To say that members of the East Hampton Hurricanes swim team start early is an understatement. Twins Joey and Catalina Badilla, who are freshmen at Pierson High School, caught the bug before they were even born.
“When my mom was pregnant with me and my sister, she swam with us,” Joey said on Monday before the East Hampton/Pierson boys varsity team closed out its regular season with a 99-58 win over North Babylon. “When we were babies, coach Tom, my mom said, helped us learn how to swim, and we all just took off from there.”
Coach Tom, of course, is Tom Cohill, the head coach of the Hurricanes who works side-by-side with Craig Brierley, the head coach of both the boys and girls swim teams at East Hampton High School, which also welcome swimmers from both Pierson and Bridgehampton. Sag Harbor boys this season make up an integral part of the program, with Joey Badilla joined by bothers Ryan and Jack Duryea as well as Colin Harrison, Fernando Menjura and Conor Flanagan, all of whom have contributed key points this season for the Bonackers, who finished at 6-1 behind unbeaten Hauppauge in League II.
“It only works really well together because coach Craig and I work really well together,” Cohill said inside the YMCA aquatics center on Monday. “We try to balance and I think that it really works well together.”
The word “balance” comes up often among members of the Hurricanes who also compete at the varsity level, as they also juggle school work and just being teenagers.
“It’s definitely pretty challenging to juggle, but you manage your work and school and talk to your coaches about practice,” said Ryan Duryea, who has qualified for the upcoming Section XI Championship meet in five events, including his signature 100-yard breaststroke “You kind of get used to it.”
Jack Duryea, who, along with Badilla, Harrison, Menjura and Flanagan, is only a freshman, has also qualified for the section meet in the 100 breaststroke. Badilla will swim in two events, including the 200 IM and 100 butterfly, and Menjura has qualified in five individual events, the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle, the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly.
“We’re having a really good season,” Jack Duryea said with a smile.
Prior to Monday’s win over North Babylon, East Hampton squeaked out a 92-88 win over Sayville/Bayport in a meet that came down to the last event and secured the Bonackers’ second-place finish in league competition. East Hampton lost to Hauppauge, 93-81, on December 19 in its only loss of the league season.
“The ultimate goal is to peak them for the upcoming championship meets,” Brierley said about the team’s training schedule, which now focuses on the League II Championship meet at Hauppauge High School on February 1.
Members of the Hurricanes also attended the Winterfest meet in Maryland two weekends ago, and among other successes, the team won a gold medal with its 13-14-year-old boys 200 freestyle relay that included Badilla, Harrison and Menjura, along with East Hampton High School freshman Owen McCormack. All four got back to work immediately with the varsity team the following week.
“It’s great to have good people, whether they’re from Sag Harbor, Hampton Bays or East Hampton,” Cohill said. “It’s good we have such a good group to pull from. It also makes the varsity team that much stronger.”