When February comes, the Bishop McLaughlin boys swim team will trade its swim suits for baseball pants. Instead of getting a face full of water, they will get a face full of dirt.
Seven of the Hurricanes baseball players decided to make swimming a part of their fall conditioning and swim coach Brian Hengesbach couldn't be happier.
"It's a great story," Hengesbach said. "The whole (boys) team consists of seven baseball players. It's a growth from last year. We finished with three boys last year. The guys are using it as a cross-training thing."
The baseball-turned-swimmers are Cyrus Beerman, Tyler Cooler, Chris Frosch, David Heintz, Tanner Koch, Colton Nussel and Frankie Vascimini.
They have had some success. Against Weeki Wachee and Brooksville Nature Coast recently, Heintz finished first in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle and Beerman took first in the 200 freestyle.
"We're not a great team because we don't have all the techniques down, but we do what we're suppose to do," said Beerman, who is a pitcher and first baseman on the Bishop McLaughlin baseball team that advanced to the Class 2A-Region 3 finals last season.
They did this process with the blessing of their baseball coach Nick Rodriguez.
"Coach Rodriguez really liked the idea because he knew it would improve us a lot," Beerman said. "It really does make you a lot stronger. I was surprised after the first practice how incredibly sore I was the next day.
Heintz, who was a first-team All-Pasco Tribune first baseman, actually got hurt swimming as he hit his head into the wall and jammed his neck. He missed the Hurricanes' last meet but is expected to be back in time for the 1A-3 district meet on Oct. 25.
"Swimming practices are definitely tougher than baseball," Heintz said. "As far as endurance, swimming is definitely tougher. Swimming the 100 (yards) is tough. I never thought a year ago that I would be competing at the district in swimming."
Conference meet finalized
After concerns of a conflict for senior swimmers, the Sunshine Athletic Conference swimming and diving meet has been moved to Oct. 22 at the New Port Richey Aquatic Center. Anclote will be the host school. Swimming begins at 10 a.m. with diving to follow.
The meet was originally scheduled for Oct. 23 at Saint Leo University, but that is also the final national ACT test date for seniors who wish to apply for early admission.
Watch out for Gulf
In boys swimming around the county, talk usually focuses on Land O' Lakes, Mitchell, Wiregrass Ranch and Sunlake, but Gulf is quietly working its way into that group.
The Buccaneers are undefeated - beating Hudson, Fivay, River Ridge and Wesley Chapel - and have posted some of the best times in the county. Junior Hunter Swartsel currently has the fastest time in the 100 freestyle and is a member of the Buccaneers' 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay.
Gulf may not have the depth to compete with some of the bigger teams, but could make a splash when district meets begin.
"We are swimming really well," Gulf coach Casey Claflin said. "Their times keep going down."
Boys: Against Wesley Chapel, Swartsel swam a school-best 2:08.58 in the 200 individual medley. Swartsel also teamed with Austin Miller, Bradley Bachand and Shannen Gleghorn and broke the Gulf record in the 200 freestyle relay (1:37.45). Wiregrass Ranch broke two individual and two relay records on Oct. 6 against Mitchell. Zac Serota (2:17.30) in the 200 individual medley and Alex Kovalenko (1:00.19) in the 100 butterfly were the best times ever for the Bulls while Serota, John Michael Gant, Kovalenko and Michael Hernandez broke the 200 freestyle relay with 1:39.72. Matt Menendez, Brandan LeRoche, Hernandez and Serota shattered the school mark in the 400 freestyle relay by 13 seconds with a 3:46.78.
Girls: Mitchell's Mazie Siddens broke two of her own school records against Wiregrass Ranch on Oct. 6. She established new marks in the 200 individual medley (2:16.46) and 100 butterfly (59.95). Both are the fastest times recorded this year in the county.
Correspondent Rick Harmon covers Pasco County swimming and diving and can be reached at