All Kaitlyn Liu wanted was one state swimming medal before she graduated. One piece of medal to show she was one of the top eight swimmers in the state in an event, one beautiful piece of silver to hang around her neck and display forever.
Well, the Great Neck South senior didn’t get one medal Saturday.
She outdid herself by getting two.
Liu had a spectacular performance at the state swimming and diving championships in Webster on Saturday, grabbing two top-five places in the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly to finish off her career.
Liu also broke a school record in the 100 fly, swimming it in :56.27, good for fourth place in the state.
I was pretty surprised by the placement; I didn’t expect to be that high,” Liu said Saturday night, on a noisy bus ride home. “It was incredible to finish like this, I am really excited and proud.”
Liu said that Friday night after prelims “everything started to hit me,” regarding the pressure of the state meet, and it being her final chance to swim as a high schooler.
But a pep talk from her friend Abby Han’s father, Martin, did the trick (Han swims for Carle Place/Locust Valley).
“He just calmed me down and reminded me how hard I worked (to get here), and I felt much better,” Liu said. “It was just, the finality of (Saturday) being the last chance I had to do the things I wanted to do.”
In the 200 IM, Liu finished fifth in 2:06.6, and credited a new breathing strategy for her improvement that allowed her to break a school record.
“That was my main goal today, to break that record,” she said.
And in the fly, she and her friend Han were close for a while, with Han finishing third and Liu fourth in .56.27.
“I saw her ahead of me by a lot at one point and I thought, ‘either she’s having an amazing race or I’m having a terrible race,’” Liu said with a laugh. “I’m glad we both were having great races.”
Manhasset’s Samantha Anderson also made her trip to Webster a memorable one, nabbing two Top-8 state finishes of her own on Saturday.
Anderson qualified seventh in Friday’s prelims of the 200 yard freestyle, but snagged fifth place in the finals, improving her prelim time by almost two full seconds, to 1:52.18.
“I hadn’t gone that fast all season and I was glad that the race was so fast, that definitely helped me,” Anderson said. “Having been here (at states) last year, I knew what to expect a little more.”
Anderson, a sophomore, wasn’t finished, as she performed better in the 500 free finals than she had in prelims as well. She qualified eighth in the 500 free but bettered her time by five seconds, to place fourth in 4.59.18. That 500 free time is a new school record, coach Matt McGrane said.
“I was really surprised at my time when I hit the wall; I really didn’t think I was going that fast,” Anderson said. “So much better than I saw at prelims so I was really happy.
Both were the best state performances of Anderson’s young career, and give her two more seasons to get even better and possibly win a state championship.
“She’s a relentless competitor and a great teammate,” Manhasset coach Matt McGrane said. “To repeat and improve upon her two Top 10 finishes from last year was just incredible. And for her to swim the backstroke leg of our medley relay right before her 200 free shows her team-first mentality.”
Besides Liu and Anderson, several other area swimmers had strong outings at the state meet.
Herricks freshman Kayra Patan, nabbed her first state medal Saturday, swimming a 1:06.23 to snag seventh place in the 100-yard breaststroke.
The Manhasset 200-yard relay team finished eighth in 1:50.13. Anderson, Shannon Reddington, Briana Racanello and Megan Koek comprise the quartet.
And in the 1-meter diving competition, Manhasset’s Adeline Chen finished 21st.