The Duxbury High School swimming and diving teams began their seasons last week without the guidance of longtime head coach, Jay Craft.  Craft retired after leading the Dragons for almost two decades, leaving former assistant Cassie Littlefield Barry as the girls’ new swim coach and Doug Backlund coaching the boys. 

Under Craft’s expertise, the girls continually led the Patriot League, placing as high as 4th in the Division II State meet and earning him Boston Globe Coach of the Year in 2009.

“This team is in great hands,” says Craft. “Both coaches have a thorough knowledge of the sport and tons of experience working with swimmers of all ages. I expect great things for Duxbury High School swimming and diving in the years to come and want to thank my former swimmers for 20 great years.”

A former Globe All-Scholastic, Barry began her swim career at Duxbury High School and is in her third season coaching the Dragons and first as head girls coach. Barry looks to continue Duxbury’s swimming dominance.

“I’m super excited to lead the girls this season.  We have many talented swimmers this year and I have very high expectations for the team.  I am hoping for a standout season,” says Barry, who will be assisted this year by Christian Bueno.  After graduating nine seniors from the roster last year, the Lady Dragons will be looking to captains Ellie Johnson, Shelby Rader and Aly Wolff to lead the team.

On the boys’ side, the Dragons are also looking to finish strong.  Although this is only his first year coaching the Dragons, Backlund brings many years of experience with him.  A former All-American swimmer, he coached at the collegiate level for 24 years.

“I am very excited to be the new head coach of the Duxbury High School Boys’ swim and dive team.  I am looking forward to a season filled with hard work, team building and success.” 

Returning as captains this year are seniors Mike Connolly, Malcom Edgar and Ian Wilson. 

Both teams looked sharp last week, easily defeating Pembroke with the Lady Dragons sweeping all but one event. Rader took first in both the 100 and 200 freestyle races, while Johnson dominated her signature event, the 200 IM.  Victories were also had by; Katie Eagan (100 fly), Miranda VanDingstee (500 free), Mary O’Sullivan (100 back) and Mackenzie Bright (100 breast). 

In her first high school swim meet, freshman Sydney Rangulong (27.54) won the most exciting race of the afternoon, touching just ahead of teammate Hannah Hutchinson (27.58) in the sprint 50-yard freestyle.

Rookie Mike O’Neal had a stellar day for the boys, taking firsts in both the 200 IM and 500 freestyle events.  Co-captains, Connolly and Wilson, also had a pair of wins each, with Connolly dominating the 100 and 200-yard freestyle and Wilson doing the same in the 100 fly and backstroke. Senior Steven Kravitz followed suit, claiming victories in both the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke for the Dragons.

Duxbury’s season continues as both teams head to Quincy’s Lincoln-Hancock on Friday this week to take on Hingham.