PALM HARBOR — Plant coach Gil Gonzales was encouraged by how his boys and girls teams performed against Palm Harbor University at the Florida Swimming Pool Association meet this month.
That gave him hope that one of his teams, particularly the girls, could contend for a district title.
But as Gonzales soon discovered, the Hurricanes he saw at Friday’s district meet were much different. Palm Harbor University used its depth to win its fifth straight boys and girls team titles.
The Hurricanes boys scored 537 to beat the Panthers by 276. PHU’s girls outscored Plant, 505.5-312.
“I thought we had a shot at the top two going into the meet,” Gonzales said. “We swam well against them at FSPA. But PHU has so much depth, and they brought new swimmers and some hidden gems.”
Having to concede the team title, the Panthers focused on individual events.
Plant’s girls had the best results. Emily Clifford won the 100 butterfly (59.77 seconds) and finished third in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.96). She teamed with Carter Flynn, Alexandria Donahue and Tara McGowan to win the 200 medley relay in 1:53.86. In the 200 free relay, Clifford swam the opening leg, followed by Elle Munns, Donahue and McGowan to place third in 1:43.68.
Wiregrass Ranch’s Athena Cimino was Pasco County’s only girls champion, taking first in the 50 free in 24.42.
On the boys side, the Panthers’ 200 free relay of Jeremy Parker, Matthew Kendall, Kyle Kimura and GiaKomo Rosso took second in 1:31.18.
“I thought we swam pretty well overall,” Gonzales said. “We got a little too complacent in the finals and left some points out there. But this is a state series event and the goal is to get as many kids through to the next event, and that’s what we did.”