Most of St. Petersburg's girls thought their chances of defending the team title in Saturday's St. Petersburg City Swim Championships were remote.
Shorecrest, the Green Devil's biggest challenger, had the numbers to win. But St. Petersburg swam well enough in the preliminaries and won enough finals to retain their title over the Chargers 447-442.
"It was a lot to win the whole thing, but I really didn't think it was possible," Green Devils freshman Peyton Palsha said. "When they announced the totals and we were on top, it was a huge surprise to all of us."
Palsha did her part by winning the 50 free (24.83 seconds) and 100 free (52.43) with school-record times in both events and a meet record in the 100 free.
"I knew I could get the records because I was already swimming those times in practice and at other meets," Palsha said. "But they didn't count because they were with a stopwatch."
St. Petersburg's other individual champs were Leah Harvard in the 200 free (2:00.63) and McKenna Harris in the 100 breast (1:05.95).
Northeast's Amanda Burrows won multiple titles, taking first in the 200 individual medley (2:08.78) and 500 free (5:03.32). She swam legs on the winning 200 medley relay (1:55.24) and 200 free relay (1:42.07).
On the boys side, Shorecrest won its third straight city title, beating Lakewood 474-323.5.
The Chargers were led by John Farese and Joshua Chen, both of whom have state title aspirations. Farese won the 100 free (47.19) and set a meet record in the 100 back (51.38). Chen took first in the 200 IM (2:00.48) and the 100 breast in a meet record 59.32.
Both teamed with Alex Grant and Mark Marshburn to win the 200 medley relay (1:38.01) and 400 free relay (3:19.10) with times that also set meet records.
"Our boys are just knocking it out of the park right now," Shorecrest coach Patty Nardozzi said. "They're just rolling toward the state meet."
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Boys team scores: Shorecrest 474, Lakewood 323.5, St. Petersburg 287, Northeast 258, Northside Christian 151, Canterbury 125, Admiral Farragut 107, St. Petersburg Catholic 88.5, Boca Ciega 70, Gibbs 47, Dixie Hollins 46
Girls team scores: St. Petersburg 447, Shorecrest 442, Northeast 398, Canterbury 199, Northside Christian 166, St. Petersburg Catholic 156, Lakewood 129, Admiral Farragut 84, Gibbs 71, Dixie Hollins 52, Boca Ciega 34