Northeast senior Brenno Varanda was a double winner over the weekend at the Pinellas County Athletic Conference swim meet, taking the 200-yard individual medley (1:58.46) and the 100 breaststroke (59.75). Now the Times goes inside Varanda's head anybody know Portugese?
Q: Sorry to interrupt your homework.
B: No, no, I really don't mind. It's calculus, geez.
Q: Is it tough?
B: Actually math's my strongest suit. English is my second language. Math is easiest for me. My first language is Portugese. I've only been speaking English for three years.
Q: Do you still get some English words wrong?
B: Are you kidding me? That's like my life. The kids in school, they're making a dictionary so when I finish my high school career they'll have all the words I didn't say right.
Q: So what does your name mean in Portugese?
B: My last name Varanda, that stands for porch, just like veranda. That's another nickname they give me, "Porch."
Q: What does your first name mean?
B: You got me there. If you'll let me find out (Brenno puts down the phone to ask his dad, Hilton) it's an Italian name and it comes from mythology.
Q: So what else is going on?
B: Now that it's my senior year, everything comes at you, colleges and applications and studying and keeping your grades high at the same time while going to practice in the morning and afternoon. This is the busiest year I've ever had while in high school.
Q: Have you decided which college you want to swim for yet?
B: No, I'm undecided right now. I'm fishing.
Q: So what did you think about the Olympics?
B: I liked everything, except the 200 breaststroke and the breaststrokers. Brenden Hansen (the U.S. swimmer who won gold in the 4x100 medley, but silver in the 100 breast and bronze in the 200) was an idol to me. I didn't think it was fair enough. He worked so hard and in the end he got beat by somebody who didn't even use the right stroke.
Q: It seems swimming only gets props when the Olympics roll around. Is that fair?
B: I respect the Olympics a lot because it comes from way back when. The way they made the Olympics is perfect the way it is. They should never change it. If it was every year, it wouldn't be as important. People would get sick of looking at it.
_ JAMAL THALJI, Times staff writer