RYE, N.Y. – Steven Amato has come a long way in a span of one year.
The 12-year-old swimmer from Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle said he did not qualify for the 50-yard breaststroke final. This motivated Amato for a return to the Westchester County Swimming and Diving Championships with one goal in mind – win the title.
Amato, who lives in Eastchester, qualified for the final as the co-top seed with Willowbrook’s Andrew Schmitt, then went out and won on Wednesday the boy’s 12-and-under 50 breaststroke in a time of 33.04 seconds at Playland Pool.
Amato and Schmitt both clocked in at 33.32 seconds in their respective preliminary heats. Amato knew Schmitt would be right there with him throughout the race so he wanted to get off quick.
“I felt I had a good start and that gave me the lead,” said Amato, a seventh-grader-to-be at Eastchester Middle School. “In the beginning I was taking longer strokes then further into the race I went with shorter strokes and made sure I kept my hands open to push back the water.”
Amato could feel Schmitt was right there with him, swimming alongside him, but he did not look. Instead, Amato pushed hard in the final 20 yards and touched the wall ahead of Schmitt, who finished at 33.94 seconds.
“I was focused on finishing strong,” Amato said. “When I touched the wall, I looked to my side and saw that he was behind me.
“It feels really good to come back and win because I was swimming unattached last year and I didn’t even make the finals.”