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Jake Newmark paces Garden City at Nassau swimming championships

Garden City senior, Jake Newmark, and Great Neck South junior, Justin Whang — who set a new county record in the 200-yard IM, speak about the competition.  (Credit: Newsday / Laura Amato)

Jake Newmark likes his space.

The Garden City senior was a double winner at the Nassau high school boys swimming championships at the Nassau Aquatic Center Saturday, winning the 100-yard butterfly (48.30 seconds) and 100 backstroke (49.71). Newmark finished nearly three seconds ahead of his closest competitor in the butterfly, before breezing through the backstroke almost five seconds ahead of second place.  

“I’m not going to lie, yeah, I can see the other kids (behind me) and it honestly motivates me to go faster,” Newmark said. “I want to make the gap even bigger, try to go as fast as I can.”

With his sights set on breaking the county record in the butterfly and topping his own record in the backstroke, a 49.22 finish he set during the prelims on Friday, Newmark credited his underwater performance for helping him take early leads.

“I try to go out as powerful as I can, make it as powerful as possible,” Newmark said. “That’s what really helped in the races for me.”

Newmark came up short of his records, but said he was “very happy overall” with his performance, adding that competing against his previous finishes is “what keeps me in the pool.”  

“Swimming, as much as it is you’re racing against the next guy, you’re also racing against yourself, your past times,” Newmark said. “It’s nice getting first, but what I want to do is make myself better. I want to get that next fastest time.”

Newmark also helped Garden City to a third-place finish in the 400 free relay, opening the race with a 45.53 split.

“He makes it look so natural from start to finish,” Garden City coach Anne Sullivan said. “He’s a very versatile swimmer.”

And while Newmark didn’t set any new records, Great Neck South’s Justin Whang did; in dramatic fashion. The junior won the 200 individual medley in 1:51.41, edging the mark of 1:51.42 by Samuel Mo (former Great Neck South athlete) set in 2012.

“If I get out there fast, then the whole entire race is going to fall into place,” said Whang, who also anchored Great Neck South’s winning 200 free relay team. “I just tried to keep my head down, keep stroking and see where I could go.”

Whang set a blistering pace, swimming the opening butterfly leg in 23.77, but admitted he was “a little surprised” by the finish.

“I wasn’t exactly fully rested for this race,” Whang said. “I did not expect to go this fast. I can probably go faster, we’ll see what I can do at states.”

Jericho senior Tyler Walters was a double winner, taking the 200 free (1:42.91) and a scoring a come-from-behind victory in the 100 free (47.19).

“It was rough, the last few strokes,” Walters said of the 100. “But I knew I had to pick up my hand speed and get to that wall to get to the time that I needed to.”

Syosset captured its second straight team title, finishing with 415 points, followed by Levittown-East Meadow at 320, and Great Neck South  265. Junior Michael Lu highlighted the day for Syosset, finishing third in the 500 free (4:45.16), while the 200 medley relay finished second (1:40.00) and the 200 free relay placed third (1:30.74).

“It was a full team effort,” Syosset coach Chris Schleider said. “We’re still a very young program and the more kids at the young end see the winning, it helps them continue to win.”

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