Diving into swim success

When in pool, no horsing around for Bluefish champion Littlefield

While she loves riding horses, it is in water where THMS seventh-grader swims like a Bluefish
By Ken Waltz | Apr 05, 2019
Courtesy of: Kelley Littlefield Maeve Littlefeld and Norwegian Fjord, Nils.

Belfast — When Maeve Littlefield is not riding a beloved horse, Nils, at school with classmates and friends or home with family, more often than not she can be found in the swimming pool where she always finds a way to make waves and, to use a cliché, create a huge splash.

The 13-year-old Troy Howard Middle School seventh-grader certainly has made a name for herself in many ways, none more so then when steps onto the starting blocks and dives into the water.

The Waldo County YMCA Bluefish swimmer accomplished an impressive feat when she finished first in two events at the prestigious New England YMCA championships on Saturday and Sunday, March 23-24 in Zesiger Aquatics Pool at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass.

At that meet, she also set three Bluefish age-group records to add to her growing total of impressive times over the years.

Last month, Littlefield won New England championship in the 50-yard butterfly (28.39, Bluefish age-group record) and 50-yard freestyle (26.07, Bluefish age-group record).

To add to that, Littlefield and teammates Gabby Hoffman, Danielle Hicock and Avery Emerson set the team's 200 free relay age-group record of 1:56.18 at the meet.

"My favorite moment in swimming was probably when my 200 freestyle relay went to New Englands in March," Littlefield said. "Gabby, Danielle, Avery and I didn’t care about winning. We just wanted to swim the relay at MIT and have fun, and maybe get a best time. It was amazing how much we supported each other throughout the whole meet with high fives and cheers all-around. We ended up getting 16th place and broke the team record. It was awesome."

The Belfast resident has swum seven years, as she started competitive pool work at age 6.

"I started swimming because my mom wanted me to try it, since she swam competitively when she was in school," Littlefield said. "I like swimming because it allows me to hang out with my friends, I like to race, and I am moderately successful at it."

Littlefield said her favorite stroke is freestyle, followed closely by the more difficult and physically-demanding butterfly. "I prefer freestyle over other strokes because it is my fastest and most efficient," she said. "I prefer sprinting over longer distances, too."

The youngster said it is such a wonderful, satisfying feeling to swim her best, touch the wall/timing pad first, win a race, set a personal-best time or a team record.

"Any time I swim my best, touch the wall first, or win a race, I feel that all of the time I worked on my technique and building my stamina in practice, has paid off," she said. "Those moments justify my hard work, giving it purpose."

And finding purpose in a sport that is grueling and time consuming can be difficult. Swimming is hard. Swimmers spend hours each week in the pool, lap after lap, day after day, with little down time or breaks to socialize.

It is unlike any other sport in that most of the time the athletes have their heads and bodies underwater, with the outside world seemingly far away, as they work, focus and try to improve in relative solitude. No time for chit-chat, only work.

"I think that practice is the hardest part about swimming," she said. "Swim season is a long season and I practice quite a bit. Sometimes I just don’t feel like going to the pool to practice."

While success in the pool certainly has buoyed her confidence and spirit, Littlefield said being on a horse is the best.

"Riding is my favorite thing to do," she said. "I don’t get the chance to ride as much as I would like to during swim season, so I ride more often in the off-season. I also show in the summer. I ride a quirky Norwegian Fjord named Nils at [Tabasco] Training Stables. I have tried many sports in the past, like ballet, soccer and field hockey, but swim and riding horses are the sports that really stuck with me."

Littlefield has, of course, like most children, many interests, which include being involved with 4H and, in her free time, she helps at a horse riding camp.

But, in the winter, all things for Littlefield center around life in the pool, and reaching her personal and team goals.

"In the future, I would like to make the Eastern States 50 free cut time and the nationals 50 free cut time," she said. "Along with that I have smaller goals I would like to achieve, such as improving my backstroke and breaststroke, even though they aren’t my favorite strokes. I have much work to do before I can reach all of my goals, but persistence, diligent work, and a little hope will help me achieve them."

So far in her Bluefish career, Littlefield owns all or a piece of nine team records, including 9-10 girls 100 free, 100 breast and 50 fly, as well as 11-12 girls 50 free, 50 breast, 100 breast, 200 breast, 50 fly and as a member of the 200 FR.

Littlefield is the daughter of Kelley and Dan Littlefield. Kelley is a former swimmer for the Bluefish (Kelley Littlefield, Susan Lucas, Donna Griffin, Maria Floyd set a medley relay record in 1985 that still stands) and Belfast Area High School, while Dan was a three-sport standout at Camden-Rockport High School and later played college soccer. He also has been a longtime whitewater canoe paddle racer.

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