For Colin Harrison, the adrenaline rush kicked in at the right time. The East Hampton senior swimmer was pumped up after seeing the cameras zoom in on him and hearing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” playing over the loudspeaker right before the whistle was blown. He dove into the pool and ended up swimming the 50-yard freestyle in a season-best 22.95 seconds, good for fourth place at the Suffolk County championships at Stony Brook University on February 21.
“I was definitely in the zone,” said Harrison, whose personal-best time in the event is 22.39 seconds. “But this is a bittersweet ending. Swimming with these guys and on this team has been a big part of my life since I was 12 years old.”
And because he knew it was his last meet in the maroon and gray, the senior wasn’t going to stop there. He one-upped himself and swam his leg of the 200 free relay in a personal record 22.34, shaving nearly a second off his time and following just milliseconds behind his Connetquot and Smithtown competitors. That quartet, made up of Pierson senior Jack Duryea and East Hampton juniors Aiden McCormac and Daniel Piver, finished third in 1:34.03.
“I had what my team thinks is the best relay start they’ve seen. It felt pretty great,” Harrison said. “I’m proud of our performance. We did very well despite a lack of swimmers.”
The Bonackers team, comprised of swimmers from East Hampton, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor and Montauk, was contesting with just the members of the relay, but still managed to secure 10th in the standings out of 26 teams.
“Only four people competing made it difficult to score points for the team, but we did our best and had fun swimming fast together,” McCormac said. “I believe that’s what matters most at all of our competitions.”
“The boys represented themselves and their schools with great pride,” head coach Craig Brierley added. “The boys showed all the skills and characteristics they have been developing over the course of the shortened season, and over the years, with a fantastic display of what makes our team so special each year. And that is something we are all proud of. The team continues to look toward a bright future.”
Part of that future is McCormac, who said prior to counties he was going to “crush my personal records in the events that I’m competing in.” He did just that.
The junior swam the 100 freestyle in an eighth-place-finishing 51.73 seconds before taking part in the 200 free relay — swimming his leg in 25.91 — and capped off the day with a time of 1:02.73 in the 100 backstroke, which placed him 18th.
“I was blown away by the amount of time that I had dropped,” McCormac said. “We didn’t have a lot of time to train after leagues, but I just put everything I had in the pool and got unexpected results.”
His coach said his leadership will be an asset — he’ll help lead the charge toward continued success next season, and possibly, a fourth straight League II championship title.
“Aidan had a fantastic competition,” Brierley said. “All season, Aidan has stepped up for the team and competed with his best effort every time. In practice, he worked hard at improving as much as he could so he was always ready to help the team in any way that was asked of him.”
Duryea, who also raced in the 50 and 100 free, placed ninth and sixth with times of 23.24 and 51.03, respectively. He swam to personal bests in the 100 and the relay.
“Swimming is a sport that’s often overlooked in terms of how difficult it actually is. I’m not discrediting any other sports, but I don’t think people understand how difficult it is to show up to practice six days a week and swim around 5,000 yards every practice,” the senior said. “I didn’t get the outcomes I was hoping for in my individual events, but I was just grateful to have a county championship meet this year.”
In a second straight meet of best times, Harrison also earned another personal record when he took ninth in the 100 butterfly in 56.33 seconds.
“Over anything, I’m extremely grateful to be able to practice and compete with all my friends during such a difficult time, and I’m very thankful for Craig and Thomas Brierley, who were there every day to support and coach us,” the senior said, adding he hopes to continue to shave off seconds with what time he has left in the club season, as he continues the college recruitment process. “I’m trying to stay more glad that I experienced it rather than sad that it’s over, but I know that in a few weeks I will miss the camaraderie and competition.”
Duryea, who is also looking to swim in college, said the meet was sentimental for him, too.
“If you asked me how I envisioned my varsity career ending, I would have given a totally different experience than what this weekend was,” he said. “I would never have expected to be competing at counties with only three other teammates, and to not have the state championship following this meet. Regardless, I was just trying to enjoy the moment. It’s been an honor to represent my school over the past five years. Winning three straight league championships and demonstrating how successful the program is has hopefully given us some more recognition, especially for the work we put in. Despite some setbacks, the entire team felt very lucky to have a season this year. For me, I was happy just to get more chances to compete.”