Call it cliché, but Ward Melville’s Cameron Kubik put winning a state Federation championship before oxygen.
As the freestyle sprinter and anchor of the 200-yard medley relay — the opening event of the boys swimming state Federation championships at the Nassau Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park — Kubik entered his final leg with the Patriots in third.
“Honestly, I didn’t breathe at all that 50,” Kubik said. “I was seeing spots, but I was just imagining us on the podium in first place.”
Kubik’s vision became a reality as he posted the second-best split (21.01 seconds) and Ward Melville won the 200 medley state Federation title in 1:33.79.
“I was so excited,” Kubik said. “I couldn’t believe it happened. I still can’t believe it happened. I’m standing here wearing this [championship] T-shirt and I still can’t believe it.”
It was the final meet the relay team of Ryan Kaplan, David He, Luka Zuric and Kubik — all seniors — would represent the Patriots school together. The same four swimmers also finished second in the 400 freestyle relay.
Last season, as juniors, they finished third in the 200 medley relay and second in the 400 free relay.
“On the way home from this meet last year, they said ‘We want to be back next year. We’d like to take a shot at winning a state title,’ ” coach Chris Gordon said. “They’ve been working for the last year to get to this point.”
Ward Melville posted the top team score of any public school (218) at the Federation championships, only finishing behind St. Anthony’s 250.
“That’s very special for all of us,” Kaplan said. “It’s something we’ve been looking forward toward for a long time, preparing all year just for this moment and I feel like we really rose to the occasion.”
The Patriots entered with the 200-medley relay with the top preliminary time, but didn’t know what Saturday would bring.
“Not everyone’s going to be a state [Federation] champion,” Zuric said. “So the fact that we were able to come together and work together for a state championship that we can all share is really amazing.”
And the journey to becoming titleholders is nothing David He will forget.
“There were definitely tough times throughout the season,” He said. “But we stuck to it and now, we’re state champions.”
St. Anthony’s returns to the top
For St. Anthony’s, it was their second Federation team championship in the last three seasons.
“Every time we wake up at 5 in the morning, it’s always in our head that we lost last season,” said Michael Chang, who finished second in the 200 IM and third in the 100 breaststroke. “It was our time to get back and show everyone we got it.”