Region swimming: Two-time champs Tankersley, Vasiloff improve times
CLEARWATER – Usually at this point in the season, area swimmers are just looking to trim precious tenths of a second to improve their postseason standing.
But at Saturday's Class 4A, Region 2 meet at the Long Center, athletes were surprising themselves with the times they were able to post.
Take Morgan Tankersley, for example. The Plant High sophomore was the third seed in the 200-yard freestyle but carved more than five seconds from her qualifying time to win the event with a 1:48.02. And in the 500 free, ranked fourth a full seven seconds behind top seed Peyton Palsha of St. Petersburg, Tankersley turned around a 1 1/2-second deficit in the final 100 yards to edge Palsha for the victory.
“I actually swam two seconds faster (Saturday) than I did at states last year,” an excited Tankersley said of her 4:49.09 clocking which was a 12-second improvement from her seed time. “In the back of my mind, I was kind of hoping to drop my times. This was a pleasant surprise.”
High-intensity freestyle training has helped Tankersley become a stronger closer, in turn helping Plant finish fourth as a team behind champion Sarasota Riverview and third-place Palm Harbor University.
“I feel mentally and physically, it helps me, but it really hurts in that last 50 yards,” she said with a laugh.
Another double winner, Durant's Katie Vasiloff, followed the same path, dropping almost five seconds combined to emerge victorious in the 50 free (23.54) and 100 butterfly (54.63).
“The coaches told me I could easily break 56 seconds (in the fly Saturday),” the sophomore said. “It was like a dream to go 54 now. I thought maybe at states, but this is amazing.”
On the boys side, Durant senior Sean White fought off Sarasota Riverview's Keanan Dols and Pinellas Park's John Legge to take the 200 IM (1:55.09), then overtook Alonso's Chase Psinakis to prevail in the 100 free (46.71).
“I have this tendency to look over and try to find out where everyone is so I know where I am in the heat,” White explained. “Competition drive me a lot. It motivates me to go after them and catch up.”
Countryside rode superb efforts from its three relay teams to place just behind Sarasota Riverview in the team standings.
“Bobby Finke was in all three relays and he fought to the end to help win us the 400 freestyle relay,” said coach Scott Hernon. “They did a phenomenal job.”
The Cougars also won the 200 medley relay while Noah Lense set a school record in winning the 100 fly with a 48.64.