Purcell Swam in Two National Finals

The team had 11 individual cuts (national qualifying times)
Julia Brierley was one of those who swam national-qualifying times at the Y nationals in Greensboro, N.C., last week. Julieanne Purcell

Tom Cohill, who coaches the Y.M.C.A. East Hampton RECenter’s youth swim team, the Hurricanes, said on his return from the Y nationals in Greensboro, N.C., this week that his six competitors — Maggie Purcell, Sophia Swanson, Julia Brierley, Maddie Jones, Caroline Oakland, and Cecilia De Havenon — all had done well, especially Purcell, who became the first Hurricane ever to swim in a national short course final. 

Actually, he said, she swam in two, winning the 100 breaststroke’s C race, and competing as the first alternate in the final day’s 100 freestyle.

“It was interesting how she got into the 100 free final,” said Cohill. “She tied for 28th in the preliminaries. They took the top 24 into the final, along with two alternates. Two girls scratched, which put Maggie and the girl with whom she’d tied into a swim-off for second alternate. Maggie won that in a personal-best time, and two more scratches on the last day got her into the 100 final. We’ve never had an athlete get as far as she did.”

In all, said Cohill, the team had 11 individual cuts (national qualifying times), “a pretty big number, the most we’ve ever had. . . . Maggie and Julia qualified in multiple events, and both our [200 free and 200 medley] relay teams had qualifying times.”

Given Purcell’s time in the 100 breaststroke and her grade-point average, she would in all likelihood be named an academic all-American, her coach added.

“We’re looking for her to have a spectacular senior year,” he said of the Southampton High School junior, who swims as an independent in the high school season.

The raft of national-qualifying times meant, Cohill said, that “instead of training to make next year’s meet, we’ll be training to race at the meet — there is a difference.”

For the moment, he said, “we’ll take two or three weeks off, and then get back in the pool.”