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ORLANDO — When the moment Tampa Prep's Rasmus Skjaerpe had been dreaming about finally came, when a gold medal was finally being draped around his neck, the junior finally showed some emotion.
Onto his normally stoic face sneaked a giddy smile as Skjaerpe heard his name called Saturday as the Class A state champion in the 200-yard freestyle.
"I tried to stay relaxed as much as I could," Skjaerpe said. "I knew it was going to be close. It was a relief to know I did it and to finally have a state title."
There were adjustments Skjaerpe had to make to achieve his goal. After placing second in the 200 individual medley last year, Skjaerpe switched to the 200 free this offseason after dramatically improving his freestyle stroke. Terrapins coach Jason Bowes also pulled Skjaerpe out of the finals of the 200 medley relay Saturday night so he could concentrate on his individual events.
Skjaerpe also had to overcome obstacles. In the spring, he strained ligaments in both of his shoulders and still has to go through rehabilitation sessions three days a week.
"Rasmus has really matured a lot and had to battle through a tough year to get to this point," Bowes said. "If you would have said a year ago that Rasmus would be a state champion in the 200 free, I don't think he would have believed it. That's a tribute to his dedication."
When Skjaerpe touched the wall in the 200 free, well clear of his opponents in a race he has dominated this season, he turned to see that he had set a personal best in 1 minute, 38.20 seconds.
"I knew a lot of people were close to me," Skjaerpe said. "In the last 50 yards, I just tried to go as fast I could."
Skjaerpe was the runnerup in the 100 fly, swimming a personal best of 49.08. He also teamed with Gregory Campo, Zach Bermeister and Alex Blustein to finish seventh in the 400 free relay in 3:17.
Tampa Prep's 200 medley relay of Van Cates, Blustein, Campo and Bermeister was sixth in 1:41.65. The Terrapins finished eighth overall with 99.5 points.
Berkeley Prep's Graham Olney was eighth in the 100 back (54.73).
On the girls side, the Buccaneers' Stephanie Punzak was seventh in diving with 364.85 points.
Jacksonville Bolles won its 25th straight boys team title (512) and 22nd straight girls title (408.5). The Bulldogs boys made virtual mincemeat of the record books, setting national high school marks in the 200 medley relay (1:28.02), 100 fly (Jose Schooling, 46.40), 200 free relay (1:19.27), 100 back (Ryan Murphy, 45.34) and the 400 free relay (2:54.43).