NEW PORT RICHEY - Most high school swimmers are virtual fish, spending every opportunity in the pool whether it's high school season or not.
That's not the case for state meet-bound Gulf junior sprinter Michael Centanni, who swims against the current and stays out of the water most of the year.
His unconventional approach clearly has worked. Centanni was among Pasco County's best sprinters as a sophomore and this season he broke the Sunshine Athletic Conference record in the 50 free at 22.94 and also won the 100 free in 52.35.
Centanni then won the 50 free district title in 23.56 and placed second to Land O' Lakes' Eric Singer in the 100 free in 52.20.
'I swam a decent time but it wasn't one of my best times,' Centanni said. 'You don't have to be the fastest; you just have to be the fastest that day. It's hard to predict your best times.'
At regional, he placed second in the 50 free in 23.07, which earned him the berth to his first swimming state meet.
How he got there is what makes him unique. Generally the best swimmers swim year round but he chooses not to, resisting the pull of fellow swimmers because of how crazy his schedule is during swim season.
Every day Centanni is at school until 2 p.m. then he immediately goes to the pool where he does his dry land workouts for 40 minutes, then gets ready for his job at the pool that takes up 39.5 hours per week.
He gets out of work at 6 p.m. then has 30 minutes to do his homework or rest, goes to practice from 6:30-8:30, leaves the pool around 8:45 p.m. and goes right to bed.
'To do that all year would be a little hectic,' Centanni said.
So far he's not suffered from opting out of year-round swimming.
'If I was in any kind of endurance race it would affect me,' Centanni said. 'I notice in my 100 it makes a big difference at the beginning of the year, my times are slow, but it usually comes back after a couple of weeks of me getting back into shape.'
But it's not as though he's sitting around all spring, summer and winter.
'I am training but I'm not swimming,' Centanni said. 'I do dry land training and that brings up your strength and everything and that's mainly what you need anyway.'
He concentrates on one body part each day during the course of the week to get into his best shape by swim season. And toward the end of the season, he tapers like all swimmers do.
Centanni began tapering, or gradually reducing workouts, after the conference meet, which he said explains why his times aren't where he would like them to be.
'If you were doing a lot of training every day consistently, chances are at your meet, your body is not going to be 100 percent recuperated, you'll maybe be a little sore, your muscles haven't quite healed all the way and that's what the taper is supposed to do,' Centanni said.
His best unofficial time in the 50 free was at the beginning of the season. And for him, the start of the season is similar to where he is now going into the state meet because he'll be in the pool again following a curb in all-around workouts.
Centanni is shooting to finish the 50 free in 22.6, which he thinks would put him in the consolation finals and a good spot to build from for next year's bid to make state.