Horace Greeley junior Tyler Hill and senior Emma Hadley have been friends and teammates on the Marlins swim team out of Mount Kisco for a long time – and go back to their days competing for the Birchwood Swim & Tennis club.
This year, Hill added to the list of things they have in common.
“It all led up to our state wins,” Hill said. “It’s pretty awesome because before the races, she’d pump me up via text. After she won the state title, I sent her a text. We’ve always been really close. After I won, I texted her and we had the realization that we both won the same event and it’s pretty awesome.”
At last month’s state and Federation championships, Hill won the 100-yard backstroke title at Erie Community College.
Going into the finals it was a nervous time for Hill because he was the top seed in the event.
“Going in as the top seed is fun but also unsettling because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Hill said. “I thought about what could happen and thought there’s nothing to lose. That pushed me and I thought about the team, my friends, and about everything that got me to this point, which pushed me through. I had my family there and I wanted to put on a show for them.”
Two years ago Hadley won the 100-yard backstroke title in Ithaca.
The feat is something Hadley’s very proud to share with her longtime friend and teammate.
“It’s pretty amazing that someone I’m so close with accomplished the same feat as me,” Hadley said. “People don’t win state championships every day. Winning was one of my proudest moments and it’s nice to know he got to experience it too.”
It didn’t come as a surprise for Hadley when she learned that Hill, this year’s Journal News Westchester/Putnam Swimmer of the Year, won the title.
“I wasn’t surprised when I found out he won because I knew he had it in him,” Hadley said. “I was really proud of him but before the meet I believed he was going to win it.”
Along with his state title, Hill was third in the 100 backstroke and he helped the 200 freestyle relay to a 10th-place finish overall and ninth in the state. He also helped the 400 free relay to a fifth-place overall finish (third in the state) and the Quakers to a sixth-place team finish.
At the Section 1 championships in February, he won the 100 free and 100 backstroke titles as well as helped the 200 free and 400 free relays to first-place finishes, leading the Quakers to their fourth Section 1 team title in five years. In January at the Conference 1 League 1 Championships, he won the 50 and 100 free titles and helped the 200 free relay to a title. He was a part of the 200 medley relay that finished second.
Hill said he has grown to love the backstroke and it has become his favorite event over the freestyle and he possibly could compete in the event in college in two years.
“I think it’s more fun,” Hill said. “Freestyle is something you do all the time in practice – the majority of practice you’re swimming freestyle. Backstroke is like changing it up and it’s more fun.”
Hill’s been swimming since he was 4 years old at Birchwood, taking some classes there, and then joined the Marlins when he was in middle school. It wasn’t until the last few years that he got serious about the sport with the help of Hadley.
“About a year and a half ago, I started to get more serious about the sport, realizing this could lead to a college career,” Hill said. “When I first started with the Marlins, I was in the back of the lanes getting lapped. I think it was in ninth grade I made the junior national cut and I realized it’s kind of a big deal (and) I should focus and this could take me far.”
As he looks ahead to his senior season, Hill wants to go for the three-peat in the section in the 100 back but there are some other things he wants to try.
“I do mostly free and back as well as the individual medley but I want to focus on the IM,” Hill said. “I think my breaststroke is getting better and it carries the IM, so we’ll see.”
The rest of the Journal News Westchester/Putnam first team includes:
200-yard medley relay – John Jay/Brewster: The quartet of sophomores Sam Sweeney and Zachary Boies and seniors Kaz Sampson and Brian Valedon was second in the section in the event and finished 13th overall in the state/Federation. They were the Conference 1 League 1 champions in the event.
200 freestyle — River Elms, Sr., Horace Greeley: The Section 1 champion in the event went on to finish fourth in the state and fifth in the Federation. He’s the league champion in the 200.
200 individual medley — Brian Valedon, Sr., John Jay/Brewster: The senior finished second in the event to North Rockland’s Matthew Zugibe at the Section 1 championships. He won the event at the Conference 1 League 1 championships. He was the league champion in the 500.
50 freestyle, 100 butterfly — Liam Egan, Sr., Rye/Blind Brook/Rye Neck: The senior was the Conference 2 League 1 champion in both events, as well as the Section 1 champion in both events. Egan finished sixth overall and fourth in the 50 at the state and Federation championships.He was third overall and second in the state in the 100 fly.
Diving — Alec DeCaprio, Jr., Ossining: DeCaprio took the next step up the podium at the Section 1 championships, going from silver last season to gold this year. He was the highest Section 1 diver at the state and Federation championships, finishing fifth. DeCaprio is the Conference 2 League 2 champion on the boards.
500 freestyle — Josh Hendell, Sr., Scarsdale: Hendell was second in this event at both the Conference 2 League 1 and Section 1 championships. At the state and Federation championships, he was third overall and second in the state.
200 freestyle relay — Horace Greeley: The quartet of seniors Daniel Papes, River Elms and LuisFelipe Carvao and junior Tyler Hill won section and league titles and was 10th overall and ninth in the state. They were the Conference 1 League 1 champions in the event.
100 breaststroke — Kaz Sampson, Sr., John Jay/Brewster: Sampson finished second in the section behind Zugibe and qualified for the state and Federation championships in the event. He was the 100 breaststroke champion at the league championships.
400 freestyle relay — Horace Greeley: The quartet of seniors River Elms and Graham Blair and juniors Tyler Hill and John Koster won the Conference 1 league 1 championship and the Section 1 championship (in a meet-record time) and was fifth overall/third in the state.
Coach of the year: Meg Kaplan, Horace Greeley: Under her watchful eye, the Quakers won their fourth Section 1 team title in five years and Tyler Hill won state and Federation titles in the 100 backstroke.
200-yard medley relay: Scarsdale
200 freestyle: Josh Hendell, Sr., Scarsdale
200 individual medley: John Koster, Jr., Horace Greeley
50 freestyle, 100 freestyle: Christian Huber, Jr., Rye/Blind Brook/Rye Neck
Diving: Reid Gerken, 8th grade, Fox Lane
100 butterfly: Kymani Senior, Sr., Ardsley/Hastings/Edgemont/Dobbs Ferry/Woodlands
500 freestyle: River Elms, Sr., Horace Greeley
200 freestyle relay: Rye/Blind Brook/Rye Neck
100 backstroke: Brian Glat, So., Byram Hills/Briarcliff/Pleasantville/Valhalla/Westlake
100 breaststroke: Thomas Mackey, Sr., Rye/Blind Brook/Rye Neck
400 freestyle relay: Rye/Blind Brook/Rye Neck
Honorable mention: Andrew Babyak, So., New Rochelle/Bronxville; David Bravo, Sr., Scarsdale; John Freeman, Jr., New Rochelle/Bronxville; Andrew Holzman, Jr., Ardsley/Hastings/Edgemont/Dobbs Ferry/Woodlands; Garrett Kaufmann, Jr., Fox Lane; Ryan Lee, So., Scarsdale; Haofeng Liu, So., Scarsdale; John Loveless, So., Fox Lane; Graham Novitch, Sr., Scarsdale; Bo Paruvangada, So., Horace Greeley.