Nick Neri had high aspirations when he joined the Sachem varsity swimming team as an eighth-grader. But he never imagined being able to accomplish all he has in the pool.
“I could always picture my name being up on the board,” said Neri about seeing his name on the record board above the pool at Sachem East High School. “That’s one thing I always wanted. I always wanted to see myself on the board with the school records. I never really imagined I would get to this level but I could always see my name on the board.”
Neri, a Sachem East senior in his fifth season with the combined Sachem team, has been rewriting the program’s record book the past two seasons. He broke his own school record in the 100-yard free with a 48.07 on Jan. 10 against Northport after swimming a record 48.65 as a junior, coach Larry Saposnick said. Neri also has school records in the 100-yard breaststroke, 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard IM, the coach said.
“My goal for this season was really to break as many records as I can,” Neri said. “Many of my own records and records held by previous teammates.”
One of the records Neri takes the most pride in is the 200-yard IM in which he beat the mark held by Matt Darcy by four seconds. Neri remembers swimming with Darcy as an eighth-grader. Neri looked up to Darcy as a role model in the pool, which made it even more special.
“I was closer to him than my other teammates when I was an eighth-grader,” Neri said. “So he kind of took me under his wing.”
Saposnick, in his final season coaching swimming in a career spanning nearly 20 years, called Neri one of the most special, determined and focused swimmers he’s coached. He remembers the January race when Neri set the 100-free record and the senior coming up to him while Saposnick was determining the lineups.
“He was definitely amped up for the race,” Saposnick said. “He told me before the meet, ‘Please put me in the 100 free I’ll set the record. And he did.”
Neri has the top time in Suffolk in the 100 free (48.07), second best in the 50 free (22.07) and the fourth best in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.58) through Jan. 18, according to state times kept on www.swimdata.info.
But he’s never satisfied. He wants to continue beating his own records as he finds himself in a peculiar situation of not only competing against the other swimmers but also against his own records above the pool.
“When I think of a race, I always just want to beat my time,” said Neri, who plans to swim at the Division I level next season but hasn’t narrowed down a school yet. “I always want to come in first. I just like to compete. It’s all about competition for me.”
Whether that time’s in a Suffolk dual meet, county championship, or state final. Three places where his accomplishments may not be complete just yet.