ORLANDO — After a disappointing showing at last year’s Class A state meet, Tampa Prep sophomore Rasmus Skjaerpe came back this year about 4 inches taller, 25 pounds heavier and sporting an impromptu Mohawk that was shaved Thursday night.
The result? A bigger, faster, stronger Skjaerpe finished second overall in the boys 200 individual medley with an automatic All-American time of 1:50.93 and sixth in the boys 100 fly with an All-American consideration time of 49.99.
“I’m happy,” Skjaerpe said Friday at the at the YMCA Aquatic Center. “I was seeded second going into the (200 IM) finals, and I kept that up. It had been a long day; I was pretty tired.”
Skjaerpe was neck and neck with the eventual winner of the boys 200 IM, Teo D’Alessandro of Jacksonville Bolles, after the fly and backstroke portions, but Skjaerpe fell behind during the third leg, the breaststroke. He had worked on his freestyle over the past year, though, and used that to hold onto second place.
Though he swam his free faster in the preliminary round, Skjaerpe was still satisfied.
“Last year, I didn’t have that great of freestyle,” said Skjaerpe, who finished 16th in the event as a freshman. “This year, I was more confident in my freestyle going into that IM. I knew I could keep it up and maybe catch someone.”
Despite having only about 20 minutes to warm down in between his two events, Skjaerpe finished sixth in the 100 fly, an improvement over last year when he failed to qualify for even the consolation final. All eight swimmers in this year’s final heat posted times that warrant All-American consideration.
Skjaerpe won’t rest for long — in about two weeks, he will travel to Oslo to swim for the Norwegian national team and attempt to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Then he’ll return to Tampa Prep with two more years of eligibility.
“He’s going to be pretty dirty next year,” Terrapins coach Jason Bowes said. “It’s going to be good. I’m excited for these next two years.”
Bowes was excited about the performances of several other members of his team as well. Seniors Rebecca Werdine and Emma Siewert both finished fifth in their events, the 100 free (52.27) and 100 fly (57.16), respectively. The Terrapins’ girls 200 free relay team of Werdine, Siewert, Savannah Savitt and Carylyn Waite finished third with an automatic All-American time of 1:36.12. The 400 free relay team of Werdine, Siewert, Savitt and Emily Carideo also finished in third with an All-American consideration time of 3:31.77. The Tampa Prep girls took sixth place overall with 134 points.
The Tampa Prep boys finished in 12th with 58 points. The 200 medley relay team of Skjaerpe, Gregory Campo, Alex Blustein and Steven House finished fifth (1:38.55).
Jacksonville Bolles continued its domination of Class A state swimming, with its girls team winning for the 22nd straight year and the boys taking top honors for the 25th consecutive year. The Bolles boys’ 400 free relay team set a national record, breaking a mark the school set in 1999.