard and it has paid off.”

Her individual performances helped the Eagles finish seventh (599 points) at the New Englands, the highest in program history. Roger Williams University of Bristol, R.I. finished first with 1,977 points.

It was the latest in a long list of successes for Payson and the Eagles this season.

The Eagles won the North Atlantic Conference championship on Sunday, Feb. 6 in Bangor, while Payson collected an astounding seven medals — one in each of her events — to pace Husson University. She also was named swimmer of the year by the conference.

Payson said: “I am incredibly proud to be part of this team” and “I couldn’t have done any of it without the help of my coaches [Butch Babin, Jeff Wren and Robby McDonald], my team and my family.”

“Kayla is an amazing swimmer, but even better person,” said Husson coach Babin. “She brings a work ethic and a joy that is very infectious and has put Husson University women’s swimming on top.”

No stranger to school records, Payson has five records at BAHS — 56.27 in 100 free, 2:03.13 in 200 free, 1:00.24 in 100 fly, 1:48.54 as first leg of 200 free relay and 1:56.97 as third leg of 200 medley relay – which is the most for any individual swimmer in school history.

She is the daughter of Kyle and Erin Payson of Belfast.