Chaminade’s Christian Sztolcman looked up at the clock for confirmation, but the reaction of his teammates was all he needed.
In the 400-yard freestyle relay, the final event of the CHSAA boys swimming championships at the Nassau Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park Sunday afternoon, Sztolcman anchored the race that would decide if the Flyers would be celebrating back-to-back titles. He was the third to enter the pool, behind St. Anthony’s and Fordham Prep’s final swimmers, knowing he needed to finish ahead of Fordham Prep to guarantee enough points for the crown.
The senior posted the best 100-yard split of any swimmer in the race (44.14 seconds) to give Chaminade the victory by 0.11 seconds in 3:09.83 and another team title.
“When I touched the wall, I just heard a big scream,” Sztolcman said. “And I look up at the wall right away and I see a big No. 1 next to our name, and from there I was just like ‘We did it.’ ”
Sztolcman went into a state of euphoria, yanking his swim cap off his head and slapping the pool water in jubilation. He had just completed a sweep of the four events he entered: Sztolcman anchored the winning 200 free relay team with Anthony Melchore, Will Takes and Ryan Shannon in 1:26.48. Melchore and Takes also were members of the winning 400 free relay, along with Nicholas Shopis. Sztolcman, a Queens native, also won individual titles in the 200 free (1:39.85) and 500 free (4:35.50).
“Somebody like Christian is a game-changer,” coach Angelo Pellicone said. “You have to just keep it close, or even if your relays have a slight deficit, with him entering in the water you have to feel pretty good. Having someone of his caliber and knowing he’s going to deliver in the end changes everything.”
Chaminade had 778 points, with Fordham Prep (769.5) and St. Anthony’s (720) second and third.
“It’s so cool considering how elite the opponents we are going against are,” said Nikolas Daly of Port Jefferson, who finished second in the 100 breaststroke and fourth in the 200 individual medley for Chaminade. “St. Anthony’s and Fordham, you can’t ask for better competition.”
Justin Meyn led St. Anthony’s, winning the 50 free (21.52) and 100 free (47.16), and Michael Chang broke the state CHSAA 100 breaststroke record for the third time, according to coach Dan McBride, with a time of 55.49.
“Breaking my own record is always a goal of mine,” said Chang of Farmingdale, “because you want to swim a personal best and see yourself succeed as much as you can.”
But it was Sztolcman and his teammates sharing the final success, which comes from faith in their star swimmer.
“He gives us all the confidence,” said Melchore of Williston Park. “You have to swim well in order to win, obviously, but having a kid like that at the end, you know you have a security blanket.”