Sacred Heart poses for a team photo after the CHSAA girls...

Sacred Heart poses for a team photo after the CHSAA girls swimming championships at the Nassau Aquatic Center on Sunday. Credit: Howard Simmons

Cavan Gormsen and Tess Howley emerged from the pool for the last time representing Sacred Heart. It was the end of an era.

They had just swam away with two individual Federation titles apiece and contributed to two relay championships in the state meet last month at Webster Aquatic Center.

The Virginia-bound seniors were the fuel behind the Spartans repeating as Federation champs, and behind the team’s fourth straight NSCHSGAA title and first CHSGAA intersectional crown earlier in November.

“They’ve had a tremendous impact on my varsity swimming [team] because high school swimming was important to them,” coach Mary White said. “It wasn’t just a sideline.”

Both also swim for Long Island Aquatic Club. Both participated in the Olympic Trials last year, and both hope to be in the Trials for the 2024 Paris Games.

“They, through their work ethic, really encouraged some of my other swimmers who don’t swim club to be the best they can be,” White said. “Their encouragement for them, cheering on the sidelines, [made] them feel they’re just as important to the team as the fastest.”

Gormsen, who is from Wantagh, came away from the state championships with another kind of title — Most Outstanding Swimmer.

She repeated in her two individual races, posting times that broke meet and Federation records — her own. Gormsen won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:45.12 and the 500 freestyle in 4:39.82. Both were automatic All-American times. It marked the third time she claimed the 500 freestyle.

She also swam on the victorious 200 freestyle relay, which finished in an automatic All-American time of 1:35.33, and the winning 400 freestyle relay, which had an All-American consideration time of 3:27.73.

Quite an ending.

“This program gave me lifelong friends and memories,” Gormsen said. “And I think that I just became a part of the team, I guess. I feel like I belong, if that makes sense.”

Howley set the meet and Federation records in claiming the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke last year. She repeated in both with automatic All-American times — 52.80 in the butterfly and 53.29 in the backstroke. She also was in the foursome for both relay wins.

“I think I did pretty well this season, and ending it off on a good note,” Howley said. “I definitely think my 100 fly and 100 back have gotten better over my four years of high school, so I’m definitely proud of that.”

White also expressed her gratitude for Catherine Dean’s leadership. The senior swam the second legs on those winning relays.

Sophomore Sarah Larsen swam the third legs, and she placed second in the 500 freestyle. Sophomore Lily Gormsen, Cavan’s sophomore sister who excelled in the NSCHSGAA/CHSGAA intersectional meet, missed the state meet after breaking a foot two days earlier. 

“I don’t think we’re going to have a state title next year …” White said. “We won six events. We wouldn’t have won those six events without Cavan and Tess. But I also think they are passing down a legacy of doing your best, and that’s all that really matters.”