East Lake's girls swim team has designs on a state team title this season.
But the Eagles will have to do it without their best swimmer.
Junior Sydney Pickrem, the Tampa Bay Times’ Pinellas all-county swimmer of the year the past two seasons, will not be able to swim in the postseason because she will be competing in the FINA Swimming World Cup, an international series of short-course swim meets that is open to swimmers from FINA member countries.
Pickrem, who has dual citizenship, will represent Canada in the World Cup in two meets, Nov. 5-6 in Singapore and Nov .9-10 in Tokyo. Those dates coincide with the district meet, which high school swimmers have to compete in to advance through the postseason in individual events. Pickrem would still be able to compete in relay events at the state meet should the Eagles qualify.
"I know Sydney would like to be with the team, and it was a tough call," East Lake coach Tim O'Keefe said. "But we completely understand the decision. She has to look out for her future, and this is what's best for her."
The past two seasons Pickrem has become the most dominant swimmer in the county. Two years ago, she won a state title in the 100 breaststroke. Last year, she took first at state in the 200 individual medley. She is versatile enough to swim in just about any event and talented enough to swim for the Canadian National team in last month's world junior championships in Dubai.
This isn't the first time an elite swimmer from the area has had a scheduling conflict with the state meet. In 2005, former Northeast standout Megan Romano was unable to compete in individual events at state because she participated in a mandatory camp for the U.S. Junior National Team in Colorado Springs, Colo., and was not allowed to leave early to swim in districts.
Bob Putnam can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @BobbyHomeTeam.