Griffen Schimmel is defined by setbacks.
When Schimmel exited the pool after two second-place finishes at last year’s Nassau boys swimming championships, he was determined to put in the work to win as a senior. But after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down local pools for multiple months and the unknowns about if there would be a varsity season, Schimmel was unsure if he’d get that chance.
But he didn’t just sit around. When he couldn’t swim, he ran 4-6 miles a day during quarantine. He did push-ups, sit-ups — whatever else he could at home. And the day New York State opened the pools, he was back in the water with his Long Beach teammates.
"I’m more motivated than ever," Schimmel said. "After setback after setback and quarantine and losing in counties, just taking loss after loss, it fueled my almost obsession to be in the water and truly put in as much effort as I can to truly show that I am the best."
Schimmel hasn’t held back to open this season. He won the 200-yard freestyle in one minute, 49.70 seconds and 500 freestyle in 4:56.37 to lead host Long Beach over Garden City, 99-82, in Nassau Conference I boys swimming Friday evening.
"There’s never been a lack of motivation in that kid," coach John Skudin said. "But now we have an opportunity, so I hope he takes that opportunity. He can’t control what other people do, but I know he’s working for it."
Schimmel, who has been on the varsity since the seventh grade, finds water to be his sanctuary.
"When I’m in the water, I feel lightweight," he said. "Nothing is on my shoulders. It’s just what’s going on in front of you and that’s just to swim fast and try to be the best."
Ty Thorton won the 100 butterfly (56.43), Francis Moriarty won the 100 freestyle (51.25) and Stephen Bond won the 100 breaststroke for Long Beach (4-0).
Ever since getting back in the pool together in June, the Marines have motivated one another in pursuit of a team county championship.
"Being around all these talented swimmers just motivates me to be the best I can be, so I can motivate my other friends and swimmers in order to boost ourselves as a team because one person isn’t the winning factor," Schimmel said. "It’s the team that’s the winning factor. You can’t be a one-man army against a team."
Christopher Reilly won the 200 individual medley (2:07.10), Peter Halloran won the 50 freestyle (22.88), Nicolas Newcomb won the 100 backstroke (58.91) and Cameron Yuen won the diving (249.07) for Garden City (2-2).
Schimmel and the Marines continue to ramp up to the county finals with one thing in mind — no more setbacks.
"I’ve been training as hard as ever," Schimmel said, "only to hopefully show off to my community and be the best swimmer I can be."