Last year, its inaugural one, East Hampton High School’s boys swimming team made a promising splash, winning a couple of meets and losing a couple of others by narrow margins.
This season, with about half the team now made up of Pierson students — the three Whaler returnees, Peter Skerys, Adam Heller, and Jeremy Pepper, having recruited four or five fellow Whalers — the team, according to its head coach, Jeff Thompson, and a volunteer assistant, Craig Brierley, should be even better.
Thompson, when questioned during a practice the other day, said that it looked like the Bonackers had all the bases covered. “We’ve got about 16 now — a full lineup, though there will be a lot of roles to fill. We lost Garner Minetree, Alex [Gonzalez-Gagliotti], Chris [Cinque], and Mike [Morsch] to graduation, but Matt Kalbacher, Adrian [Krasniqi], and Tim Gualtieri [all seniors] are back, as well as Trevor Mott, Brock Lownes, Jeremy, Adam, and Peter. . . .”
There are two walk-on seniors, Marcus Walker and Christian Atriguana. Chief among the Pierson recruits is Dan Hartner, whom Thompson described as “top of the line.” Thomas Brierley, a freshman and Craig Brierley’s son, is expected to make a contribution right away, and Matt Kalbacher, said to be fully recovered from shoulder surgery that he underwent last year, is apparently ready to swim the butterfly again, which he did not do last season.
“Just about all of these kids have come up through the junior lifeguard program,” said Thompson, who is rendered even more hopeful by the fact that the team will continue to practice through the Christmas vacation.
After the team lost its opening meets to Sayville and Hauppauge last year, Thompson, who bemoaned the fact that the Y.M.C.A. East Hampton RECenter had drained its pool during the holiday break, said he wanted to make sure that this time around his charges would not forgo practice time.
Last year, Thompson concentrated on honing his swimmers’ freestyle technique, and, consequently, it was no surprise that his 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams — and Krasniqi in the 50 free — qualified for the county meet in February. He’ll work more on the mechanics of the odd strokes — the breaststroke, the backstroke, and the butterfly — this season.
“We have the skills that will make for really competitive relays, including the medley relay,” he said during last week’s practice session. “We should be stronger in the distance events this year too. . . . We’re ahead of where we were this time last year when it comes to our splits — a lot are ahead of where they were at the end of last season. . . . We’re young [there are four freshmen and three sophomores], but the kids are stepping up.”
In parting, Thompson said, “There’s a symbiotic relationship going on in this program, beginning with the Hurricanes [the Y’s youth swim team coached by Tom Cohill] and junior lifeguarding [overseen by John Ryan Jr. and Sr.]. It’s nice.”
The team is to open its nine-meet season here with Brentwood on Jan. 5. Other home meets will be with Huntington, on Jan. 12, with Sayville, on Jan. 18, with Hauppauge, on Jan. 20, with West Islip, on Jan. 25, and with Harborfields, on Feb. 1.
The League II meet is to be held at Hauppauge High School on Feb. 10. The county meet will be at Suffolk Community College-Brentwood on Feb. 19.