As usual, the noise level rose and the records fell at last weekend's Swim Zone Challenge.
The all-relay event once again was a hit as 24 teams made their presence known out of the pool with displays of spirit and camaraderie that are the meet's trademark. In the pool, the competition was just as spirited, with several notable performances.
The Seminole boys pulled off what could be considered a mild upset, topping host Northeast by two points, 396-394, in a reverse of last year's finish. The Viking girls won for the second consecutive year, topping Seminole 384-361.
Whether the results mean anything in the long run is another matter. For Warhawks coach Tom Haight, coming out on top was nice and setting a meet record in the 200 backstroke was a bonus, but after a couple of days, the glow has worn off.
"It's kind of the first big meet where everybody brings their squads together to get some competition, but I don't think you can predict a thing from it," Haight said. "This won't be any indication of what will happen in the next nine weeks."
Then again, Northeast would not complain if several of its performances from the meet carry over to the individual-meet season.
The Vikings set a goal of breaking eight meet records, four on each side, and ended up more than halfway there. The boys set marks in the 4x100 IM, 200 butterfly and 500 freestyle relay (where four swim legs of 200, 150, 100 and 50) and missed the 400 freestyle relay record by three-tenths of a second, finishing in 3 minutes, 22.95 seconds.
The girls broke records in the 200 free and 250 freestyle (legs of 100, 75, 50, 25) relay.
"My kids felt pretty good about getting those," Northeast coach Bill Burrows said. "It was a real good meet."
Though Seminole and Northeast no longer will have Palm Harbor University to contend with in Class 2A, District 7, the Hurricanes showed they will still play a big part in county competition. PHU's boys placed fourth and the girls sixth, with a meet record in the 100 free relay (51.26).
East Lake, which essentially switched district assignments with PHU, finished seventh in the boys and third in the girls.
In diving, Tampa Prep easily won the boys with a meet-record 276.30 points, breaking its own mark of 267.05 set last year. St. Petersburg Catholic prevailed on the girls side with a meet-record 247.55 points.
And in the spirit competition, Palm Harbor University won for the second consecutive year.
UP NEXT: The area's first major invitational is this weekend as Clearwater Central Catholic holds its sixth annual Marauder Invitational. Nine county schools are among the 17 scheduled to compete at the Long Center in Clearwater. Diving, a newcomer to the meet, will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday with swimming preliminaries starting at 8 a.m. Saturday and finals at 5 p.m.
Area teams participating are CCC, Admiral Farragut, Clearwater, Countryside, East Lake, Lakewood, Northeast, PHU, Shorecrest, Academy of the Holy Names, Berkeley Prep, Jesuit and Crystal River.
_ JOHN SCHWARB