When the Class 2A state swim meet begins Friday at the Central Orlando YMCA Aquatic Center, Pasco County will have 20 swimmers and divers and four relay teams entered.Mitchell leads the way with swimmers in five individual events and two relays, followed by Sunlake with four individuals and two relays.
For Sunlake, it's the completion of one of the best seasons in school history. The Seahawks are no strangers to the state meet, as Brad Morrison won the school's first state championship in the 100 backstroke in 2008.
But for Sunlake coach Glenna Chamberlin, this year is different. The Seahawks finished fifth in the boys region meet while the girls were sixth, ahead of neighborhood rival Land O' Lakes.
"I showed them the (team) scores before the 400 freestyle relay and told them that this is what hard work does," Chamberlin said. "The boys really had a vision. They swam so well (at regions), and hopefully they can make a mark at states."
It has been a gradual improvement for the 4-year-old school. For the first time in school history, Sunlake will have relays representing the school. Seniors Nick Keach, Devin Anderson, Kyle Shaffer and junior Austin Van Vliet advanced in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
"Brad Morrison was our individual (state) winner and Beth Tillman was the only diver to make state and now we're taking relays," said Chamberlain, who started the Sunlake program in 2007. "That just (shows) how the team works. They pull each other along. They are a phenomenal group of kids. A lot of seniors are on that relay, and I'm so glad they have been able to work together and got this done."
Keach and Van Vliet also advanced individually in the 100 freestyle, while Kaylin Sylvester will compete in the 100 backstroke and Carigan Albert in the 200 freestyle.
Other swimmers who will compete in multiple events are Mitchell's Devin McCaffrey (100 butterfly, 100 breaststroke, 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay), Gavin Hunt (50 freestyle, 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay), Ian Ondrejka (200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay), Anthony Chang (200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay) and Mazie Siddens (200 individual medley, 100 butterfly), along with Gulf's Hunter Swartsel (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle) and Ridgewood's Joe Geschke (200 freestyle, 100 backstroke), Wiregrass Ranch's Rebecca Pindral (200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke) and Land O' Lakes' Jocelyn Williams (200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke).
Zephyrhills' Nicholette Clark (200 freestyle) and Lindsay Gorgen (100 freestyle) and Wesley Chapel's Alex Hill (boys diving) round out the local 2A qualifiers.
Bishop McLaughlin's Maddie Siebold is the only local 1A qualifier as she will compete in the girls diving Thursday. Siebold is the first diver in Hurricanes' swimming history.