Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bay area swimmers sitting pretty at pool

For swimmers outside the Tampa Bay area at last year's state meet, it was a weekend of looking up reluctantly and often bitterly at the scoreboard, a weekend of looking up at the top step of the medal stand, a weekend of becoming increasingly familiar with some of the area's stars.

And as swimmers who bring their shaved bodies to Orlando for another state meet this week are well aware, more of the same likely is on tap.

Tampa Bay is no longer a rising power in state swimming, it is one of the powers.

Last year, two swimmers from Pinellas County — Northeast's Megan Romano and Seminole's Kaitlin Frehling — won multiple titles in their signature races with startling and record-shattering ease.

Romano broke the state meet record in the 100-yard backstroke (54.41 seconds) and was within one second of breaking the national record in the 200 freestyle (1:46.70). Frehling took first in the 50 free (23.46) and 100 butterfly (56.64).

A swimmer from Hillsborough County, Plant's Meg Anderson, is a two-time former champion in the 50 free and won the 100 free last year.

All three are back.

That's not all. Five other boys and girls from the area who won individual titles last season return. And four others who came close to winning a year ago are the top seeds in their events this season. So Tampa Bay swimmers could pile up even more medals in what could be the greatest season ever for the area.

"It certainly has the potential to be the best," Palm Harbor University coach Lisa Bitting said.

Bitting was a captain on the Seminole team that won a title in 1985, the last boys or girls team from the area to do so.

It ushered in the first golden age of swimming in Tampa Bay, with such stars as Lakewood's Nicole Haislett, Seminole's Scott Tucker and Tampa Bay Tech's Maritza Correia winning state titles before going on to Olympic stardom. (Brooke Bennett went to Brandon but did not win a state title.)

Since then, there have been others from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties who have won state titles. But strength in numbers — and speed — sets this current group apart.

Four years ago, Romano burst onto the scene setting three individual records and helping a relay team to a fourth at the conference meet. In the 200 free, she cruised to victory in one minute, 47.74 seconds, shattering the 16-year-old record of 1:52.89 set by Haislett, a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Last month, Palm Harbor University's Tyler Reed made virtual mincemeat of the conference record books, setting standards in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and anchoring the record-setting 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams. Reed broke individual records set by Tucker, an Olympic gold medalist.

"This year has the chance to be the most productive," said Fred Lewis, who coaches Romano and Frehling, among others, in the offseason with St. Pete Aquatics. "But most of these swimmers are going to have targets on their backs. That's who everyone else is aiming for.

"Still, the possibility is there for something great this season."

Bob Putnam can be reached at or (727) 445-4169.


State swimming

and diving

When: Class 3A, Thursday; Class A, Friday; Class 2A, Saturday. Prelims start at 7 a.m., finals at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Central Florida YMCA Aquatic Center, 8422 International Drive, Orlando

Admission: $8 per session

Medal haul

The bay area has produced its share of state champions. Here's a look at the area's best years at state:

Year State champs

1993 10

2000 10

2007 10

1982 9

2003 9

1923 8

2006 8

Bay area swimmers sitting pretty at pool 11/11/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 14, 2008 10:21am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion


    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener


    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  4. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush


    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  5. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.