By Meredith Kennedy
The Brooklyn Tech varsity girls swim team is the undefeated division champions, but their opponent, the Fort Hamilton Tigers always give the Engineers a good meet. They met for the first time this season at the Tiger’s pool on a recent evening.
The 400-meter freestyle relay is the last race of the swim meet. It is usually the most exciting event because in a close meet it is the difference between a win or loss for a team. Tonight, it was already clear who was going to win.
The swimmers surrounded the pool and chanted the familiar cheers, “Let’s go Ti-gers woot woot.”
The crowd was on their feet cheering for their daughters and friends. The coaches paced. The Engineers paraded around the deck in their navy blue championship t-shirts and sweats from last season to remind the Tigers who they were facing.
Four swimmers for each relay lined up and prepared to swim four laps of the pool. Brooklyn Tech has a powerhouse relay that includes sophomore Annie Zhu, a swimmer who Coach Maureen O’Hara believes will end up in the Olympics one day.
Zhu stepped up to the block and tightened her goggles. The Tech’s top relay team was already leading the race, and Zhu looked ready to take off into the water. She finished first easily, swimming her final 50-yards in under 30 seconds, a difficult feat for such a young swimmer. Zhu floated in the water and waited for the other relay teams to finish. She reached over the lane markers and congratulated the Fort Hamilton swimmers with a handshake. The meet was decided, and Tech was still undefeated.
The referee blew the whistle three long times and announced the final score. Brooklyn Tech 53, Fort Hamilton 44. The swimmers took off their caps and shook each other’s hands before rushing into the locker rooms to change.
“I can’t believe it’s 6 p.m. and I have two projects due tomorrow,” one swimmer said as she hurried off the pool deck to face the reality of homework that haunts even the undefeated.
Coach O’Hara, meanwhile, remained focused on the task at hand. Pleased as she was with the victory, she was not letting it get to her head, especially after 17 years of coaching. “We won’t really know where we stand until the playoffs begin,” she said as she left the natatorium.
Her swimmers also filed out, their parents and fans in tow, and, for now, still wearing those navy blue shirts that read “2008 Division Champions.”