LOWELL — Members of the Chelmsford High girls’ swim team were as upbeat as ever following their Oct. 19 meet. It looked a bit strange after a nail-biter of a 92-91 loss to Haverhill, but the Lions have a lot to be excited about.
They feel more like a family than a team, and they have a sophomore dynamo in defending Merrimack Valley League MVP Laura Latham, as well as a number of freshmen who have found success early in their careers.

“The depth of our team has been a great strength,” said coach Harriet Kinnett.

Latham and senior captains Kelly Marshall and Courtney Morgan had a solid showing against Haverhill, as they have throughout this year. A few freshmen, Kinnett said, have bolstered the team’s depth and helped Chelmsford to its 9-2 record. Those include Neva Fa, Abby Rice, and diver Alana Erlandson

Erlandson took second in the 1-meter dive against Haverhill. Latham competed in numerous events as usual: Her 200 medley relay team took second with a time of 2:01.25, she placed first in the 100 freestyle with a 56.14, her 400 freestyle relay team placed second at 3:58.32, and she set a personal season-best time in the 50 free, which she won with a swift 25.50.
“Laura [Latham] has helped the team a lot, and she’s inspired people her age to swim and inspired some girls older than her to get better,” Morgan said of her teammate.
Marshall said Latham has become one of the team’s leaders despite her young age, and that “girls in her grade look at her as a leader, and even girls older than her.”
The team’s family atmosphere, Marshall said, has been a big factor in their achievements in the water
“The positive environment is great because we can push each other to get good times,” Marshall said. “It’s really comforting for everyone to have those people they trust trying to push them to get better.”
Chelmsford doesn’t have a JV team, so all 30 of the swimmers are together from day one. This reality, Morgan said, makes it feel “like having 30 sisters.”
“I think other teams look at our team as a family. We’re one of the closest teams,” Marshall said. “You’re with the same 30 girls every single day all season, so some strong bonds are formed.”
According to Marshall and Morgan, almost all of the girls have grown up swimming together at one of the area’s two swim clubs, Chelmsford Swim & Tennis or Russell Mill Swim & Tennis Club.
Latham has been swimming since she was 4, and competitively at Chelmsford Swim & Tennis since she was 6. Morgan and Marshall have been swimming together since age 4, and take pride in leading the Chelmsford High School team together all these years later.

“There’s a really strong foundation and it makes us all really comfortable together,” Morgan said. “We’ve all grown up together. It’s a small town.”
So when the final score became clear on Oct. 19, and it turned out they lost by the thinnest of margins, there wasn’t a long face on the Chelmsford side of the pool.
They’re looking forward to a good deal of postseason competition. Morgan will swim at Sectionals in the 200 individual medley, and at States in the 100 breaststroke. Marshall will swim at sectionals in the 50 and 100 freestyle, and at States in the 100 butterfly.
And Latham, remarkably, has qualified for States in all eight events.
“Ms. Kinnett is great,” Latham said. “She helps us a lot with strategy for every meet . . . and the transition last year was really easy because all the girls here were so supportive. It was cool going into school and hearing people talk about swimming.”
She played softball last spring and is considering track for spring 2019, but cherishes swimming the most.
“Being in the pool feels different than any other sport.”