Ryan Duryea stepped onto the platform ready to swim the 50 freestyle for the third straight time. The Pierson senior had just helped his team place fourth in the 200-yard medley relay, missing the state cut by .02 second, and finished a personal best in the solo event in 22.5 seconds, good for eighth place. Although swimming his best times, including a 21.86 split in the relay, he admits he had some nervous energy anchoring the 200 freestyle relay.
“Swimming the first heat, we were all within seconds of each other, so we knew it was going to be a close race,” Duryea said. “Missing that state cut was pretty hard on us, but we’d been looking to make the state qualifying time in the freestyle relay all season. I was nervous, but swimming against the kid next to me, I wanted to beat him.”
Duryea and his East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson relay were tied with Half Hollow Hills in the neighboring lane as he and the Colts’ Kabir Randhawa dove into the water. He finished his best 50 split of the day, 21.44 seconds, and after touching the wall, looked up at the board to see his lane had the number “1” next to it. As he slid his eyes across the row, what he saw next surprised him. His Bonackers finished the race in 1:28.32, ahead of Half Hollow Hills’ 1:28.44, which was also almost two seconds under the 1:30.12 state qualifying time.
“I knew I was going to have to swim the hardest I swam that whole meet if we wanted to win, and knowing that pushed me,” Duryea said. “Going to big meets like counties, there’s more of an adrenaline rush — there’s more swimmers and fans. It’s a much more exciting environment to swim and compete in, and it usually works well for us. Once I touched the wall, I could see all my teammates yelling and high-fiving each other, and it was super exciting to see that not only did we win, but we made states.”
Head coach Craig Brierley said Duryea has always done what’s asked of him, on top of competing in his 100 breaststroke, in which he placed seventh in (1:03.07) at the Suffolk County championships Saturday, February 9, at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.
“Racing the 50 free once is enough of a physical and mental challenge, but Ryan swam it three times, improving with each race,” Brierley said. “When it came to his 100 breast stroke, he really had to dig deep and push himself, and came out with another personal-best time. It was a fantastic display of mental and physical toughness. All season, Ryan has been a huge asset to the team with his leadership and versatility to contribute in any event we need him in, and was again up for the challenge that was presented to him. The coaches had total confidence in his ability to deliver.”
Ethan McCormac, Owen McCormac, and Aidan Forst will be competing in the state championships with Duryea at Nassau County Aquatic Center March 1-2. Ethan McCormac will also be competing in the 50 (21.41) and 100 freestyle (46.46) after sweeping both events. Joey Badilla, who led off the 200 medley relay, finished seventh in the 100 backstroke and ninth in the 200 individual medley.
“We were all pretty confident going into counties,” Duryea said. “We wanted to do the absolute best that we could — that’s all that coach asks of us — and that’s what we did. We go into every single meet ready to give it our all.”
East Hampton/Bridgehampton Pierson finishes its most successful year after its second straight undefeated season and league title and championship wins. The Bonackers finished second in the county behind Half Hollow Hills, which won its 13th consecutive crown. It was East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson’s best finish. And Duryea’s just happy it’s not over.
“This has been one of the best experiences ever — a truly memorable season with such a great team,” Duryea said. “I really wanted to make states because it extends the season three more weeks, so it’s three more weeks I get to be with my team, practice with my friends, and get ready to compete.”