LAND O’LAKES — It’s every Pasco County high school swim program’s goal and dream to one day knock off the longtime undisputed top team, Land O’ Lakes, which has won 10 consecutive Sunshine Athletic Conference titles on the boys side.
Being at Wiregrass Ranch prior to this season, Mitchell boys coach Tanner Schmitz knew his depth was always an issue when facing the Gators. But after Wednesday night’s dual meet, which the Mustangs lost 100-77 to Land O’ Lakes, there were some errors that could’ve made it much more closer than 23-point margin.
“It was really more like 13 points,” Schmitz said. “I still miss out on points because of diving because I have no divers and we had a disqualification. If we don’t have the disqualification it’s more like 10 points separating us. I told the boys coming in this is our measuring stick and to come out and hang with Land O’ Lakes is a huge boost.”
At Wiregrass Ranch, depth was a different landscape for Schmitz, so finding creative ways to compete with deep teams like Land O’ Lakes, Mitchell and Sunlake was always hours of mixing up lineup sheets in hopes of finding the right matchups. Now at Mitchell, the depth issues are not a problem, as the Mustangs have 16 swimmers and several qualifying for regionals last season.
Having a couple of the county’s top swimmers in the county at his disposal, including 2012 state qualifier, sophomore Kevin Smith, returning to the squad has Schmitz excited about the new challenges that lay ahead for him at Mitchell.
“It’s a different strategy now,” Schmitz said about coaching with more depth. “It’s a challenge that I’ve taken on and I’ll improve as the season moves on. The kids have bought into what I’m doing and everyone should see steady progression from Mitchell throughout the season.”
Andy Villamarzo covers Pasco County prep swimming and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.