Silva rules sport's toughest stroke

Published August 23, 2005

TAMPA - Many swimmers avoid the breaststroke, because a lot of time is consumed in vertical motion. It is often the slowest stroke.

Not for Michael Silva though. In Florida high school swimming, Silva owns the breaststroke.

He has been working so hard at it, he can transform the vertical motion into forward speed. And the Freedom senior has two individual state championships in the 100-yard breaststroke and used the same stroke to help win two more state titles in the 200 individual medley.

"The breaststroke is all in the timing," he said. "Just a little bit off and you will mess up your stroke. It has just kind of worked for me and I will continue to go with it."

Silva started swimming competing under the direction of husband and wife coaches Mitzi Kremer and Mark Tighe. The pair now coach TNT (Team New Tampa) at the Tampa Metro YMCA in North Tampa.

"Mark and Mitzi have always been my coaches," Silva said. "They taught me how to swim and how to compete. Now they are helping me get faster and will help guide me in selecting the college I will attend the next four years."

As a freshman, he attended Tampa Catholic and made state. He didn't do his best, but he took the experience with him to Freedom as a sophomore, returning to win two gold medals.

He was the only Freedom swimmer to make state, but he didn't go alone.

"Even though I was just a sophomore and it was my first year at Freedom, many classmates made the trip to the meet to cheer me on," he said. "I was impressed and encouraged. We had a few others qualify last year and once again a Freedom cheering section followed us there. I felt so alone when I first enrolled at the school, but now I know I am part of my school and I really love high school swimming."

Last year, he was Times county co-swimmer of the year with Jesuit's Tommy Wyher. The two could repeat as double winners.

Silva has not lost a high school individual race since his sophomore season. His best times are 1 minute, 52 seconds in the 200 IM and 57 seconds in the 100 breast.

He stands out academically too - the honor student has become a prime college prospect. He has arranged for visits to Georgia, Auburn and Arizona State. He says he will meet with his club coaches after state to get their input in selecting his final two visits.

"You can never let down in training and you have to compete in each meet like you could get beat, because you can in this county and this state," he said. "Some of the best swimmers in the country are around here and it is easy to let down. Nothing is a sure thing in swimming. That thought keeps my adrenalin pumping."