BEVERLY –– Midway through the final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay, Franklin swimming coach Jessica Pridman put down her clipboard, turned her head, and acknowledged that she couldn’t bear to watch.
The 400 free relay would determine the South sectional girls’ champion: Duxbury, the seven-time defending champion, or Franklin, which had never placed higher than fifth.
As Franklin senior anchor Hope Xayaveth touched the wall first to cap a 3:41.45 clocking, Pridman caught the action from the corner of her eye and burst into tears.
For the first time in program history, Franklin won the South title with 226.5 points, edging Duxbury (222), and Hingham (174).
“Only six girls qualified to swim in this meet today,” said Pridham. “Six girls from Franklin, Massachusetts, just won their South sectional meet. I’ve been coaching for 10-plus years and never finished higher than fifth. To watch them swim for their lives, swim their hearts out for that last relay that it all came down to, and have them win something that they’ve never won before was watching beauty.”
“All I ever expect for them to do is swim with pride,” continued Pridham, overcome with emotion watching her team hoist the trophy.
Junior Sydney Bourgeois, junior Emma Ferreira, sophomore Harikalal Birali, and Xayaveth made up the clinching 400 relay.
Xayaveth joined the team this winter and emerged as a star, winning three events and placing second in another. The senior won the 100 butterfly (55.20) and swam the third leg of the 200 medley relay team with Birali, junior Christine Tang, and Bourgeois that finished in 1:51.71. She was second behind Medfield junior Nora Herbstzuber (1:07.27) in the 100 breaststroke.
“It’s my last year, I wanted to do it for fun, I wanted to do something for my team,” said Xayaveth. “A lot of these girls swim on my club team, I wanted to be around my friends, and get to know coach Pridham. I’ve never really been a part of high school sports, so I wanted to do it my last year while I was here.”
Attleborough sophomore Zuri Ferguson, an All-American as a freshman, broke the meet record in the 100 backstroke, set by Duxbury’s Julia Ali in 2018, by 1.96 seconds with a 55.11 to put herself in All-American consideration. Ferguson was a double-winner, championing the 50 freestyle in a time of 23.91 seconds.
Addison Abreu, a junior from Seekonk, was also a double winner, winning the 100 freestyle (53.31) and the 200 freestyle (1:54.54).
Cam Kerry can be reached at email@example.com.