WEBSTER, N.Y. -- As a sophomore last season, Huntington's Gunther Cassell tried to crack the one-minute mark in the 100-yard breaststroke. He peaked at the perfect time and won a state title with a time of 57.2.
This season, Cassell seems to be peaking at the right time again. His time of 56.72 yesterday placed him second for Saturday's finals of the New York State Federation Swimming and Diving Championships. It was also fast enough to earn Cassell All-American honors.
"Leading up to states and our county meet there was a lot of pressure on him,'' Huntington coach Gil Smith said. "For him to do what he did last year . . . he was a 1:02 100-yard breaststroker and he went from that to making the states with a minute flat and then he went .57 and he came here and went .57 again.''
Smith beleives a second state title is within Cassell's reach.
"There's no pressure here at all -- I think he'll take the race out and he'll say 'All right guys, come get it,' . . . he's that type of kid,'' Smith said. "I know he's going to swim his heart out and he wants to go home as a champ. He's a tough kid and I think he can do it. I think he's going to break the state record.''
Cassell's chief threat would appear to be Matt Tanchick of Pittsford, seeded No. 1 with a time of 56.49 -- one-tenth of a second off the state record.
"The kid from Pittsford is good and he's in his home pool and it's going to be a great race but I think Gunther can take him,'' Smith said.
In diving, three Long Island competitors made it to the finals. Andrew Capobianco of Wantagh was ninth with 447.45 points. St. Anthony's Noel Theroux was 13th with 437.6 and Patrick Carter of West Islip was 17th with 405.20.