Praise Okodogbe of St. John the Baptist wins the 100...

Praise Okodogbe of St. John the Baptist wins the 100 yard butterfly event with a time of 1:02.13 during the CHSAA girls dual swim meet against Holy Trinity in East Meadow on Saturday, October 31, 2020. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Praise Okodogbe certainly looks graceful in the pool when she swims.

But a closer look reveals something a little more unique. The St. John the Baptist sophomore attacks the water, swimming with power and fury.

"I use the water as a stress release," Okodogbe said. "It always helps me to do better."

It’s difficult to imagine Okodogbe doing any better than she did on Saturday. She won back-to-back events -- the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly -- and was also a member of a pair of winning relay teams to help the Cougars to an 83-54 win against Holy Trinity in a CHSAA girls swimming meet at the Nassau Aquatic Center.

"I always push myself, even when I’m tired. I always do my best," said Okodogbe, who left midway through the meet to compete with her club team [Long Island Aquatic Club]. "My teammates’ support is all that matters to me."

St. John the Baptist (2-0) finished first and third in the opening event, the 200 medley relay. Then the Cougars went 1-2-3 in both the 200 freestyle and 200 individual medley (IM) events and jumped out to a 36-9 lead. Okodogbe then recorded wins in her two individual events as St. John the Baptist was comfortably ahead, 60-16.

Mia Stroub also had an outstanding day for the Cougars. The senior won the 200 individual medley (2:25.18) and 100 back (1:09.57) and was a member of two winning relays. Back in March, when COVID-19 forced school, gyms and pools on Long Island to close, Stroub missed the water.

"I wondered, ‘When am I going to be back in a pool.’ I just wanted to swim so bad," she said. "The time away really made me appreciate swimming."

Senior Kate O’Malley won the 200 free (2:26.34), was second in the 100 free, and was a member of the Cougars’ winning 400-freestyle relay. Okodogbe’s older sister, Favour, was second in the 100 back, third in the 100 free and a member of the 400-free relay.

Senior Brooke Bowers captured the 100 breaststroke (1:17.95), was second in the 200 IM, and was on a pair of winning relay teams. Freshman Charlotte Johannesen won the 100 free (1:02.70), was third in the 200 IM and was on two winning relays for St. John the Baptist (2-0).

A pair of sophomores led Holy Trinity (1-1). Ayesha Patel was second in the 100 breaststroke (1:31.13) and Emma Johnson-Schumacher was third in the 50 free (34.38).Ok

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