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TAMPA — It’s hard to imagine that this iteration of the Tigers could be better in any way than last year’s squad, which placed fourth in the state.
But thanks to an incoming freshman, Jesuit will be able to reload instead of rebuild and deploy its newfound strength in medley events.
“The past three years that I’ve been here, it’s always been freestyle, freestyle, freestyle,” said senior Chris Swanson. “Now all of the sudden we’ve got a breaststroker, and really we’re filling in all these places with medley swimmers. We actually have a really strong 200 medley this year.”
The combination of Swanson swimming butterfly, juniors Thompson Marston and Will Jennings swimming backstroke and freestyle, respectively, and freshman Austin Sellers swimming breaststroke Tuesday was good enough to post a time of 1:44.32 in the 200 medley relay at Berkeley Prep, 11 seconds faster than the second-place finisher. Jesuit defeated Berkeley Prep 187-127, and Academy of the Holy Names, the Tigers’ female counterparts, won 237-72.
Sellers, who said the transition to high school was a bit harder than he had anticipated, won the 100 backstroke handily. Jesuit and Holy Names coach Bill Shaffer said Sellers’ performance has been “a very nice surprise.”
“I knew he’d be fast,” Shaffer said, “I just didn’t know he’d be this fast by midseason.”
Jennings won the 50 free and 100 free and Marston won the 100 fly. And Swanson, who finished in the top five in the 200 free and 500 free at last year’s Class 2A state meet, showed how he has expanded his repertoire, winning the 200 individual medley in addition to the 500 free.
Right now, he’s unsure whether he’ll swim in the 200 free or 200 medley at the state meet in November.
“The defending champion is back in the 200 free,” he said, “whereas the top three times for the 200 IM are gone.”