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Swimmers strive for finish

It's the playoffs and a lot of swimmers around the county are gearing up for the Super Bowls of swimming in the coming weeks.

With the Senior and Junior Nationals around the corner, swimmers from several clubs have been working hard since March to prepare.

"This run is certainly comparable to the playoffs in any sport," St. Petersburg Aquatics coach Fred Lewis said. "These swimmers know that this is the time of the year for them to be peaking and getting ready for their events. You don't want to go flat now. That would be like a football team going flat in December."

For most of the competitive swimmers on clubs including St. Petersburg Aquatics, Clearwater Aquatics and West Florida Lightning, the season began back in March when they began their conditioning.

"I don't think a lot of people realize how hard and how much work goes into reaching this point for these athletes," said Lewis, who has been the SPA coach for seven years. "The training never really stops for these swimmers."

The schedule can be demanding for all these athletes, especially in the summer when it gets more intense.

Normally, most of the swimmers are practicing (swimming) twice a day and also doing some kind of weight training.

A lot of the coaches concentrate on developing strength before focusing on the races themselves in late May and June.

Some of the important races for the younger and older swimmers will be the Palms of Pasadena Last Chance Meet July 8-10; the Region IV Championships July 17-20; the Junior Olympics July 24-26; the Senior Championships July 30-31 and the Senior Nationals Aug. 2-6.

Jerger success: Adam Jerger of West Florida Lightning Aquatics won the Senior high point trophy last weekend in the Lightning Invitational, winning four individual events and placing first and second in two relays. Jerger won the 200 meter individual medley (2:15.24); the 100 breaststroke (1:07.89); the 200 breaststroke (2:28.46) and the 400 individual medley (4:51.12). He also guided WFLA to a win the 400 medley relay.

Lightning fast: Scott Tucker of WFLA and formerly of Seminole High also did well, winning the 100 butterfly (59.09) and the 200 freestyle (1:56.58) while his WFLA teammate Alex Voris won the 100 backstroke (1:00.34) and finished second to Tucker in the 100 freestyle (53.54). Heather Maynard of Seminole and WFLA finished second in the 1,500 free (17:36.90), which qualified her for the Junior Nationals.

High-point winners: The high-point winners for SPA at its meet last weekend in Daytona were Heather Skaggs (ages 11-12); Robert Margalis (ages 13-14); and Fernando Zagaceta in the Seniors Division.

Senior qualifiers: Dave Schlesinger, Jason Eaddy and Barry Wynn all have qualified for the Senior Nationals. Schlesinger of SPA qualified in the 200 and 400 IM while Eaddy has qualified in the 1,500 free. Wynn, who attends the University of Georgia, qualified in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and the 400 IM.