Great Neck South is the four-time defending Nassau champion. Great Neck South again showed its might, running -- err, swimming -- away with the competition in last season's county tournament. Great Neck South . . . was seeded fourth in the preseason poll.
"And we're perfectly fine with that," Rebels coach Andy Berlin said.
Their seeding speaks to the rise of rivals and the expected parity in Nassau boys swimming this season.
The Rebels' prospects could take a dip without All-Long Islander Sam Mo, but this team still is loaded. Great Neck South is led by senior star Daniel Mo, Ben Ching, Marko Miocic, Richard Pak and Sean Kim.
"Trust me," Garden City coach Anne Sullivan said, "Great Neck South will be fine."
But it's her Trojans who have top billing. Garden City took second in the county tournament and returns with its core intact, led by senior twins Matt and Daniel Finnegan, Delaney Hall, Connor Brown and Kyle Zarriello. Joseph Lozano took third in the state 200 individual medley.
Jericho, seeded second, returns a strong senior core, led by backstroke standout Jasper Du, Anthony Istomin, Wesley Wu and Alex Popescu.
Long Beach is No. 3 but faces challenges in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. With several swimmers living with relatives out of town and coach Woody Davis having lost his home in Island Park, organizing practices was difficult amid the chaos. "We'll struggle in the beginning," Davis said, "but we'll be there at the end." The Marines are led by Nicholas Stoski, Ryan Ward, David Mejia and Michael McCarthy.
Bellmore-Merrick will be a contender, led by freestyler Robert Cahn, Adem Tuurmann and talented divers Moustafa Ibrahim and Kevin Moran. Plainview JFK is led by Jacob Alexander, Adam Gabalski and Kenta Kondo. Massapequa, with its core of Trevor Dearstyne, Tyler Dowd and T.J. Soregaroli, could be a sleeper. Cold Spring Harbor, Herricks and Manhasset will be in the mix.
Half Hollow Hills is the defending Suffolk champ, but coach Jason Wiedersum warned, "everything is up in the air this season." Hills is relatively young, but does boast a talented group led by Michael DiMaria, Michael Mattera, James Gordin and sophomore divers Alex Cohen and John Matalone.
Runner-up Sachem North didn't lose much to graduation and "represents a good possibility of winning the title," Wiedersum said. The Flaming Arrows return All-Long Island sprinter James Donlevy, Chris Pentek, Kyle Beigay and Greg Coleman.
Smithtown has all of its top swimmers back from a third-place squad, including freestyler Mike Martinico, Eric Damm and diver Jordan Frielingsdorf.
Ward Melville is a contender with Ryan Gao, Zachary Kaplan and Peter Chiang. Sachem East features star diver Anthony Stefanelli, a three-time state qualifier, along with Cameron Byrne and Matt Darcy.
Andrew Wheaton, Kieran Harrison, Brian Cremer and Daniel Clemente lead Sayville-Bayport-Blue Point. All-Long Islander Justin Plaschka, who took third in the 100 butterfly in states, will have Hauppauge in the mix. West Islip, Lindenhurst and Huntington will contend.
The CHSAA has been dominated by Fordham Prep, but Chaminade promises to be a worthy challenger. The Flyers took second in the league championship and returns a team that is "up there with the best I've seen in 13 years," coach Angelo Pellicone said. They're led by James Brittan, senior twins Liam and Mike Cashin, Dan Lagalante and Christian Foti.
St. Anthony's took third in the league and will again be competitive with Michael Capodanno and freestyler Zach Towers.