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Nick Shopis, Patrick Walsh lead Chaminade to CHSAA boys swimming title

Nick Shopis of Chaminade plunges into the water

Nick Shopis of Chaminade plunges into the water to compete in the 100-yard freestyle event during the CHSAA championships at Nassau Aquatic Center in East Meadow on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. He won with a time of 45.51 seconds. Credit: James Escher

Nick Shopis didn't get the chance to defend his state championship in the pool this season -- at least not officially.

The Chaminade senior swimmer won last season’s 100-yard freestyle state championship. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there won’t be any New York State Public High School Athletic Association state finals this year.

That didn’t stop Shopis and the Flyers from treating their final meet as if it was a state championship.

"Being my last high school meet ever, this is kind of like my state meet because it’s the last time together with all my teammates," Shopis said. "We had a great team this year and I was really happy having one last shot to get some records, just go fast and win the meet."

Shopis won the 100 and 200 freestyle at the CHSAA boys swimming championships at the Nassau Aquatic Center Sunday afternoon. He won the 100 freestyle in an All-American consideration time of 45.51 seconds, slightly behind his 45.45 mark from last year’s state finals, and won the 200 freestyle in 1:40.82.

Both of those times would be top in the state for each event, according to results on swimdata.info.

Chaminade also won the meet with a team score of 876.5, edging out Fordham Prep’s 857.

"I definitely looked at top state times this year," Shopis said. "But in my mind, at least for this meet, it was the team winning here and whatever comes from that is what it is."

Patrick Walsh won the 500 freestyle (4:34.08) and 100 backstroke (51.38) for Chaminade. His 500 freestyle time would be top in the state and his 100 backstroke was .01 seconds off the top time.

"I think everyone considered this to be like states," said Walsh, a senior. "That’s how important it was to us. It was more than just a championship meet."

Chaminade also won the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. Lucas Silva, Stephen McDonald, Ryan Shannon and Shopis won the 200 in 1:25.58 and Shannon, McDonald, Walsh and Shopis won the 400 in 3:07.88. Shannon also placed second in the 50 freestyle and McDonald placed second in the 500 freestyle.

Coach Angelo Pellicone credited the ability and leadership of Walsh and Shopis for leading the team to a title.

"We usually build on depth every year, but we knew this year Nick and Pat were going to have to win some of their races, if not both of them," Pellicone said. "They were going for first place on both. They knew what they had to do and they did it."

Shopis and Walsh said the two have a friendly competition. Pellicone said there is some "friendly ragging" about Shopis being a state champion, and that motivates the rest of the Chaminade swimmers to be at their best.

Walsh said whenever he’s in a race, he pictures Shopis next to him because "it feels great beating Shopis."

"Whenever we do racing sets during practice, we swim next to it and go head-to-head for who’s going to win," Walsh said. "I’d say it’s a fair split who wins the most."

But Chaminade always cares more about the team result than individuals. Ever since the Flyers received official word they’d be able to have a season, they’ve been eyeing this championship meet.

"This was the end game," Pellicone said. "This was the whole plan for the year once we found out there were no states. States, for us, are always the extra. Leagues are our goal every year so it really never changed. But I’m just happy the kids were driven and had one individual goal for today."

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