Heading into Saturday’s Florida Swimming Pool Association Invitational — Berkeley Prep’s first appearance in the swimming portion of the competition in five years — Bucs coach Kevin Rosepapa knew his team would fare well. Exactly how well, Rosepapa conceded, he wasn’t quite expecting.
With 178.5 points, Berkeley Prep finished eighth overall in the 41-team meet, the highest of the six Hillsborough County teams that participated.
“I was kind of surprised, to tell you the truth,” Rosepapa said. “I thought we’d swim good, but the girls really swam well. They really stepped up.”
Despite the Berkeley Prep boys’ 6-0 dual-meet record, the girls performed better overall in the weekend’s event.
The girls’ 200-yard medley relay made up of Anne Myers, Megan Blatz, Clare Harrison and Elle Chancey, which took seventh overall, set a Berkeley Prep school record with a time of 1:53.76. In addition, Myers set a school record of 1:01.32 in the 100-yard backstroke with her 11th-place finish.
Berkeley Prep has been sending swimmers or divers to the FSPA meet for 16 years, Rosepapa said. But for the five years prior to Saturday’s competition, Berkeley swimmers had participated in another meet that took place the same weekend.
This year, Rosepapa decided it was time for his swimmers to return to the FSPA meet, which was held at Sailfish Splash Water Park in Stuart.
“When they moved the meet to where the new states are this year, we thought it was important to go down there and swim before we actually go down there for the state meet in November,” Rosepapa said.
Rosepapa said he was especially proud of his young swimmers’ performances Saturday. The girls’ 400-yard freestyle relay was made up of seventh grader Sabrina Vergara, freshman Kerry Horan, sophomore Myers and junior Chancey, and it took seventh overall.
On the diving side, Berkeley Prep’s Stephanie Punzak took third place in the girls’ 1-meter event, while Jesse Potts was ninth in the boys’.
Aside from getting used to the pool that will soon hold this year’s state championship meet, the Bucs had the advantage of seeing a lot of talent from schools all over the state of Florida at the FSPA meet. Rosepapa is confident that those kinds of experiences help his team prepare for tough dual meets, like the one it has Tuesday against Plant.
“It just makes you sharper,” Rosepapa said. “We know what we can get up and do now.”
Also faring well from the county, Newsome’s Maddie Hess won the 100 back (55.66) and was second in the 100 free (51.63). Teammate Dee Sopapong was second in the 100 breast (1:05.90).
Plant’s Sydney Power was the girls’ diving champion with 375.40 points.
Staff writer Bob Putnam contributed to this report.