ORLANDO — For the past two seasons, Devin McCaffrey and Jake Tamposi have been embroiled in a healthy, competitive rivalry as two of the region's best swimmers. On Friday morning at the Orlando YMCA, that rivalry wrote yet another strange and twisted chapter.
What started as a tumultuous afternoon for Tamposi ended in victory for the Lecanto junior at the Class 2A-2 regional.
In the morning preliminary round Tamposi won his heat and his time had him as the top seed heading into the championship finals. But hold everything.
The turn judge determined Tamposi had performed an illegal stroke during the 100 breaststroke and he was disqualified. According to Florida High School Athletic Association rules, however, two judges must see the impropriety for a swimmer to be disqualified. And when the deck judge confirmed the ruling, Tamposi was scratched from the finals.
After several hours of the judges revisiting the matter and discussing it extensively with FHSAA officials, the decision was overturned.
Now the only question was what frame of mind would the junior be in after the roller coaster afternoon? And what about McCaffrey, who bested Tamposi by more than two seconds a year ago at regionals?
"I honestly didn't know how he would perform and react," Lecanto co-head coach Amber McLain said. "I told his father (Steve) before the race now we'll see what he's made of."
From the start it was clear McCaffrey and Tamposi were the elite of the field. And when Tamposi out-touched McCaffrey by .07 of a second, he was the new region champion.
The morning disqualification and later reinstatement quickly became the buzz of the meet. Weighing in was Land O'Lakes girls coach Robin Hilgenberg.
"Everyone here that's been around this sport knows about the quality swimmer and person that (Jake Tamposi) is. Obviously they misinterpreted the rule. …I hope no one looks at this and walks away thinking his championship swim was tainted, because that would be incredibly unfair."
And they get to do it all again next week at the Class 2A state meet in the same location.
McCaffrey also finished second in the butterfly and appears to be a lock in both events, though nothing will be official until the last region completes its meet later tonight.
As for McCaffrey, he was not left wanting. Mitchell's boys 200 relay (Gavin Hunt, Ian Ondrejka, McCaffrey, Anthony Chang) won. Also in position to advance to state are Wesley Chapel diver Alex Hill, Sunlake's Nick Keach in the 100 free (second), Gulf's Hunter Swartsel in the 100 free (third), Ridgewood's Joe Geschke in the 100 back (fourth) and the 200 free (second).
On the girls side, possibly advancing are: Mitchell's Mazie Siddens in the 200 IM (third) and 100 fly (third), Sunlake's Nicole Harder in the 500 free (seventh), Sunlake's Kaylin Sylvester in the 100 back (third) and Wiregrass Ranch's Rebecca Pindral in the 100 breast (second).