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Chamberlain's Nelson garners two seconds

Chamberlain's Grant Nelson saw little difference in the color of the medals he won in Friday's Class 3A meet.

Nelson, a senior, valiantly swam for gold in the 200-yard freestyle and 500 free, settling for silver in both events at the North County Aquatic Complex.

"I'm pretty happy with it," said Nelson, who has four seconds (three in the 500 free) and a fourth-place finish (200 free) in four state meets, adding that the medals "are just colors."

More importantly, Nelson noted, are the two school records and personal-bests he swam Friday, both of which were All-American qualifying times.

The Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas boys, a 2A team last season, won a seventh straight title and eighth overall. Lake Brantley Altamonte Springs won the girls championship, its sixth overall, to end St. Thomas Aquinas' nine-year run.

Had St. Thomas Aquinas not been reclassified this year by the Florida High School Athletic Association, Nelson would have been golden in the 500 free. St. Thomas Aquinas' Bradley Ally swam 4:31.75, just better than Nelson's 4.32.

"If (Ally) hadn't been at our state meet this year that probably wouldn't have happened, but you can't control what goes on," Nelson said.

Trailing Ally most of the way, Nelson actually pulled ahead on the last lap.

"With 15 yards to go I knew I had him by a little bit, but I could feel him turn it on," Nelson said. "I knew it was anybody's race with five yards to go."

A late kick in the 200 free paid off for Nelson when he held off Chris Bernard of Cypress Bay Weston for second with a 1:41.71 to 1:41.94.

"He's got closing speed," Chamberlain coach Steve De La Preda said.

Added Nelson, "I knew if I could hang with (Bernard) I could take him at the end."

Bloomingdale's Matt Brody had two sevenths, in the 100 free and 200 free.