If Manhasset was going to win the Nassau County girls swimming and diving championship for a second straight year, it wasn’t going to be by a whopping 200 points like last time. This year’s competition was going to be close — talented teams from Bellmore-Merrick and Syosset ensured that much.
If Manhasset was going to win on Saturday afternoon at the Nassau Aquatic Center, it was going to need junior Sofia Giordano’s best.
"That’s what we got from her," Manhasset coach Matthew McGrane said after his team narrowly edged the competition with 432 points. Manhasset, after ending Garden City’s 21-year claim to the Nassau title last season when it was 204 points better than the next closest team, was only 20.5 points better than Bellmore-Merrick on Saturday.
Manhasset won four of the competition’s 12 events, including Giordano’s victory in the 500-yard freestyle, a win by eighth-grader Victoria Wang in 1-meter diving, and wins in both the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay.
Syosset finished third with 341 points, and Garden City (250 points) and Massapequa (235 points) rounded out the top five in the 28-team event.
"We lost a lot of our great seniors from last year and we knew this year’s [county championship] was going to be close," Giordano said. "We were definitely worried about Bellmore-Merrick."
In fact, Bellmore-Merrick held a 47-point lead over Manhasset heading into the competition’s eighth event, the 500-yard freestyle. That’s when Giordano, the event’s No. 2 seed, clocked a 5:03:26 — more than a second faster than her preliminary time.
"When I finished and saw the time, I was just in shock," Giordano said.
Bellmore-Merrick’s lead shrunk to just six points thanks to Giordano’s win, her first individual county title, and top-10 finishes in the event by a pair of her senior teammates, Emma Anderson and Melissa Scala.
"Unbelievable heart," McGrane said of Giordano’s victory. "She worked so hard for it. She thought she had a good shot and knew she just had to be persistent with that race and just keep going and going."
Manhasset took the lead after the next event with a win by its 200-yard freestyle relay team that featured senior Kasey Mulholland, junior Catherine Broderick, Giordano and sophomore Briana Racanello. Another Manhasset foursome — Racanello, Anderson, Mulholland and Giordano — won the meet’s final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, to cement the team’s county crown.
Four other schools won multiple events. Syosset won the 200-yard medley relay and Braves sophomore Megan Hu won the 100-yard breaststroke; Garden City junior Madison Connor won the 100- and 200-yard freestyle; South Side senior Kiara Kennedy won the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke; and Herricks junior Katie Yee won the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard IM.
Last year, Yee had placed second and third in those events, respectively, and said she was motivated by those finishes to aim for first this year. But her biggest source of motivation was Kailey Simons, a Herricks junior who would have been among the favorites to win the 100-yard butterfly if not for a shoulder injury that prevented her from participating.
"That one was for Kailey," Yee said.
Nassau County Girls Swimming and Diving Championships
1. Manhasset – 432 points
2. Bellmore-Merrick – 411.5 points
3. Syosset – 341 points
4. Garden City – 250 points
5. Massapequa – 235 points
6. Hewlett – 186 points
7. Long Beach – 181 points
8. South Side – 161 points
9. Lynbrook – 143 points
10. Jericho – 138 points