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Half Hollow Hills, Smithtown girls swimming teams start strong
To Smithtown girls swimming coach Terry Martin, it's not how you start, but how you finish.
"What I talk to the girls about, it's not how well you're doing at the beginning of the season, it's how well you're doing at the end of the season," Martin said. "We're preparing for the end of the season."
Half Hollow Hills coach Jason Wiedersum feels the same way.
"What we have to hope for is that we can compete with our depth," Wiedersum said. "We're relying a lot on our depth. Our senior class has been doing a great job of leading."
Half Hollow Hills and Smithtown, both in League I, have to feel pretty good about where each sits this early in the season. The Thundercolts are 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the league and the Bulls are 2-0 overall.
As Martin guides Smithtown into its first league meet at Sachem East (1-1, 0-1) this week, Wiedersum is anticipating Half Hollow Hills' big home meet against Ward Melville at Hills West.
The Patriots are seeking their 22nd consecutive county championship this season.
"It's always nice being the underdog because it's less pressure," Wiedersum said. "Just be competitive. Against the Patriots, we can't afford to focus on one event. We have to focus on the entire meet as a whole."
Martin hopes his Bulls do the same in all their meets.
"It's just a matter of improving a little bit with each meet," Martin said. "Each meet, we try to drop our times as best as possible. In swimming, you don't want to necessarily peak now. We're going to get progressively better throughout the season."
Senior Deidre Connor is following suit. Connor won the 200 freestyle (1:58.03) and qualified for the state championship in the 500 freestyle (5:14.11) during Smithtown's non-league win over Northport, 93-84, on Sept. 18.
“All I’ve had in mind is the state meet in Ithaca [Nov. 22-23]. I wanted to get the state time, get it out of the way as quickly as possible, so that I knew I had it,” Connor said. “What I like most about freestyle is I know exactly how to do it, know that I have enough time to do my thing and catch up and think about what I’m doing.”
Junior Jackie Dominger placed second in the 200 IM (2:12.55) and took first in the 100 butterfly (1:00.23). Her time in the 200 IM qualified her for states.
"At the end of the race, she can turn it up," Martin said of Connor, who is a two-time county champ in the 500 freestyle. "She still has it at the end of the race. She has an incredible work ethic. She trains very hard and doesn't take anything for granted. She's driven to win."
Jennie Gosule is very much the same kind of competitor for Half Hollow Hills. Gosule qualified for the county championship in the 200 freestyle (2:19.30) and the 500 freestyle (4:49.01) in the Thundercolts' 94-76 non-league win over West Islip on Sept. 18.
"She's my distance swimmer," Wiedersum said. "We weren't sure about the competition in this one, so we put the girls in their best events."
Connor’s will to succeed was evident once again in Smithtown’s non-league home meet win over Huntington, 95-83, on Sept. 25.
An anchor on the 200 freestyle relay team, Connor and eighth grader Lizzie Gallagher, sophomore Liz Howlin and Dominger placed first in the 200 freestyle relay (1:45.64).
Dominger, senior Lara Sarett, Gallagher and Howlin, who anchored, also took first in the 200 medley relay (1:58.30), which Martin said is “one of the fastest times in the county.”
Gallagher also won the 50 freestyle (26.00).
Along with Gosule, Wiedersum is also happy with the performance of sophomore Emily Altchiler, who placed first in the 100 butterfly (1:05.43) during Half Hollow Hills’ 91-87 non-league win over Sayville/Bayport/Blue Point on Sept. 23.
Altchiler was also part of two relay teams that placed first, including the 200 freestyle relay (1:50.30) and the 200 medley relay (2:02.09). Dana DeSousa, Kelly Lennon and Gosule accompanied Altchiler in the 200 free, whereas Shannon Drury, Kimberly Chan and Baylee Scharf were with Altchiler in the 200 medley relay.
Wiedersum hopes freshman diver Jessica Coffey, who scored her personal best 1-meter diving score at 197.70 in the Thundercolts’ 99-85 league road win over Sachem East on Sept. 25, keeps up the great work heading into the Patriots meet.
"She has the poise of a senior," Wiedersum said. "She's cool, calm and collected, which is imperative against a team like Ward Melville.”