Michael Jang noticed the difference in the atmosphere right away at the Suffolk boys swimming championship Sunday at Stony Brook University.
"It was a little weird without the fans and parents cheering," the Commack junior said. "It’s a big factor and you get a lot of adrenaline from the people around you to help you."
That didn’t stop Jang from being named the meet's most outstanding swimmer after winning the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 56.44 seconds) and the 100 breaststroke (58.87).
"This whole year has been hard but it was also a learning experience," Jang said. "I began to adapt more of my training and learning at home so I became more independent in a way. I took the training experience more into my own hands rather than just relying on coaches. I was able to improve a lot."
Comsewogue’s Noah Giunta won the 100 butterfly (52.13) and 100 backstroke (52.90). He won the backstroke after not qualifying for the final heat.
"Early in the year I was struggling with technique and finding motivation for the back," Giunta said. "In January when I put up my qualifying time I didn’t warm up right and it just wasn’t a good day. I knew I could swim in that final heat and I was mad I didn’t make it."
He dropped 3.95 seconds off his qualifying time to take the title.
"Today it all came together and it felt smooth and strong," he said. "I knew I could win if that happened."
It also came together for Half Hollow Hills and Ben Glazebnik. Glazebnik won the 50 freestyle in 22.04 and the 100 freestyle in 47.39 and was a part of the winning 200 IM relay and 400 freestyle relay teams.
The Thundercolts won their 15th straight Suffolk team title with 317 points. Huntington/Harborfields/Whitman was second with 220.
"We had two or three meets a week and sometimes we’d get tired and discouraged," Glazebnik said. "We consistently treated every event like it was the county or league championship and that definitely helped us today when we got here."
Miller Place’s Liam Preston, who competes as an independent, said he was able to prepare relatively normally with his club team in preparation for the championship. He won the 200 freestyle in 1:41.79 and the 500 freestyle in 4:37.58.
"This year has been different but I was still able to work hard," Preston said. "Today all the swimmers tried to replicate the championship environment by cheering and rooting for each other. Everything was different but today still went really well."