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)

Swimming: Palm Harbor U. wins boys, girls and coveted spirit crowns at Total Team Relay Challenge

ST. PETERSBURG — Around the North Shore Pool, the swimmers waved banners emblazoned with colorful insignia, whooping, whistling and cheering.

The cheering continued, even when most swimmers had finished. Those lagging behind were not alone. Teammates threw their collective voice behind them, encouraging them as if they were in the lead.

It is one of the charming aspects of the Total Team Relay Challenge, this custom of embracing the stragglers as well as the superstars.

The meet, which Northeast has hosted since 1993, kicks off the swim season with relay events. But the more coveted prize is the spirit award, given to the team that cheers the loudest and shows the most sportsmanship.

For years, the spirit also included themes. Some were elaborate with floats that were as impressive as any at homecoming. And the competition was intense, sometimes too much for Northeast coach and meet founder Bill Burrows to handle.

"It was getting to the point where teams were really fighting for that award," Burrows said. "We wanted to get it back to its roots."

For the past two years, themes were scrapped. The spirit was judged more on the cheering and camaraderie among programs.

"It was designed to get kids fired up for their teams and excited about the season," Burrows said.

The 17 teams participating could not wait to get the relays started. Palm Harbor University swimmers were joined by others who arrived at the North Shore Pool parking lot at 4:30 a.m., more than four hours before the meet started and two hours before the gates opened.

To pass the time, swimmers cranked up the music and danced. And they whooped and hollered throughout the day.

The Hurricanes won the spirit award for the third straight year.

"This is about fun and coming together as a team," PHU coach Lisa Bitting said. "It's not just about how fast you can swim. There's a whole lot more to becoming a team than that."

As for the swimming portion, the Hurricanes won that, too. PHU's boys beat East Lake 432-392 for the team title. On the girls side, the Hurricanes outscored the Eagles 430-414.

PHU's Ryan McRae was the biggest point scorer, swimming a leg on four winning relays: the 200-yard medley, the 250 sprint crescendo (where the yardage builds up each leg), the 200 fly and the 200 back.

Swimming: Palm Harbor U. wins boys, girls and coveted spirit crowns at Total Team Relay Challenge 09/08/12 [Last modified: Saturday, September 8, 2012 9:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Playoff ambitions evident in opener for Zephyrhills, Wiregrass Ranch


    WESLEY CHAPEL — A new football season in Pasco County begins Friday night, but this one promises to be like none before it — with more math than ever. A new playoff system emphasizes schedule strength, making non-district tilts particularly important.

    Wiregrass Ranch wide receiver Jordan Miner catches a pass in spring practice at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel on Monday, May 1, 2017.
  2. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues


    Four days before their preseason home opener against the Cleveland Browns, which had 12 players not stand for the national anthem prior to their last game, the Bucs used their team meeting to discuss social issues that might have led to that demonstration, coach Dirk Koetter said.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]
  3. Rookie tight end Antony Auclair making case to stick with Bucs


    Don't let his modest preseason stats fool you: Antony Auclair, the undrafted rookie tight end from Canada is making a strong case to stick around on the Bucs' 53-man roster this season.

    Bucs tight end Antony Auclair (82) collides with a defender following a catch during training camp. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  4. Calm (Largo) and clamorous (St. Petersburg) converge Friday night


    If Largo and St. Petersburg high schools are going to be successful this football season, it will be because of defense. And if those defenses are going to be successful, it will be because of secondaries that are potentially the best in Pinellas County.

    St. Petersburg High School CB Anthony Johnson  practices with his team Monday, Aug. 21, 2017.
  5. Rays morning after: Secret to Alex Colome's success is staying cool, calm, collected


    The ninth inning couldn't have started much worse for Rays closer Alex Colome on Tuesday, who took over with a 6-4 lead and quickly allowed a single and a double to bring the tying run to the plate.

    Alex Colome said the key to his effectiveness is not altering anything, especially his locked-in focus on getting the final outs.