TAMPA — After making the ceremonial leap into AHN Pool with his district champion Tigers and Jaguars on Saturday night, coach Bill Shaffer hopped out of the water, made his way to the diving board and gleefully bounced into the pool as his swimmers cheered and continued to celebrate.
Needless to say, Jesuit’s 13th consecutive district title felt just as good as the first.
The Tigers rolled to the Class 2A, District 8 championship with 564 points, well ahead of second-place Hillsborough (358) and third-place Sickles (224).
Holy Names also cruised to a title, its third in a row, with 585 points to easily ward off Hillsborough (276) and East Bay (270). And it was Holy Names’ success, Shaffer said, that helped make this district championship so special.
“It’s a good team. The boys and the girls together, that’s what it is,” Shaffer said. “When I came to Academy three years ago, I tried to bring the Jesuit electricity to Academy, and it’s worked beyond what I expected. They’re forming well together, the girls are cheering for the guys, the girls are cheering for the girls — everybody gets along.”
The schools displayed that camaraderie before, during and especially after the meet. They jumped in the pool together and posed for pictures, and each team reacted just as excitedly when the other’s district victory was announced over the loudspeaker.
And the Tigers and Jaguars had plenty to celebrate afterwards. They combined to finish first in eight of the meet’s 22 races against competition that included state-medal contenders like Hillsborough’s Jamie Perez, East Bay’s Kayley Chevalier and Sickles’ Katie Cook and Andrew Howard.
Those four totaled seven first-place times, with Howard finishing on top in the 100-yard butterfly and the other three recording two top finishes each.