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Kerry Giovanniello lifts Bellmore-Merrick in final dual meet

Kerry Giovanniello of Bellmore-Merrick cuts through the water

Kerry Giovanniello of Bellmore-Merrick cuts through the water during the 500-yard freestyle event in a Nassau girls swimming meet against Garden City at Nassau Aquatic Center on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. Photo Credit: James Escher

Things go fast in Kerry Giovanniello's world.

One second she's hurling herself into the water as teammates chant her name and the next, she's breaching the surface, gasping for air and smiling all at once, and it's over. Her relay team's pursuit of a spot in the state tournament: over. The fight for Bellmore-Merrick's third straight conference title: over. The final dual meet she will ever swim with this team: over.

Giovanniello, an elite swimmer who previously recorded state qualifying times in the 50- and 200-yard freestyle events, led her Sharks (6-0) to a 3-minute, 40.23-second victory in the 400 freestyle relay in defeating Garden City, 99-85, in a battle of unbeatens in Conference I on Monday. The Trojans took second by a whisper with a state-cut time of 3:40.41.

"Being it's my last season, it was really emotional," Giovanniello said. "And that Kerry cheer . . . and getting first place and touching [Garden City] out, it's amazing. I couldn't have done it without my team."

Giovaniello also took first in the 50 freestyle in 24.69.

Other strong efforts helped Bellmore-Merrick to the dominant win: Paige Kaplan took first in the 200 individual medley (2:09.42) and the 100 butterfly (57.49), and Elizabeth Walsh, a ninth-grader, was second in the 100 butterfly in 59.51.

"She's a lot faster than me, so she pushes me to get my best time, every time," Walsh said of Kaplan, who had previously qualified for the state team in the butterfly and 200 freestyle.

Kaplan said that Walsh proved that Bellmore-Merrick will be "100 percent in good hands" when the 13 seniors graduate this year.

"It's mind-blowing that this is our final dual meet," Giovanniello said. "I can't believe we've all gotten this far, this fast."

You'd think she'd be used to it.

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