After spending the past three seasons perched atop the Suffolk standings, Half Hollow Hills appears primed for a repeat performance.
Undefeated in dual meets, league championships and county championships since the 2007 season, Hills boasts perhaps the top diver in the county - Ryan Savit - and one of its top all-around swimmers in Matt DeBlasio.
DeBlasio, who made the state championships last season in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke, has developed into more of a 200 freestyler and 100 butterfly swimmer this year due to a growth spurt and increased muscle.
"That's helped him in the mid-distance events," coach Jason Wiedersum said. "He won't tire toward the end of the event. His weakness is sprint events. After that, the further the distance goes the better."
Savit just missed the state cut last season despite placing second in the county in diving. The first place diver has graduated, however, giving Savit a wide-open path to the top.
"He's immensely improved," Wiedersum said. "He's like a different diver on the board, and he was good last year."
Seniors John Pangal, Jonathan Hinds and Jacob Golan round out a team as deep as it is strong.
Sayville/Bayport-Blue Point is led by Christian Cremer, who took sixth in the 500 free (4:39.88) at states, placing first in the event at the county championship. He should also be one of the top 200 free swimmers this season, with last season's leading competition having graduated. Matt Hillsberg was second in the state-qualifying meet in the 50 free and 500 free, and with another year under his belt he should only improve. Kenny Stein, who was fourth in the 200 free at counties and went to states, rounds out an impressive trio.
Ward Melville has experienced a huge turnover since last season (30 of 50 swimmers are new to the program), and many are new to swimming. But the team eked out a 95-90 win over Sayville/Bayport-Blue Point on Dec. 16, so this isn't totally a rebuilding year. Returning swimmers Liuben Chipev (100 butterfly, 200 IM), Winston Chiang and Bryan Mullaney are improving and will lend a level of experience. Newcomer Joe Selinger, a senior who came from a club team and is speedy in the 100 butterfly, could be a major contributor. Despite only one returning diver, the Patriots took first, third and fourth against Sayville in their head-to-head meet.
Lindenhurst's Karol Konarski, who concentrates on IM and breaststroke, qualified for the state meet last season and made the Junior National team over the summer. He has a shot at a county championship and maybe a top 10 finish at states. The program's one-win season last season might obscure Konarski, but he's being recruited by Dartmouth and MIT, so he's certainly a kid to keep your eye on. Freshman Kevin Konarski, Karol's cousin, provides hope for the future.
Kyle Wilson, who made states as a sophomore and junior in long distance events, is tops for Sachem East.