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Sacred Heart’s Lauryn Johnson sets CHSAA record in 500 freestyle

Lauryn Johnson of Sacred Heart keeps up the

Lauryn Johnson of Sacred Heart keeps up the winning pace in the 500-yard freestyle at the CHSAA girls swimming championships/state qualifier at the Nassau Aquatic Center on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Sacred Heart’s Lauryn Johnson continues to make history and she’s only a sophomore.

Johnson set a league record Sunday in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:52.62 at the CHSAA girls swimming championships at the Nassau County Aquatic Center. Johnson broke the mark of 4:55.36, set by Sacred Heart’s Emily Kelly in 2007 and also won the 100-yard butterfly (55.76).

“Honestly, as a sophomore, it’s amazing,” said Johnson, who was named Most Outstanding Swimmer. She entered the meet already holding another league record, after her 55.29 in the 100-yard butterfly last season.

“I’ve been training freestyle a lot recently and to get that 500-freestyle record is so satisfying,” she added. “I’m so happy I got to accomplish that, with the help of my coaches, friends and family.”

“I told her she had to go out and beat 4:55 in the 500 and she did it with ease,” Sacred Heart coach Mary White said. “I’m very proud of her. Words can’t describe it. She’s improved so much in her distance swimming.”

White also coached Kelly, who went on to swim at the University of North Carolina, and said Johnson’s record-breaking performance “brings back a lot of memories. Emily and Lauryn are so similar in their personalities. They have a lot of drive and they love swimming.”

On the team level, St. Anthony’s capped an undefeated regular season by winning its seventh consecutive league title. The Friars were led by Emily Bardak, who won both the 200-yard individual medley (2:07.73) and 100-yard freestyle (0:52.93), as well as their 200-yard freestyle relay team, which set a new league record. Katherine Meyers, Jillian Smerechniak, Briana Gellineau and Bardak swam a 1:38.93 to break the record set by Mary Louis Academy last season.

“This is the best feeling ever,” Bardak said. “It’s been so much fun, I love waking up for practice with everyone. Our team is very close.”

“It’s been an amazing ride and I couldn’t imagine it any other way,” said Smerechniak, who also won the 100-yard breaststroke (1:06.5).

Gellineau (1:52.59 in the 200-yard freestyle) and Beth Caruana (57.40 in the 100-yard backstroke) also won individual titles for the Friars.

“No one’s ever won seven in a row,” Friars coach Dan McBride said, “so to keep the intensity up with the caliber of teams we have in this league is quite a feat.”

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