TBAY Hosts Two Meets

Hosting a swim meet is no small feat, but TBAY Westchase already has two such notches in its 2016 belt.

The local swim club co-hosted a Jan. 23-24 meet at the North Shore Pool in St. Petersburg, while the larger, Bay Area-wide TBAY club hosted the ninth annual Gasparilla Races Feb. 5-7.

Mother Nature made perhaps the biggest impact at both!

Typically the first whistle from an official prompts swimmers to step up on the blocks. In St. Petersburg, that initial whistle meant “Swimmers, remove your parkas!”

Frigid temperatures kept some away, but a number of Westchase athletes posted personal-best times.

Rafael Borromeo dropped nine seconds in the 200 backstroke and more than five in the 200 IM, while his brother Tito dropped five in the 50 butterfly. Gracie Chung dropped time in three of four while Sophia Flemmer, Tyler Henry, Devin Hurst, Jacob Key, Hudson Long, Hunter Long, Bradley Palmer, Anthony Suggs (10-second drop in 100 breast), Mason Wesley (10 seconds in 50 back) and Abi Williams also dropped in three or more events.

Brody Grissom hit personal bests in two of three events. Arnav Khadkatkav, Sara O’Connor, Sam Prabhakaran, Kate Rideout, Kennedy Wesley and Jack Wilson also dropped time in a pair. Gwenyth Hope Martin dropped more than 10 seconds in 100 back, eight more in 50 breast and almost four in the 50 fly, while Rory Martin dropped time in four events, including a seven-second drop in 25 breast! Ella McKee dropped a nearly a minute total in three of four events while Abi Hartley, Rhett Palmer, Madeline Rideout, Lexie Steinberg and Jared Zack also lowered times.

“Our first meet of the season kicked off pretty well considering the extreme conditions,” Coach Alex Richardson said. “With low temperatures and high winds, our swimmers had to keep a positive attitude to make sure they could perform at their best. And most of them – even the littlest of swimmers – rose to the occasion.”

It was both cold and rainy at the Colwill Aquatic Center at Tampa Prep for the Gasparilla meet, where the older swimmers competed in distance races on Friday and the younger ones swam all weekend.

Hunter Long got his 50 free FLAGs cut and Victor Perez was just one second away from the cut in the 1000 freestyle while finishing third in overall points for 11-12 boys. Sam Williams dropped more than a minute in the mile (1,650), while the 1,000 saw Victor Perez drop 33 seconds and Lexie Steinberg 12 seconds. Other amazing time drops came from Gracie Chung (28.16 in 100 IM), Abi Hartley (17.90 in 500 free), Hudson Long (18.35 in 100 IM), Hunter Long (55.02 in 500 free and 12.21 in 100 IM), MaryClare Nestor (16.64 in 100 free) and Bradley Palmer (14.15 in 200 IM).

“We are always happy to support the TBAY Nation when they host a meet,” Richardson said. “Our swimmers enjoyed attending the Gasparilla races. We had tons of mystery heat winners who got some cool prizes.”

In addition to the likelihood of better weather, the spring brings some busy weekends and training weeks for the Westchase swimmers. They competed in the SPA last chance meet at the end of February, while March brings the annual spring picnic, FLAGs, NASA – a national meet in Clearwater – and the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships.

Team members will also be participating for the fourth consecutive year in Swim Across America, an open-water swim benefitting Moffitt Cancer Center.

The newest member of the TBAY Westchase family will be exempt from meet swimming for at least a few years. Assistant coach Jordan Richardson welcomed baby Mackenzie Hope on Jan. 26 at 12:17 p.m. She weighed seven pounds, eight ounces and measured 20 inches long – possibly a butterflyer like her mom. Time will tell.

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