TAMPA — In her second swim meet for Plant this season, Alexandria Donahue — the Class 3A state champion in the 100-yard breaststroke as a sophomore last year — appeared to be back in top form, swimming the breaststroke leg of the winning 400-yard medley relay to kick off the City Relays Championship at Bobby Hicks Pool on Saturday.
Donahue’s experience helped Plant, which finished top three in eight of nine mixed or girls relays, win the meet with 178 points, just four more than second-place Academy of the Holy Names.
Donahue is likely to be the same standout she’s been each of the past two seasons for the Panthers, and coach Gil Gonzalez thinks the junior has a solid shot at repeating her state title. But this year, Alexandria will share the pool — and her best event — with yet another Donahue.
Her sister, Caroline, a freshman breaststroker, is now swimming for Plant. Saturday, the sisters joined forces on the 500-yard freestyle crescendo relay, which took second place.
This is the third consecutive season the Panthers have a pair of Donahue sisters. Emma Donahue, also a breaststroker, graduated from Plant in 2013. With a time of 1:03.81, Alexandria took first place in the 2012 state championships by more than a second and a half. Not too far away, finishing in 1:07.11, was sixth-place Emma.
“It’s nice to have someone to guide, whereas last year my older sister guided me,” Alexandria said. “It’s a lot of fun swimming with family.”
Alexandria’s mentor is no longer by her side in high school swimming. Instead, Alexandria now serves as a motivator to Caroline.
“Since she’s the state champ,” Caroline said, “I made a goal to at least get to districts.”
On the girls’ side, Holy Names won two girls or mixed events to third-place Newsome’s four. A disqualification for the Wolves in the 400-yard medley relay, though, proved costly.
For the boys, Jesuit finished on top with 172 points, while second-place Plant had 158 and third-place Bloomingdale 132. Plant won three mixed or boys’ relays while Jesuit won two. But a fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finish by the Panther boys in other relays allowed Jesuit to distance itself at the top.
“[Plant] probably has the cream of the crop over us,” Jesuit and AHN coach Bill Shaffer said of his boys team. “We have a little bit more depth, and it was just in the planning and spreading the kids out.”