Ryan Duryea has had the New York State Swim Championships in his sights for a very long time. And in what could have been the final freestyle swim of his high school career, the Pierson senior made his dream come true.
Duryea anchored the East Hampton swim team’s 200-yard freestyle relay at the Suffolk County Championships on Saturday as he, Ethan McCormac, Owen McCormac and Aidan Forst won the event in 1 minute and 28.32 seconds, which qualified them for the state meet on March 1 and 2 at the Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow.
The 40 points awarded for the first-place finish went toward the Bonackers’ total of 205, which placed them second behind Half Hollow Hills, which won its 13thstraight county championship with 402.5 total points. The Bonackers, who previously had won the League II Championship meet despite competing without a diving team, finished ahead of 26 other schools in Suffolk County.
“The boys were very focused and motivated to do their best, and the coaches were thrilled with the efforts the boys put in for each of their races,” said East Hampton head coach Craig Brierley, who has led both the boys and girls high school swim programs to heights unimaginable 10 years ago.
“Coming into the season, I had a few goals in mind.” Duryea said later. “I knew that we were going to have a strong team, so going undefeated and winning a league championship was a big goal I had for the team. We surpassed my expectations as we were league champs and won the League Championship meet. Another goal was to qualify for the state meet.”
As he as all season, East Hampton senior Ethan McCormac led the team and finished as county champion in both the 50 freestyle, which he won in 21.76 seconds, and the 100 freestyle, where his winning time was 46.46 seconds. He led off the 200 freestyle relay with a blistering time of 21.51 seconds, while Duryea closed out the championship performance.
“All season Ryan has been a huge asset to the team with his leadership and versatility to contribute in any event and he was again up for the challenge that was presented to him,” Brierley said, announcing Duryea as the team’s “Swimmer of the Meet.” “The coaches had total confidence in his abilities to deliver.”
Duryea has led a strong contingent of Pierson swimmers this season, including his younger brother, Jack, who also swam in Saturday’s county meet, competing in the 100 breaststroke. He finished in 15thplace to earn two points.
“The training this season has been very rigorous,” said Jack, who will return next season along with fellow Pierson swimmers Colin Harrison, Fernando Menjura, Conor Flanagan Edward Hoff and Joey and Nicky Badilla. Most of them, and most of their varsity teammates, also compete on the East Hampton Hurricanes club team, so swimming is basically a year-round pursuit.
“On Mondays and Thursdays, we go to Hurricanes practice and on the other days we go to varsity, including an early Saturday morning practice,” Jack said. “I also go to practice for an hour before school on Tuesdays and Fridays. The practices do sometimes take away time with my friends and family, but I love to do it and I enjoy being with the kids on my team.”
“My training with the varsity team was more than helpful; it was some of the most fun I’ve had on a sports team,” Harrison added about his experience this season. “This team is very important to me and I’m very grateful I get to be a part of it.”
Harrison specializes in the 100 butterfly and swam a personal-best time of 57.43 on Saturday to finish in 15thand earn points.
“My main goal was to improve my strength and endurance for fly and regulate breathing patterns,” he said. “I did meet both of those goals, and at counties I ripped through the 100 fly without dying out near the end. And in my 50 free, I didn’t take a single breath and went a best time of 22.90.”
East Hampton’s 200 medley relay finished fourth on Saturday with three Pierson swimmers, Joey Badilla and Ryan and Jack Duryea, joined by Ethan McCormac to post a time of 1:40.69. Badilla was ninth in the 200 IM in 2:08.65, and finished seventh in the backstroke in 58.20. Menjura, who missed much of the season with an injury, posted a 10th-place finish in the 100 freestyle with a time of 51.72. In addition to the winning and state-qualifying performance in the relay, Ryan Duryea scored points in the both the 50 freestyle (eighth in 22.78) and the 100 breaststroke (seventh in 1:03.07).
“We swam well as an entire team and were able to put all of the pieces together to create the most memorable season yet,” said Duryea, who will continue his swimming career at Division III Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. “After swimming for over a decade, I could not imagine giving it up yet.”
And thanks to his performance on Saturday, he’s got one more high school meet to go.