After months of training, hours in the pool and county championships won, Great Neck South’s Andy Lee had to do one of the toughest things for any swimmer at last season’s state championships:
Sit and watch.
Lee, who won the 200-yard individual medley and 100 freestyle at last season’s Nassau championships as a freshman, suffered an ankle injury and an illness before the state meet last March. He swam and tried to overcome his setbacks, but failed to post the necessary times.
Lee hasn’t forgotten about it.
“I’m definitely motivated because I couldn’t really swim in the water last year,” Lee said after host Great Neck South’s 108-78 victory over Bellmore-Merrick on Monday. “And it hurt to see my teammates and everyone swimming and I’m just staring at them as a spectator. But I’m looking forward to it this season.”
Lee will have that opportunity after posting state-qualifying times in the 200 IM, 50 freestyle, 100 free and 100 breaststroke — holding the top times in the county and top five times in the state in all four events entering Monday. He hopes to defend his county championships, remain healthy and compete for a state title.
“Just hard work paid off,” Lee said after winning the 100 free (49.84) and 100 breaststroke (1:00.87) Monday. “And it’s a great feeling when you can swim in the pool with a team like this.”
Great Neck South coach Jim Morrow recalls from earlier this season when Lee missed the state-qualifying time for the 100 breaststroke by about .10 seconds. Morrow challenged Lee the next race to set the time — and Lee did in 58.93.
“He can rise to the occasion,” Morrow said. “His potential is not even there yet. He’s going to get older, more mature, faster.”
GNS (6-3) got another strong performance from Justin Whang. He won the 100 butterfly in 57.21 and was on the winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. Along with Whang and Lee, Aric Zhuang swam on both winning relays with Christopher Lei on the 200 medley relay and David Wong on the 400 free. “It’s real ly great for me because it’s a confidence booster,” said Whang, an eighth-grader at South Middle School, “and it shows I can do a lot more the four years I have left on the team.”
Youssef Ibrahim of Bellmore-Merrick (5-4) and Nicholas Shen of GNS, the top two ranked divers in the county, had a competitive contest with Ibrahim, the defending county champion, finishing in first place.
Lee’s been finishing in first all season. He set the school record in the 50 free with a 21.51 Jan. 20, besting Sam Mo’s 21.88. And with the county and state meets coming up, more accolades could be coming.
“The potential is endless,” Morrow said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you start seeing his name all over that [record] board.”