James Llewellyn and Nolan Russell are teammates in the pool, but when they line up together in the same race, their competitive bones begin to tingle.
The two standouts for the Connetquot/East Islip boys swimming teams competed in the 200-yard IM Wednesday, with Llewellyn edging Russell by less than six seconds.
“We always build off each other, try to push each other to go faster,” East Islip's Llewellyn said. “It’s definitely more hyping. It helps you push yourself.”
“I’m trying to beat him because he’s the fastest swimmer we have in the 200 IM,” Connetquot's Russell said. “So I’m trying to give him a good race, too.”
They both won individual races and were a part of winning relays as Connetquot/East Islip defeated host Ward Melville, 90-80, in Suffolk League I boys swimming.
Llewellyn won the 200 IM in 2:12.78 and 100 back in 58.70 and Russell won the 100 fly in 56.49 and placed second in the 200 IM in 2:18.43. They were also both members of the team’s 200 medley relay and 400 free relay victories.
Coach Alex Scichilone said the two are able to pace and motivate each other in the water.
“When your teammate is pushing you, you don’t want to give up on your teammate, so it’s going to push you that much harder,” Scichilone said. “I’m very proud of those guys working together, working really hard and they are a tremendous asset to the team for sure.”
Connetquot/East Islip (6-1) posted the top time in nine of the 11 races and the top score in diving. The individual race winners featured Eddie Smith (200 free), Maverick Rice (100 free), Kyle Gorman (500 free) and Jon Stanzione (100 breast). Nate Slack won the 50 free for Ward Melville (2-5).
Russell already has posted a state-qualifying time in the 100 fly, and he hopes to continue improving his mark with the county and state final approaching.
“It boosts [your confidence] a lot because it’s momentum,” Russell said. “You want to swim faster each meet and improve your times and build off each race.”
And with Llewellyn and Russell leading the way, Connetquot/East Islip has high individual and team goals to close out the winter.
“That’s one thing that we said from the beginning of the season is teamwork, one unit helping each other,” Scichilone said. “So it’s a very positive competition between them, helping them achieve their best times and helping them want to do better.”