The Oct. 26 dual girls’ swim meet between the Bellmore-Merrick Lady Sharks and the Garden City Trojans bore many similarities to last year’s contest between two, which are among the county’s strongest squads. The teams’ supporters turned out at Hofstra University in droves, cheering loudly. The Sharks were the underdogs once again, as they began the season as the third seed in their conference. And the Bellmore-Merrick girls proved to have the necessary skills and drive to knock off their rivals, winning what coach Robert Kaefer described as the biggest dual meet of the year.
But Kaefer’s daughter and a five-year member of the team, Jaimie, said one thing has to change this year. The Mepham High School junior said the team has to stay focused in the wake of their victory to accomplish their ultimate goal –– winning the county championship.
“We kind of went in with the idea that, we won the dual meet against Garden City, so we’re done,” she said of last year’s county championship meet. “But it does matter. This is the big meet we have to win.”
With its second consecutive conference title win and an undefeated season under its belt, the district-wide team is now preparing for the county championship on Nov. 8 and 9 at the Nassau County Aquatic Center.
Robert Kaefer said the Bellmore-Merrick-Garden City dual meets have been tight, intensively competitive matchups for the past three years. Last year, the Sharks snapped the Trojans’ win streak at 103, handing the team its first loss in 13 years.
The coach noted that this year’s contest was closer –– with a 96-90 final score, compared the 101-82 victory in 2012 –– which Kaefer said he expected. With deep talent pools on both sides, the meet could have gone either way.
“I told the girls before the meet started, because we were so evenly matched, it was going to come down to who had more heart,” he said. “I told them it would quite possibly come down to the last race. We only won by six points, and in order to do that, we had to win the last relay.”