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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
As the saying goes, it’s easier to get to the top than it is to stay on top.

For Corning’s Angie McKane she reached the top last year, winning a state title in the 100 fly, and she’s fully aware of how hard she has to work to stay at the top.

“I’m a lot more nervous going into the championship meet this year than I was last year,” McKane said. “I was talking to my mom last night about it and she thinks this year, because I have a title to defend.  And, so I guess seeing my name at the top of the psych sheets does boost my confidence a little, but the times are so slim and close, I’m just hoping my training pays off.”

A year ago McKane won the NYSPHSAA title in the 100 fly and took fifth in the state in the 50 free. This year is different as she is seeded first in both.

While she might have a lot of competition in her events, she knows she does go in with the top times.

“It is a little bit stressful, but I’m hoping even with the small margin I do have over everyone else it will help a lot,” McKane said. ‘

Having a normal offseason this year is something McKane hopes will help.

This year going into states we had a whole year break in between seasons, but last year we only had a couple months,” McKane said. “I’m hoping that year chunk would help with the training and definitely show more improvement in my swims.”

In the 100 fly she has the top time among public school swimmers at 54.66. With Tess Howley of Sacred Heart (52.55) the top overall seed. Howley, won the federation title last year in a record time of 52.06.

In the 50 free McKane has the fastest time in the state or federation at 23.53.

For McKane the 50 free is now a focus along with the fly as she has a shot to compete for a federation title.

“That has definitely been in my mind,” McKane said. “I was going into last year only focusing on the 100 fly and I think going into it this year the 50 free, even though it’s not technically my main event, I’m ranked higher in it, I’m ranked first instead of second in the fly. I think I’m definitely a little more nervous for it this year.

“I’m very excited to be able to race for the federation title in the 50 free. I think in the 100 fly there’s a big gap between first and second, so hopefully next year it will be easier for me to get the federation title.”

Having someone like Howley to race is something that McKane thinks makes her better.

“I always look forward to being able to try and catch her,” McKane said. “My mom also told me to try and imagine that Tess Howley is racing in front of me like at sectionals. That she’s just a body length ahead and I just have to catch up that little amount. Because, in reality, those two seconds they boil down to just a body length ahead of me.

It’s definitely a booster. It pulls more energy out of myself. I want to go faster. I want to swim harder and it definitely reflects on my time as well. I really enjoy being able to be in the presence of her and watch her swim, because I also know she swims the 100 backstroke. Just seeing she has those fast times in multiple events, it’s motivating to me to try and have fast times in multiple events.”

McKane is motivated by those times and wants to reach those times.

“She’s (Howley) one yer older than me so I think in the back of my mind I subconsciously think I still have time to get up to that time, there’s a potential I will be able to next year,” McKane said.

One of the challenges this year for McKane is trying to focus on both the 50 free and 100 fly, rather than mostly focusing on the fly like last year.

“There’s a lot more pressure on me this year because I would like to win both of the events,” McKane said. “The training has also been a little bit different. I’ve been putting a little more effort into my 50 free like working on my turns, working on my breakouts, where last year it was only on my fly because I was only in the lead by a little bit.”

The Hawks also have two relays at states with Corning seeded 12th in 1:40.41 in the 200 free relay with a team of McKane, Audra Hilker, Kara Peters and Carolyn Heckle and a 400 free relay of McKane, Heckle, Peters and Maira Kuksenkova which is seeded 30th in 3:46.44.

“I’m excited for it,” McKane said. “It was four events last year as well, but this year we have a better chance of getting into the final heat for the 200 freestyle relay. Just a little more stress piling on, but I’m trying to relax this week so hopefully it will be good this weekend.

“Hopefully there is enough time between my 100 fly and 200 freestyle relay for me to be able to cool down and just give it my all, because I think I’ll definitely be focusing on that relay.”

It’s a lot of fun for McKane to have teammates at states with her.

“It’s very different form my eighth grade year when it was just me and another girl named Taylor, she was a diver though,” McKane said. “So, it’s definitely a lot more fun, especially this year we are able to sleep in a hotel room and so we get the evening before the meet just to hang out and watch a movie and try and relax a little bit. “

Webster is a pool that McKane has swam at in the past.

“I swam there a couple times before,” McKane said. “I like it a little bit. I don’t know if I like it more than the Ithaca College pool, but I haven’t been there in a while, so who knows, maybe I’ll do better there than the Ithaca College one.”

For McKane it’s crazy to think this is the end of her junior season.

“I was thinking about it just last week how the seniors on my team right now they are experiencing their final practices and this meet will be their final high school meet and I was thinking about how it’s going to be me next year. I was thinking about that, I’ll be swimming my last couple practices and my last couple meets next year.”

The Hawks star is looking to swim in college, and she knows big performances in meets like this can only help her.

“I am hoping, especially with this upcoming meet, there will be more opportunities that could possibly arise,” McKane said. “I’m definitely hoping to go a little faster.”

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