By Josh Jeffrey
NOV. 13. FLORIDA'S high school swimmers issued a challenge to the rest of the country last weekend with fast times at the Florida district qualifying meets. Though many swimmers did not taper for these in lieu of next weekend's state meets, there was no dearth of swift swimming.
In District 1A, The Bolles School Sharks blanketed finals, usually taking the top two or three spots in every event, but the real noise was made further south by one Christina Swindle of Miami Gulliver Prep. The youngster showed just why she is being touted by some as the next great American sprinter, posting times of 22.96 and 50.11 in the 50 and 100 freestyles. As a sophomore last season, Swindle broke state and national high school records with times of 22.62 and 49.33, and was named Swimming World's female "High School Swimmer of the Year."
She'll have no easy time of claiming fastest female in Florida this year though, with sophomore Rhiannon Jeffrey of Delray Beach's Atlantic High hot on her heels. The fast-rising speedster posted a 23.27 in the 50 free, faster than the 23.35 she posted to win the 3A state title last year. Jeffrey, who now swims in 2A, also won the 100 in a time of 51.65, not quite as fast as the 50.35 she swam in winning states last year, but she'll certainly have a chance to improve on that this weekend.
Also impressive in District 2A were St. Thomas swimmers Victoria Genova, Vladislav Polyakov, and Bryan Goldberg. Goldberg picked up a double in the 200 and 500 free with times of 46.23 and 1:40.02 respectively, while Genova won the 100 fly in a fast 56.32. Polyakov took the district title in the 100 breast in a quick 56.52, a full second faster than he swam last year in winning the state title, and plenty of reason to believe the 13 year-old state record of 55.56 is definitely under fire.
In District 3A, Clearwater's Stephanie Margalis, kid sister of World Championship team member Robert Margalis, took the 200 free in 1:51.57, the fastest time in the state this season. Spruce Creek's Ryan Lochte took the 200 and 500 free titles in 1:40.15 and 4:32.30, and Sarasota's Annie Babicz posted wins in both the 100 fly and 100 breast. Babicz, last year's state champion in both events, posted impressive times of 56.70, and 1:03.21, the latter over a second faster than her state winning time in 2000. This week, Annie may be trying to pull a 'Tori', as in Tori DeSilva, who set the current state records in both events at the 1989 meet with times of 55.11 and 1:02.35.
The waters heat up again this weekend in Fort Lauderdale, which will host the state meets for 1A through 3A successively from Thursday through Saturday.
Will Christina Swindle rebreak her national records? Will they be rebroken the following day when Jeffrey swims? Can Babicz and Polyakov take down some of the oldest state marks on the books? Does anyone have the depth or talent to stop the Bolles juggernaut?