“You know I know how to make ‘em stop and stare as I zone out. Watchin’ you watchin’ me I go all out. Let’s celebrate now.”
Freshman Jane Brierley said she’s listened to Flo Rida’s “Club Can’t Handle Me” more times than she can count, but she’s excited to hear it one last time as she makes the trip to Ithaca with three East Hampton seniors to compete in the state championships.
“I’ve heard that one a lot,” she said, laughing. “But it’s a lot of fun, gets us pumped. On the bus rides to dual meets, we always listen to 2000s pop.”
Senior Julia Brierley said there’s also a lot of Taylor Swift songs on her playlist.
“I overplayed it, I guess, but no one complained about it,” she said, smiling. “And it seemed to work.”
The Bonackers finished the regular season 4-3 overall and 4-1 in League III behind undefeated Sayville/Bayport, and placed sixth out of 26 schools in the county.
“We’ve all been swimming on the Hurricanes club team for a long time, so we know what it takes, and the potential we have,” senior Sophia Swanson said. “Taking this last trip, it’s kind of sad, but it’s exciting.”
Both Brierleys, Swanson, and senior Darcy McFarland will compete in the 200-yard medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay at Ithaca College November 22 and 23. Swanson will also swim in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle, and Jane Brierley in the 100 breaststroke.
“The dedication and hard work that the girls put in throughout the season shined through in their efforts in the competition,” head coach Craig Brierley said following the Suffolk County championships. “Throughout the meet, the Bonac girls, again, posted either season-best or lifetime-best times — a very impressive task given the fact that most of them posted best times just a week prior.”
And, heading into states, the girls are looking to shave off some extra seconds. Because Jane Brierley was injured last season, she’s expecting bigger and better results this time around. She made it to the final heat last year, but wants to place higher than the 25th spot she finished in.
Swanson swam a personal best 59.25 seconds — good for 33rd place out of 90 — in the 100 butterfly last year. She followed that up this past summer with top-place finishes in the United States Lifesaving Association national competition, and represented USA on the 2019 International Surf Rescue Challenge team that competed in South Africa.
“It was mind-changing, a great experience,” she said. “I got to meet all of these amazing swimmers I never thought I’d meet from South Africa and Australia that helped me to see how much potential I actually have. It also taught me different ways to change and how I can get better.”
While she said swimming in the ocean instead of the pool for the summer may have backtracked her a bit, she was quick to pick up where she left off, and capped the Suffolk County season by swimming a personal best 24.40 seconds as the anchor of the freestyle relay that placed second. She also finished third in the 200 freestyle in 1:58.31, and third in the 100 freestyle in 53.78.
“Sophia has earned her successes in the pool,” Craig Brierley said. “She’s always a tough competitor and a consistent hard worker in practice.”
But Swanson thinks all the girls are, including McFarland, who took 2019 graduate Oona Foulser’s spot on the relays. McFarland didn’t even know she was going to be competing in the freestyle at counties.
“I swam in it the meet before, but I thought there was going to be another girl swimming in my place,” she said. “I found out the last second it was going to be me, and thought, ‘Oh shoot. I have to find my cap and goggles because I have no idea where they are.’ But I think I did pretty well.”
Julia Brierley said the team always knew it was going to be her.
“When we qualified the first time this year, she was flying,” Brierley said. “We were all so excited for her, and thought, ‘We’ve got it!’”
McFarland said the water for her is an escapism — her moment of Zen — kind of like how the end of the season is, as practices taper off.
“We do a lot of meditating to release ourselves from stress,” she said. “Practices are shortened to get the rest we need.”
While the Bonackers may be relaxing now, in just one short week they’ll be singing their way up to Ithaca.
“I’ve learned a lot from this sport, about what I can do physically, and mentally what I’m capable of,” Julia Brierley said. “I think it gets more exciting as the years go on, and I’m really happy to end it on a high note.”
“I said it. Go tell it. Confetti. Who ready? I’m ready. You ready. Let’s get it!”