The bar was set on Friday. Massapequa's Molly Treble climbed out of the pool on the first day of the New York State Swimming and Diving Championships, held two weeks ago at Ithaca College. She had swam her preliminary heat in the 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute, 49.28 seconds -- an All-American mark.
Now there was only one thing left to do -- bring home the title. The national time was one thing. The state championship was quite another.
"It gave me a lot of confidence because I knew I had all that speed,'' Treble said of the prelimins. "But, it was still nerve-wracking because I felt like there was a lot of pressure.''
With the sprint for the gold still a day away, Treble said she tried her best to keep her mindset positive and make the best of her final state championship experience.
"I just tried to have fun,'' she said of the night before the finals. "I try not to take it too seriously. That's when you over-think the race and get nervous. My whole team was blasting music in the hotel and dancing around.''
When she awoke that Saturday, the race loomed over her morning routine. Things were about to get serious. But, as Treble likes to say, "diamonds are made under pressure.''
And under pressure, Molly Trebel was a diamond.
Treble, who is committed to Notre Dame, won the 200-free final in 1:49.98. The worry she may have felt prior to the race vanished quickly into the cool blue liquid of the pool that she calls home.
"My nerves go away within the first 50 yards,'' Treble said. "Once I dive into the water, I start to get a feel for the race.''
The title was Treble's second consecutive state championship. Last year, she took gold in the 500-freestyle.
"It's a very humbling experience to know that I can swim two events and be equally as good,'' she said.
A swimmer's strategy for the 200 and 500 is quite different. Unlike the 200, the 500 is a test of endurance.
"With the 200, you have to go out strong and give it everything you have from the beginning,'' Treble said. "With the 500, you can't do that or you'll die (out). The 200 is more of a sprint.''
Because of her proficiency swimming the 500, Treble believes she has an advantage in shorter races.
"It definitely gives me an edge over the other competitors,'' she said of her distance background. "It's very important to bring back your race strong. With all that training behind me, I know that I can finish the back half. That was important.''
In the state final, after a strong start, Treble swam the final 100 yards in 56.67 seconds.
"I took the race out fast,'' she said. "I just had to give it all I had -- every last bit of sprint. With all my distance training, I was able to bring the race back nicely at the end. I think that combination led to the win.''