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Jake Newmark a triple winner for Garden City at county championships

Jake Newmark of Garden City reacts after finishing

Jake Newmark of Garden City reacts after finishing the 500-yard freestyle final in which he broke his second county record of the afternoon at the Nassau boys swimming championships at the Nassau Aquatic Center on Saturday. Credit: James Escher

Jake Newmark lived up to his surname. Not once, but twice.

Less than an hour into the Nassau high school boys swimming championships at the Nassau Aquatic Center Saturday, the Garden City junior broke a county record, winning the 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute, 38.63 seconds. Roughly an hour later, Newmark set a second Nassau record, winning the 500 free in 4:27.26 before finishing the day as a member of Garden City’s record-setting 400 free relay team. He started the race with a 45.99 split as the Trojans set the county record in 3:11.55.

“I really just came in and tried to go as fast as I can,” Newmark said. “And I’m so happy I got the county record, too. It was crazy. I was so happy and I really wasn’t expecting it.”

Newmark topped Garden City’s Connor Brown records in the 200 free (1:39.34) and 500 free (4:27.46), set in 2015.

Whereas Newmark took a modest approach to his accomplishments, his teammate, John Protano, didn’t miss the opportunity to flaunt his fellow swimmer.

“Jake’s a beast, that’s all I have to say,” said Protano, who won the 100 breaststroke (57.37) and anchored the record-setting 400 free relay. “I couldn’t be more proud for him as a teammate. Whenever he steps up and I go against him, I get scared.”

And touching the wall first in each of the final two races of his final county championship is a moment Protano will never forget. Protano, along with Newmark, Christopher Reilly and Liam Gaffney, broke Garden City’s previous county record (3:12.14) set in 2015.

“That was awesome,” he said. “It goes to show how much work I’ve put in and how much that work has paid off. To touch that wall and look up to see you have the first place mark is just unbelievable.”

But Garden City wasn’t alone in setting county records, as Syosset’s Michael Jiang won the 100 backstroke in 49.77. Jiang’s victory also helped deliver Syosset’s second team county championship in school history and first since 2003, coach Chris Schleider said. Syosset finished with 406 points, followed by Great Neck South at 363.5, and Long Beach at 307.

“That was my goal all year,” said Jiang, whose time of 49.77 broke Newmark’s record of 50.46 in 2018. “I’ve been wanting to win counties for the past three years and we kept just barely missing it each time. So being county champions this year is really fulfilling.”

Andy Lee, of Great Neck South, joined Newmark as double winners, taking the 50 free (20.82) and 100 free (45.36). And whereas some student-athletes look forward to showcasing their talents at championships in their senior seasons, Lee is the opposite.

“Actually I haven’t been looking forward to this moment,” Lee said. “It’s sad to realize that now you’re a senior and you’re done with high school, but I’m happy this is how my high school season ended . . . with great times.”

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