An eight-point dual-meet loss to Tampa Prep on Tuesday has not hindered the young squad at the Academy of Holy Names.
Academy head coach Mara Schultz (formerly Toole) has high hopes for her team this season and has enough skill and depth to make a run at the district and regional titles.
"Tampa Prep has a solid team and our girls stayed right with them in our dual," Schultz said. "We have very strong competition in Class A in district, regional and state meets, but we have some promising young divers and solid swimmers in all events, including the relays."
Kelley Hug is the top Jaguar. In last year's Class A state meet, the multi-talented junior was fifth in the in the 100-yard backstroke and sixth in the 100 butterfly.
She also was part of two relays that placed in the top five.
Hug's state time of 59.3 seconds in the backstroke was cut to 58.7 on Tuesday, but Tampa Prep's Brittany Nauta still beat her by less than a quarter of a second. Hug also has cut her 100 butterfly time from 58.2 at state to 56 seconds.
The Jaguars placed fourth in the 200-yard medley relay and fifth in the 400 freestyle relay at state. All four swimmers are back from both relays.
In the medley, Hug swims the backstroke, Elizabeth Dowdle handles the freestyle, Stephanie DeRito the butterfly and Elisa Pineda the breaststroke.
"With all our swimmers back on the two relays, we will have opportunities of scoring points in all our meets, including state," Hug said. "The Tampa Prep dual was a good meet, but that is behind us now."
Schultz, like other coaches who recruit swimmers from within school who do not participate in club swimming, says the new region meets might make it hard for seasonal swimmers from qualifying for state.
"Mostly, the additional meet will require the kids to reach a peak three weekends in a row," Schultz said. "The club kids swim year around and are accustomed to the intense training, but seasonal swimmers will probably have a more difficult time."
Other top swimmers for the Jaguars include juniors Carley Ross and Rachel Rooth, sophomores Gael Carter and Kim Yeatman and freshman Kerry Russell.
Three youngsters make up the diving corps, including freshmen Elizabeth Dupell and Molly Coffey, plus seventh-grader Amy Werdine.