TAMPA — The City Relays is a friendly swim meet, but then, as both Plant coach Gil Gonzalez and Jesuit/Academy of the Holy Names coach Bill Shaffer said, “We still want to win.”
And win they did with Plant taking the girls team title with 178 points, four ahead of Academy, and Jesuit taking the boys crown with 172 points, 14 ahead of Plant.
“We wanted to keep all (the championship trophies) in South Tampa this year,” Shaffer said.
More importantly, key swimmers for both squads, including Plant’s defending individual state 100 breaststroke champion Alex Donahue, swam well. Donahue, in fact, swam splits Saturday almost as fast as she swam in last year’s state finals.
“(Donahue) is right on track with her training,” Gonzalez said. “She couldn’t look much better at this point.”
Same could be said for Newsome’s Maddie Hess (defending Class 3A state champion in the 100 free and 100 back), Jesuit’s Austin Sellers (a top eight state finisher in the breaststroke), and Academy’s 4x100 relay, which returns Julia Cogdill, Olivia Kirkpatrick, Konner Brewer and Clare Fleming, who could combine to set the school record for the fourth year in a row.
Kirkpatrick, a sophomore, appears to be on the verge of a breakthrough season. On Saturday, Kirkpatrick showed her versatility, which could develop into a variety of medals at the state meet.
“We will see how things work out through the season and make a decision as to what events she might swim,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer’s son, Jesuit sophomore Tommy, also looked strong in his freestyle events, and by season’s end, he could end up a medalist at the state meet in one or two events.
Another group to keep an eye on is Plant’s boys medley relay, which consists of Kyle Kimura, Paxton Rhoads, Will Stephenson and Tyler Heath, who all swam well Saturday and could combine for a state title in November.