STUART — Berkeley Prep has again asserted itself as a state powerhouse in swimming, finishing Saturday's Class A meet — considered the toughest of the four classifications — in fine fashion.
The boys followed last year's sparkling second-place team finish with a Tampa Bay-best fifth-place showing, while the girls placed seventh, also highest among Tampa Bay area teams, edging Tampa Prep, which was eighth.
"We swam just about as well as we could in just about every event," Berkeley Prep coach Kevin Rosepapa said. "We were very, very fast, but this is a tough classification with so much speed."
Leading the way were all the Bucs' relays.
The girls, in fact, broke school records in every relay in Saturday mornings' prelims, using combinations of underclassmen Gabby Donahue, Megan Maguire, Maureen Tanner, Isabela Arcila, Elliot Easton (eighth grader), Sabrina Vergara and seniors Lindsey Marian and Emma Edmund.
In the finals, the Buc girls combined to finish fifth in the 200 free relay (one minute, 37.03 seconds), sixth in the 200 medley relay (1:48.80) and ninth in the 400 free relay (3:39.14).
The boys' 200 medley relay, featuring Peter Tanner, Ryaan Hatoum, Christopher Dieffenthaller and Jackson Harrison also set a school record in the morning prelims and came back to place fifth in the finals (1:36.50).
With Matthew Dieffenthaller, Scott Showalter and Dante DesRosier adding to the mix, the 400-free relay placed fourth (3:10.39) and the 200-free relay placed fifth (1:27.39).
Individually, Donahue and Hatoum captured third-place medals in the backstroke (55.67) and breaststroke (56.65) respectively, while Matthew Dieffenthaller took fourth in the 200 free in 1:40.54.
As well as Berkeley Prep performed on Saturday, however, it was still nowhere close to Jacksonville Bolles, which won its 30th consecutive boys team title and its 31st straight girls title.
Rock on, Rockway
Tampa Catholic senior Christin Rockway swam two of her fastest times at last year's state meet, but still came up a little short, finishing third in the 200 IM and second in the 500 free. Not so on Saturday.
Rockway not only won her two events, but she did it in dominant fashion, taking the 200 IM title in 2:00.02 (more than a second ahead of the runnerup) and the 500 free in 4:49.90 (almost four seconds ahead of second place).
"I couldn't be much happier," Rockway said. "I had some challenges (tweaking technical aspects of her strokes) coming into this season, and I think some people doubted me. I wanted to show the doubters that I could come back and win."
Second for Stambo
Berkeley Prep junior diver Nicole Stambo came into state as the defending champion, and up until her eighth of 11 dives, she again appeared poised to take gold.
But on her eighth dive — a reverse two-and-a-half tuck, which few in the state even attempt — her knee buckled jumping on the board.
"When that happened it stopped me from getting my full jump and I didn't complete the dive well at all," Stambo said. "I didn't get many points on the dive."
And it made all the difference. Stambo placed second with 452.90 points, 33.55 behind the winner.
Tampa Prep had a solid night for both boys and girls, but no Terrapin individual or relay finished higher than its top diver, junior Nick Carlin, who placed third with 477.35 points.
Meantime, Tampa Prep's girls scored in every relay using combinations of swimmers, including Isabella Weinstein, Laura Smith, Coco Hull, Ava Carter, Hannah Golden, Arianna Golden, Julia Lacy and Alexia Hodorski.
The 200 medley relay had the best showing from the Tampa Bay area, placing fifth in 1:48.63, .17 seconds ahead of Berkeley Prep. Hull also swam strong as individual in the 100 free, where she finished fifth in 51.99.
Clearwater Central Catholic's boys placed fifth in the 400-free relay with Kory Kimura, Zachary Bennett, Jake Bair and Jackson Piccarreto in 3:11.16; Kimura, Bennett, Bair and Mark Kantzler then combined to place seventh in the 200 medley relay in 1:39.16. Academy at the Lakes' McKenna Smith was fourth (51.10) in the 100 free with Northside Christian's Lindsey Leadbetter sixth in the same race (52.02).