The season just started, but it’s already a record-breaking one for the East Hampton YMCA swim team.
At the Holiday Invitational meet at the Eisenhower Park Aquatic Center on Saturday, Hurricanes swimmers Maggie Purcell and Julia Brierley assured that their team will have representation once again at Y Nationals, set for the first week of April in North Carolina. The Hurricanes typically send a few swimmers to the prestigious meet, but this marks the first year in the program’s 13-year history that swimmers have earned cut times this early in the season. Typically, swimmers do not make the cut times until the last few meets of the year.
Saturday’s meet had some of the best YMCA teams from the tri-state area, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Purcell, a sophomore at Southampton High School, hit cut times in four different events, which is the most ever for a Hurricanes swimmer. Purcell had already made the cut time in the 200-yard individual medley—a time she achieved at the high school varsity state championship meet a few weeks ago—which means she now has qualified in five events for nationals. At the Holiday Invitational, she made cut times in the 100 freestyle, the 50 free, and the 100 and 200 breaststroke. Purcell made it to the ‘B’ finals in the two freestyle races, and made it to the ‘A’ finals in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke, finishing in the top three in both events. (Eight swimmers compete in each finals grouping, with the fastest swimmers in the ‘A’ final).
Brierley, an eighth-grader at East Hampton Middle School, made the nationals cut in the 200 breaststroke, and narrowly missed the cut in the 100 as well, finishing in 1:08.30, where the cut time is 1:08.19. Brierley finished second for the high point award in her age group (13-14-year-old girls). Cut times for nationals are not based on age groups, however—swimmers at nationals compete in the open division, which is 12 and over, and includes all high school-age swimmers.
Additionally, nearly 20 Hurricanes swimmers made it to the finals in their respective events, including: Purcell, Brierley, Owen McCormac, Ethan McCormac, Caroline Brown, Isabella Swanson, Sophia Swanson, Aiden Forst, Cecilia DeHavenon, Olivia Brabant, Maddie Jones, Oona Foulser, Ryan Duryea and Jack Duryea.
Head coach Tom Cohill was extremely happy with the results in the early-season meet.
“This is the earliest we’ve qualified anybody for nationals,” he said. “To have this many cuts already, it really raises the bar for the team. We have several more fast girls so there are several who are just hundreths of a second away. And we have possibly three or four relays we can put together [for nationals] this year as well.”
The team, which includes age groups as young as 8-and-under, has 93 swimmers, the most in its history. Cohill gets help from assistant coaches Andre Trigubolovich, Angelica Cruz, Amanda Foscolo, Craig Brierley, Sharon McCobb, and Alyssa Drew, and he added that captains Marikate Ryan, Lilah Minetree, and Cecilia DeHavenon do a great job motivating the team as well.
“It’s a lot of hard work that has come together,” Cohill said. “There’s continued success we’re seeing in swimming across the varsity programs [at East Hampton High School] as well. It’s a really good group of young people and there really just seems to be momentum building for swimming across the East End.”