Tess Howley (left) and Cavan Gormsen, from Sacred Heart each...

Tess Howley (left) and Cavan Gormsen, from Sacred Heart each won two girls swimming individual state championships and set four state records in the girls swimming state championships at Ithaca College on Saturday afternoon. Credit: Newsday/Owen OBrien

The Long Island swimming talent was evident from the very first competition at the state championships.

Long Island individuals and relay teams won nine of 11 events at the girls swimming Federation state championships in Ithaca on November 20.

Denise Phelan, a senior competing for Northport-Commack, won state titles in the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 59.95 seconds) and 100 breaststroke (1:01.07). Both were All-American automatic times.

After not having a state championship to compete in last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Phelan was just grateful to end her varsity tenure on the grand stage.

"I know I’ve worked so hard for this and it’s such an amazing feeling, because not every meet is like that," Phelan said. "And I’m just thankful to have such an amazing group of girls around me."

Phelan knew when she stepped up on the block in the 100 breaststroke that it was going to be her final high school race. She didn’t want to have any regrets when exiting the pool.

"I think it did play a little bit of a factor mentally knowing that it was my last one and wanting to make it my ‘Last one, fast one,’" she said. "The pressure was there."

Phelan was also a key member of Northport-Commack’s 200 medley relay state championship team, which included Caitlyn Riordan, Makenna O’Brien and Lia Edlin Miller. They won the first event of the state championships in 1:45.92.

"It was an amazing meet," Phelan said. "I love the States so much and it’s just a blessing to be here."

Sacred Heart dominance

Cavan Gormsen, of Wantagh, won the 200 freestyle in a state-record and All-American automatic time of 1:45.92, surpassing Northport’s Chloe Stepanek’s mark of 1:46.15 set in 2019. Later in the meet, Gormsen surpassed her own state record in the 500 freestyle, winning in an All-American automatic time of 4:40.73. She swam a then-record 4:41.86 in the preliminary races the day before.

Fellow Sacred Heart swimmer Tess Howley, of Rockaway, won the 100 butterfly in an All-American automatic time of 52.37 after she set the state record the day before in 52.06. She surpassed Megan Deuel’s mark of 52.95 from 2019. Howley later set the state record in an All-American automatic time of 53.13 in the 100 backstroke, surpassing Kristen Romano’s mark of 53.36 in 2016.

But both of them expressed more pride in being members of two relay state championships, including the final event of the meet. Gormsen and Howley joined Lily Gormsen and Catherine Dean in winning the 400 freestyle relay in 3:25.15. The All-American automatic time surpassed Pittsford’s record of 3:25.24, set in 2015.

Howley, Dean, Cavan Gormsen and Makayla Pearce also won the 200 freestyle relay in an All-American automatic time of 1:35.05.

"After not having states last year," Cavan Gormsen said, "it was definitely a privilege to come back here. It was just a fun meet."


200-yard medley relay: Northport-Commack (Caitlyn Riordan, Denise Phelan, Makenna O’Brien, Lia Edlin Miller)

200 freestyle relay: Sacred Heart (Tess Howley, Catherine Dean, Makayla Pearce, Cavan Gormsen)

400 freestyle relay: Sacred Heart (Tess Howley, Lily Gormsen, Catherine Dean, Cavan Gormsen).

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