Long Beach's Margaret Aroesty swims in a preliminary heat of...

Long Beach's Margaret Aroesty swims in a preliminary heat of the 200-yard individual medley during the 2014 NYSPHSAA Girls Swimming & Diving Championships held at Ithaca College on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. Credit: Adrian Kraus

Water hasn't always been kind to Maggie Aroesty.

When superstorm Sandy devastated her Long Beach home, she and her family were displaced for months. Along with the trauma of losing all of her belongings, there was a period of deep uncertainty, disrupted swimming schedules and the fight to regain normalcy. They moved back into their home in May, she said.

Which makes Friday's accomplishments all the more remarkable.

Aroesty, a sophomore at Long Beach, was a double winner in the preliminaries at the state Girls Swimming and Diving Championships at Ithaca College. She was first in the 200-yard individual medley in 2 minutes, 3.27 seconds and clocked 1:03.51 in the 100 breaststroke, an automatic All-American time. She goes into Saturday's finals a favorite and a defending champion, having won the breaststroke (1:04.10) as a freshman.

"It was definitely difficult at first, but my coaches and my parents told me a lot about perseverance, so that really helped me keep pushing forward, along with my desire," Aroesty said. "In the beginning, it was really difficult, but we got into a rhythm and we eventually figured it out."

Aroesty wasn't the only area athlete with something to prove. Massapequa's Cara Treble was first in the 200 freestyle, the event her sister Molly won last year. Cara's time was 1:49.40, an All-American time. She also was second in the 100 freestyle in 51.24.

Treble said she has suffered somewhat from little sister syndrome -- always being compared to Molly. Even with Molly now swimming at Notre Dame, Cara says she still hears it sometimes.

"It's not all about Molly," she said and, as if on cue, a fellow swimmer called out jokingly: "Hey, is that Molly's little sister?"

"That's what happens," she said. "I'm always known as Molly's little sister and I want to say, 'No, Molly is my sister.' "

But Cara, a junior, seemed astutely aware that to escape that shadow, she'd have to win at least one state title.

"I've been working on my flip turns and my streamlines and all the little things," she said. "I need [to] have a positive attitude and stay focused. I just want to show that I'm equally as good as her."

Ward Melville's Casey Gavigan placed first in the 100 backstroke, touching in 55.94.

Other notable prelim finishes included Bellmore-Merrick's Paige Kaplan, third in the 100 butterfly in 56.39. Bellmore-Merrick's 400 freestyle relay of Elizabeth Walsh, Jessica Arana, Jaimie Kaefer and Kerry Giovanniello was fourth in 3:36.60. Giovanniello also placed fourth in the 500 free in 5:01.73. Walsh, Kaplan, Kaefer and Georgeanne Zimmerman were sixth in the 100 medley relay in 1:49.37.

Connetquot's 200 freestyle relay of Emma Kopp, Michelle Wootton, Leah Russell and Katherine Green was sixth in 1:39.18. St. Anthony's Beth Caruana was 10th in the 100 backstroke in 57.85. Nina Lesser of Harborfields was seventh in the 50 free in 24.20.

Smilowitz 7th. Hewlett's Rayna Smilowitz was the top performer for Long Island in the 1-meter dive, with a 482.45 over 11 dives in a five-hour session. She was seventh. Wantagh's Victoria Zozzaro was ninth at 478.85. Ithaca's Ayla Bonniwell (529.45) took gold.

"It was stressful," said Smilowitz, who finished 11th last year. "I had a bad practice and the pressure was a lot more than last year, just with all the people . . . having 58 divers. But I pulled it together."

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