For the first time in school history, the Great Neck South Rebels captured the Nassau County High School Swimming and Diving Championship. After completing an undefeated season in dual-meet competition, the Rebels easily won the Division B title on Jan. 31. That left one more team goal to be accomplished --- the Section VIII title on Feb. 6 and 7.
Under the aegis of coach Andy Berlin, senior superstars One June Chang and Adam Chang led the team to victory over top-ranked Jericho High School, and perennial power, the reining champions, Long Beach High School. With 23 teams competing, the Rebels emerged victorious in a close competition. While the two Changs (no relation) sealed the victory with dominating performances in individual and relay events, this victory was a true team effort. Thirteen different swimmers contributed to the point total garnered at the Nassau County Aquatic Center.
From the outset of the meet, it was clear that the battle would be between Jericho HS and GNS. Jericho tried to avenge their previous loss in dual meet competition, and in fact led after two events. However, following impressive placing of second, fourth and fifth, respectively, by freshman Sam Mo, and eighth-grade students Ben Ching and Dan Mo (Sam's younger brother) in the 200 yard Individual Medley, the Rebels were well on their way to victory. The combination of freshman Patrick Yang, junior Jake Friedman, and senior Michael Li in the 100-yard Butterfly increased the lead.
The chorus of "OJ" to the tune of "Olé" urged OJ Chang to a close victory in the following 100-yard freestyle. This has become a familiar site at swim meets; for the second consecutive year, Mr. Chang has the top qualifying time in New York State. Adam Chang finished in third in that race. With eighth-graders Ching and Sean Kim scoring in the 500-yard freestyle, the additional points kept the Rebels in the lead over a surging Jericho. The quartet of Yang, Sam Mo, Chang and Chang continued the lead by an impressive victory in the 200-yard freestyle relay. This foursome qualified for the New York State Championships with their school record-setting effort.
With four swimmers (Adam Chang, Dan Mo, Seth Faber and Chris Leung) scoring in the 100-yard backstroke the championship was in their grasp. A first-place finish by Sam Mo in the 100-yard Breaststroke, combined with two additional top 10 finishes by Gene Yoo and Jin Woo Park, kept the Rebels safely in first place. For good measure, the final event was won by the Rebels in stunning fashion. Adam and OJ Chang made up over 6.5 seconds during the last two legs of the 400-yard freestyle Relay to steal a victory from Bellmore-Merrick.
The loyal Rebel fans erupted at the outcome. After posing for a team picture, the team celebrated with the traditional jump in the pool; coach Berlin and assistant coach James Hamill joined them for the victory splashing. Along with the first place trophy, One June Chang was named Swimmer of the Meet for his outstanding performance.
Next comes the New York State Championships! The Rebels will proudly send several competitors to this meet on March 6 and 7 at the Nassau County Aquatic Center.