Alex Park said his state title last year was “something out of the movies.”
The sequel is also off to a good start, as Park led Half Hollow Hills to a season-opening win and is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
Park led the Thundercolts to the state team title and was Newsday’s Swimmer of the Year last season, but the most dramatic part of the campaign was his second consecutive victory in the 200-yard Individual Medley.
He swam a 1:51.21 to edge North Rockland’s Matthew Zugibe by 0.01 to secure the title at the state meet in Buffalo.
“To win a race by one hundredth of a second, that doesn’t happen,” said Park, a senior at Half Hollow Hills East. “That’s something out of the movies. I knew that heat would be one of the closest races I’d ever swim, due to the depth of talent there, and it was definitely one of the most exciting races of my life.”
Park, who will swim for Brown next year, also led Hills’ state title-winning 200-freestyle relay team and finished sixth in the 100 freestyle, after qualifying for all eight individual races during the season.
It’s something Park said he will seek to do again, but he said his main focus is helping Hills repeat its team success.
“Everything that we accomplish will be as a team, regardless of our individual goals,” Park said. “At the end of the day, we’re one unit.”
“Taking states again is definitely the end goal. Before that, we want to stay undefeated in dual meets and eventually send enough guys up to states to win it again,” he added.
As for his part on the team, Park said he has been training in the offseason to improve his stamina and his turns at the wall. He said the turns can be where swimmers separate themselves, especially in high-level competitions like the state tournament.
“Everyone’s fast, so at a certain point, swimming becomes about the walls and the turns,” Park said.
Park said qualifying for all eight individual events is a personal goal, but also said it is something he would like to do for the team, since it would give it more flexibility to earn as many points as possible at the state meet.
His go-to event, though, will be the 200-IM, where we will go for a third consecutive state title in his final varsity meet.
It would be a Hollywood ending.