Alex Park understood the magnitude of the moment, but wasn’t going to let it get the best of him.
Standing on the block waiting to swim the anchor leg of Half Hollow Hills’ 200-yard freestyle relay team, Park had some ground to make up. And he did just that, going from third place to first, swimming the final 50 yards in 20.51 seconds, the second-best split of any swimmer in the race.
“I knew I had my team riding on me, my family, everything was riding on those last two laps so I just put everything I had into it,” Park said, “and I’m just so grateful that we came out on top.”
Hills’ relay of Daniel Lee, Ethan Tack, Dylan Chan and Park won in an All-American consideration time of 1:25.27. It barely edged out Long Beach’s Shane Morris, Matthew Cannon, Ryan Aroesty and Troy Morris, who swam in 1:25.30.
Hills went on to win its second consecutive public school boys swimming state championship yesterday at the Nassau Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park.
Park’s emotions were clearly on display in the pool. After a glance at the scoreboard, the senior pumped his fists and punched the water in excitement after his final high-school race.
“This is my last high school meet — my final race — and I’ve known this group of guys that I swam this relay with, Ethan, Daniel and Dylan, for so long and they’re family to me,” Park said. “They’re brothers. And we’re incredibly blessed to be able to swim together so long. It was a very emotional moment for me and we were really psyched.”
Park started the meet strong, setting a public school state record in the 200 medley relay with his three relay teammates in an All-American automatic time of 1:33.42. Hills actually beat its own record set in the preliminaries the day before of 1:33.82.
“It was incredible,” Lee said. “We didn’t know exactly how quick we could go and after yesterday’s performance, our confidence was through the roof and we just really enjoyed ourselves today.”
The 200 freestyle win marked the end of an era for Hills with Chan saying the relay swam together even in club five years ago. Lee and Park will graduate after being co-captains.
“We knew that today was going to be our last day swimming as a team, as a relay,” Chan said, “so we wanted to go out with a good one and it’s just amazing.”
Tack and Chan hope to continue Hills’ winning tradition as seniors next season.
“Two years in a row, state champs, Tack said. “It’s just an awesome feeling to come back and win it.”