ORLANDO — To cement his status as the undisputed star in Class 2A, Mitchell's Devin McCaffrey would have to do something no other Pasco County swimmer has ever done: win multiple individual titles at a state meet.
His first title, the 100-yard butterfly, came with ease Saturday at the YMCA Aquatic Center. Throwing his arms forward before moving them back into the water, McCaffrey seemed to skip across the pool as he moved into striking distance during the final lap. In a rush to the wall, McCaffrey touched first to win in 49.10 seconds, 0.40 seconds ahead of Pace's Ryan Funk.
McCaffrey won after finishing third in the event last season.
"I felt real confident," he said. "I hit my taper perfectly. Everything went as smooth as possible."
That was supposed to be the toughest part of his task. His final event, the 100 breaststroke, was supposed to be a mere formality. After all, McCaffrey was the defending state champion. But the event had become filled with fast swimmers, something not present a year ago.
"Last year there were only two swimmers who went under one minute in the finals," McCaffrey said. "This year, you had three guys who swam under a minute at districts. That really opened my eyes. And it just kept getting faster and faster. (On Saturday) you had to swim under a minute just to make it out of consolations."
In Saturday's preliminaries, McCaffrey had the second-fastest time. But in the finals, he bobbed through the water with precision, maintaining a comfortable lead to win in 56.97 seconds, nearly a full second ahead of Clay's Caeleb Dressel.
"I was very nervous," McCaffrey said. "I had a feeling I had won, but I had to look at the clock before I could figure it out."
McCaffrey set personal records by more than a second in both of his races. He also became the first Pasco County swimmer to win three individual state titles and the first to win multiple titles at the same meet.
"It's pretty cool to win two state titles and set some records," McCaffrey said. "It was a goal to come home with both, but I really didn't know if it was going to be possible, especially in the 100 breast. I had to come in with a different mind-set in that race. My performance and my time (in the 100 breast) exceeded all expectations."
The other Pasco County athlete to place at the state meet was Gulf's Hunter Swartsel, who took seventh in both the 100 free (47.45) and 100 back (54.04).
Land O'Lakes' Krystin Demsher was the only girls swimmer from the county to place, finishing sixth in the 100 fly (59.28).
Tarpon Springs' Kelsey Buckley defended her title in the 200 individual medley, winning in 2:01.40. She finished as the runnerup for the second straight year in the 100 free (50.31).