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Accident pushed Pirate to pool

(ran PC edition)

Swimming was not drilled into Ross Coscia's head. There is another reason _ with another part of his anatomy factored in _ why he chose the sport.

It all started in the summer of 1999 after Coscia had his right leg run over by a trailer being pulled by his father's truck.

While rehabilitating, Coscia, one of a school-record 10 Pasco swimmers headed to Thursday's Class A state meet at the International Hall of Fame Aquatic Center in Fort Lauderdale, took up the sport he has grown to love.

"My parents didn't like me coming home and just hanging around the house," said Coscia, a sophomore who joined the East Pasco Piranhas before his freshman year and has been swimming with that club team and the Pirates ever since. "They were looking for a low-impact sport for me to get back in shape."

Having quit Little League after nine seasons, Coscia gave swimming a shot and discovered how much he enjoyed it.

"I went to a club meet and saw I was decent at (swimming), and I decided that I'd keep trying to be more competitive," Coscia said.

Pasco coach Russ Rosenbauer, who also founded the Piranhas, noticed a turnaround in Coscia's performance in this, his second season. Coscia dropped six seconds in the 100-yard backstroke, which he won at last week's district meet in 1 minute, 4.75 seconds.

And Coscia has reduced his times in the freestyle races between three and four seconds from last year.

"He got real serious about (training)," Rosenbauer said. "He's decided that swimming is his sport, and he wants to be good at it.

"His times have just plummeted. Quite honestly, he's caught up to Brett."

That would be Brett Clark, the Pirates' top freestyler. Coscia still finishes behind Clark in the 50 free and 100 free, only now it is by less than a second rather than the three to four he trailed Clark by last year.

A chief reason for Coscia's improvement, Rosenbauer said, is that "he's a very coachable guy. He listens. When I try to suggest a change in something, he works to get it done.

"I just try to take all the pointers I can," Coscia said.

Rosenbauer cited Coscia's faster starts and more fluid turns in the backstroke for his quicker times.

"He bounces off the wall (on backstroke turns) with the best of them now," Rosenbauer said.

With one Coscia having qualified for state, Rosenbauer is looking forward to coaching Ross' sisters Alyson, 13, and 7-year-old Olivia, at Pasco. He already is working with them at the club level.

But Rosenbauer has one more meet to coach the older Coscia in this season. In addition to the backstroke, Coscia swims on three district-champion relay teams _ 200 medley, 200 free and 400 free.

Regardless of the outcome at state, Rosenbauer feels better times are ahead for Coscia.

"At this point, his potential is relatively unlimited," the coach said.