NEW PORT RICHEY — For more than a decade, the Land O’ Lakes boys swim team has been the symbol of dominance when it comes to winning Sunshine Athletic Conference championships.
Entering the fall of 2013, however, the Gators were looking at the possibility of being unseated as the best in Pasco County because of a lack of depth.
Answering the bell as they’ve done so many times before, the Gators’ new faces made major contributions as Land O’ Lakes swept team titles at the SAC swimming championships at the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center on Saturday afternoon.
“We didn’t expect to win the championship going in,” Land O’ Lakes coach Brian Vaile said. “The guys really did a great job recruiting newbies throughout the school, and those new guys gave us some big points. Every point counts.”
Land O’ Lakes edged Wiregrass Ranch 333-284, with Mitchell (269) and Pasco (221) finishing third and fourth.
The SAC title becomes the 13th consecutive championship for the boys.
A couple of SAC records were broken on the day, with Land O’ Lakes’ Cam Hilgenberg breaking the 50 freestyle mark of 22.30, previously held by former Gulf swimmer Hunter Swartsel, with a time of 21.73.
Ridgewood’s Emir Muratovic also set a SAC record in the 100 free, with a time of 47.91, breaking the mark by Devin McCaffrey, who now swims at Louisiana State University.
On the girls end, Land O’ Lakes won much more handily and had a 514-334 advantage against rival Sunlake.
Wiregrass Ranch (293), Mitchell (237) and Pasco (137) rounded out the top five.
The Gators clinched their fifth straight SAC title.
“It’s the icing on the cake,” Land O’ Lakes coach Robin Hilgenberg said. “We started off the season knowing we lost nine girls, but knew we’d have a quick turnaround with the girls squad.”
Notables on the girls side were Mitchell’s Taylor Anderson, who broke her SAC record in the 100 breaststroke with a new mark set at 1:09.94.
Wesley Chapel’s Abbey Duncan broke a 16-year-old conference record (5:09.31) in the 500 free with a time of 5:07.27.
Land O’ Lakes’ 400 relay team consisting of Krystin Demsher, Connor McKay, Megan Thai, Jocelyn Williams, set a conference mark at 3:49.76.