By Sophia Ricco
Northport junior Chloe Stepanek made waves at the Girls Swimming and Diving State Championships, winning first place in both the 200 and 100 yard freestyle, earning the title of “most outstanding athlete” at the meet.
Stepanek held nothing back at the State Championships, hosted at Ithaca College on Nov. 17. The energy was electric in the pool, with the bleachers packed and cheering for races. Stepanek set a personal best in the 100 freestyle, thanks to the rowdy spirit.
“It gets you pumped up and ready to swim,” Stepanek said.
Before the State Finals, Stepanek raced in preliminary rounds to secure a good lane in the pool and test her speed abilities. The day of finals, she remembers feeling excitement as she prepared in the “ready room” and walked out to her race. She was supported by the other girls from Suffolk’s Section XI who qualified for the meet. The swimmers all traveled together and are friends from club teams.
“The state meet definitely has a lot of energy and is one of the most fun high school meets we have,” Stepanek said. “Just being with your section and having the whole section cheer you on, everyone is really supportive.”
Stepanek went into the meet with little rest, preparing for States with intense training, but still represented her school with first place wins and high placing relays.
“While you are there to swim and compete, you want to make sure you enjoy your time with your team and have fun with your friends,” Stepanek said.
Even after winning the 200 freestyle, Stepanek feels there is room to improve her time.
“There were still things I came away from it with that I can work on, like my starts,” Stepanek said. “Even when you have a good time, you look at things you can improve on to go faster.”
It is crucial for her to train hard if she wants to drop time, along with weight training, eating well and getting enough sleep. Stepanek plans to continue her training and compete with Long Island Aquatic Club.
“Teammates are a very big part, I couldn’t train without them,” Stepanek said. “It’s very hard to swim by yourself, you need your teammates to motivate you during practice and to make it fun.”
As a junior, Stepanek still has one more season to prove herself at State Championships and beat her current times.
“I can’t believe it’ll be my last year of high school swimming, it’s really sad,” Stepanek said. “I can’t believe I only have one more year, but I’m gonna make the most of it, have a lot of fun with my team, and swim fast to see how fast I can really go.”