Aidan McCormac is ready for his moment to shine.
The East Hampton senior, one of four brothers who have worked their way through the Bonackers swim program, is looking not only to take center stage but to take down his brother Owen’s records set last season.
“I’ve been living in their shadows for way, way too long,” McCormac said, laughing. “You hear about Ethan in the newspapers, and you hear about Owen, and then you kind of hear, like, a sliver about me. But now that it’s my year, I’m gonna take over.”
The senior, one of two on the team this season, will be competing in the 50- and 100-meter freestyles and the backstroke. While he raced in some middle-distance events last year, he realized the sprints are where he excels.
“I plan on dominating. I want to give my absolute all to those events,” he said. “Owen was one of my main competitors, to be honest. We made some bets as to who will get the faster times this year, and I’m going to try to fulfill that promise.”
While McCormac will be holding down the shorter events, the team’s other senior, Daniel Piver, will be anchoring the team on the other end of the lineup, in the 500s.
“As a long-distance swimmer, I’m able to support my team where others cannot,” Piver said. “This season means a lot to me, as my last season of swimming as a high school student. This team is one of the many families I have made in East Hampton, so it will be difficult to leave.”
“Daniel is our insane distance person,” McCormac added. “There’s going to be a lot of pressure on him, because the 500 is a really big event. When it comes down to it, it could be a meet-breaker, so I’m really counting on Daniel to show up.”
But the senior said newcomers like junior Daniel Rossano, whom he called a “pretty exceptional distance swimmer himself,” and returners like Pierson High School junior Nicky Badilla, East Hampton High School junior Tenzin Tamang, and his younger brother, Emmet McCormac, a sophomore, also will be major contributors.
“We’re entering this season with [fewer] experienced swimmers, so we’re definitely facing more of a challenge, but we’re ready to train everyone from the ground up,” McCormac said. “I’m just trying to make sure everyone’s in the best position to succeed.”
That’s something head coach Craig Brierley said he stresses with his student-athletes.
“I never talk to the boys about winning and losing — it’s always about them doing their best, and the results take care of themselves,” he said. “But I also want to see them respect and carry on the legacy of the teams from the prior years. I want them to come out of this season better than they are now.”
The Bonackers have claimed three straight League II championship titles and finished strong in the last few Suffolk County championship meets.
“I am confident that we can keep our streak going,” Piver said. “While I think our strengths lie in shorter-distance strokes, if every member does the best they can, each one of them will improve on things they might not have been strong at the beginning of the season. We’re only on the third week of practice and I’ve already seen progress being made from both returning members and new swimmers.”
To help the team achieve those feats again, according to Brierley, are freshman Cristian Sigua, who comes in with some swim experience, and a handful of sophomores, including Owen Robins, who also has a swimming background. The coach said he will be relying heavily on his seniors to get the younger guys going.
“They understand the expectations and they can convey them to the rest of the team. The seniors understand what we’re asking of them. They get it, and they’re good leaders. They definitely want the team to do well, and they want to do well, and it rubs off onto the rest of the team,” Brierley said.
“It’s also always an exciting season for them, and they have that extra level of motivation because it’s finally their last year, and that pushes them that little bit more and gets the rest of the team going. They feed off that energy.”
And McCormac has enjoyed stepping into that leadership role. He said his summer job working as a lifeguard has helped in that regard.
“I’ve gotten used to kind of bossing people around a little bit,” he joked. “Across my life in general, I’ve been kind of shut in, but as soon as I joined the varsity team, I started opening up. I kind of grew more conscious of the people around me, and it’s opening up another world to me where I’m becoming a part of something bigger than myself. I have to get everyone together and make sure everything’s in order, but I also enjoy the process and making new friends. It’s a really great way to make amazing connections with people.”
The Bonackers travel to Hauppauge Thursday, December 2, for a 5 p.m. meet, and follow it up with a competition at Deer Park Tuesday, December 7, which also begins at 5 p.m.
“All these guys have already talked about expectations and swimming goals for themselves. They’re buying into what we do,” Brierley said. “They’re looking good, they’re excited and we’re going to hit the ground running.”