The Nassau Aquatic Center has been home to many of Patrick Carter’s major milestones.
It’s where the West Islip senior learned the fundamentals of diving. It’s where he went from a stranger on the board to star pupil to statewide phenomenon. On Friday, it witnessed the end of one of the most decorated high school diving careers in Long Island history.
“It kind of makes me sad thinking all the way back,” said Carter, with a huge smile after winning back-to-back state diving championships on Friday with a 580.05 score. “I first started diving here. I’ve been diving here since I was a little child, so this place has got a lot of memories. So to be able to win it here, especially, means the world. I really couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Carter never took anything for granted this season. Despite winning five Suffolk County championships and setting the county record in the 6-dive and 11-dive events, Carter was constantly thinking about making others proud. He even admitted to losing sleep and waking up in the middle of nights in the weeks leading to the championship.
“I didn’t want to let anybody down,” Carter said. “A lot of people and coaches have helped me throughout the years and this is just a good way to thank them. Just really show them how much they meant to me.”
Needless to say, he didn’t let anyone down in his final event before enrolling at the United States Naval Academy. There are pictures in Carter’s house of him as a child in a Navy uniform. It’s the only place he wanted to continue his diving and build a future.
“That picture goes a long ways back,” he said. “I look at that picture every now and then and it just reminds me that dreams come true.”
Carter thanked West Islip coach Bob Kollar, diving coach Karyn Storan and club coach Zhihua Hu. And as he looked back at the emptying Aquatic Center, he couldn’t help but to think of everything he’s accomplished.
“I’ve spent countless hours in this pool,” Carter said. “I’ve probably spent more time here than anywhere else besides my home so to be able to end it here and know that my high school career ending on a high note, I’m really satisfied.”
Brett Hebert, competing for Huntington-Harborfields, placed sixth with Nicholas Shen (Great Neck South) and Youssef Ibrahim (Bellmore-Merrick) finishing 15th and 16th, respectively.
In the preliminary swimming races, Rocky Point’s Chris O’Shea posted top times in the 100-yard butterfly and 100 backstroke and St. Anthony’s Andrew Stange had the top times in the 100 free and 200 free, earning top seeds heading into Saturday’s championship final starting at 10:30 a.m.
Some history was made as the Half Hollow Hills’ 200 medley relay team of Dylan Chan, Alex Park, Ethan Tack and Daniel Lee set a state Federation record in 1:33.82. The same swimmers set a public school record in the 200 free relay in 1:25.33.
“We honestly didn’t even know what the records were before the meet,” Chan said. “Once we finished and we heard the announcer tell us we broke the record, we were just in complete awe.”