As the defending state champion in two swimming events, Northport’s Chloe Stepanek knew that all eyes would be focused on her.
But it didn't make much of a difference.
“It added a little bit more pressure, but I was able to focus on myself and had the support of my teammates to help me swim fast,” said Stepanek, who swims for the combined Commack/Northport team.
The junior successfully defended her state championship in both the 200 yard freestyle and the 100 free, and was named the most outstanding athlete of the girls swimming and diving state championships at Ithaca College for a second consecutive season Saturday.
She finished with a time of 1 minute, 47.66 seconds in the 200 free and swam a 49.64 in the 100 free, breaking her previous Suffolk County record of 49.93 that she set at last year’s state championship meet.
“I wouldn’t be able to do this without my parents, and I want thank them a lot,” Stepanek said. “My dad gets up early in the morning and takes me to practice, and they travel everywhere to watch me.”
Oceanside’s Catherine Stanford won the state title in the 50 free (23.38) and finished second to Stepanek in the 100 free (50.96).
“I am really good friends with Chloe and she’s really nice,” Stanford said. “I was talking to her before the 100 free and she told me that we can push each other. I knew that if I stayed with her, I would have stayed on my time, so that’s what I tried to do.”
Despite what some people close to her might say, Stanford knows that this is a big accomplishment.
“Some of my friends make fun of me and tell me that swimming is not a sport,” she said. “I am going to go back to Long Island, I am going to wear my state champion t-shirt and I’m going to be like, ‘look who won’.”
Kyra Sommerstad, who attends Port Jefferson but swims as an independent, won the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:02.89. Sommerstad also finished second in the 100 backstroke (55.95).
“It was amazing, I am speechless about the whole thing,” Sommerstad said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling knowing that your hard work paid off.”
The most emotional moment of the meet occurred after Great Neck South’s Jessica Whang finished first in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.55). The senior was embraced by the other members from Nassau’s Section 8 team, as tears streamed down her face.
“This was something I wanted a lot,” Whang said. “This is my last meet as a high school swimmer and it was a special race. I wanted to go out there and do the best I could."
Sacred Heart had the best finish by a Long Island school in the team standings, finishing third overall with 161 points. The Spartans finished second in the 400 free relay (3:30.56) and third in the 200 free relay (1:37.27). Ward Melville’s 200 medley relay placed second with a time of 1:46.12 and helped the Patriots to an eighth-place team finish, scoring 112 points. Commack/Northport was 10th with 109 points.
Top Long Island Finishers at the State Championships
200 medley relay: 2. Ward Melville, 1:46.12; 5. Commack/Northport, 1:47.53.
200 free: 1. Chloe Stepanek, Northport, 1:47.66; 4. Briana Gellineau, St. Anthony's, 1:51.40; 5. Sydney Boals, Ward Melville, 1:51.92; 10. Sophia Karras, Herricks, 1:54.77.
200 IM: 1. Kyra Sommerstad, Port Jefferson, 2:02.89; 3. Morgan Rinn, Oceanside, 2:05.59; 5. Angelina Harris, Miller Place, 2:06.33; 8. Riley Gavigan, Ward Melville, 2:07.28; 9. Jessica Whang, Great Neck South, 2:09.14.
50 free: 1. Catherine Stanford, Oceanside, 23.38; 5. Joan Cash, Sacred Heart, 23.75.
100 fly: 2. Morgan Rinn, Oceanside, 55.85; 3. Lauryn Johnson, Sacred Heart, 55.63; 4. Jacqueline Triglia, West Islip, 56.91; 7. Megan Donnelly, Sayville/Bayport-Blue Point, 57.19; 9. Gaby McIntyre, Manhasset, 57.65.
100 free: 1. Chloe Stepanek, Northport, 49.64; 2. Catherine Stanford, Oceanside, 50.96; 4. Joan Cash, Sacred Heart, 51.68; 6. Sydney Boals, Ward Melville, 51.84.
500 free: 3. Lauryn Johnson, Sacred Heart, 4:53.82; 9. Sophia Karras, Herricks, 5:01.76.
200 free relay: 3. Sacred Heart, 1:37.27.
100 back: 2. Kyra Sommerstad, Port Jefferson, 55.95; 4. Riley Gavigan, Ward Melville, 56.23; 7. Katherine Hong, Herricks, 57.20
100 breast: 1. Jessica Whang, Great Neck South, 1:02.55; 4. Denise Phelan, Northport, 1:04.42; 7. Angelina Harris, Miller Place, 1:04.89.
400 free relay: 2. Sacred Heart, 3:30.56; 9. St. Anthony’s, 3:35.75