The relays are one of the Sharks’ strengths, as the girls won and qualified for the state championships in all three. The medley relay at the Oct. 26 meet consisted of Liz Walsh, Georgeann Zimmerman, Paige Kaplan and Jaimie Kaefer. The 200-yard freestyle relay participants were Kaplan, Kaefer, Jessica Arana and Kerry Giovanniello. Walsh, Arana, Giovanniello and Danielle Auty competed in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Auty, a Kennedy senior and a team captain, has worked hard to cut down her personal best times this year, Kaefer said. She said she was happy to qualify for the state championships for the first time at such a competitive meet.
“We have a really loud crowd that gets us pumped,” she said. “It’s a high-intensity meet, but that pushes us to perform our best.”
Arana, a Calhoun High School junior, placed first in the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke. Walsh, a Grand Avenue Middle School student, won the 200-yard individual medley. Rachel Fain, of Mepham, won diving. Coach Kaefer noted that Joleen Roberti (Calhoun), Allison Cotter (Grand Avenue), Caitlin Rappaport (Merrick Avenue Middle School), Rachel Abramowitz (Kennedy), Zimmerman, Kaefer and Auty also earned points for the team in other races.
Giovanniello, a Mepham junior who has been on the team for three years, won the 50- and 500-yard freestyle events, qualifying for the state championships in the 50. She has now qualified in the 50-, 100-, 200- and 500-yard freestyle events, the coach said.
The Sharks have developed a rivalry with Garden City, Giovanniello said, and she and her teammates went into the dual meet wanting to win. So they worked hard and worked together to make that happen.
“We really come together as a team and support each other,” Giovanniello said. “We’re always cheering for each other, and that is really part of it. We’re motivated to get what we want.”