St. Thomas Aquinas Takes Boys’, Girls’ Titles at Florida 2A High School Champs as Jeffrey Breaks Oldest Record

FT. LAUDERDALE, November 24. WHILE Atlantic Del Ray junior Rhiannon Jeffrey was stealing the show with her national prep record in the 200 free at the Florida 2A Championships, St. Thomas Aquinas was splashing to both the girls' and boys' team titles.

On the girls' side, STA wracked up 273 points to outdistance runner-up Fort Myers (237) and third-place Satellite's 190. The boys' team race was not quite as close as STA won with 300 points to Charlotte Punta Gorda's 185 and Leon's 163.

Jeffrey, as reported on SwimInfo Saturday evening, smashed the national high school record in the 200 free (1:45.98 by Mission Viejo's Cynthia Woodhead from 20 years ago at the Southern Section CIF Championships in Long Beach's Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool) with her stunning 1:45.49.

That time ranks Jeffrey 19th on the all-time performers' list yet interestingly is NOT a 15-16 national age-group (NAG) record.

Well, then, who holds that mark?

Would you believe the selfsame Ms Woodhead, silver medalist at the Los Angeles Olympics in the 200 free, who went 1:44.10 at the then AAU Championships in East LA the first weekend of April of 1979 to not only win the race but set an American record too.

Twenty-three years later, Woodhead's mark, still her career pr, ranks the former USC Trojan sixth on the all-time performers' list and it's the 12th-fastest performance.

This is in no way nor by any means taking anything away from Jeffrey's record. Her old pr was a 1:48.6 from a time trial last season, so in less than a year she's dropped a cool three seconds, and she's still got another year of high school,

Jeffrey did break the 15-16 NAG record in the 100 free (48.76), held by Swim Atlanta's Amanda Weir from last March's American Short Course Championships in Austin. Jeffrey won the state title in 48.73, just shy of Kara Lynn Joyce's national prep record of 48.59 from the Michigan championships yesterday. Jeffrey's old century pr was a 50.24 from last season, a time that ranked her seventh on the yearly NAG list.

But don't look for Weir — who also holds the 15-16 NAG record in the 50 free (22.45, .01 slower than Dara Torres' 13-14 NAG record) — to sit back and do nothing in response.

She may well take a crack at the 50-100 records during next month's Music City Invitational in Nashville, a week after the U.S. Open, where she's expected to try and break Christine Swindle's 50 and Jeffrey's 100 free lcm 15-16 NAG records.

If Weir missses at Nashville, the Atlanta speedster may go for the gold — and the records — at the SC Championships next March in Texas, as the meet falls just before her 17th birthday,

Waiting in the wings is Arlington Lamar 10th-grader Codie Hansen, who won the Texas state prep 200 title as a ninth-grader last season with a pr 1:46.93 — fastest nationally,

In analyzing Jeffrey's splits: she was out in 51.73, home in 53.76. Her third 50 (27.27) was her slowest and if she cuts that down a bit she'll be looking at 1:44+ very soon. (Of course, she is STILL only 16 so give the girl a break, right?)

When it comes to records, nothing is sacred as Natalie Coughlin showed over the weekend in the Big Apple with her three world sc meters standards — before Thanksgiving,

* * * * *

Aside from Jeffrey's sterling double, another dual-event winner was Gainesville senior Ashley Carusone, who won the 200 IM asnd 500 free. Her 200 IM was a nation-leading and pr 2:01.19, and in the 500 she clocked another national No. 1, 4:51.47,

Last season she was 2:02.82 in the medley (13th nationally) and 4:54.59 in the 500 (20th).

St. Thomas started by tying with Countryside for the 200 medley relay title, with both schools finishing in 1:52.09. STA soph Claudia Ruby was the champ's sole individual winner with her 24.39 for the 50 free,

But STA swept the other two relays, taking the 200 free (1:38.78 to Del Ray's 1:40.78; and the 400 free, where they won in 3:35.37 to Fort Myers' 3:35.80. Del Ray was seventh and Jeffrey had the fastest leadoff (52.09). She also was fastest among leadoff swimemrs i nthe 200 free relay, clocking a 23.37.

Other individual winners included CCOR's Colleen Healey inthe 100 fly (56.46) with Lady of Lourdes' Vanessa Duenas next (56.59); Satellite 10th-grader Taylor Stallings in the 100 back (58.09); and Ocala Forest's Caroline Robertson in the 100 breast (1:05.02) with STA ninth-grader Barbara Thomas (1:05.83) second.

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The boys' meet lacked the record-breaking swims of the girls' but still saw some good times swum.

The sole doubler was Satellite senior Colby Mark, who won the 200 free (1:40.18) and 500 (4:33.51). He also led off his school's 200 free relay shortly after his 500 swim and went a creditable 22.15.

As in the girls' meet, St. Thomas parlayed relay victories to propel it to the title, taking the 200 medley (1:36.97) and the 200 free (1:26.72) plus a fifth in the 400 free.

In the 200 free relay, the fastest leadoff split belonged to STA senior Matt Coan (20.94), who also won the 100 free (45.96) and was runner-up in the 200 by a mere .04 (1:40.18-1:40.22).

If his surname sounds familiar, it should. His father Andy is a former world record-holder in the 100 free from 27 years ago and is also one of Tennessee's greatest sprinters.

At the 1979 NCAAs in Cleveland, Coan set American/NCAA records en route to golds in the 100-200 frees (43.25/1:35.62). He still ranks fourth on the all-time Vol 100 list and No. 2 in the 200. But the
fickle finger of fate kept Coan from achieving his dream of winning an Olympic gold,

At the 1976 Trials in Belmont, he finished ninth in the prelims of the 100 free and thus did not swim in the finals. He wasn't quite good enough as a long course 200 free swimmer to be competitive with the likes of Bruce Furniss, John Naber or Jim Montgomery, and as the 50 free was then not an Olympic event, Coan never made it to Montreal.

Ironically, when Tennessee won its only NCAA Championship two years later at Belmont, Coan was red-shirting and never got a ring!

Then shortly after his brilliant showing at Cleveland, he was involved in a horrific auto accident that broke both his wrists. He came back the following season but was not the same swimmer he had been. With the U.S. boycott of Moscow, he was deprived of participating in yet another Olympics.

But perhaps Matt will carry the family coat of arms at The Big O's one of these years; and if not him, there's ninth-grader Kyle, who swam the third leg on STA's 400 free relay!

St. Thomas got another individual win when sophomore Brad Allen won the 200 IM in 1:49.37, with Leon senior Billy Mrazek (1:50.77) second. The latter went on to win the 100 breast in a nation-leading 56.55.

The 50 free went to Pensacola's Daniel Penniman (21.28) and he also won the 100 fly (52.03). Astronaut senior Patrick Mulligan won the 100 back (51.85).

Complete results for all three Florida meets (Divisions 1A, 2A and 3A) are available at:

— Bil Bell

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