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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
Rasmus Skjaerpe, Tampa Prep sophomore (pictured at top left)
Skjaerpe made a big splash last year as a freshman. And after adding about 4 inches and 25 pounds to his frame in the offseason, he turned in a dominant all-around performance at the Class A state meet in November. “Moose” was the county’s top individual finisher with his second-place, automatic All-America time of 1:50.93 in the 200-yard individual medley. Skjaerpe also claimed sixth place in the 100 butterfly, the fastest heat in any state class, and was a member of Tampa Prep’s fifth-place 200 medley relay.
Giorgie Graves, Spoto senior (pictured, bottom left)
Graves had established herself as a successful distance swimmer but decided last summer to change events. After finishing ninth at the Class 2A state in the 100-yard butterfly and 10th in the 500 freestyle as a sophomore and 11th in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle as a junior, Graves switched to freestyle sprinting, achieving her top results. She was the only female swimmer in Hillsborough County to medal in an individual event, third-place in the 50 freestyle (24.22), and finished fourth in the 100 freestyle.
Sydney Pickrem, East Lake freshman (pictured, bottom right)
Pickrem was attempting to do something no other Pinellas 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. In the 100 breast, she built a commanding lead and finished a second off the state record. Pickrem beat Tarpon Springs’ Kelsey Buckley in the 200 IM to win the conference title and had a faster time in the event at state.
Nick Alexiou, Clearwater senior
Alexiou was the overwhelming favorite for state titles in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle due, in large part, to the graduation of Sarasota Riverview’s Nicholas Caldwell, the defending champ in both events and 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 Pinellas County swimmer, boy or girl, to win multiple individual state titles.
To see the Times’ full report of this year’s fall athletes, click on hometeam on our homepage. There you can see the first team, second team and honorable mention athletes from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.