TAMPA — For the second straight year of the revamped format for the Western Conference Championships, host Plant and Newsome won their respective divisions in the girls and boys meets Saturday at Bobby Hicks pool.
Plant's boys and girls won American Division titles, while Newsome swept the Federal crowns. In the National Division, the Hillsborough boys and Wharton girls were the champions.
Prior to last year, individual event and team winners in each division were designated according to their top times during the regular season and no meet was held. But before last season Plant coach Gil Gonzalez proposed the current format, which puts all the teams from Hillsborough County back in the pool to compete and decide the champions.
Hillsborough County athletic director Lannes Robinson approved that format, which includes individual winners in six divisions.
"It was a goal," Gonzalez said of the Panthers' dual team victories. "The way it's broken up we were the (American Division) favorites going in, so it's really not a big surprise. They got up for it."
Newsome coach Chau Clark echoed that sentiment when discussing the Wolves' sweep: "The kids worked hard, and they go into this thinking this is a fun meet."
Some swimmers, such as Sickles' Katie Cook and Plant's Kyle Kimura, utilize this conference meet to try events other than the ones they excel in. Cook, who placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 100-yard freestyle and 50 free at state last year, won the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly on Saturday.
"I just wanted to do something different," said Cook, a three-time state qualifier.
Kimura, a freshman, took firsts in the 200 free and 100 fly, and anchored the winning 200 medley relay.
Robinson's Jon Nolte took another approach, staying with what he does best. The sophomore sprinter had the best overall times in the 50 free and 100 free. Still, Nolte kept those results in perspective, saying, "It's nice, but it's not districts."