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Ryan Kaplan, David He, Luka Zuric, Cameron Kubik post top time in 200 medley relay

Ward Melville's Luka Zuric qualified sixth in the

Ward Melville's Luka Zuric qualified sixth in the 100-yard backstroke in 51.82 on the first day of state Federation championships at Nassau Aquatic Center in East Meadow. Credit: James Escher

It’s the final time Ward Melville seniors Ryan Kaplan, David He, Luka Zuric and Cameron Kubik will be competing together at the state boys swimming championships, and the relay team wasted little time showing this is the moment they’ve trained for.

“Every time we dive in the pool together it’s something special,” He said. “I love swimming on relays with the guys. It’s totally different from an individual event.”

It didn’t take long for the Patriots to prove that, as Ward Melville posted the top time (1:34.08) in the 200-yard medley relay — the first event of the preliminary races at the Nassau Aquatic Center Friday afternoon. It was more than a second faster than the meet’s second-best mark and two seconds better than their best swim of the season.

“It’s a huge confidence booster because it’s the four of us, we’ve been carrying each other through this entire varsity process,” Zuric said. “Knowing that we can come together and show how good we are and just perform really well with each other . . . it means a lot to us.”

“The past two weeks, we’ve been practicing our relay starts, just trying to get every second we can, every millisecond,” Kubik added.

The same four swimmers posted the second-best time in the 400 freestyle relay (3:09.45). Individually, He posted the third-best time in the 200 IM (1:52.51) and Kaplan had the 10th best time in the same event (1:56.34). Zuric had the third-best time in the 100 butterfly (50.24) and sixth in 100 backstroke (51.82). David He also had the fifth-best time (57.07) in the 100 breaststroke (57.07) and Kubik added the 10th-best time (58.91). All four swimmers will also compete in individual championship heat events at Saturday’s state championships, starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Nassau Aquatic Center.

“I feel like it’s a big moment for all of us and we’ve all been looking forward to it,” Kaplan said. “It’s also the end of our high-school career, and that’s really sad, but it looks forward to next year at college.”

There was no shortage of Long Island talent on display Friday, as Shoreham-Wading River’s Jason Louser (1:49.89, 200 IM), Chaminade’s Christian Sztolcman (45.50, 100 free) and Hauppauge’s Jack Casey (55.49, 100 breast) posted top times in their races.

South Side-Lynbrook’s Timothy Marski was the lone swimmer to have two top times — a 20.63 in the 50 free and 48.64 in the 100 fly.

“It makes me more confident but really just depends how I swim,” the Lynbrook senior said. “I’m pretty confident.”

Marski and Great Neck South’s Andy Lee have been pushing each other throughout the past few meets — or “years” as Marski said — as Lee enters the 50 free and 100 free with the second-best times.

“It will be fun tomorrow,” Lee said. “We’ll see.”

BOYS SWIMMING STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

At Nassau Aquatic Center — Local top-10 times

200-yard medley relay: 1) Ward Melville (Kaplan, He, Zuric, Kubik) 1:34.08, 2) St. Anthony’s (Fitzpatrick, Chang, Owens, Meyn) 1:35.38, 6) South Side-Lynbrook (Davidoff, Marski, Berlin, Dalrymple) 1:35.98, 7) Half Hollow Hills (Chan, Arnberg, Tack, Randhawa) 1:36.05, 8) Hauppauge (Burr, Casey, McMenamy, Nielsen) 1:36.36, 9) Northport (Millkey, Papsco, Greenfield, Karpf) 1:37.16; 200 free: 2) Sztolcman (Chaminade) 1:39.75; 5) Swartwout (SA) 1:41.86; 200 IM: 1) Louser (Shoreham-Wading River) 1:49.89, 3) He (WM) 1:52.51, 4) Chang (SA) 1:53.05, 5) Kalletta (Eastport-South Manor) 1:53.38, 10) Kaplan (WM) 1:56.34; 50 free: 1) Marski (SS-L) 20.63, 2) Lee (Great Neck South) 20.90, 3) Morris (Long Beach) 21.18, 6) Aroesty (LB) 21.29; 100 fly: 1) Marski (SS-L) 48.64, 3) Zuric (WM) 50.24, 4) Tack (HHH) 50.61, 7) Owens (SA) 50.86, 9) Zayit (Port Washington-Roslyn) 50.90, Papaco (Northport) 51.04; 100 free: 1) Sztolcman (Cha) 45.50, 2) Lee (GNS) 45.61, 10) Meyn (SA) 47.08; 500 free: 2) Kalletta (ESM) 4:33.22, 4) Randhawa (HHH) 4:34.85, 5) Ramirez (Syosset) 4:36.60, 9) Champagne (SA) 4:41.32; 200 free relay: 5) Long Beach (Aroesty, Morris, Kennedy, Harrington) 1:27.28, 6) St. Anthony’s (Owens, Griffin, Stange, Swartwout) 1:27.42, 8) Northport (Papsco, Millkey, Greenfield, Karpf) 1:27.77, 10) Chaminade (Sztolcman, Melchore, Takes, Shannon) 1:27.90; 100 back: 2) Burr (Hauppauge) 50.57, 6) Zuric (WM) 51.82, 7) Chan (HHH) 51.90, Newmark (Garden City) 52.40; 100 breast: 1) Casey (Hau) 55.59, 2) Louser (SWR) 55.92, 3) Chang (SA) 56.43, 5) He (WM) 57.07, 8) Protano (GC) 58.37, 10) Kubik (WM) 58.91; 400 free relay: 2) Ward Melville (He, Kubik, Kaplan, Suric) 3:09.45, 4) St. Anthony’s (Swartwout, Champagne, Meyn, Chang) 3:09.76, 7) Hills (Randhawa, Tack, Jakubiak, Chan) 3:11.73, 8) Garden City (Newmark, Brown, Gaffney, Protano) 3:12.91, 9) Chaminade (Shopis, Takes, Melchore, Sztolcman) 3:12.98.

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