There is only one high school swimming team on the entire East End, East Hampton. And the Bonackers are doing quite nicely, thank you, despite an arduous practice schedule and long hours traveling to "away" meets.
The team began informally in 2006 and had its roots in the Hurricanes swimming program at the YMCA RECenter, coached by Tom Cohill. It became an official high school sanctioned team in 2008. Jeff Thompson took over as head coach for the 2010-11 season. Craig Brierley is at the helm this year, and he's guided the team to a 3-1 mark in League Two. The locals have won their last three meets, including a 93.5 to 74.5 victory against Harborfields at the YMCA Thursday.
"I was assistant coach for two years," Brierley related. He also served under Cohill in the Hurricanes program. "I became interested in competitive swimming when my oldest son Thomas, 16, started competing on the EHY Hurricanes 10 years ago. Now all three of my children compete for the Hurricanes including Christian, 14, and Julia, 10."
Tom was one of the winners on Thursday winning the 100-yard backstroke in 55.73 seconds. The team also won the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay. Shane McCann took home gold in the 50-yard freestyle, getting the distance in a blistering 23.72 seconds.
There are 32 students on the team including three from Bridgehampton (Christian and Claudio Figueroa and Rob Rewinski) and one from Pierson, Joe Gengarelly. In addition, there are three eighth graders, Christian Brierley, T.J. Calabrese, and Dylan Comacho.
It's a commitment to be sure. "We train in the pool six days a week with dry land -- strength and conditioning -- for five days," the coach said.
Robert Anderson, Thomas Paradiso, Brierley, McCann, Alex Astilean, Cort Heneveld, Anthony McGorisk, Tyler Menold, Joe Gengarelly and Trevor Mott are among the swimmers who recently recorded their personal bests.
"Quite a few of the boys continue to put up best times even through some heavy training, which is very impressive," Brierley noted.
Anderson, the Swimmer of the Meet against Harborfields, "did it with a heavy heart, knowing his 90 year-old grandfather was very ill," Brierley said. The youngster, "did not want to miss the meet."
The team swims tomorrow at West Islip and travels to Deer Park Tuesday.