Purcell, Oakland Finish High School Swimming Careers At States; Purcell Earns All-Federation Honors In Both Events

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The high school careers for a pair of East End swimmers came to a close at the New York State Swimming Championships at Ithaca College on Saturday.

Southampton senior Maggie Purcell came home with a pair of medals after finishing top 10 in her respective events, while Hampton Bays senior Caroline Oakland enjoyed her first state meet appearance.

Purcell placed fifth out of 53 swimmers in the highly competitive 50-yard freestyle in 23.92 seconds; only .54 of a second separated the top six swimmers in the race. She also placed sixth out of 55 competitors in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:04.48. The top 10 in each event take home medals and also earned All-Federation status on top of All-State honors; the top 20 in each event are considered All-State.

Purcell said she was happy she improved on last year’s placement in the 50-free, when she was sixth.

“I was looking to do a little bit better, but all the girls came out with extremely fast times, so I was happy with fifth place in the 50,” she said.

Oakland placed 24th out of 43 swimmers in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:57.06. She finished the 100-yard freestyle in 54.05 seconds, which placed her 34th out of 48 swimmers, and she was unable to advance through the preliminary round, which was held on Friday.

Although she didn’t advance to the finals, Oakland was happy with her results in the 100, since she swam to a personal best. But she wasn’t satisfied with her time in the 200—Oakland swam faster in her preliminary race than her finals race. She said that could have been due to just a long weekend, but, Oakland and Purcell’s coach, Tom Cohill, also missed the meet because his wife, Rebecca, gave birth to a son on Saturday. Both Oakland and Purcell said it was weird not having him there but they certainly understood his circumstances.

“We pushed through and we made it, but we were texting Tom throughout the meet and the entire weekend,” Purcell said. “He helped us out the best he could.”

While their high school careers have come to a close, Oakland and Purcell’s swimming careers certainly haven’t. Both swim on the East Hampton Hurricanes YMCA team, coached by Cohill, and will compete at YMCA Nationals this April. Purcell also leaves for New Zealand this week, with a handful of other East End lifeguards, to compete with the United States Lifesaving Association National team at the 2017 DHL International Surf Rescue Challenge, from November 30 to December 3, at Mount Maunganui Beach.

Purcell also signed her letter of intent to swim at Division I University of Richmond starting next fall, but she did admit that swimming in her final high school meet was a bit sad.

“It was sad but it was a fun meet,” she said. “You don’t usually see all of the girls of New York State compete together, and seeing everyone together and do really well was fun.”

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