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Injury can't keep teen out of pool

Jason Eaddy isn't letting an injury get in his way. A recent knee injury forced the St. Petersburg High ninth grader to undergo arthroscopic surgery. Doctors say he'll never play some sports again, but Jason isn't letting that get him down. A swimmer for St. Petersburg Aquatics, the 15-year-old was back in the water two weeks after surgery, despite a grim prognosis.

"We were told he'd never swim again," said Jason's mother, Nancy Eaddy. "But he never complained or gave up. He just kept at it."

Jason competed for the first time since his injury Saturday at the Tan and Train Mini Meet at North Shore Pool, claiming two seconds and a third.

"It (the injury) really set me back," said Jason. "But I did better (Saturday) than I thought I would, so I'm encouraged. Now I just keep training to get ready for the Junior Nationals in August."

Jason qualified last season for the Junior National Championships to be held this summer at the University of Alabama. He hopes to compete in the 800 and 1,500-meter freestyle events.

370 swimmers from 17 swim clubs around the state splashed their way across North Shore Pool at the Tan and Train meet Saturday, sponsored by St. Petersburg Aquatics. The swimmers, who ranged in age from 4 to 33, competed in 68 events, including the 1,000-yard freestyle.

The oldest participant, 33-year-old William Specht of St. Petersburg Aquatics, won the 100-yard senior butterfly with a time of :51.87 but was bested by nine-hundredths of a second in the 100-yard senior backstroke by 20-year-old Craig Ridenhour, who came in at :54.48.

12-year-old Jen Handley of the Brandon Swim Club made her mark at the meet. She outdid 15, 16, and 17-year-olds to win the Senior 50-yard freestyle with a time of :26.99.

Do you want to give your child the opportunity to join in summer swim competition? Sign-up day for the city of St. Petersburg's youth summer swim league is this Friday.

Fossil Park, Lake Vista, Shore Acres, Walter Fuller, and Northwest will each be home to a team. Practices run Monday through Friday beginning June 10. Meets begin June 19 and 20. For more information, please contact St. Petersburg Aquatics director Fred Lewis at 821-2918.