Just a week into returning to the pool after having his wisdom teeth removed, East Hampton swimmer Colin Harrison was nearly pushed to his limit, but wasn’t going to let that stop him from taking home the top spot on senior night.
Harrison just outswam junior Aidan McCormac in the 100-yard freestyle, 54.04 to 54.17 seconds, while their Bonackers bested Lindenhurst, 71-59, for their first win at their last home meet of the season on Friday, February 5, leaving the team at 1-4 in League II, 1-5 overall.
“He pushed himself as hard as he could,” Harrison said. “I’m still healing from the surgery, so I wasn’t 100 percent, and we were still short a lot of swimmers, but the team performed admirably.”
Admirably might be an understatement, as the team, comprised of swimmers from East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Montauk, took first place in all but two events.
“Our boys were especially motivated with the excitement surrounding our seniors,” head coach Craig Brierley said. “It was nice for the team to earn a victory as a reward for all the hard work it had been putting in at the previous meets and trainings. The captains have done a fantastic job in their leadership roles, and the way the team has connected is a testament to that.”
McCormac, his older brother Owen, Harrison and Cashus Muse set the tone with a 1:55.97 finish for first place in the 200 medley relay. Harrison, swimming in the 200 individual medley for the first time this season, finished first in 2:18.83 in the meet’s third event, which ended up being a new personal best time by over 15 seconds. Aidan McCormac’s time in the 100 free was also a personal record.
“Aidan is a true competitor every time he steps up to race,” Brierley said. “[He pushed] his team captain, Colin Harrison, to the max in that event, and went a near-best time in the 100 back — while securing first place — all while fighting leg cramps.”
McCormac swam the backstroke in 1:03.94.
“Our whole team came together,” his older brother Owen said. “I am very proud him, and also of our freshmen — they really stepped up over the past few meets and without them we never could have made it this far. Almost every freshman went a best time, which sometimes is even more gratifying then the win itself.”
The eldest of the three McCormacs on the team, a senior, even swam a personal best of his own, shaving 4.7 seconds off his 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:09.89. He said nothing meant more, though, than the sendoff from his teammates.
“Being a senior, especially now, doesn’t feel real,” he said. “That was my last home meet as a part of the varsity swim team, which to a lot of my fellow seniors is quite upsetting, but to me is more like a new beginning.”
Pierson High School’s Jack Duryea, who had to sit out the first week of the season because of COVID-19 contact tracing, was also sidelined most of his senior meet due to a knee injury, but dipped in the pool for his leg of the first place-finishing 200 free relay that touched the wall in 1:36.83. He swam it with fellow seniors McCormac, Harrison and Pierson’s Fernando Menjura.
“Everyone gave it their all in each race, and out of the pool, everyone was loud and cheering each other on,” Duryea said. “I was looking forward to getting in the pool all week and could not wait to be back. Of course, it would be great to have fans back in the pool area, but the whole team was just happy to be competing, and I was still thankful that we had our ceremonial senior swim, and that our parents were able to come watch.”
While the meets are typically not open to spectators due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, parents were allowed to attend specifically for this one. McCormac and Harrison said after seeing so many seniors before them go through the ceremony, being part of it in this different way was something they never could have imagined, but are honored they did.
“I was really glad we had the opportunity, especially in a period of such immense uncertainty,” Harrison said. “I had spent the previous four years watching my upperclassmen and friends in the ceremony, and last year I stood at the end of the pool with Will Midson’s parents, ready to hand off the flowers. I knew I would be in the same place next year, but of course I did not anticipate the pandemic. I’m extremely grateful I was able to have a senior meet ceremony, and it’s a nice memory that will always stay with me.”
Other seniors on the team include Pierson’s Joey Badilla and Sebastian Gomez, and East Hampton’s Ben Berkhofer.
The Bonackers traveled to Deer Park for a tri-meet with North Babylon Monday, but results were not available by press time. The league championships will be Saturday, February 13, at Hauppauge High School at 10 a.m.
“I think we are starting to hit a stride at the right time,” Duryea said. “The entire team is stoked for the league championship and for the chance to prove ourselves. Come leagues, we will finally be at full strength for the first time all season, and the whole team believes we have a chance to win the meet for the third year in a row. Regardless of the outcome, the team will be able to finish the season together and much stronger than we started.”