Chloe Stepanek of Northport Commack wins the 200-yard freestyle in...

Chloe Stepanek of Northport Commack wins the 200-yard freestyle in a record 1:49.64 during the Suffolk girls swimming finals at Suffolk County Community College on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. Credit: Photo/video by Alan J Schaefer / Alan J Schaefer

As each swimmer stood on the starting blocks before their respective races at the Suffolk swimming championships they looked at some of the toughest competitors around.

Each swimmer except for Northport’s Chloe Stepanek, that is. Her own records were her main competition Saturday at Suffolk-CCC Brentwood. Stepanek lowered her county record in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 49.64 seconds) and cruised to a 13-second victory in the 500 freestyle (5:01.53) in dominating fashion.

“Before I came here I knew I could go faster than I did last year,” Stepanek, who swims for the combined Commack/Northport team said. “I put in a lot of hard training and my teammates before the race were really psyching me up. I knew I could go around that time and hopefully at states I can go even faster.”

Stepanek also swam the anchor leg of Commack/Northport’s second-place 400 freestyle relay with a split of 49.86.

“I felt the pressure during the relay before I dove in because we were in fourth or fifth place,” Stepanek said. “You can kind of feel where everybody is. Most of the time I try to focus just on what I’m doing but it’s also good to have someone next to you to race with.”

Stepanek, who said she will focus on swimming the 100 and 200-freestyle at the state championships, had company as a double county champion.

Kyra Sommerstad of Port Jefferson won both the 200-IM (2:04.73) and the 100-backstroke (56.61) for the second consecutive year and Southampton’s Margaret Purcell won the 50-freestyle (24.06) and the 100-breastroke (1:04.34).

“It’s very tough to learn all the strokes for the individual medley, especially the breaststroke and the butterfly,” Sommerstad said. “The technique has to be really good to swim them fast.”

Sommerstad beat her qualifying time in the IM by more than 2.5 seconds.

“It’s just an amazing feeling to go back to states,” Sommerstad said.

Ward Melville, which won the team championship with 269 points, is sending multiple swimmers to the state championships. Sydney Boals bested her state qualifying time while winning the 100-freestyle (53.13) and finished second in the 200-freestyle (1:54.14). Riley Gavigan finished second in the 200-IM (2:08.22) and the 100-breaststroke (1:04.98). Both swam on Ward Melville’s winning 200-IM relay and its third place 400-freestyle relay.

“In the 200-freestyle I have a pace that I try to keep but in the 100 I just go for it,” Boals said. “You just put your head down and sprint your heart out.”

Boals and the rest of Suffolk’s top swimmers will have one last chance to give it all they have when they head to Ithaca College for the NYSPHSAA championships Nov. 17.


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