TAMPA — The lengthy bus trip to and from South Tampa may not have been ideal for Newsome’s swim teams, but the experience gained in between the hourlong trips proved to be exactly what the Wolves girls squad needed.
Newsome’s girls cruised to a 111-75 victory over Plant, while the Panthers boys picked up a 92-78 win in a dual meet Thursday night at Bobby Hicks Pool. Newsome coach Chau Clark said the Wolves don’t get enough chances to race high-caliber opponents like Plant in duals, if only because of the school’s remote location in Lithia, so they wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.
“I don’t think they’re going to agree with this on the way home, but it was worth the hourlong bus ride just for the racing. The kids need it. Any sport needs real racing,” Clark said. “That’s the only way you’re going to get your kids to break out of their shells, break out of their plateaus and swim the best they can.”
The Wolves picked up first-place finishes in nine of the 12 girls events, and Clark attributed the larger-than-expected point disparity to her squad’s depth. That was on full display in the 500-yard freestyle, when the Wolves took all three top spots.
Newsome also benefited early on from two early takeoff disqualifications by Plant in the 200 medley relay — something Plant coach Gil Gonzalez couldn’t remember his team ever doing.
“That put us in a 14-point hole,” Gonzalez said. “That definitely wasn’t the meet, but it kind of set the tone.”
Plant’s boys, meanwhile, narrowly won their opening race and finished with first-place times in nine of 11 races. Gonzalez said he placed a particularly strong emphasis this week on improving in relays, and the Panthers responded by winning all three.
“They were definitely ready,” Gonzalez said. “We handled our business. We didn’t necessarily have the best times, but we had fast, fast swims.”