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PHU swimmers sweep Countryside

CLEARWATER — Countryside has an impressive list of All-America-caliber boys and girls who can swim far away from the competition.

What the Cougars do not have — at least when it comes to swimming against Palm Harbor University — is enough of them.

"The lack of depth is our downfall," Countryside coach Ian O'Neil said.

The Hurricanes used their numbers to perfection Thursday, sweeping the boys and girls team titles in the regular-season finale for both schools at the Long Center.

PHU's boys outscored the Cougars 101-84 to secure their fourth straight undefeated season in dual meets. The Hurricanes girls avenged their only loss of the season last year by edging Countryside 99-86.

In the boys meet, PHU's Tyler Reed (50- and 100-yard freestyle) and Chris Mertens (200 individual medley and 100 breast) and the Cougars' Jon Taddeo (200 and 500 free) were the only swimmers to win multiple individual titles.

Taddeo also swam a leg on the 200 free relay team that beat the defending conference champion Hurricanes by .62 seconds.

The turning point in the meet came when Mertens won the 100 breast to give PHU a comfortable lead.

In the girls meet, Countryside's Melanie Margalis (200 IM, 100 breast) and Rachel Burns (200 and 100 free) each won two individual events.

The Hurricanes' pivotal moment came in the 500 free when Abbey King took second in the 500 free.

"We needed Abbey to come through there with some points because we knew Countryside was going to dominate in the 100 back and 100 breast and they did," PHU coach Lisa Bitting said.

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

PHU swimmers sweep Countryside 10/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 16, 2008 12:02am]
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