Just days before the 2021 virtual state meet put together by the Eastern Massachusetts Interscholastic Swim Coaches last February, Elliot Morse put on his competition tech suit for his biggest race of the season.
But his competitor was not from another team. Instead, the sophomore was racing his friend and teammate Calvin Shepler for the final spot on Duxbury’s 400-yard freestyle relay.
Elliot’s brother, Theodore, then a freshman, had already secured a spot on the relay for the EMISCA Invitational — which took the place of the canceled MIAA state meet — and stood on the pool deck, holding his breath as he watched his brother out-touch Shepler to earn the final spot.
“I love those kinds of situations because all the pressure’s on, and it’s just you get out and go,” Elliot said.
That 400 freestyle relay, which also featured seniors Dan Backlund and Tyler Williamson, went on to place first at the EMISCA Invitational and set the Duxbury record with a time of 3 minutes, 16.57 seconds.
“Just to see a record that is going to be pretty longstanding and to have it not only with some of your best buds but to have it with your brother that you’ve been gunning at for years and years, it’s even that much more special,” Elliot said.
“It’s really cool to look up at that board every single practice and see our names up there,” Theodore added.
Just 17 months apart, Elliot and Theodore share just about everything. The two have shared the pool since they began swimming for the Somerset Hills (N.J.) YMCA at ages 8 and 9. They now train together both for Duxbury and Kingfish Swimming, which is out of Kingston.
The brothers both excel in school, often comparing GPAs to try to outdo the other. They even share a similar music taste and jam out to anything from country music to Eminem on their drive to morning practices.
“They help the whole team because they work hard all the time,” Duxbury coach Doug Backlund said. “And they do compete in practice against each other, but they are unafraid to work hard, and it just sets a really good tone for the entire team.”
At the start of the 2021-22 season, however, Theodore was sidelined while he recovered from tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in August. He had surgery in September, and after four months without swimming he’s back in the pool. He competed in his first meet of the season Jan. 4.
“Once I got the green light, I just hopped back in and kept going,” Theodore said. “It was a bummer when it happened, and I’m really happy to be back in the pool and swimming.”
Despite the fact that they’ve trained together for close to a decade, the brothers’ personalities on the pool deck are vastly different.
“Elliot, he’s more outgoing,” Doug Backlund said. “He’s talking and getting people fired up. Theo’s kind of quiet, but he’s like the Terminator. If [a race is] close, Theo’s going to win almost every time.”
Duxbury graduated nine seniors on the boys’ side after the 2020-21 season. With the departure of such a large portion of the team, the current swimmers have had to adapt. Elliot Morse has taken on a role similar to one he saw firsthand as a freshman, when Dan Backlund, then a junior, took him under his wing to show him the ropes.
Now, Elliot has tried to take on a similar role for the current freshmen. Theodore said that in a meet against Marshfield on Thursday, he looked over to see his brother helping a freshman with his flip turn.
“Having these two guys being underclassmen coming through now is so helpful,” Doug Backlund said.
▪ In just two meets, Bishop Fenwick junior captain Meredith Yuhasz has cemented herself as a standout on the Crusaders’ small-but-mighty roster. On Jan. 9, Yuhasz powered a Bishop Fenwick squad listing just nine swimmers to a Catholic Central win over a St. Mary’s team with 27 competitors. And she has yet to place first in individual events.
“It doesn’t really matter what I put her in,” Bishop Fenwick coach Gaby Trahant said. “I’m confident that she will most likely come in first place.”
Teams in the Catholic Central League are co-ed, and Trahant said that no matter who Yuhasz is swimming against, she always puts up a fight.
Against Archbishop Williams on Thursday, Yuhasz mounted a furious comeback to win the 400 freestyle relay.
“Our team was probably half a pool length behind, and she got in the pool and made up that distance plus another half and just dominated the person next to her,” Trahant said. “She’s just that kind of swimmer.”
▪ Ella Derby, who swims for the Plymouth North/Plymouth South co-op, was officially welcomed to the Boston College swim program with her commitment Friday. The senior finished fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.49) and 10th in the 100 butterfly (1:02.31) at the 2021 EMISCA Invitational.
▪ In 64-45 win over Ipswich on Thursday, both Henry Brien (Pentucket) and Austin Hyer (Newburyport) from the Triton co-op beat the squad’s 200 freestyle record of 1:58.81 set by Sam Whitaker earlier this season — earning state spots in the process. Hyer’s time was 1:56.69, and Brien’s 1:56.15, which now stands as the program record.
Emma Healy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.