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St. Petersburg swimmer named to U.S. Masters all-star team

Rhonda Romano gets a wet hug from daughter Megan Romano after Megan stepped down from the podium after collecting her 1st place medal for winning the girls 100 yard backstroke at the Class 2A FHSAA state swimming and diving championship at the Central Florida YMCA Aquatic Center in Orlando. She broke the state record.  JIM DAMASKE   |   Times


Rhonda Romano gets a wet hug from daughter Megan Romano after Megan stepped down from the podium after collecting her 1st place medal for winning the girls 100 yard backstroke at the Class 2A FHSAA state swimming and diving championship at the Central Florida YMCA Aquatic Center in Orlando. She broke the state record. JIM DAMASKE | Times

Legendary waterman and enthusiastic swimmer Bob Beach of St. Petersburg has been named to the U.S. Masters Swimming all-stars team for 2007.

A retired judge who swam the waters of Alcatraz and the English Channel, Beach was picked to be part of the organization's long-distance all-star team. To qualify, a swimmer must compete in at least three national championship long-distance events (one of which must be open water).

Beach, who started his career surfing California breaks when the boards were made of wood and weighed more than 100 pounds, has been named to the all-star team every year since 2000. He scored the most points of any master of any age in 2000 (275), 2001 (200), 2002 (211) 2003 (194), and 2004 (204). Beach swims in the 75-79 age.

More swimming

St. Pete Aquatics swimmers cleaned up in the recent Speedo Champions Series Spring Southern Zone Southern Sectional Championships in Orlando. Megan Romano picked up a gold medal (100 freestyle), two silvers (100 and 200 backstroke) and six Olympic time trial cuts.

Melanie Margalis won gold (200 individual medley) and one Olympic time trial cut. Kaitlin Frehling took bronze (50 freestyle) and an Olympic time trial cut. Katie Coleman also took home bronze (200 butterfly.) Cameron Chambers, Kelsey Krauss and James Taddeo also competed.

To compete in the Olympic Swimming Trials, scheduled for the end of June, a swimmer must have achieved a time trial cut some time during the season. The USA swim team will have two of the fastest swimmers in each event at the trials. In Romano's case, she will be able to compete in six time trial events: the 50, 100, 200 and 400 freestyle, and the 100 and 200 backstroke.


The weekend saw some blazing times in two 5K runs. Chase Nelson, an 18-year-old from Tampa, won Justin's Run in Lutz on Saturday in 16:48. The speedster recorded splits of 5:25. Bradley Nelson, another 18-year-old from Tampa, finished second in 17:29. Cipriani Mejia, 17, from Tampa, rounded out the top three in 17:50.

In the female division, Valerie Porter, 47, from Lutz, edged her younger competitors in 21:32. Heather Soltis, 33, also from Lutz, finished 20 seconds behind Porter. Diana Bianchet, 37, from Odessa, came in third (21:55).

In the Suncoast Animal League "Fix" Pinellas run in Palm Harbor, Mark Palamar, 41, from New Port Richey, took top honors in 19:46. Sam Jacobsen, 21, from New Port Richey, was the top female in 22:42.

In the master's division, Chris Knight, 46, of Tampa, was the first-place finisher in 22:17. Among the master females, Lynn Morton, 44, of Safety Harbor, was first in 24:46.


Cycling buddies Jeff Nitz and Rick Fidanzato of ABC Bicycles on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, are gearing up to Race Across Florida. The 170-mile race, deemed one of the hardest one-day cycling events in the country, goes from Cocoa Beach to Crystal River.

There are rest stops along the route, but they are not planning to stop. Nitz raced last year and finished fourth, but because of some confusion at the finish, he was left out of the results.

Fidanzato, who hasn't raced in four or five years, was talked into joining his friend a couple of months ago. Since then, the two have been logging about 400 to 450 miles per week. The race is April 20. Stay tuned.


Think you have what it takes to compete in the 2008 Ironman World Championship 70.3? The St. Pete Mad Dogs Triathlon Club has been awarded 25 slots for the Nov. 8 event on Clearwater Beach. The slots are available to members only and will be selected by a lottery.

To compete in this premier athletic event, you must be a Mad Dog member, fill out a lottery application, send a $350 check to the club (the check will not be cashed unless you are selected) and submit your application by March 31.

On April 12, the club will have an Ironman 70.3 Lottery Party at the Courtside Grille off Ulmerton road in Carillon Town Center (110 Fountain Parkway N., St. Petersburg) to select winners.

To learn more, or join the club, go to

Terry Tomalin can be reached at, or by calling (727) 893-8808.

>>fast facts

Coming up

Friday: Second annual Sunrise to Sunset Relay, 8 a.m., Jensen Beach, Indian Riverside Park. Contact Matthew Ringer, (239) 222-9183 or

Saturday: Sixth annual Chasco Main Street Mile, noon, New Port Richey, Schwettman Education Center, 5520 Grand Blvd.Contact Val Lofton, (727) 457-5199 or

• Jessie "Run for Innocence" 5-mile and 5K, 7 a.m., St. Pete Times Forum, (813) 727-0786.

Sunday: Max Bayne 10-mile and 5K, 8 a.m., St. Petersburg, Fort Desoto Park North Beach/Shelter 6. Contact Michael Weiss, (727) 644-7702 or

• Strawberry Century Bike Ride, Plant City. Contact Rueben Watson at (813) 404-5721.

April 5: Ryka Iron Girl, 8 a.m., Coachman Park, Clearwater. For info, call (727) 942-4767, ext. 231.

• Rally to Remember, 13.1, 10K and 5K, run or bike, 8:15 a.m., Jay. B. Starkey Park, New Port Richey. Contact John Greco at (888) 496-8004.

• Family Fun Pancake Run, 9 a.m., Safety Harbor. For more info, call (727) 724-1530.

April 6: "Run for the Matzahs," 5K run/walk, 8 a.m., 1100 Eighth Ave. SW in Largo. For more info, (727) 588-0100,

St. Petersburg swimmer named to U.S. Masters all-star team 03/25/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 7:24am]
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