The East Hampton girls swim team proved itself to be one of the upper echelon teams at the Suffolk County swim meet at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Saturday.
The Lady Bonackers finished ninth out of 26 teams with 102 points, ahead of Sachem North (71) and behind Sachem East (130). Ward Melville won the meet with 361.5 points.
Leading the charge for East Hampton was senior Marina Preiss, who achieved her primary goal of qualifying for states in the 50-yard freestyle. Preiss finished second in the event, but met the state qualifying standard time of 24.84 seconds, finishing in 24.68 seconds. She was edged by Nina Lesser of Harborfields, who won the sprint in 24.25 seconds.
Preiss was also second in the 100-yard freestyle, finishing in 52.72 seconds and getting in under the state meet qualifying time of 54.36 seconds. Preiss had already made the state cut time in the event earlier in the season, but she had her best time of the season on Saturday. Julianne Koch of Babylon won the race in 52.55 seconds.
East Hampton head coach John McGeehan said that while Preiss was happy to hit the state cut times in both events, she was slightly disappointed that she did not defend her county titles in the races. Preiss has beaten both Lesser and Koch in previous meets and has not lost in either event for at least two years, according to McGeehan. Preiss will continue her swimming career at Division I University of San Diego next year.
“She’s an athlete, so she’s disappointed in that way,” he said. “But I said, ‘Hey, you came here to do a job and that was to qualify for states, first and foremost.’ Her second job was to take first. In those short events, like the 50, it’s just a start and a turn, with a little bit of swimming in between. Even the 100 is a heck of a sprint.”
Preiss will have two weeks to get in additional practice, as the state meet kicks off at Ithaca College on November 22 and 23. McGeehan gave credit to his assistant coach, Meg Preiss (Marina’s mother), for her hard work with the entire team throughout the season and added that her insight and expertise have been crucial.
“She is really the go-to person when it comes to really breaking down a stroke and fine-tuning it,” McGeehan said of the elder Preiss.
Aside from Marina Preiss’s standout performances, East Hampton also saw other individuals and relay teams have good showings, including seven season or personal-best finishes.
In the 200-yard medley relay, Lady Bonackers Lindsey Stevens, Morgan German, Shannon Ryan and Lilah Minetree finished 11th in 2:05.38, their best time this season, while in the 200-yard freestyle, freshman Cecilia DeHavenon was 11th, finishing in a personal best time of 2:04.75. Minetree had her season’s best time in the 50 free, taking 24th in 27.06 seconds, while German was tied for 22nd in the 100-yard butterfly, finishing in a season’s best time of 1:06.57.
In the 200-yard freestyle relay, German, DeHavenon, Ryan and Preiss took seventh in 1:47.12, their best time this season. Stevens was 22nd in the 100-yard backstroke, finishing in a personal-best time of 1:07.36, and the 400-yard freestyle relay team of DeHavenon, Minetree, Stevens and Preiss was seventh, finishing in 3:56.22, another best this season.
East Hampton will lose nine seniors to graduation, including Preiss, Shannon Ryan, Morgan German, Lindsey Stevens, Caley Serin, Lily Goldman, Serrana Mattiauda, Kyra Daniels and Olivia Bono. But the future remains bright for a team that boasts several young swimmers who have already proven their value; additionally, the squad features no juniors, meaning the team should be strong for years to come.
McGeehan did note, however, that those young swimmers will have big shoes to fill next year.
“Marina is not only an exceptional swimmer, but she has been a quiet leader of the team,” he said. “The captains are Morgan and Shannon, and they’ve done a great job.”