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Salute to the Champs: Boys swimming

Jake Newmark of Garden City wins his heat

Jake Newmark of Garden City wins his heat in the 500-yard freestyle event during the New York State boys swimming championship preliminaries in East Meadow on March 6. Credit: Peter Frutkoff


Jake Newmark, Garden City, Sr.

He really couldn’t have done much better.

In his final varsity swimming event, Jake Newmark won the 200-yard and 500 freestyle state championships en route to being named the Most Outstanding Competitor at the boys swimming state championships at the Nassau Aquatic Center March 7.

The Garden City senior won the 200 freestyle in a state-record time of 1:35.88 and the 500 freestyle in a county-record time of 4:23.24. Both were All-American automatic times and he also won state titles in both events as a junior.

“It’s been so special,” Newmark said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better high school career. Great friends, great teammates, I’ve had a great coach. It’s been perfect.”

Newmark, a six-year varsity swimmer, graduates as one of the most decorated swimmers in Long Island history. He also holds the Nassau County record in the 100 freestyle (44.78) and 100 backstroke (49.22). He will swim at the University of Wisconsin next year.

He is incredibly competitive in the pool, but coach Anne Sullivan said he is all about others outside the water.

“He’s just very enjoyable and he’s very down-to-earth,” Sullivan said. “He likes flying under the radar. He’s come out of his shell a little bit but he found his niche and this is his sport.”

Nicholas Shopis, Chaminade, Jr.

Nicholas Shopis didn’t need to have the same mindset as other swimmers who would eventually go on to win a state championship. This wouldn’t be the end for his high school tenure. And even after taking a state title, he still felt the same way after the meet.

The Chaminade junior won the 100 freestyle state championship in an All-American consideration time of 45.45 at the Nassau Aquatic Center March 7.

“Winning it is definitely a big accomplishment,” Shopis said. “But I’m already looking forward to next year and seeing what I can do.”

With another year left to compete for the Flyers, Shopis wants to do the same — and possibly even improve with an eye on records for next winter.

“Obviously winning the 100 free is a big achievement, especially as a junior,” Shopis said. “This is one of the fastest meets I’ve ever been to.”

Billy Swartwout, St. Anthony’s, Sr.

Mom and Dad always know best. And Billy Swartwout didn’t forget that.

Before the St. Anthony’s senior’s final swimming state championship meet March 7 at the Nassau Aquatic Center, Swartwout remembered a conversation with his parents from the morning.

“I was talking to my parents before and they were tearing up,” Swartwout said. “But they told me to take it as an out-of-body experience and really enjoy everything that was happening and have fun with it. Don’t worry about the time or the place, just swim like you usually do and have fun with it.”

Swartwout did just that, going out and winning the 100 backstroke state championship in an All-American consideration time of 50.27. He was also a part of two state championship relay teams.

“It means the world to me,” said Swartwout, who will swim at Princeton next year. “Being it’s the last one, it was a pretty emotional meet. I’m pretty happy with how I did. I think the whole team did really well, so we’re really happy about that.”

Justin Whang, Great Neck South, Jr.

The individual medley shows a different side of every swimmer.

You can’t just excel in one stroke with goals of winning a state championship in the 200 individual medley. With 50-yard swims of the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle, all aspects are displayed. And that’s what Justin Whang likes showing off the most — his versatility in the water.

“It’s a test of everything,” Whang said. “You can’t be only good at one stroke. You have to be good at everything and I really enjoy racing the IM. I think it’s the most interesting race because it has all four strokes.”

Whang, a junior, won the 200 IM state championship in an All-American consideration time of 1:51.12 at the Nassau Aquatic Center March 7. His 200 IM time was also a Nassau County record and he has a full season left to improve on that mark.

“It’s so exciting,” Whang said. “I’m only a junior and I still have another year to go, so I’m looking forward to what I can do next year. It’s really encouraging.”

St. Anthony’s 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams: Christopher Stange, Sr.; Mark Owens, Sr.;  Matthew McManus, Fr.; Billy Swartwout, Sr.

Year after year, the Friars pride themselves on their success in the relays. Even as the turnover continues with swimmers graduating and new student-athletes joining the program, relay races remain the team’s priority. And this winter was no different.

St. Anthony’s quartet of Christopher Stange, Mark Owens, Matthew McManus and Billy Swartwout won two state championships, both in All-American automatic times. The swimmers won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:24.33 and 400 freestyle relay in 3:05.88 at the state championships at the Nassau Aquatic Center March 7.

“The relays are where we get to swim together as a team,” Stange said. “I know we all love getting to go up there and swim together.”

The relays also helped the Friars score the most team points in the state championships for the third-straight year.

“It’s amazing,” Stange said. “Three years in a row. It’s all I could have asked for honestly and win as a team. And we did it.”

Public Schools

Jake Ang, Sewanhaka, Sr.

Jake Ang called his shot.

Before this winter season started, Ang told the Sewanhaka student newspaper he was going to graduate as a state champion. And Ang didn’t disappoint.

The senior won the public-school state championship in the 50-yard freestyle in an All-American consideration time of 20.81 at the Nassau Aquatic Center March 7. Ang’s time was second in the federation.

“Knowing that it’s my last ride, I knew I had to give everything,” Ang said. “After this I’m done, so it makes me feel even better.”

Ang was still in some awe less than an hour after winning his state title. It was the moment he pictured for himself since becoming a varsity swimmer, and the emotions surpassed his own expectations.

“It hasn’t really set In yet,” Ang said. “I’ll probably feel it a couple hours from now, but this is the best feeling for me.”

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