Manhasset boys swim wins first division crown since 1988, places second at county

Manhasset boys swim wins first division crown since 1988, places second at county
The Manhasset boys swim team captured its first division crown since 1988, and placed second in county Class B this season. Five swimmers advanced to state. Photo credit: Manhasset H.S.

It had been a minute, as the kids say, since the Manhasset boys swim team had had this kind of success.

A whole lot of minutes. Like, 36 seasons’ worth of minutes.

In 1988, when breakdancing was still cool, Ronald Reagan was president and Michael Jordan was just a young Chicago Bull who hadn’t won anything, the Manhasset boys team won a division championship.

Not since then had it happened again.

Until now.

But led by the addition of a young team member who has made a big difference, and the improvements by many others, Manhasset is ruling the roost again.

Coach Matt McGrane’s boys won the division championship for the first time in 36 years this February and then went on to finish a strong second at the Nassau County Class B meet.

Thanks to those strong efforts, Manhasset has placed five competitors at the state meet on March 1 in Ithaca.

“It’s been a wonderful season with so many kids stepping up and showing improvement,” McGrane said. “The kids have all worked hard and come ready to swim and get better.”

Junior Ryan Lombard, a state qualifier as part of the 200 medley relay team, said winning the division was a huge goal, and that the kids were aware of how long it had been.

“Coach told us and we set the goal and to finally do it, oh my gosh, it felt not real,” Lombard said, laughing. “Coach was so happy, we were all so happy, and really proud of what we’d done.”

The Manhasset swimmers and McGrane point to two big reasons for the team’s success this year: First, the improvement of the many team competitors who are not year-round club swimmers.

Junior Brendan So, a state qualifier in the 100 butterfly and the 200 medley relay, said the dedication of those student-athletes was immense.

“Those of us who did it in club season and year-round, we’re used to the crazy number of hours you have to put in,” So said. “But the mental willingness, and the physical willingness, to be training 9-10 hours per week, to get yourself faster in the pool, that has made a huge difference in our times.”

The other major change this season was the addition of the youngest member of the team, but one of the most crucial: Seventh-grade diver Kevin Jiang joined the squad this year and has finally given Manhasset a chance to accumulate diving points, instead of forfeiting those in each meet.

Jiang had a strong season and finished sixth at counties.

“To be able to go to these meets and be hanging with other teams, and then get to the diving part and seeing them get 10 points, 13 points while we got none, it was frustrating,” Lombard said. “But Kevin comes in and gives us huge points there, and he’s always so much fun to have on the team. He’s a lot younger than us but when we’re tired he really brings the energy.”

Some of the top performances at county included Andrew Koek winning the 100 breaststroke (and setting a school record in the process, in 57.49), So taking third place in the 100 butterfly, the 200 free relay team of Lombard, So, Theodore Shum and Ryan Dissanayake placing third, and the 200 medley relay team of Shum, Koek, So and Ryan Lombard finishing second.

Ma, making states for the first time in the 500 free, credits McGrane’s enthusiasm and leadership for the team’s success.

“He really understands all of us, our strengths and how to improve our weaknesses, and he handles the team energy really well,” Ma said. “He connects with each kid and makes us all better.”

With the team season behind them, the Manhasset swimmers going to states said they’re hoping for Top 10 finishes.

“We have some people going for the first time and a few who’ve been there before, but I’d love to get a Top 10 or Top 20 finish,” So said. “The competition is huge but it should be a great experience for all of us.”



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