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Devils sweep titles

Showcasing its considerable depth, St. Petersburg High School swept the girls and boys swim titles en route to the combined title in the city swimming and diving championship held at North Shore Pool.

St. Petersburg scored 962 combined points to beat Northeast, which had 890. Lakewood finished a distant third with 615.

"As a team, this is probably the deepest team I've had," said St. Petersburg boys and girls coach Lisa Bitting. "It shows a lot about the depth to have people out and still come through. It was a situation where we had to have people step up and they did."

Chief among the missing was Jon Swisher, who's been out for the past 2{ weeks with a severed nerve on his right hand. Swisher swam the 100-yard freestyle in the preliminaries Saturday but decided against going in the final.

"My hand was still hurting, so I decided not to swim," Swisher said. "This wasn't a big meet, and I didn't need to push myself. I'd rather save myself for the upcoming districts."

To compensate for the loss of Swisher, the Green Devils had five swimmers take six first places, two second places and two thirds. Leading St. Petersburg was Kurtis Nakamoto and Ryan Mahoney. Nakamoto finished with 40 points, highest among the boys. Nakamoto won the 50-yard freestyle (23.11), 100-yard breaststroke (1:05.76) and anchored the winning 400-yard freestyle. Mahoney won the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:57.76.

"I thought Ryan Mahoney and Logan Neviciente swam real well today," Bitting said.

The Green Devils' girls have been without leading swimmer Danielle Johnston, who was academically ineligible after the first six-week grading period and won't be able to return for the rest of the season. But Staci Perry-Eaton, Jordan Skaaland, Beth Allen, Jessica Bradley and Kara Decker combined for one first place, five second-place and four third-place titles for St. Petersburg.

"Combined, this is the best team I've had," Bitting said. "Our goal now is to get 20 people into the state meet. When we go to districts my focus isn't on the winning and losing but on how many people can qualify for states."

Katie Booth was the high-scorer among girls with 40 points. She won the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke.

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