Inga DeNunzio thought Greenburgh had two wins. Jackie Cordero was under the impression Scarsdale had one win.
And, having not checked out all the scores and standings, they were both wrong.
“I went into it thinking Jackie had two wins and that we were tied,” DeNunzio said. “I came with my strongest kids to be the best we could. It was an afternoon meet and I have afternoon kids who can’t make morning meets and it was good to have some of them come in and give them a chance to swim. And the meet was close, it was competitive. She doesn’t have the diving, but she has really good swimmers and she does make it up in places.”
The final score was 233-210 in Scarsdale’s favor on a rainy Thursday at which the swimmers were huddled under tents when they weren’t competing.
“It was a great meet considering the conditions we were under,” Cordero said. “Diving got in and we had tents up even though there was lots of rain. The meet ran beautifully and Inga was a little deeper than I was. My top diver was at nationals and my top boy who normally does two age groups to give me more points had an ear infection, so he only dove in one group. We were down going into the meet down 20-something points.
“I didn’t have the depth to catch up to her. At one point we came, I won’t call it close, but we were still within 20 points, and that’s with the diving points. We had good swims, fast swims.”
When Greenburgh hosted Scarsdale on Thursday, July 18, Scarsdale was 2-2, Greenburgh 1-2. With two wins coming in Scarsdale was likely safe to stay in Division 1 of the Westchester County Swim Conference, while Greenburgh likely needed to win one of its final two meets of the season to avoid being sent down to Division 2.
While it’s usually a team with no wins making the move, there was a bit more parity this year. With Greenburgh beating Larchmont Shore Club, but Wykagyl beating Greenburgh, if there is a tie of one-win teams, Wykagyl would have the tiebreaker over Greenburgh. However, if GST defeats Rye Golf Club in the final meet of the season, that will change.
“Unless we beat Rye Golf we’re probably going down to Division 2,” Cordero said. “We’ve accepted it and we know why. It’s not because we’re not strong. It’s about the depth in Division 1 and Division 2 has very competitive teams, teams that do well, so we’ll look forward to that. But maybe I can cash in more points on the road with eight lanes. And Meera [Kasturi] will be back for diving. We’ll have kids in the top 8 and we can do well in the relays.”
Even if the team ends with one win, that’s a big win in the top division, showing the team belongs.
“It shows them that we are strong,” Cordero said. “We have the top kids that it takes to win this. But we don’t have enough in diving and we’re going to develop that. I started an afternoon program and I have scouts out there trying to recruit kids. Whatever I can do I will. Once we build that part of the program we’ll be OK.
“We’ve been struggling the last two or three years trying to keep up with everyone, but this year was tougher with the way the kids were away.”
Scarsdale started out the season going 0-2 against Larchmont Shore Club and Lake Isle in the team’s return to Division 1 after going 5-0 in D2 last summer. It started to sink in that it could be a short stay in the top division until that first win over Rye Golf Club. Victories against Wykagyl and Greenburgh followed and all of a sudden it was a winning season.
“Even going down to Division 2 last year I wasn’t sure how we’d do,” DeNunzio said. “You never know. It’s summer swim. Kids show up, kids don’t show up, families have plans. So you don’t know. I knew we were missing almost a dozen kids for our first two meets.”
Being involved in tight meets that came down to the relays in the wins made the meets even more exciting than usual.
“The first meet is kind of your tester and you see what you have and then you keep going,” DeNunzio said. “We did and we had a very strong lineup in places that really worked against other teams. This division was very top-heavy with 12s, 14s and 17s. There were races. Like five deep, with officials having to get down there for the finish. These were races. It was pretty fun to watch that.”
DeNunzio loved seeing the younger swimmers really getting into the meets and cheering their teammates on during races. After the shock of losing set in, the kids appreciated and savored the final winning streak.
“They have their little chant that my little 8-and-unders start when they’re behind the blocks and they’re chanting, ‘STP, STP, STP!’” DeNunzio said. “It was the entire meet and it was so much fun.”
It might have been a short regular season, but it was a “rollercoaster ride,” according to DeNunzio. What she focuses on is her team training hard, competing to the best of its ability and having fun.
“A lot of these kids are starting to swim year-round,” she said. “I have 11 lanes at practice and six of them are full of year-round swimmers. It’s an increasing sport and it’s fun to see it on the summer level being so competitive, not just at counties and conferences. You have dual meets where you’re like, ‘Get out of the way, I want to see the finish.’”
The best part is seeing the kids leave with smiles on their faces. “That’s what summer swimming is all about,” DeNunzio said.
County diving was this week and the swim portion is next week, with conferences to follow. Scarsdale and Greenburgh are always among the top contenders for the team title at counties.
“I only saw five other teams, so I don’t know what the other five divisions have,” DeNunzio said. “I do have a lot of kids leaving who won’t be around for the full time. I don’t have my full team for both meets, but I should have a good team. They’re gonna show up to Playland.”
Said Cordero, “At a championship meet moving forward you’ll see the strength we really have. If I was to have my team that I had in the Larchmont meet we definitely do top three in both counties and conferences. Unfortunately many won’t be with me.”