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Hellwig goes out in style

PROVIDENCE — It was a memorable day for the Westerly High boys in the state swimming championships at Brown University on Sunday.

Logan Hellwig won two races, broke a state record in one and met the All-American time standard in another. The Westerly team matched its best finish in the states. And each of the nine Bulldog swimmers had personal-best times, almost in all events entered.

“I didn’t get to see much of the team this year,” Josh Butler, who coached Hellwing for his first three seasons, said. “Logan did great today. The overall team was awesome. It was incredible.”

Hellwig met or exceeded his goals for his final high school meet and again in record-setting fashion. He came into the meet with the goals of winning his two individual events and helping his two relay teams finish in the top five.

Hellwig won his third straight state title and broke the state record in the 50 freestyle race. He won his first title in the 100 backstroke and earned consideration for All-American standing in that event. And he helped the team finish second in the 200-free relay and fourth in the 200-medley relay.

“We met the four goals,” Hellwing said. “That’s a great feeling. And my teammates all performed well. I feel really good about that.”

Hellwig led the 50 free from start to finish. His winning time of 21.30 seconds beat Smithfield rival Ryan Cote by 0.52 seconds. Hellwig had missed the state record (21.42) in his win last year by 0.04 seconds. This year he beat it by 0.12 seconds. It is the first state record by a Westerly High swimmer, boy or girl, in the program’s 10-year history.

“We’re very proud and happy,” Roland Hellwig said after his son’s record-breaking 50 free win. “There are small increments you have to make to move ahead. He’s now only 31-hundredths away from making the Junior Nationals. That really puts you at another level.”

Hellwig’s win in the 100 back was perhaps more challenging, since he had just finished anchoring the Bulldogs’ 200-freestyle relay team just minutes before in the preceding race. He never trailed in the 100 back and won by two full lengths with a time of 51.30. That broke his school record of 52.43 by 1.13 seconds. It also met the time standard for consideration as an All-American. He won Sunday’s race by 2.38 seconds.

Hellwig teamed with Mark Walker, Phil Miguel and Callam Gunn to place second in the preceding 200-free relay race. Their time of 1:33.23 missed the school record by 0.54 and trailed Smithfield’s winning time by 2.40 seconds.

In the meet-opening 200-medley relay, Alex Gomes joined Hellwig, Walker and Miguel to place fourth with a time of 1:45.49. That broke the school record of 1:48.82 by 3.33 seconds. Smithfield won the race in 1:40.62. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more from Logan,” acting head coach Kerri Butler said. “He was superb. He was really focused. He was more rested for this meet than last year, when he had not yet tapered down. This time he backed off a little bit from training.

“Logan also was excited for those relays. He cares about that stuff too.”

Willie Barber coached the team for most of the season, but had to return to California for his job.

Smithfield won the state championship with 323 points. The Sentinels edged Bishop Hendricken by seven points, breaking the Hawks’ 24-year stranglehold on the state championship. Smithfield led by 13 points going into the final race (the 400-free relay) and needed to finish at least fifth to win the meet. Hendricken won the relay, but Smithfield placed second to win the title.

Westerly finished fifth with 153 points, tying its highest finishes in 2010 and 2012. South Kingstown edged the Bulldogs for fourth with 157. The Rebels leapfrogged over the Bulldogs by placing third in the final event. Westerly finished ninth in that relay and would have tied SK in the final team standings if it had placed eighth.

The top 16 finishers in each individual event and in each relay scored for their teams.

Miguel had top-10 finishes in his two individual events. He place fifth in the 50 free (23.25) and 10th in the 100 free (52.47). Walker also scored in two individual events, finishing 11th in the 100 butterfly (59.80) and 13th in the 100 backstroke.

Gomes and Gunn were joined by Bennett Lanni and Dan Carr to place ninth in the meet-concluding 400-free relay. Their combined time was 3:40.37.

“My kids swam incredibly well,” Kerri Butler said. “Every single kid had best times. There was nothing we physically could have done better. Everybody was happy. We were focused, but had lots of fun.”

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