With every stroke made by Maggie Aroesty, the hum of the crowd grew louder. By the time she flipped through the final turn of the 100-yard breast stroke at the state meet on Nov. 21, spectators at Ithaca College’s Athletics and Events Center were in a frenzy, anxious to see if the Long Beach junior could break the one-minute barrier.
Aroesty’s winning time was 1 minute-flat, shattering the state record that she had set earlier this season. It was her third straight state title in the event. And now she has the goal of breaking that barrier as motivation when she returns for her senior year.
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“I still have next year. Not done yet,” she said. “It’s a really big barrier to break, so I’m definitely going to keep working toward that.”
Two weeks after earning MVP honors at the Nassau championships, Aroesty was named the most outstanding swimmer of the state meet. After posting the fastest time (2:04.13) in the 200 individual medley in the prelims, she improved to 1:58.45 in the finals — 5.68 seconds faster. And that was her second straight title in that event.
“I was definitely conserving a little bit of energy in the prelims, because I knew I would need the energy,” Aroesty said. “And also, I have a very competitive drive. I’ve always had it. So once I start to pull ahead, I think the adrenaline keeps going and it allows me to push even further.”
Aroesty joined junior Kristen Romano, senior Morgan Harrington and seventh-grader Joan Cash on the 200 medley relay that won in a state-record time of 1:44.63.
In her previous two trips to Ithaca, Romano was a state runner-up.
“Coming so close twice,” Romano said, “it definitely helped drive me this year. Every time I got in the pool, it’s what I thought about and was working for.”
When Romano’s perseverance landed her at the top of the podium — she won the 100 backstroke (54.28) and the 100 butterfly (54.76) at the state meet — she thought she would need the long ride home to process it.
“It still hasn’t really hit me,” Romano said as she sat poolside after the awards ceremonies. “But I’m sure on the ride home, I’ll just be like, ‘Oh my god. That happened.’ ”
Romano, a junior who was in her first season with Long Beach after transferring from the Buffalo area, had never been part of a relay team.
“She not only came in as a fast swimmer,” coach John Skudin said, “but she came in as a fast swimmer and a great person. She fit in right away. It’s as if she grew up in the town. And she was a leader right away.”
Said Romano: “To share the feeling of winning with three other girls, it’s really just incredible.”
Romano swam backstroke, the first leg of the relay, followed by Aroesty (breast), Harrington (fly) and Cash (free).
“You know all about those first two swimmers,” Skudin said, “but our final two were very, very strong as well. Harrington is a great, experienced swimmer. And Joan Cash ... here’s a seventh-grader, my top sprinter, at the end of the relay. Another huge spark for us.”
For Massapequa senior Cara Treble, the memory of watching her older sister Molly celebrate when she won two state titles a few years ago was a motivating factor in her state bid this season.
“It was so exciting to see how happy she felt after it,” Cara said. “Honestly, watching her win, in my head I was like, ‘That’s going to be me soon.’ ’’
And this year, the moment was hers. After posting the fastest time in the 200 free in the preliminary round (1:50.16), she won in a state-record time of 1:48.01. The Penn State-bound senior also placed third in the state 100 free (50.70).
“For this to be the way I go out as a senior,” Treble said, “I couldn’t have scripted it better.”