The St. Anthony’s boys swimming team exited the pool at the Nassau Aquatic Center in March without winning a single individual or relay state championship. But you’d be hard pressed to find a more ecstatic group that afternoon.
The Friars weren’t out for individual accolades that day. In what may be perceived as an individual sport, St. Anthony’s had its eyes on the team scores throughout the championship. As the top 10 results continued to pile in, the Friars built up and held its lead, ending the championship with 250 team points, finishing ahead of Ward Melville (218) and Fordham Prep (212).
It was the second time in the last three seasons St. Anthony’s finished with the most team points at the state championship.
“There’s always personal times you can chase outside of varsity,” senior Michael Chang of Farmingdale said. “But the name of being the best team in New York really comes with having the team pride and coming together as a team rather than being individualized swimmers.”
Which is exactly what the Friars did at the state championship, starting with a team of underclassmen in Ian Fitzpatrick, Chang, Mark Owens and Justin Meyn placing second in the 200-yard medley relay — the opening event — in 1:33.88 last winter. The Friars finished sixth in the 200 free relay with a team of Owens, Christopher Stange, Trevor Griffin and William Swartwout, all sophomores.
St. Anthony’s placed fourth in the 400 free relay — the championship’s final event — with Swartwout, Dylan Champagne, Meyn and Chang.
“Having a group of guys surround you during a race means a lot more than doing it alone,” Chang said. “And getting to see your teammates swim before and after you is something you don’t get in an individual race, so you get to cheer and be immersed in the race, rather than being in the bleachers, is a lot more entertaining.”
Much of the Friars’ team success stems from their attitude at practice. In a pool filled with talented swimmers, they push each other through competition, while also trying to keep the mood enjoyable.
“It’s a mix of pushing each other and just being guys,” Meyn, a senior from Brightwaters, said. “We always like joking around, trying to keep the mood light and we’re just being kids right now. But when it comes to meets, we buckle down and we always try to win and have fun doing it.”
The Friars are coming off three straight undefeated dual-meet seasons, with hopes of stretching that to four years, along with winning a league championship after falling to Chaminade last winter.
“I think this year is going to be special,” Meyn said. “It’s going to be just like my freshman year because we have so many swimmers that can swim at each position and multiple events. I expect nothing but the best from the guys.”
Swimmers to watch
Ryan Aroesty, Long Beach, Sr.: Finished fifth at the state championship in the 50-yard freestyle (21.29) and had the 10th best time in the 100 fly (51.23).
Trenton Burr, Hauppauge, Sr.: Finished third at the state championship in the 100-yard backstroke (50.49).
Michael Chang, St. Anthony’s, Sr.: Finished tied for second at the state championship in the 200-yard IM (1:51.13) and third in the 100 breast (55.54) for the defending team state champions.
Nikolas Daly, Chaminade, Sr.: Finished 12th in the 200-yard IM (1:56.18) and had the ninth best time in the 100 breast (58.57) for the defending CHSAA team champions.
Andy Lee, Great Neck South, Sr.: Finished second at the state championship in the 50-yard free (20.87) and second in the 100 free (45.08). He had the top time of any public school swimmer in the 100 free.
Jason Louser, Shoreham-Wading River, Sr.: The two-time defending 100-yard breaststroke state champion won last year’s race in an All-American automatic time of 55.07. He also won last season’s state championship in the 200 IM, in 1:48.20, also an All-American automatic time.
Justin Meyn, St. Anthony’s, Sr.: Finished tied for seventh at the state championship in the 100 free (47.06) for the defending team state champions.
Jake Newmark, Garden City, Jr.: Finished 10th at the state championships in the 100-yard back (52.35).
Nicholas Shen, Great Neck South, Soph.: Won last season’s Nassau diving title, and finished 11th at the state championships.
Kabir Randhawa, Half Hollow Hills, Sr.: Finished third at the state championships in the 500-yard freestyle (4:32.81) and had the 11th best time in the 200 free (1:43.54).