Even with this being the third trip to the state diving championships for Great Neck South’s Nicholas Shen, the nerves never go away.
And for the second straight season, Shen reached the final stage of cuts in the championship, finishing 10th with a score of 474.85, the best of any Long Island diver, at the Nassau Aquatic Center Friday.
“It means a lot to me because every year I get really close to getting cut and I’m scared and nervous,” Shen said. “But I’m just really glad to be able to make it to the finals. It just makes me feel really good about myself. Makes me feel accomplished.”
Shen highlighted a Long Island group, which included Bellmore-Merrick’s Youssef Ibrahim placing 11th (457.85) and Hauppauge’s Sean Rorke placing 12th (452.75). Huntington’s Alex Zhang placed 19th (411.75). Alex Kenyon, of Bloomfield, won with a 541.55.
“I’m still trying to get top 10 every year, but the guys in my age group are really good,” Shen said with a laugh. “I’m trying to catch up to them.”
Louser sets state record
Jason Louser did much more than just set the time to beat for Saturday’s state boys swimming championship finals. He set a new benchmark for the history of the state.
The Shoreham-Wading River senior set a state record in the 200-yard IM during a preliminary heat at the Nassau Aquatic Center, finishing in 1:46.00. He surpassed Hauppauge’s Justin Plaschka’s mark of 1:47.83, set in 2014.
“I knew that it was going to be me against the clock, so I had to get in that mindset to go fast without too many people next to me,” Louser said. “I had to make sure every stroke was everything it could be.”
The state championship races are at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Nassau Aquatic Center.
Louser also had the top time in the 100 breaststroke (54.60), missing the state record by .09 seconds. After winning last season’s state championships in the 200 IM and 100 breast, he’s focused all season on doing the same, before swimming at Cal-Berkeley next year.
But Louser wasn’t alone dominating the lanes from Long Island. Garden City’s Jake Newmark had the top time in the 200 freestyle (1:40.12) and 500 free (4:30.89). Great Neck South’s Andy Lee (100 butterfly, 49.18) and St. Anthony’s Justin Meyn (100 free, 45.41) also had top times. St. Anthony’s 200 free relay team of Mark Owens, Christopher Stange, William Swartwout and Meyn along with its 400 free relay team of Meyn, Stange, Dylan Champagne and Swartwout had had top times, in 1:24.91 and 3:07.41, respectively.
“Ever since counties, states have been on my mind,” Newmark said. “At practice, I’ve been thinking of the 200 and 500 [freestyles] all throughout my training. That’s all I’ve been thinking about.”