MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Just to prove we’re not totally football-centric around here, we’ve chosen to chlorinate our coverage for a day. Time to digress from X’s and O’s and focus on strokes and splits. In the wake of the Olympics, the local prep swimming/diving season has arrived. To get you primed, we’ve put together what we hope is a comprehensive county preview. Dive in and let us know whether we executed a proverbial pike with our forecasts, or belly flopped.
Top three boys teams
In the case of the Tigers, “rebuilding” is a relative term. Jesuit lost some key components including freestyle ace Chris Swanson, but talent still abounds on Bill Shaffer’s squad.
2. Tampa Prep
Behind reigning Times county swimmer of the year Rasmus Skjaerpe, the Terrapins are aiming for a top-five finish at the ultra-competitive Class A state meet.
3. Berkeley Prep
The three-time defending A region champ (co-champ with Tampa Prep in 2011) should put another balanced team in the pool.
Top three girls teams
1. Academy of the Holy Names
Equipped with one of its deepest lineups ever, the reigning Class 2A district and region champion hopes to produce at least 10 individual state qualifiers.
A daunting freshman class will make a formidable Panthers team even more potent. The entire state medal-winning 200 medley relay team is back.
3. Tampa Prep
The state qualifying triumvirate of Hannah Fredlake, Savannah Savitt and Carylyn Waite will help atone for the graduation of 10 seniors from a squad that placed sixth at the A state meet.
Favorites in the fast heat
Five boys swimmers to watch
Gregory Campo, Fr., Tampa Prep
Probably will vie with Jesuit’s Thompson Marston for local backstroke supremacy
Will Jennings, Sr., Jesuit
Freestyle ace also swam on two state medal-winning Tigers relay teams last season
John Nolte, Sr., Robinson
50 free state medalist has never lost an individual race in his prep dual-meet career
Rasmus Skjaerpe, Jr., Tampa Prep
Norwegian national teamer earned two top-six individual finishes at 2011 A meet
D.J. Waite, Sr., Bloomingdale
Bulls veteran finished fifth (46.37 seconds) at last year’s 3A meet
Five girls swimmers to watch
Bailey Bowden, Jr., Plant City
Lifelong swimmer was eighth in 500 free at 2011 3A meet
Ally Donahue, So., Plant
As freshman, placed fifth in 100 breast at 3A state meet
Maddie Hess, So., Newsome
Backstroke star qualified for U.S. Olympic trials
Savannah Savitt, Fr., Tampa Prep
As eighth-grader, made two individual state finals and won two relay medals
Dee Sopapong, So., Wharton
State qualifier in four events (including two relays) as freshman
Relay teams to watch
Holy Names girls 200 free: The reigning Class 2A state champ returns three-fourths of its team (Tori Litschgi, Clare Fleming, Konner Brewer).
Jesuit boys 200 medley: Tigers return three-fourths of team — Jennings, Marston and sophomore Austin Sellers — that placed fourth at 2A meet.
Plant girls 200 medley: The quartet of Donahue, Carter Flynn, Emily Clifford and Tara McGowan placed fourth at last season’s 3A meet.
Tampa Prep girls 200 free: Half of last year’s bronze medal-winning team — Savitt and Waite — returns, and there’s plenty of talent to replenish the other half.
Divers to watch
Sydney Power, Sr., Plant
Placed 12th at girls Class 3A meet last year and is “badder than ever,” coach Gil Gonzalez says. (Keep an eye on her brother, Dylan.)
Jesse Potts, eighth, Berkeley Prep
Qualified for boys A meet as seventh-grader last season
Stephanie Punzak, Fr., Berkeley Prep
Earned top-10 finish as eighth-grader at last year’s A meet