According to veteran members of the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School girls’ varsity swim team, the Garden City High School squad has always been hard to beat. Genna Kranis, a senior at Kennedy High School, recalled that the Trojans made a special cake and shirts to celebrate their 100th straight win. Calhoun High School senior Sarah Greco said that Garden City swimmers make celebratory jumps into the pool after successful meets.
But on Oct. 13, the Lady Sharks were the ones in the water at the end of a matchup with the county’s powerhouse.
“Usually, Garden City gets to do that,” Greco said of her team’s victory jump. “But this time, we had our chance.”
Bellmore-Merrick snapped Garden City’s meet winning streak at 103 with a 101-82 victory, and team members said they hope to take their momentum into the divisional and county championships.
Head coach Robert Kaefer said that the 8-0 team, comprised of nearly 40 girls from all five schools in the Central High School District, took their first conference title with the win. In a meet last year against Garden City – a team that had not lost in 13 years – the Lady Sharks did not perform to their full potential, Kaefer recalled. This time, he said, the girls exceeded expectations against tough competitors.
“They saw how close they came last year, and they know they didn’t do their best,” Kaefer said. “I told the girls before the meet that if they swam at the level they have been, we would win. They really stepped up.”
The Sharks started strong at the dual meet, winning the 200-yard medley relay in a time of 1:50.96 - a new school record. The time qualified Gabbie Toback, Paige Kaplan, Jessica Arana and Jaimie Kaefer for the state championships next month.
Jaimie Kaefer, a Mepham High School sophomore, said that teammates like Toback have always been strong swimmers, and she looks forward to competing on the state level for the first time. Kaplan, a Kennedy sophomore, said she knew that she and her peers had a good chance, but they weren’t sure what Garden City was capable of.