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Three-way race for conference swimming title

Garden City, Bellmore-Merrick and Manhasset are all in the mix for the Nassau Conference I girls swimming championship this week.

For Manhasset coach Matt McGrane, the key for the future title holder is this: "How do you hold up?"

Manhasset (4-1) will find out when it hosts Garden City (5-0) Tuesday night at Great Neck North.

“When you’re in a meet like this, of this magnitude, it’s an honor," McGrane said. "We’re in this position to do something big. We're excited for the opportunity. It all comes down to who has the better play."

Trojans coach Anne Sullivan agreed.

“I need a total team effort,” Sullivan said. “It’s all about who shows up. The swimmers you’re counting on need to show up.”

For McGrane, it starts with senior Madeleine Quinn, who made the state qualifying time in the 500-meter freestyle (5:14.47). A five-year swimmer, Quinn is "very versatile," McGrane said. "She's the kind of girl we could put anywhere and count on her to get a first-place finish."

Sophomore Kylie Mulholland, also solid in the 500 free, and freshman Megan Smith, who set a new school record in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:10.09), provide depth behind Quinn.

The Indians finish up their dual meet regular season against Massapequa on Thursday at Brentwood.

Garden City, the defending county champ, is counting on junior Gabbie Clarkson, who set school records this season in the 50 free (25.13) and the 100 free (54.68).

“She’ll be a big part of the counties,” Sullivan said of Clarkson. “It’s going to be a very tight race down the stretch for the county title.”

Sullivan has the depth needed to retain the county title and also go after the conference championship, with junior Julia Hall, sophomore Carrie Bonvissuto and senior Jackie Vani backing up Clarkson. Hall specializes in the butterfly, the backstroke and the free, whereas Bonvissuto swims the 100, 200 and 500-yard free, and Vani competes in the breaststroke and Individual Medley.

Following the meet against Manhasset, the Trojans take on Bellmore-Merrick (6-0), the defending conference champ, Saturday at Hofstra.

“It’s a big meet,” Bellmore-Merrick coach Rob Kaefer said. “We want to repeat. My girls have to step up and see a lot of their best times."

It helps to have Kerry Giovanniello. The Bellmore-Merrick junior this season "has won every event she has swam in," Kaefer said. As a sophomore, Giovanniello set the school record in the 200-yard free (1:52.88), the 100-yard free (52.75) and the 500-yard free (5:00.41).

Junior Jessica Arana, who is featured in the 100 fly, the 100 back and the IM, and eighth grader Liz Walsh, a 50 free, 100 free and back competitor, are key components for Bellmore-Merrick.

"The relays are going to be the key," Kaefer said. "That was huge for us last season. The talent is there. It’s about swimming to their abilities.”

Tags: girls swimming , garden city , bellmore-merrick , manhasset , madeleine quinn , kylie mulholland , megan smith , gabbie clarkson , julia hall , carrie bonvissuto , jackie vani , kerry giovanniello , jessica arana , liz walsh

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