Timothy Marski was just 4 when he learned to swim. And once he started, he said, he couldn’t stop.
“I felt a passion for it,” Marski said, “and I kept going.”
The Lynbrook High School senior’s drive was evident on Feb. 10 when he placed first in four of 12 events at the Nassau boys’ swimming championships at the Nassau County Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. The swim team includes swimmers from two schools, Lynbrook High and South Side High School in Rockville Centre.
Marski won individual county championships in the 50-yard freestyle, with a time of 20.54 seconds, and the 100-yard butterfly and 100 freestyle, in which he set county records of 48.54 and 44.95 seconds, respectively. He qualified for all eight individual events and three relays at the state high school championships, which will be held at the Aquatic Center March 2-3.
“It was very exciting to watch Tim perform,” said Jason Melecio, who coaches the Lynbrook-South Side swim team with Ryan Clark. “He stayed composed through the whole entire time, and it was great leadership.”
Marski’s performance caught the attention of officials at the Long Island Swim Officials Association, which named him Competitor of the Meet. This is his first season with the team, but he said he began swimming competitively when he joined the Long Island Aquatic Club at age 7.
Marski is also a part of the team’s 200-yard medley relay team, along with Ryan Davidoff, Kyle Bergin and Daniel Dalrymple. The team set a county record with a time of 1:35.72, and came out of the competition ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 2 in the federation, which includes Catholic schools. Lynbrook-South Side placed sixth overall at the counties.
The University of Florida-bound Marski said he believes the team could improve its medley relay time. He added that the county championship performance was the culmination of long hours in the Eisenhower Park pool, where the team works out.
“It’s just the dedication, putting in the hard work,” he said. “Our success that we show is the result of how hard we work. We try not to brag a lot. We keep it low-key.”
Leading up to states, Marski will practice in the pool in the morning and afternoon, and do strength-training exercises at home in the evenings. He will also work on becoming more fluid with his starts and turns, he said.
Bergin, another senior, has been a part of the squad for three years and was instrumental in its creation. Bergin recounted that he and some of his future teammates circulated petitions and attended Board of Education meetings three years ago, when they were freshman, in the hope of receiving permission to form the swim team. The board was responsive, he said, and in the 2015-16 school year, Lynbrook joined forces with South Side.
Bergin said he wasn’t surprised by the team’s early success because he knew how badly he and his peers wanted to represent their school in the pool.
“I knew some of the guys that were also working to get the team, that they were club swimmers, and I knew we’d have some good guys on the team as soon as we started,” he said. “So I knew we’d all work hard to get where we are.”
Bergin, who will swim for Manhattan College next year, said he has loved the sport since he started competing on summer teams when he was 7.
Melecio said that combining the teams was a win-win for both districts, noting that it reduced costs. He also knows many of the swimmers because they were his students at Lynbrook North and South middle schools, where he teaches orchestra.
“They’ve been putting so much work in beyond the years they’ve been with me,” he said. “So to watch these kids do this . . . they have to make a lot of sacrifices to swim at this level. I just feel lucky that I’m getting this time to spend with them.”
The team practices five or six days a week, Melecio said. After school, the Lynbrook swimmers take a bus to South Side to pick up the Rockville Centre athletes, and they travel together to the Eisenhower Park facility. On days they aren’t in the pool, they work out in the weight room.
Melecio also said the future appears bright for the team. Dalrymple is in his sophomore year, and is already a strong part of the team’s record-setting medley unit, even though he started swimming competitively only a year ago.
“To watch Danny swimming in a heat filled with club swimmers and a lot of fast swimming, and to watch him perform well, it was very exciting for the whole team,” Melecio said.
Dalrymple said that he has received advice from Marski and Bergin, which has translated to success in the water. “They’ve both helped me with the little things so much,” Dalrymple said. “And just, like, race strategy — like pacing yourself and everything — they helped a ton.”
After the counties, the team has shifted its focus to the upcoming state meet. “As of right now, I just want to kind of see this through,” Melecio said. “It feels like the job is unfinished. We want to win states in the 200 medley relay.”