On Thursday evening, at the Nassau County Aquatic Center in Eisenhower Park, the girls high school swimming Division C championships were decided. When the waves finally settled, only one team was left standing.
Last year's champs, the Bellmore-Merrick Sharks, won the competition yet again with a grand total of 683.50 points, edging out their nearest rival, Long Beach, who came in second with 657 points.
The Sharks' head coach, Robert Kaefer, was quite proud of his team's aquatic superiority.
"All of our girls had really amazing swims," Kaefer said. "Some of them dropped significant time off of their races, and that made a huge difference. And add on that the fact that we won all the relays, that just put the nail in the coffin."
The Sharks' membership covers all three Bellmore high schools (Kennedy, Mepham, and Calhoun), and both middle schools (Merrick and Grand Avenues).
Other schools attending the Division C championships Thursday included Lynbrook, Plainview, Cold Spring Harbor, Long Beach, and South Side, with each one providing its own brand of fierce competition.
Contests included individual events such as diving and races encompassing strokes such as: butterfly, breast, and freestyle. In addition, there were also team-based relays for big points.
Kaefer, who led the Sharks to victory last year as well, pointed out that an earlier defeat had made his team hungry for revenge.
"We had lost to Long Beach in a meet earlier this year," he said. "We really didn't have a good swim at that meet ... it seemed like in every race, they just touched us out. I was hoping that the tide would turn this meet … and that's exactly what happened."
Kaefer went over how he molded the young ladies under his care into champions.
"I tried some new drill sets and some different sprint/rest cycles," he said. "That was part of it, but I think most of it was just getting them mentally psyched up ... they really wanted to come after Long Beach after having lost to them previously."
Stephanie Lindahl was especially proud of her team's performance.
"I thought my races were pretty good," she said. "But our best race was our 200-yard Freestyle relay; we all did our best times."
Gabbie Toback probably had the most exhausting schedule of any racer that night.
"I swam in four races tonight, including two relays" she said. "I thought they were all good races, and we won both relays, so it was a big accomplishment."
The Sharks placed at the top of the following events:
The team of Rachel Fain, Natalia Wilkins, Miesha Dans, and Genna Kranis placed first in the 4x200 medley relay.
Natalia Wilkins placed first in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.
Stephanie Lindahl placed first in the 200 freestyle and second in the 500 freestyle.
Gabbie Toback placed first in the 100 freestyle.
Rachel Fain placed second in one-meter diving.
The team of Lindahl, Toback, Wilkins, and Sarah Greco placed first in the 4x200 freestyle relay.