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John Gaffney spurs Garden City to Nassau swimming title

John Gaffney of Garden City celebrates his win

John Gaffney of Garden City celebrates his win in the 200-yard freestyle during the Nassau  boys swimming championships at the Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Garden City’s John Gaffney refused to be known as a member of the senior class that couldn’t get it done.

“I didn’t want to win 8th through 11th grade and now that it’s our time, we lost,” he said.

And Garden City dismantled that concern early. The Trojans captured their fifth straight Nassau boys swimming championship on Saturday at the Nassau Aquatics Center at Eisenhower Park. Despite losing three dual meets during the regular season, the Trojans finished on top with Long Beach and Syosset placing second and third, respectively.

“We were seeded third coming into it I think, if not worse,” Gaffney said. “We knew we’d do better than some of the teams, but we definitely didn’t expect until halfway through the meet that we had a shot at actually winning.”

Garden City won the opening race — the 200-yard medley relay — with Gaffney starting and George Litvinov, Gabriel Ragusa and John Protano following. Gaffney backed up the opening victory by taking the 200 freestyle in the next race in 1:42.48. Litvinov also placed second in the 100 breaststroke.

“It honestly means a lot leaving the school as a senior knowing you’re a county champion,” Litvinov said.

Andy Lee, a sophomore with Great Neck South, was the lone individual double winner, taking the 200 IM by nearly six seconds (1:52.62) and 100 breaststroke in an all-american consideration time of 57.38. He also won the most valuable swimmer, which caught him by surprise.

“Any award to me feels great honestly,” Lee said. “When they called me over I was like, ‘Wait, am I in trouble or something?’ but when the ref said most valuable swimmer, it was a feeling like no other.”

Hewlett senior Delano Townsend won the 50 freestyle in a county record of 20.84 — besting Austin Kowalsky of Bellmore-Merrick’s mark of 21.10 in 2012. Once Townsend touched the wall to complete the swim and looked up at the scoreboard at his time, he became euphoric in the pool.

“I found out about that record as a junior and I’ve been training for it since then. I never thought I was going to go that fast,” said Townsend, who will swim at Iona next season. “I thought I could break it, maybe by a little bit, but 20.84 is insane to me.”

But even with setting a county record, the 50 free was no easy victory for Townsend as William Eng of Massapequa, who placed second, also beat Kowalsky’s 2012 time, swimming in 21.07. Eng later edged out Townsend to win the 100 free.

Orry Zayit, of Roslyn High School swimming for Port Washington-Roslyn, broke through his own 100 butterfly record set in the division championships the week before. He won yesterday in an all-american consideration time of 49.63.

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