Winning a state title requires grueling hours of practice and dedication. For nine Long Island swimmers, it was all worth it.
The Long Island contingent secured first-place finishes in 8 of the 12 events at the girls swimming and diving state championship meet Nov. 23 at Ithaca College.
Northport’s Chloe Stepanek concluded her illustrious high school career by capturing both state and Federation titles in the 100-yard freestyle and 200 free for the third consecutive season.
The senior broke her own state record in the 200 free with a time of 1 minute, 46.15 seconds and was named the Most Outstanding Swimmer of the meet for a third straight year. The previous record of 1:46.73 was set at the county championships Nov. 9.
“I’m really going to remember all the little things I have done with my team,” Stepanek said. “We accomplished so much since I first began swimming with Northport/Commack as an eighth-grader, and it’s something I’m truly going to miss.”
Stepanek’s teammate, Denise Phelan, won the 100 breaststroke in 1:02.33, breaking her own Suffolk record of 1:02.65 she set at counties.
“I swam a lifetime best and wasn’t expecting that,” said Phelan, a Commack sophomore. “It meant so much to do it at the state championship meet, and the fact that I was able to beat the upperclassmen was amazing.”
Port Jefferson senior Kyra Sommerstad successfully defended her crown in the 200 IM (2:02.17). Sommerstad swam as an independent throughout her high school years since the school did not have a team, but it didn’t seem to bother her.
“Doing what you love, surrounded by the people you love is just a wonderful feeling. I had the chance to swim with my sister and my best friend,” Sommerstad said. “I have known our personal coach, Mary, since I was in elementary school. Even my club coach came up to watch me. I’m so thankful for all of them.”
Oceanside’s Catherine Stanford continued her display of dominance when she repeated as the state champion in the 50 free. The senior also won the Federation title with a time of 22.84, breaking her own Nassau record of 22.92 set at this season’s county championship.
“Everyone always asked me at school how I was doing, how my swimming was going, and they truly cared,” Stanford said. “It was really a nice atmosphere to be a part of and I’m sad it’s over.”
Sacred Heart’s Cavan Gormsen burst onto the scene this season and earned the Federation title in the 500 free with a record time of 4:46.75, besting the previous record set by Lindsay Stone of Pittsford in 2016 by .05 seconds.
The freshman also keyed the Sacred Heart 400 free relay and 200 medley relay team to victory.
“I was shocked when I saw my time. I didn’t really know how to react,” Gormsen said. “It’s really cool knowing that I am only a freshman and my name is now in the record books.”
The 400 free relay team of Gormsen, Joan Cash, Tess Howley and Catherine Dean finished with a time of 3:26.46, nearly three seconds faster than second place Horace Greely in the final event of the meet.
The Spartans set the tone in the first event when their 200 medley relay team of Howley, Cash, Gormsen and Ariana Brattoli finished first with a time of 1:42.11 to break the state record. The previous record of 1:43.21 was set by Long Beach in 2016.
“We train together every day and we are really a tight-knit group,” said Cash, a junior. “It feels great to break the record with them because they truly deserve it.”