ITHACA, N.Y. - Maggie Aroesty had been here before. Last year as a freshman she won a state swimming title in the same Ithaca College pool that she hovered over Saturday before the start of the 100-yard breaststroke final.
She was a heavy favorite after clocking the fastest time in two events in Friday's preliminaries. She earned automatic All-American status in the 100 breaststroke, and All-American consideration in the 200 individual medley.
She was seasoned. She was primed for victory. She was . . . way more nervous than she had been before.
"I was actually really nervous,'' she said. "I talked to my coaches and I talked to my parents and they told me that even though it's a different feeling than I had last year, coming in as an underdog, I still knew what to do.''
These state meet jitters were new ground for Aroesty. What happened after that? That was new ground for New York public high schools.
Aroesty, a Long Beach sophomore, won the state title in the breaststroke in 1 minute, 2.19 seconds, breaking the state record of 1:02.43, set in 2006. The Federation record still stands at 1:01.14. She also won the 200 IM in 2:00.71, capturing All-American honors.
But we're not even done yet: Aroesty also was named the Most Outstanding Swimmer, an award she shared with Pittsford's Lindsay Stone. Pittsford finished in first place in the team competition with 268 points, while Bellmore-Merrick was second with 214.
"This is completely unexpected,'' said Aroesty, who added that she'll be gunning for the Federation title now. "I actually said jokingly to one of the Section VIII coaches'' when Stone was announced for the award, " 'Oh, why wasn't it me?' and then they said my name, too, and I was shocked.''
Long Island crowned two other state champions: Bellmore-Merrick senior Paige Kaplan, who won the 100 butterfly in 55.53 for her first individual state title in four attempts, and Ward Melville junior Casey Gavigan, who touched in 55.16 in the 100 backstroke.
Other top Long Island finishers included the Bellmore-Merrick 200 medley relay team, which came in fourth in 1:48.23; Massapequa's Cara Treble, who was second in the 200 free (1:50.14) and third in the 100 free (51.22); Bellmore-Merrick's Kerry Giovanniello, second in the 500 free in 4:58.26; and Harborfield's Nina Lesser, seventh in the 50 free in 24.33. The Bellmore-Merrick 400 free relay team was third in 3:33.91; Connetquot set a school record in 3:37.61 in finishing ninth. Connetquot's 200 freestyle relay was sixth in 1:38.96.
"I really couldn't be any prouder of these girls than I am now,'' Connetquot coach Alex Scichilone said.
And despite Ward Melville's storied history as a swimming powerhouse, the county champion, winners of 23 in a row, had a little something extra to celebrate. Gavigan was the school's first individual event winner in coach Chris Gorton's 21-year tenure.
"I'm speechless,'' said Gavigan, who helped lead the Patriots' state-winning 200-medley team last year. "My hard work paid off and I'm really happy. It's been my goal since the beginning of the season. I've been working all year for this. I dream of it all the time and it finally came true.''
And then there was Kaplan, the Notre Dame-bound swimmer who was seeded third going into yesterday's final and was again in third place after her first 50. Her state-title goal had been elusive, she said -- she didn't make the finals in her freshman year, placed 20th the year after that and eked into fourth last year -- but after 10 years of training, her final varsity meet was not going to end with a whimper.
"I just had to focus and do what I've been doing in practice and I knew that could potentially give me the win,'' she said. "I focused on that. You have to stay positive. I couldn't let affect me, because it's really whatever happens when it comes to finals.
"I really wanted it.''