As if being a two-time state champion, Newsday Long Island Swimmer of the Year and Brown University commit wasn’t enough, Alex Park has a new title:
“My dad and I were talking and I was like, ‘You know what, Dad? I’m going to run for class president next year, why not?’” said Park, a senior at Half Hollow Hills East swimming for Half Hollow Hills’ combined team. “And he was like ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ He brushed it off.”
Park ultimately won the class presidency. He said, “It’s demanding at times and sometimes I have to come a little bit late to practice for student government . . . but in the end it’s worth it for sure.”
Maybe for Park, it was just the need for a new challenge as Half Hollow Hills won its 11th straight county championship yesterday at Suffolk Community College-Brentwood with 403 points. Ward Melville was runner-up with 284, followed by Hauppauge, 178.
“We wanted to be county champs again,” Park said. “That’s something we take pride in because for, I think over the past decade, we’ve been dominant in Suffolk County. So going into this meet, we all had the same mindset of winning it for the team.”
Park, the defending two-time 200-yard individual medley state champion, won individual races in the 100 freestyle (46.85 seconds) and 200 IM (1:52.75). Rocky Point’s Christopher O’Shea won the 200 free (1:41.36) and 100 backstroke (50.03) and Shoreham-Wading River’s Jason Louser won the 500 free (4:31.62) and 100 breaststroke (56.31). Louser’s time was a county record, besting Chris Cremer of Sayville/Bayport-Blue Point (4:32.79 in 2007). Louser said his goal was just to win the race, but setting the record made it more special.
“I was so happy. I couldn’t believe it,” Louser, a sophomore, said. “I was probably five meters from the wall, I peeked at the scoreboard . . . and I was like ‘Oh man, I’m close.’ It was crazy.”
Ethan Tack of Hills won the 100 fly in 51.74, and Hills swept the 200 medley relay (Park, Dylan Chan, Daniel Lee, Kabir Randhawa) and 200 free relay (Alex Jakubiak, Tack, Chan, Park).
“We train extremely hard in the pool, out of the pool and keep our goals set and as a team,” Lee, a co-captain, said. “We’ve been able to reach all these goals by putting the work in.”
With the state championship March 3-4 at the Nassau Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park, Half Hollow Hills, the defending public school champion, is excited for the opportunity to repeat although Tack cautioned, “This year we have our work cut out for us.”