ST. PETERSBURG — The swimming portion of the Total Team Relay Challenge went as expected. Palm Harbor University had numbers no other team could match and swam laps around its competition at North Shore Pool, winning the boys team title (424 points), the girls team title (436) and the overall team title (860).
No team came within 78 points of beating the Hurricanes on the boys or girls side. PHU won its fifth straight overall title by nearly 200 points. Better still, the Hurricanes did it without one of their top swimmers, David Morgan, who was on a recruiting trip to Ohio State this weekend.
But the title PHU really coveted was the one for most spirit. The Hurricanes arrived at the pool at 6 a.m. Saturday, armed with tie-dyed shirts, water bottles and noodles that were turned into noisemakers and decorations for their tent. Even the parents got involved, bringing cowbells to make noise.
It worked. PHU tied St. Petersburg for the most spirit.
"The kids worked really hard at showing team spirit," Hurricanes coach Lisa Bitting said. "Most of them stayed up all night getting ready for this meet."
PHU's girls won six events and the boys won nine. The Hurricanes 200 free relay of Ryan McRae, Zach Perrotti, Shaun VanHuyssteen and Jason Williams won in 1 minute, 29.65 seconds to break the meet record by more than three seconds.
"It was an impressive performance as a team," Bitting said. "I think the most points we've ever had. It was great to see what the boys did with David not being here."
Late morning showers and lightning delayed the start but did not dampen the spirit. Once the swimming was over, the Green Devils gathered around the pool deck, dancing while a deejay blasted music.
"The great thing was there was so much enthusiasm," Bitting said. "It's a nice way to start the season."
Boys team scores: Palm Harbor University 424, East Lake 340, Osceola 280, St. Petersburg 268, Seminole 268, Countryside 258, Tampa Prep 254, Punta Gorda Charlotte 236, Northeast 230, Shorecrest 178, Clearwater 136, St. Petersburg Catholic 118, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 114, Lakewood 104, Tarpon Springs 104, Gibbs 90, Bradenton St. Stephens 76, Canterbury 72.
Girls team scores: Palm Harbor University 436, Tampa Prep 358, East Lake 326, Countryside 308, Punta Gorda Charlotte 298, Osceola 284, Seminole 278, Northeast 224, Shorecrest 218, St. Petersburg 192, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 151, Tarpon Springs 134, Gibbs 126, Canterbury 86, Lakewood 80, Clearwater 65, St. Petersburg Catholic 56, Bradenton St. Stephens 46, Calvary Christian 28.