Dylan Chan has qualified for seven swimming events for the state championships, but when he gets in the water, his first thought is on the team.
Half Hollow Hills is the defending state champion and is looking to repeat. It took a step closer to that with a 100-80 over Connetquot/East Islip on Wednesday to remain undefeated. Chan won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:47.47 for a new qualification and the 100 backstroke in 52.70, which he has already hit the standard in.
But while Chan is amassing individual accolades, the sum of his and his teammates’ successes is focused on the group’s goal of another crown.
“We all just want the best for each other and the best for team,” Chan said.
Five other Hills swimmers have qualified for multiple events at the state championship, including Alex Park, who has hit the mark in each of 11 swimming events. Ethan Tack has seven of 11. The depth brings its challenges for coach Nina Cunningham, who has to mix and match to find the best spot for each to maximize individual success while getting team points.
“Now it’s almost like a chess match with this team to put the right pieces at the right place to make sure we win counties,” Cunningham said.
Once a swimmer qualifies for an event, he can compete in up to four events, including at least one relay. Chan has been focused on spreading out his qualifications to give him an array of choices to place high at the championships and benefit Hills (8-0).
“The season is coming to an end and we know we are in the running for a state title and we know we have to start getting serious about stuff,” Chan said.
The win over Connetquot/East Islip was another opportunity to prepare for the postseason at a time when year-round swimmers are starting to feel the wear of the season. Hills will head right back to the pool on Thursday to face Ward Melville, with swimmers racing in individual competitions with the team, and record, in mind.
“Yes, we want to be undefeated,” Cunningham said.