Exceeding their coach’s and their own expectations, just about everyone on East Hampton High School’s boys swimming team set the bar high insofar as personal performances went in the league opening meet here with Huntington Friday.
Jeff Thompson, the head coach, was over the moon following the impressive 92-75 win, and spent a good amount of time in the post-meet huddle at the Y.M.C.A. East Hampton RECenter’s pool contrasting the “ifs” (the swimmers’ time estimates going into the contest) with what they had, in fact, done. Almost to a man, their meet times were quicker than they’d expected — in some cases far quicker — the adrenaline rush presumably having kicked their efforts up a notch or two.
Craig Brierley, who is Thompson’s assistant, and whose son Thomas is one of the team’s versatile stars, said afterward that all three relays (the 200 medley, the 200 freestyle, and the 400 freestyle) had turned in county meet-qualifying times, as had Trevor Mott in the 200 and 500 free, Thomas Brierley in the 100 free and 100 backstroke, and Dan Hartner in the 50 free.
Thompson said his charges — there are two dozen on the team this season, almost twice as many as last year — had surprised him with “their times and their discipline, the way they came out. I was expecting a lot of mistakes, this being their first competition, but they came out as a seasoned team.”
The biggest surprise, he said, had been “the young guys — they did way above what I had expected.”
The squad comprises five seniors, four juniors, six sophomores, eight freshmen, and two eighth graders. Fourteen are from East Hampton, eight are from Pierson, and two are from Bridgehampton.
Huntington, he said, had “a couple of really good swimmers,” but East Hampton’s newfound depth won the day. “For the first time,” said Thompson, who’s in his third year, “we filled all the lanes in every event. We’ve never been able to do that before.”
As a reward for their heroics, the swimmers were to have devoted half of their 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. practice the next day to water polo.
East Hampton’s winners Friday were Mott in the 200-yard freestyle, in 1:56.27, and in the 500 free, in 5:12.06; the 200 free relay of Hartner, Brierley, Peter Skerys, and Mott, in 1:41.02, and the 400 free relay of Mott, Adam Heller, Skerys, and Brierley, in 3:45.56.
East Hampton’s depth showed in the seconds and thirds it picked up. Among the runners-up that day were Hartner, Christopher Kalbacher, Heller, and Paul Dorego in the 200 medley relay; Thomas Pardicio in the 200 individual medley; Andrew Winthrop in the 200 free; Hartner in the 50 free; Kalbacher in the 100 butterfly; Brierley in the 100 free and 100 back; Winthrop in the 500 free, and Rob Rewinski, Dorego, Kalbacher, and Winthrop in the 200 free relay.
Third-place finishers included Rob Anderson, Baxter Parcher, Sergio Betancur, and Rewinski in the 200 medley relay; Heller in the 200 individual medley; Skerys in the 50 free; Rewinski in the 100 free; Hartner in the 100 back, and Winthrop, Jeremy Pepper, Anderson, and Pardicio in the 400 freestyle relay.
Last season, said Thompson, East Hampton invariably did better in the first half of meets than in the second half. This season, the team, because of its depth, should be strong all the way through.
“We’re well on track to take six individuals and all three relays to the sectional meet,” the coach told his swimmers. He added, “I’ve coached championship teams in the past, and it felt like a championship team today, though we’re not there yet.”
Two “hell weeks” of practice were looming, however, so that the team would be firing on all cylinders at Lindenhurst on Jan. 5.
Lindenhurst has divers, which means East Hampton, which doesn’t compete in the event, will have to forfeit a number of points, but the good news, said Thompson, was that while diving was going on his charges would be able to take a breather.
Even with the uncontested diving, he said he thought the Bonackers could win the Lindenhurst meet.
Further on the subject of exceeding expectations, Thompson said that “they’ve been pushing themselves in practice — they’ve been doing quality yards. Today was a byproduct of what they’ve been doing in practice.”
He glanced down at his iPhone, and then said, in parting, with a smile, “We’ve swum 853 football fields so far.”