Boys Swimmer of the Year Nick Alexiou, Sr., Clearwater
Alexiou was the overwhelming favorite to win state titles in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle due, in large part, to the graduation of Sarasota Riverview's Nicholas Caldwell, the defending champion in both events and the state record holder in the 500. With his path cleared, Alexiou seized his golden opportunity, winning what had been elusive state titles in the 200 free in 1 minute, 36.27 seconds and the 500 free in 4:24.30. He was the only county swimmer, boy or girl, to win multiple individual titles at a state meet.
Most impressive accomplishments: Alexiou not only wanted to win state titles, he wanted to break records. He came awfully close in the 200 free, falling 0.46 seconds shy of the state record of 1:35.81 set by Clay Kirkland of Jacksonville Bolles in 2000. His time in both of his signature events was fastest among boys in any classification at the state meet.
Fun fact: Two years ago, Alexiou broke a 19-year-old conference record in the 200 free and shaved 11 seconds off his time from the preliminaries to set a record in the 500 free. This year, he lowered his record-setting time in the 200 free from 1:39.31 to 1:39.09
What's next: Alexiou, who has signed with Virginia, continues to train with his club coach in order to produce top times for upcoming offseason meets, including the Olympic Trials.
50 free: Jason Williams, Sr., Palm Harbor U.: Third at state
100 fly: Zach Perrotti, Sr., Palm Harbor U.: Fifth at state
100 free: Jason Williams, Sr., Palm Harbor U.: Third at state
100 back: Georgi Krastev, Jr., Northeast: State champion
100 breast: David Morgan, Sr., Palm Harbor U.: State runnerup
200 free: Nick Alexiou, Sr., Clearwater: State champion
200 individual medley: Zack Metka, Sr., Seminole: Second at state
500 free: Nick Alexiou, Sr., Clearwater: State champion
200 free relay: Palm Harbor U. (Jason Williams, Shaun VanHuyssteen, Zach Perrotti, Jason Williams): Third at state
200 medley relay: Palm Harbor U. (Ryan McRae, David Morgan, Zach Perrotti, Jason Williams): State champions
400 free relay: Countryside (Richard Willsey, Michael Lombardo, Ryan Peters, Gary Lush): Third at state
Diving: Jack Stein, Jr., Shorecrest: State champion
Coach of the year
Lisa Bitting, Palm Harbor U.: She guided the Hurricanes to conference, district and region titles then the Class 3A title. She also coached PHU to a state title in 2008, becoming the first bay area coach in 56 years to win multiple state titles.
50 free: Gary Lush, Sr., Countryside. 100 fly: Georgi Krastev, Jr., Northeast. 100 free: Ryan McRae, Jr., Palm Harbor U. 100 back: John Farese, So., Shorecrest. 100 breast: Zack Metka, Sr., Seminole. 200 free: Ryan McRae, Jr., Palm Harbor U. 200 IM: David Morgan, Sr., Palm Harbor U. 500 free: Taylor Uselis, So., Palm Harbor U. 200 free relay: Countryside (Richard Willsey, Ryan Peters, Tommy Kelly, Gary Lush). 200 medley relay: East Lake (Michael Holdsworth, Kevin Smith, Colin Hausman, Jack Pickrem). 400 free relay: Palm Harbor U. (Shaun VanHuyssteen, Manuel Barragan, Taylor Uselis, Ryan McRae). Diving: Jeffrey Burns, Jr., East Lake.
Clearwater: Nicholas Yoder (diving), 200 free relay, 400 free relay. Clearwater Central Catholic: Jared Brown (50 free, 100 free). Countryside: Gary Lush (200 IM, 100 fly), Ryan Peters (100 back, 200 free), Richard Willsey (50 free, 100 free). Dunedin: Cooper Hoffman (100 back). East Lake: Kevin Smith (100 breast). Northeast: Spencer Williams (100 free). Osceola: Calvin Bryant (500 free). Palm Harbor U.: Manuel Barragan (200 IM), Zach Perrotti (100 back), Taylor Uselis (200 free). Shorecrest: Joshua Chen (200 IM), 200 medley relay, 400 free relay.
