Thomas Brierley, a 16-year-old lifeguard who, as a sophomore, helped lead the East Hampton High School boys swimming team to its first winning season last winter, won the main event, the 2-miler, in Saturday’s East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad swims in choppy Gardiner’s Bay.
In describing the race the next day, Thomas’s father, Craig, said his son had “led the whole way, but it was close. It was an isosceles triangle course, with a short leg out to the first buoy, a long leg down toward the chimney, and another long leg back along the beach. The 1-milers did one loop, the 2-milers two.”
“Thomas was leading when they began heading out onto the second leg, but there was a sweep and he arced out to the left on the way to the buoy while the guys behind him tracked straight and reeled him in. They came in toward the last turn with the sweep. Thomas was two body lengths ahead of the guy [Mike Petrzia] behind him. They sprinted up the beach, about 20 to 25 yards, I’d say, and the other guy just missed beating him. It was a hell of an ending to a 2-mile race.”
When told that his son had given his time as 41 minutes (the Ocean Rescue Squad’s Web site gave Brierley and Petrzia’s times as 39:30 each), the elder Brierley, who helps coach the high school’s swim team, was impressed, especially given the conditions.
Hailed just before he left for lifeguard duty, Thomas said, “It was really choppy, but warm. I did the first loop in 20 minutes, the second in 21. Yeah, it was a good time.”
Asked if he were a junior or senior, he said, “A senior . . . no, a junior.” He’s to do cross-country in the fall.
When it comes to swimming, he’s extremely versatile. Jeff Thompson, East Hampton’s coach, said following last season that even though he hadn’t focused on the backstroke last winter, he missed qualifying for the state meet in that event by one second. Often he would follow up the 500 with the 200 freestyle relay, the 100 backstroke, the 100 breaststroke, and the 400 free relay.
One of the numerous volunteers at Saturday’s event, Tim Treadwell, was told he was owed an apology by this writer for having reported incorrectly that Annette MacNiven coached masters swimmers at the Y.M.C.A. East Hampton RECenter. In asking that the error be corrected, MacNiven said she was “not the masters coach. Tim Treadwell is. He’s an amazing coach. I’m one of his students.”
Treadwell took the slight in stride, and, when this writer said he might like to join up but, because of his advanced age and inexperience, was hesitant, Treadwell said, “There’s a lane for everybody . . . people shouldn’t be intimidated.”
Once the fall season at the Y gets under way next month, he said, there will be masters swim sessions Monday through Friday from 6 to 7:30 a.m.; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 9:30 to 11, and Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 8:45.