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ST. PETERSBURG — During the first few months of the season, Jesuit coach Bill Shaffer often spoke about the need for a “fourth horse” — someone to complement his top three swimmers: Chase Goodwin, John Simon and Chris Swanson.
After Jesuit won its second straight Class 2A, Region 3 championship Friday night at the North Shore Aquatic Complex, racking up 346 points to beat Osceola (261.50), Shaffer attributed the large margin of victory to the fact that four of his athletes turned into viable fourth options.
Academy of the Holy Names also brought a region title back to Tampa with 346 points, edging Lakewood Ranch (315) and Osceola (251).
“It’s just all heart. It spilled over to the girls,” Shaffer said of his team’s effort. “It is a lot of fun. When I see the girls smile like that instead of just being drained at the end of the meet, we know we’re doing something right.”
Shaffer was most impressed with Will Jennings, Connor Bowen, Thompson Marston and Nick Dwyer, all of whom finished in the top eight of their events. The usual suspects — Goodwin, Simon and Swanson — didn’t disappoint, either.
Their 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays came out on top with times of 1:31.07 and 3:20.56. Despite not being tapered or shaved, Swanson finished second in the 200 and 500 freestyle. Goodwin took fourth in the 100 free and third in the 100 back.
But Simon, the nonyear-round swimmer, might have had the best all-around meet of any of Jesuit’s swimmers, finishing second in the 50 free by 0.07 and winning the 100 free in 48.32.
“John is a testosterone boy. He gets real pumped up,” Shaffer said. “And he doesn’t swim for himself. He swims for his teammates.”
Osceola held off third-place Hillsborough on the boys side thanks to a first-place 200 medley relay and a 100 breaststroke victory by senior Matt Tomlin. The girls, meanwhile, picked up only one top-three time but finished third.