Swimming with a record-setting relay team was nice last year, but now Joan Cash is looking to prove she can win by herself too.
Cash, an eighth-grader at Long Beach Middle School, qualified for the state swimming championships with a fifth-place time of 54.38 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle to go with a 24.21 second-place 50 free in 24.21 at the Section VIII Nassau County Swimming Championships at the Nassau County Aquatic Center yesterday. She’ll head to Ithaca for those events along with Long Beach’s 200 medley relay that set the state record last season.
“It’s really cool and unreal,” Cash said of her success. “I don’t really know what’s going on.”
Cash came within two one-hundredths of a second of qualifying in the preliminary race Friday, but got over the line yesterday.
“It was disappointing, but it just made me really want to do it more today,” Cash said.
Cash’s relay teammates have helped her get personal accolades by supporting her and including her in whatever they’re doing, she said. Two of them happen to be the top swimmers in Nassau: Kristen Romano and Maggie Aroesty.
Romano saw a glimpse into Cash’s future when she helped Long Beach break the state record, and this season showed that it wasn’t a fluke.
“This year she performed at that level the entire season, not just at our big meet at the end,” Romano said. “That is an indicator that she’s going to do great things.”
Romano and Aroesty tied for the MVP award, taking All-American honors in the 200 medley relay along with Cash and Lindsay Kranitz in 1:45.23. Aroesty notched another All-American spot with a 2:02.13 result in the 200 individual medley, but she also took pride in being a mentor to Cash.
“It’s really incredible,” Aroesty said. “I’m so proud of her to qualify on her own.”
Garden City grabbed the team county title, but there was some trepidation coming in following dual meet losses to Bellmore-Merrick and Long Beach.
“We were definitely a little nervous, but (coach Anne Sullivan) put in a great lineup and everyone swam their hearts out so it really worked out,” Gabriella Meringolo said.
The Trojans had 30 of 32 possible finalists, giving them an edge going into the meet, but a close 1:38.78 200 free relay win by Rose Kelly, Meringolo, Bonvissuto and Pompay over Long Beach (1.38.98) helped seal the title. Garden City had 515 points, while Long Beach took second with 440 and Bellmore-Merrick came in third with 362.
“We were able to hold our spots for the most part, and it helped us win,” Sullivan said. “All in all, it turned out to be a good weekend for Garden City.”