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Hauppauge's Justin Plaschka is Most Valuable Swimmer at state meet

Hauppauge's Justin Plaschka swims in the preliminaries of

Hauppauge's Justin Plaschka swims in the preliminaries of the 200 yard butterfly. (March 1, 2013) Credit: Adrian Kraus

WEBSTER, N.Y. - Hauppauge's Justin Plaschka eclipsed two more state swimming records Saturday, including one of his own.

His first came during the 200-yard individual medley at the state championship meet, when he swam a time of 1 minute, 47.83 seconds, eclipsing the mark of Port Jefferson's David Kahn (1:48.95 in 2002).

And Plaschka's record time of 43.70 in winning the 100-yard freestyle topped his 44.12 record clocking set Friday in the state preliminaries. For his efforts, he was named the meet's outstanding swimmer.

"Winning was my ultimate goal and I'm very happy with my times," Plaschka said.

Plaschka comes away from this meet with three state records in 24 hours. In Friday's prelims, his time of 20.08 in the 50 freestyle (recorded in the 200 free relay) is also a state-best mark.

Hauppauge coach Rich Lionetti pumped his fists with enthusiasm and triumphant pride after Plaschka's events. "When he says he's going to do something, he does it," Lionetti said. "He thrives off of the competition . . . Once he won the 200 individual medley and broke the 50 free record, [outstanding swimmer] was a lock."

Plaschka credits his Hauppauge coaches and his Team Suffolk club coaches John Pisano and Jason Wiedersum for contributing to his success.

"I work on technique with my varsity team, but I do the majority of my training with my club team," Plaschka said. "That's where I put the most work in."

Plaschka wasn't the only Long Islander with a state-record finish.

Smithtown senior Ben Cono won the 100 breaststroke in 54.72, beating his own state record from Friday (55.01). Two-time state breaststroke champion Gunther Cassell of Huntington was second in 55.13.

"I really enjoying racing with him," said Cono, who attends Smithtown East. "I wouldn't be anywhere in swimming if it wasn't for him."

For coach Terry Martin, taking first was a once in a lifetime event.

"I don't even know how to describe this feeling to tell you the truth," Martin said. "Ben has been fantastic these past few weeks and to see him finish first today was amazing."

Cono has committed to North Carolina State for the fall, where he will be swimming at the Division I college level. Winning this event during his last high school year was an honorable achievement for the young star.

"I was happy with the race," Cono said. "This feels great."

Junior Cassell still has one more year to gain another state title, and his coach is looking forward to it.

"We'll be back," Gil Smith said.

St. Anthony's placed highest among all Long Island schools, finishing sixth in the meet with a score of 94.

"These guys worked so hard," coach Dan McBride said. "And they never gave up. I'm very proud of them."

Among Long Island public schools, Garden City was sixth with 99 points. Hauppauge finished eighth with a score of 74.

This event was a chance for Long Island's magicians in the water to showcase their talent. And they succeeded; Plaschka in particular.

"Justin wanted to leave here a state champion," Lionetti said. "And he's done more than that."

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