Ethan McCormac wasn’t going to let anything get in his way. In fact, his whole team wasn’t, and he was going to make sure of that.
The senior swimmer led East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson to its second straight League II championship title after capturing wins and state-qualifying times in the 100-yard freestyle (47.97 seconds), 200 freestyle (1:44.06), and 200 freestyle relay (1:30.50), and this was all while dealing with some discomfort.
“My shoulder has been hurting all week,” he said. “But there were some pretty good swims.”
The Bonackers bested Hauppauge 298-277 January 31, and that was without having a single diver to the Eagles’ three, one of whom placed first. The victory capped off East Hampton’s second consecutive perfect season.
“I’m emotional,” head coach Craig Brierley said. “I’m super happy for the boys. They worked so hard, and they really wanted this. I just asked them to do their best and give me their absolute best — that’s all I can ask, and that’s what they do every single time.”
But instead of even preparing for his races the day of the Hauppauge-hosted meet, McCormac made sure his teammates were.
“I hang out with my team, help them get ready,” he said. “It’s just part of being a captain.”
Joey Badilla placed second in the 100 backstroke (58.20), and Ryan Duryea finished second in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.83) two spots ahead of his younger brother Jack (1:05.73). Success seems to run in the family for several pairs of brothers on the team.
Jack Duryea and Badilla, along with Colin Harrison and McCormac’s younger brother Owen, touched the wall third in the 200 medley relay, and McCormac and Harrison finished 3-4 in the 50 freestyle. Thor Botero placed sixth in the 500 freestyle. Badilla’s younger brother Nicky was just behind Harrison in the 100 butterfly for fourth and fifth place.
Brierley said the Bonackers feed off what their co-captain can do.
“He’s so motivated,” the coach said. “He sets the bar high — he works hard — and the other boys just try to keep up with him.”
And that’s exactly what they did.
Edward Hoff and Jack Duryea touched the wall in times good for fourth and sixth in the 100 freestyle, and Aidan Forst and Hoff finished fifth and sixth in the 200 freestyle. Forst also placed fifth in the 500 freestyle.
The three-time winner said hearing the crowd cheering and having his teammates surrounding every edge of the pool adds the right kind of pressure.
“There’s much more of an adrenaline rush,” McCormac said of the championship environment. “It’s a lot more fun.”
It also pushed the 400 freestyle relay to best-split times. McCormac, Hoff, Forst, and Fernando Menjura finished a little over a second behind Hauppauge and its top-scoring brother duo of Jordan and Jake Nielsen.
“They all swam really well,” Brierley said. “The mental aspect is a huge factor every time you’re racing. When you’re in the right frame of mind for any big race, the results will surprise you.”
East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson heads to the Suffolk County championship February 9 at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. The meet kicks off at 10 AM.