CLEARWATER — The Class 3A, District 5 swim meet had a predictable feel, the kind that could unfold only one way.
Palm Harbor University's boys and girls teams were the overwhelming favorites. Everyone knew it, from the swimmers chasing them to the fans watching.
After all, the Hurricanes have more depth than anyone. With every stroke, PHU distanced itself from its competitors to win its sixth straight boys and girls team titles. The boys scored 499 points, beating East Lake by 114. The girls outscored Plant 440.5-386.5.
"It's about what I expected on both sides, though the girls was a little bit closer," coach Lisa Bitting said. "But we're not looking too far ahead, just trying to keep lowering our times and get as many kids through next week."
Ryan McRae and Tristan Sanders were the big point scorers for PHU. McRae won the 100 free (47.28 seconds) and 200 free (1 minute, 45.01 seconds), while Sanders took first in the 50 free (21.99) and 100 back (51.94), beating defending state champion Georgi Krastev of Northeast for the second time this season. Sanders and McRae also teamed with Manuel Barragan and Taylor Uselis to win the 400 free relay. Sanders also was on the 200 medley relay with Garrett Hoce, Barragan and Shaun Van Huyssteen that won in 1:41.62.
Krastev won the 100 fly (53.71) and was second in the 100 back (52.61).
On the girls side, the Hurricanes had only one winner, Kendall McIntosh in the 50 free (24.30). But they gobbled up points with top-eight placers in nearly every event.
The Panthers stayed close, thanks to strong individual performances. Emily Clifford won the 100 fly (1:00.20) and finished second in the 200 IM (2:13.20). Alexandria Donahue won the 100 breast (1:08). And Sydney Power won diving (435.10 points).
Clifford and Donahue teamed with Carter Flynn and Tara McGowan to win the 200 medley relay (1:52.39). Clifford, Donahue and McGowan also were on the 200 free relay, along with Ashlyn Gage, that won in 1:40.66.
"We scored the meet beforehand, and we knew it was going to be close," Plant coach Gil Gonzales said. "Our girls made up a lot of ground in the finals, and that was a moral victory for us."
As expected, East Lake's Sydney Pickrem dominated her signature event, winning the 200 individual medley in 2:04.30.
Pickrem's teammate, Michelle Turek, won the 100 free (53.12) and 200 free (1:51.95). Pickrem and Sanders also teamed with Mackenzie Hubbard and Madison Kennedy on the winning 400 free relay (3:36.99).
Class 2A, District 9: Osceola's girls won their second straight district title, outscoring Bradenton Lakewood Ranch 537-438.
"I thought our girls could win, and we pulled out some real fast times," Warriors coach Karen Smalley said.
Osceola did not have any individual champions but swept the relay events. Alexandria Wittman, Nicole Koda, Christina Tournant and Savannah Sawyer won the 200 medley (1:57.40). Wittman, Koda and Tournant also teamed with Nicole Nesto to take first in the 400 free (3:49.30). Sawyer and Nesto swam with Rose O'Connell and Alyse Carrier to win the 200 free (1:46.85).
Lakewood had two girls champions, Ewa Dymarek in the 100 breast (1:10.69) and Rebecca Halfast in the 100 back (1:01.19).
On the boys side, the Warriors were the runnerup with 344 points, 77 behind champion Lakewood Ranch. Osceola's Calvin Bryant won the 500 free (4:41.13). Lakewood's Noah Harasz took first in the 200 free (1:46.80) and the 100 back (56.71).