Girls Swimmer of the Year Sydney Pickrem, Fr., East Lake
Pickrem was attempting to do something no other county freshman girl had done at a state meet: win multiple individual titles. She came awfully close, winning the 100 breast in 1 minute, 2.91 seconds and finishing second in the 200 individual medley in 2:00.55. She had the top seeded times in both events entering the preliminaries. In the 200 IM, she fell behind Sarasota Riverview's Ashlee Linn and could not catch up. In the 100 breast, she built a commanding lead and finished a second off the state record. Pickrem and Tarpon Springs' Kelsey Buckley won one event and finished second in another at state. But Pickrem beat Buckley in the 200 IM to win the conference title and had a faster time in the event at state.
Most impressive accomplishments: Pickrem burst onto the scene at the conference meet by winning two individual events and swimming a leg on the winning 200 free relay.
Fun fact: For many years, Pickrem has competed against and beaten girls older than her. She already has made it to the national championships and qualified for the Olympic Trials.
What's next: Pickrem is training for big meets with her club team and preparing to win multiple state titles next season.
50 free: Lauren Hall, Jr., Countryside: Third at state
100 fly: Emma Spilman, Fr., Shorecrest: County's top time
100 free: Kelsey Buckley, Sr., Tarpon Springs: State runnerup
100 back: Jessica Piper, Sr., St. Petersburg: Third at state
100 breast: Sydney Pickrem, Fr., East Lake: State champion
200 free: Michelle Turek, Fr., Palm Harbor U.: State runnerup
200 individual medley: Kelsey Buckley, Sr., Tarpon Springs: State champion
500 free: Summer Finke, Fr., Countryside: Fourth at state
200 free relay: Palm Harbor U. (Kendall McIntosh, Abbey King, Sarah Freeman, Michelle Turek): Third at state
200 medley relay: Palm Harbor U. (Mickey Hubbard, Rachael Freeman, Morgan Perrotti, Kendall McIntosh): Sixth at state.
400 free relay: Palm Harbor U. (Katherine Mayer, Abbey King, Sarah Freeman, Michelle Turek): State runnerup
Diving: Alexi Gonzalez, Jr., East Lake: Third at state
Coach of the Year
Lisa Bitting, Palm Harbor University: With a team made up primarily of underclassmen, Bitting guided the Hurricanes to conference, district and region titles and a second-place finish at the Class 3A state meet. It was the highest finish at a state meet ever for PHU's girls.
50 free: Annika Smith, Fr., East Lake. 100 fly: Sarah Gorman, So., Seminole. 100 free: Michelle Turek, Fr., Palm Harbor U. 100 back: Marissa Marckese, Jr., St. Petersburg. 100 breast: Annika Smith, Fr., East Lake. 200 free: Summer Finke, Fr., Countryside. 200 individual medley: Sydney Pickrem, Fr., East Lake. 500 free: Autumn Finke, Jr., Countryside. 200 free relay: East Lake (Sydney Pickrem, Annika Smith, Emily Jacobs, Raina Peterson). 200 medley relay: Countryside (Autumn Finke, Lauren Hall, Sarah Hughes, Courtney Grace). 400 free relay: Countryside (Summer Finke, Autumn Finke, Caroline Smythe, Lauren Hall). Diving: Hannah Stein, Sr., Shorecrest.
Clearwater: 400 free relay. Countryside: Autumn Finke (200 free), Lauren Hall (100 free). East Lake: 200 medley relay. Lakewood: Rebecca Halfast (100 free, 100 back). Northeast: AJ Jones (200 IM, 100 back), 200 free relay. Northside Christian: Madelei Clarke (100 fly), 200 free relay. Osceola: Nicole Koda (100 breast), Alexandra Wittman (200 free, 500 free), 200 medley relay. Palm Harbor U.: Sarah Freeman (50 free, 100 free), Rachael Freeman (100 breast, 200 IM), Abbey King (100 free), Morgan Perrotti (100 fly, 100 back). Seminole: Jennifer Dawson (diving), Hannah Roper (200 IM, 100 breast), 400 free relay. Shorecrest: Hope Andrews (200 free), Emma Spilman (200 IM), 200 medley relay, 400 free relay. St. Petersburg: Jessica Piper (200 IM).