Juniors Trevor Mott and Thomas Brierley put a nice finishing touch on what was undoubtedly the most successful varsity boys swim season in East Hampton history by representing their team at the New York State meet at Webster Schroeder High School in Webster, New York, over the weekend.
Brierley advanced to the finals in the 100-yard backstroke, where he swam a personal best time of 54.23 seconds. That time ranked him 14th in the state among public school swimmers in that event. He finished in 54.69 in the prelims to get to the finals.
Mott competed in the 500-yard freestyle, and while he did not advance to the finals, he was just about one second shy of his personal best time in that event, finishing in 4:53.72. That finish ranked him 25th among public school swimmers in that event.
Simply making it to the state meet was a big accomplishment not only for Mott and Brierley, but for the program in general, as they were the first Bonac male swimmers to ever qualify for states. It was another accolade in what was a banner year for the program, which had a record-breaking number of meet wins and also had more swimmers on the team than in any previous year.
Getting to the state level wasn’t just the culmination of a season’s worth of work, or even a varsity career’s worth of work; both Mott and Brierley have been swimming competitively since they were in elementary school, as members of the East Hampton Hurricanes YMCA team. They credit their success to their training with that team as much as anything else, and varsity head coach Craig Brierley, Thomas’s father, agrees.
“It’s huge, obviously,” Coach Brierley said when asked how much being a member of the club team contributes to success on the varsity level. “Pretty much any of the teams out there that are good, it’s based on their club swimming. [Hurricanes coach Tom Cohill] does a great job with them, and he’s trained them since they were young.”
Coach Brierley added that having talented club swimmers like Mott and Brierley on varsity benefits the entire team.
“They set the standard for the rest of the team and the workouts are geared to the faster swimmers, so everyone has to keep up,” he explained.
Both Mott and Brierley said they were happy with their performances at states and that just getting there was a huge accomplishment for them. Once they had earned their spot, the pressure was off, so to speak.
“Most of the year, I’ve been focusing on making it, so once I was there, I was having fun,” Mott said.
Mott was the first of the two Bonac swimmers to qualify for states, hitting the cut time during the regular season. Brierley made it to states by winning the 100-yard backstroke at the Suffolk County (state qualifier) meet on February 16.
“I wasn’t going to let him go alone,” Brierley said, referring to his teammate. “So I had to qualify.”
Brierley said that at the start of the season, he had hoped to make it to states in both the 100 back and 200 freestyle. And while he didn’t make it in the 200, he was still happy with making the trip. He, like Mott, said he didn’t have any specific goals in mind once he got there. He added that making school history on top of that was the icing on the cake.
“It was really good,” he said. “It made me feel proud. I was just going for my best time and wanted to go as fast as I could.”
Coach Brierley said he encouraged both swimmers to soak up every moment at states, no pun intended. And he took his own advice as well.
“I said to them, ‘There are a lot of people back home rooting for you,’” he said. “I told them that they got to this point themselves, and it really had nothing to do with what they did this year, but it goes back to when they started swimming when they were seven, eight, nine, and all those years of hard work and hours of training.
“It doesn’t just happen, it takes a lot of work,” he continued. “And they understood that, and just enjoyed the moment and the trip. I was honored to be there, too. It was because of all their hard work that I got the trip there.”
There’s good reason to believe that Coach Brierley will get to make that trip again next year as well. Not only will Mott and Brierley be back for their senior seasons, but East Hampton is losing only three seniors to graduation—Sergio Betancur, Andrew Winthrop and Bridgehampton student Christian Figueroa.
The Bonackers had their best finish in program history at the county meet, taking 12th out of 24 teams, and they hope to move even further up the ladder next year. Mott and Brierley, who will once again be leading the charge, said they are excited for the future.