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Runner-up is top county finisher


There were no state titles for Hillsborough County Thursday, but there were plenty of mixed emotions at the Hall of Fame Aquatic Complex.

Chamberlain's Grant Nelson was charged and optimistic after finishing his events, Bloomingdale's Matt Brody frustrated, Durant's David Ellis content and his teammate Brittany Fabry "not disappointed, but not happy."

Nelson finished a close runner-up in the 500-yard freestyle to Weston Cypress Bay junior Chris Bernard, a club swimming rival. He seemed destined for third place until an official rang the bell indicating there were 50 yards left, and Nelson surged to within centimeters of Bernard. He fell short by .92 of a second.

"Five more yards and I might have had him," Nelson said. "But it was my best time and a school record, so I'm happy about that."

Nelson, a junior, said he was "nowhere close to stopping now," and will prepare for his next big club meet in March, as well as the next time he will face Bernard. He also competed in the 200 freestyle, finishing fourth.

Ellis took third in the 50 free, falling behind Seminole's Leon Luis (21.45) and Sarasota's Spencer Maglich (21.59). The senior was happy with his time, though, a personal-best 21.67.

Competing in the 200 free with Nelson was Brody, who came in seventh. His biggest letdown was sixth place in the 100 free after placing in the top four at the morning preliminaries.

"I know I had a shot at third, and I didn't do it," Brody said. "I don't know why I didn't swim well."

Brody had been dropping times consistently for the past few weeks and broke the school record at districts and again in Thursday morning's preliminaries.

Fabry had a strong start in the 500 free, but lagged after the first 100 yards.

"At the end, it felt like I was slowing down," she said. "I was just thinking, "Kick!' I sort of died."

She also competed in the consolation final of the 400 free relay, finishing 14th with teammates Alana Shawah, Alyssa Carroll and Lindsay Overman. Gaither's Meredith Lynch, Valerie Crovo, Natalie Davis and Carly Cavalieri took 10th.

Gainesville Buchholz won the girls title, and Sarasota won the boys crown.

Today, the Class A diving finals begin at 9 a.m. and the swimming finals will start at 7 p.m.