TAMPA — In his first Class 4A, District 5 swim meet, Plant’s Paxton Rhoads — who took first in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:02.06 — was the only freshman to win any event at Bobby Hicks Pool on Tuesday.
It’s an extraordinary feat for someone new to high school swimming. But Rhoads has his eye on something even rarer: making the podium at next month’s state meet.
“In Hillsborough County, football and lacrosse now are king, so you’re seeing more kids drop out of swimming and other not-so-popular sports,” Plant boys coach Royce Brown said. “(Rhoads) is the real deal.”
Rhoads — who was also on the winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams — and double individual event winner Kyle Kimura (100 butterfly, 200 freestyle) helped lead the Plant boys to a first-place finish with 374 points. Bloomingdale finished second (298) Steinbrenner (220) third.
On the girls’ side, Alexandria Donahue won two events for the Panthers — the 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke — as Plant won with 542 points. Newsome followed in second (402) and George Jenkins third (260).
Strawberry Crest’s Cole Wisecarver (100, 50 freestyle) and Newsome’s Wes Mcgovern (500 free, 100 back) and Madeline Hess (100 back, 100 free) were the meet’s other local multiple-event winners.
The top swimmers in each individual event earn an automatic bid to the Nov. 8 region meet in Winter Haven, and the rest of the 24-swimmer field will be filled in with the top times from all district meets.
It might be Rhoads’ first high school season, but he’s no stranger to swimming’s big stage. A swimmer for Tampa Bay Aquatics, Rhoads won the boys’ 13-14 100 breaststroke at the state club meet in July. That experience, Rhoads said, has prepared him for the coming weeks of top high school competition.
Rhoads, who has lost just once this season in the 100 breaststroke — to 2A Jesuit’s Austin Sellers — doesn’t shy away from talking about his goal to stand on the winner’s podium at state. Rhoads refuses to let his youth limit him.
“It’s what I love to do, so I don’t care really about age,” he said. “I enjoy challenges, whatever comes my way.”
4A-5 district swimming
At Bobby Hicks Pool
Girls — Plant 542, Newsome 402, George Jenkins 260, Bloomingdale 232.5, George Steinbrenner 202, Wharton 176, Strawberry Crest 128, Alonso 99, Riverview 71.5, Durant 47, East Bay 26
Boys — Plant 374, Bloomingdale 298, George Steinbrenner 220, Wharton 215, George Jenkins 213, Durant 176, Newsome 171, Strawberry Crest 157, Riverview 149, Alonso 118, East Bay 46
Girls 200-yard medley relay Plant 1:54.04
Boys 200-yard medley relay Plant 1:44.87
Girls 200-yard freestyle Rachel Lulf 1:59.41 (George Jenkins)
Boys 200-yard freestyle Kyle Kimura 1:46.48 (Plant)
Girls 200-yard IM Hope Saunders 2:11.67 (George Jenkins)
Boys 200-yard IM Tyler Heath 2:03.56 (Plant)
Girls 50-yard freestyle Alexandria Donahue 25.01 (Plant)
Boys 50-yard freestyle Cole Wisecarver 22.58 (Strawberry Crest)
Girls 1 mtr diving Allyson Nied 448.95 (Newsome)
Boys 1 mtr diving Reid Fleming 474.65 (Plant)
Girls 100-yard butterfly Hope Saunders 58.64 (George Jenkins)
Boys 100-yard butterfly Kyle Kimura 53.60 (Plant)
Girls 100-yard freestyle Madeline Hess 53.20 (Newsome)
Boys 100-yard freestyle Cole Wisecarver 49.76 (Strawberry Crest)
Girls 500-yard freestyle Angie Gallastegui 5:20.00 (Strawberry Crest)
Boys 500-yard freestyle Wes McGovern 4:46.89 (Newsome)
Girls 200-yard freestyle relay George Jenkins 1:41.66
Boys 200-yard freestyle relay Bloomingdale 1:34.53
Girls 100-yard backstroke Madeline Hess 58.96 (Newsome)
Boys 100-yard backstroke Wes Mcgovern 54.95 (Newsome)
Girls 100-yard breaststroke Alexandria Donahue 1:06.01 (Plant)
Boys 100-yard breaststroke Paxton Rhoads 1:02.06 (Plant)
Girls 400-yard freestyle relay Newsome 3:47.76
Boys 400-yard freestyle relay Plant 3:22.97