They’ve been best friends for quite some time now, and have shared multiple moments in the pool together as independent swimmers and on the East Hampton YMCA Hurricane team over the years, but for the first time ever, Maggie Purcell and Caroline Oakland are heading to the New York State Swimming Championships together.
Purcell, a senior at Southampton High School, became a county champion in two events for the second year in a row and is heading to the state meet for the third time in her career, but it’s Oakland’s first time reaching the state meet. The Hampton Bays senior placed fourth in the 100-yard freestyle in 54.32 seconds and fifth in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:56.75, qualifying for states in both events at the Section XI, or Suffolk County, Swimming Championships at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Saturday.
Purcell, meanwhile, won the 50-yard freestyle in 24.06 seconds and won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:04.34, furthering her legacy not only as the best swimmer in Southampton school history, but one of the best on the East End. The state championship meet is set for November 18 and 19 at Ithaca College.
Since Southampton and Hampton Bays do not have swim teams, Purcell and Oakland have to swim independently throughout the fall, without the constant help from a high school coach or teammates. But Purcell and Oakland have relied on one another for help in the pool and it’s certainly paid off.
“It definitely feels very exciting,” Oakland said of qualifying for states. “Putting in all of the hard work and waking up at seven every morning, it’s nice to go to counties and see your hard work pay off.
“And even though me and Maggie aren’t on the same team, it’s definitely rewarding to have her train with me,” she added.
Tom Cohill, who coaches Purcell and Oakland on the East Hampton Hurricanes YMCA club team, said they’ve certainly been putting in the work.
“They’ve been putting in the time, to say the least,” he said. “We’ve had a very successful season so far. They’ve been on a plan, really since June, to achieve the things they did this past weekend and in addition to states in Ithaca in a couple of weeks.”
It’s been a busy past couple of weeks for Purcell, who made the decision last week, while training for counties, to attend the University of Richmond and compete on its Division I swim team next fall. Oakland also wants to swim in college but hasn’t decided where yet.
“It’s been a tremendous past month. It’s been non-stop swimming. My stress levels have been very, very high, making the decision of going to school,” Purcell explained. “Now that’s out of the way, I can really get focused to do well at states.”
Cohill was hesitant to say where Purcell or Oakland would place at states, but he knows they’ll both be ready.
“Being competitive and ready to race is what I want both of them to do,” he said. “They can only control what they can be in control of and that’s their events. They’ll be ready to race at states, whatever that means as far as results are concerned, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Lagattolla, Profeta Compete At Counties
The Westhampton Beach duo of Noelle Profeta, 15, and Emma Lagattolla, 16, competed at the county meet. While both placed high enough to score points in their respective events, they were unable to qualify for the state meet.
Lagattolla placed seventh in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:16.85 while Profeta placed 15th in 2:22.19. Profeta placed ninth in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:11.86. Lagattolla placed 13th in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:02.53, more than four seconds faster than her seeded time.