ITHACA, N.Y. — There is one word that comes to mind when describing Northport senior Chloe Stepanek: winner.
Stepanek captured the state and Federation titles in the 200-yard freestyle and 100 freestyle Saturday for the third consecutive season at the girls swimming state championships at Kelsey Partridge Bird Natatorium on the campus of Ithaca College.
In winning those two events, Stepanek was named the Most Outstanding Swimmer of the meet for a third straight year.
“It’s truly an honor and very humbling. You have so many other great swimmers here,” Stepanek said. “I never go into an event saying ‘I’m going to be the MVP’ because you never know what can happen.”
Stepanek broke her own state record in the 200 free with a time of 1 minute, 46.15 seconds. The previous record (1:46.73) was set at the county championships Nov. 9.
“I was hoping to get under that 1:46 mark, but I still broke my own record and went a best time,” Stepanek said. “You have to appreciate best times when you see them.”
She even surprised herself with her pace in the 100 free.
“I wanted to go under 49 [seconds], and I was stunned when I saw 48.76 pop up on the board. My jaw almost hit the floor,” Stepanek said laughing.
Oceanside senior Catherine Stanford repeated as the state champion in the 50 free, also winning the Federation title with a time of 22.84, breaking her own Nassau record of 22.92 set at the county championship. She also placed second in the 100 free with a personal-best time of 49.94.
“It’s really sad knowing that this was my final meet because I love Section VIII, I love my home and love Long Island, but I am really excited to see what the next journey brings,” Stanford said.
Port Jefferson senior Kyra Sommerstad and Commack sophomore Denise Phelan also captured state and Federation titles.
Sommerstad successfully defended her crown in the 200 IM (2:02.17) and Phelan won the 100 breaststroke (1:02.33), breaking her own Suffolk record (1:02.65) she set at counties.
“I look forward to coming up here every single year. It’s sad that it’s over now, but it’s something I’ll never forget,” said Sommerstad, who also finished second in the 100 backstroke in her fifth state tournament appearance.
“The fact that I was able to swim better than my time is awesome,” Phelan said. “I worked on some little things after the preliminaries, and it helped me improve my time.”
Sacred Heart freshman Cavan Gormsen earned the Federation title in the 500 free with a state record time of 4:46.75, besting the previous record set by Lindsay Stone of Pittsford in 2016 by .05 seconds. She also keyed the Sacred Heart 400 free relay team to victory in the final event of the championship.
The Spartans set the tone in the first event of the day when their 200 medley relay team of Tess Howley, Joan Cash, Gormsen and Ariana Brattoli finished first and broke the state record (1:42.21). The previous record of 1:43.21 was set by Long Beach in 2016. Cash was a member of that Long Beach team when she was an eighth-grader attending Long Beach middle school.
“We train together every day and we are really a tight-knit group, it feels great to break the record with them because truly deserve it,” said Cash, who placed second in the 50 free. “I’m just happy I get to keep my name up there on the record board.”
Girls Swimming State Champions
200 medley relay: Sacred Heart (Tess Howley, Cavan Gormsen, Ariana Brattoli, Joan Cash)
200 free: Chloe Stepanek, Northport, Sr.
200 IM: Kyra Sommerstad, Port Jefferson, Sr.
50 free: Catherine Stanford, Oceanside, Sr.
100 free: Chloe Stepanek, Northport, Sr.
500 free: Cavan Gormsen, Sacred Heart, Fr.
100 breast: Denise Phelan, Commack, Soph.
400 free relay: Sacred Heart (Tess Howley, Cavan Gormsen, Joan Cash, Catherine Dean)