By Janee Law
Northport High School sophomore Chloe Stepanek has been growing as an athlete ever since she began swimming at 6 years old.
At the Nov. 17-18 New York State Swimming and Diving Championships at Ithaca College, Stepanek placed first in both the 100- and 200-yard freestyles.
During the preliminaries of the 200-yard freestyle, Stepanek broke her own Suffolk County record, completing the race in 1:49.35. She went on to beat that mark during the final race with a time of 1:47.53.
The 15-year-old also broke a county record that stood for 13 years in the 100-yard freestyle that was set by Julia Smit, the 2008 U.S. Olympian. Smit’s time was 1:50.54 which Stepanek beat in the preliminary with a 1:50.51. She then outdid that time in the finals with a 1:49.93.
“It was definitely one of my goals to win both of my events,” Stepanek, of Northport, said. “I was really happy because I wanted to go into the 1:47 range for my 200-yard freestyle and I also wanted to break 50 seconds in my 100-yard freestyle, so the fact that I did both of those and won, I felt really happy after.”
As a whole, the high school swim team finished 11th in state for the NYS Federation, and ninth in state for NYSPHSAA schools.
Both of her final swims were automatic All-American times, and she also earned the Most Outstanding Competitor award for the competition.
Stepanek said she felt a rush of adrenaline when she received the award.
“It was definitely a real honor getting that award because there were a lot of really good swimmers at the meet,” she said. “Getting All-American in both of my events was an honor and a really good accomplishment for me.”
Stepanek also competed in other events, including the 500-yard freestyle, the 200-medley relay, and the 400-freestyle relay.
In addition to the school's swim team, Stepanek swims year round for the Long Island Aquatic Club team, which she’s been part of for five years now. She is currently competing with the club team at the USA Swimming Winter Nationals at Ohio State University. She will compete in the 100-yard freestyle today, in the 200-yard freestyle tomorrow, and in the 500-yard freestyle on Saturday.
She said her goal for nationals is to execute a faster time with each of her races.
While looking ahead, Stepanek said she also plans to go to the Olympic trials in 2020 at the end of her high school career.
She added that what she loves most about swimming is the competitive aspect and meeting different people throughout her journey.
“You go to so many places and you get really great opportunities,” Stepanek said. "It’s fun and I really like it."