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Westchase Swimmers Rock Jingle Bell Meet

Fractions of seconds are often all it takes for swimmers to turn solid performances into all-time bests, or to jump from 10th place onto a medal stand.

So imagine the excitement under the TBAY Westchase tent when the club’s swimmers dropped a collective total of almost 11 minutes at the pre-Christmas Jingle Bell Meet at the Long Center in Clearwater!

More than 40 TBAY Westchase swimmers cut time in at least one event at the annual three-day meet – one of the big ones on the swimming calendar. Abby Hartley (47.65 seconds), Liam Maloney (40.88), Ella McKee (37.23), Matthew Reinecke (28.32) and Isabel Minnis (26.82) were the biggest time droppers. Reinecke also went fast enough in the 50 breaststroke to qualify for the FGC Championships.

Sisters Arina and Alina Lytvynenko were the top Westchase point-scorers in the meet with 16 points apiece. Arina, 8, cut a total of 20.36 seconds over her events and Alina, who turned 15 during the meet, cut 25.99. Alina earned a Senior Championships qualifying time with a seventh-place finish in the 200 breaststroke and also turned heads with an amazing fifth-place finish in the 100 breast despite the fact she lost her goggles during the race. She also finished fifth in 50 breast.

Several other TBAY Westchase performers made finals. They were: Brody Grissom (fifth place) in 200 breast and 200 butterfly; Jacob Key in 50 backstroke (eighth place); Hunter Long in 200 butterfly (eighth place);  Maloney in 25 free (second place) and 50 free (10th place); Minnis in 50 back (eighth place), 200 back (fifth place), 200 breast (ninth place) and 100 back (9th); Reinecke in 50 breast (ninth place); and Kate Rideout in 100 breast (eighth place).

Also scoring points for the team were:  Gracie Chung (sixth in 25 free, eighth in 25 back); Tyler Henry (fourth in 25 free); Arina Lytvynenko (fourth in 25 breast, seventh in 25 free, and sixth in 25 back); Delaney Peterson (fifth in 25 free and seventh in 25 back; Kennedy Wesley (seventh in 25 breast and 10th in 25 butterfly); and Mason Wesley (third in 25 breast and 10th in 25 butterfly).

In the longest event of the meet, Sam Prabhakaran swam an amazing first-ever 1,650-yard free, coming within five seconds of a Junior Olympic qualifying time.

“It was really a great meet for our whole team,” said TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson. “The Jingle Bell Meet is the last big meet of the year, and it was great to see our athletes end 2015 with a tremendous overall team performance.”

In other news over the past month, Robinson High School senior Maddie Strasen signed her official national letter of intent to swim for the University of Vermont (see page 30).  Also, the first all-TBAY gathering in more than five years took place at John Chestnut Park. The rainy weather didn’t cooperate, but it did not stop members from all TBAY branches throughout Tampa Bay from having a great time.

TBAY Westchase enjoyed their annual holiday party before the close of the year, and is now working off the Christmas calories in preparation for the T2 Open in Naples on Jan. 16-18 and a meet the following weekend at SPA in St. Petersburg.

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