He may only be a freshman, but Noah Cakir already has Long Island – and even New York State swimming – on notice.
Cakir, a freshman from Deer Park competing for St. Anthony’s, won two CHSAA boys swimming championships in dominating fashion at the Nassau Aquatic Center Sunday afternoon. He won the 200-yard individual medley in 1:51.96 (winning by more than seven seconds) and took the 100 backstroke in 56.66 (by more than three seconds).
"I was expecting to win," Cakir said. "But not by that much."
St. Anthony’s coach Dan McBride credited Cakir’s work ethic, saying sometimes he’s in awe of Cakir’s skills at an early age.
"I get to watch this guy swim on a daily basis and he amazes me," McBride said. "I love the fact that I coach him, but I’m his No. 1 fan."
Cakir felt strong in the pool Sunday, but he has his eyes set on bigger prizes. McBride said the freshman has been asking him all season how his time compares to the best in the state – with the state championships set for March 4-5 at Ithaca College. Kellenberg’s Ryan Nunez won the 100 butterfly in 50.43 to also advance to the state championships.
"Those were the times I wanted to be at, so I’m happy about that," Cakir said. "I was pretty confident and my goal is to win states as a freshman. Being able to win two as a freshman would be pretty nice."
Chaminade won its second straight team CHSAA title with 811.5 points. St. Anthony’s (630) was second.
Chaminade’s 200 freestyle relay team of Kieran Duffy, James Cash, Stephen McDonald and Lucas Silva won in 1:27.00, edging out Iona Prep by .02 seconds. Silva slapped the water in excitement after seeing he capped off sending the relay to the state championships.
"It was surreal," Silva said. "I’ve been a part of relays before but nothing like that. It was such a close finish. It was magical looking at the team and everyone was riled up. It’s a once in a lifetime type of thing."
In previous seasons, Chaminade’s time would have been strong enough to compete in the state championships win or lose. But Chaminade coach Angelo Pellicone said the state championships are only allowing the winners from the CHSAA championships to compete.
"The Catholic section is the only section in the state where we are only allowed to bring the winner – the one champion," Pellicone said. "Everybody else in the state is allowed to bring anyone who’s qualified. This is the best section in the state, has been for 15 years now, and I don’t know why any competitor would not want the best competition in any situation."
St. Anthony’s team of Aaron Mendoza, Cakir, Connor Brown and Matthew McManus won the 200 medley relay in 1:33.97.
McDonald placed second in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle, Silva finished second in the 100 butterfly and Daniel Dwyer was second in the 200 individual medley for Chaminade. The Flyers’ 200-medley relay team of Brian Kern, Dylan Boutin, Lucca Boutin and Silva finished third and their 400 freestyle relay team of Kern, Cash, Duffy and McDonald also finished third.
"Swimming to me really is a team sport and I feel like this year really represented that," Pellicone said. "The amount of depth we have, the amount of guys we can lock into the final heat is really what separated us from the rest. This is the fastest section in our state, it has been for years, and to be able to do that with this group is really special."
200-yard medley relay: St. Anthony’s (Mendoza, Cakir, Brown, McManus) 1:33:97, Archbishop Molloy (Beehler, Hayes, Green, Faba) 1:36.99, Chaminade (Kern, D. Boutin, L. Boutin, Silva) 1:37.12; 200 freestyle: Amar (Fordham Prep) 1:40.20, McDonald (Chaminade) 1:40.76, Green (AM) 1:41.94; 200 individual medley: Cakir (SA) 1:51.96, Dwyer (Cha) 1:59.27, O’Hagan (AM) 1:59.43; 50 free: Levy (Iona Prep) 20.80, Rikic (Xaverian) 21.09, Beehler (AM) 21.42, 100 butterfly: Nunez (Kellenberg) 50.43, Silva (Cha) 50.62, Mendoza (SA) 50.80; 100 free: Rikic (Xvn) 56.45, Uybico (Xavier) 47.35, Levy (IP) 47.57; 500 free: Green (AM) 4:30.36, McDonald (Cha) 4:33.52, Amar (FP) 4:33.28; 200 medley relay: Cha (Duffy, Cash, McDonald, Silva) 1:27.00, IP (DeCasseres, Pestrikov, Roychoudhury, Levy) 1:27.02, FP (Haskins, Fine, Barry, Amar) 1:27.56, 100 backstroke: Beehler (AM) 50.52, Mendoza (SA) 50.97, Nunez (Kell) 51.05; 100 breaststroke: Cakir (SA) 56.66, Hayes (AM) 59.83, Roychoudhury (IP) 1:00.65; 400 free relay: FP (Egan, Barry, Miraglia, Amar) 3:09.21, SA (Glaser, Mendoza, Cakir, McManus) 3:09.82, Cha (Kern, Cash, Duffy, McDonald). Team scores: Chaminade 811.5, St. Anthony’s 630, Fordham Prep 624.