By ERIC MUSKATEVC
Balancing pool time and play time keeps East Lake junior Deidre Novotny among the county's top swimmers.
EAST LAKE - Deidre Novotny is all about the more enjoyable moments in life. Shopping, listening to the Black Eyed Peas and eating chicken with rice and broccoli.
Not swimming thousands of yards a day, catching pneumonia, bronchitis and sinusitis, which left her with zero time to cruise the mall. Those moments, she recalls, came in her freshman year.
"I'm about quality, not quantity. I want to make sure that I am swimming the fastest laps I can when I'm in there," said the East Lake junior, who is among the county's leaders in the butterfly (58.93) and the backstroke (59.26). "I have a life outside the pool. I have to. I need to stay balanced."
Novotny doesn't swim year round. She did up until her first fall with the Eagles two years ago, when it all came crashing down on her. Pushing herself around lap after lap had worn down her body, and eventually she was taken to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg and hooked up to an IV for five days in October 2003. Doctor after doctor, test after test, and even a sinus surgery didn't help. She was out of the pool for six months.
"I was so sick for so long. I thought that I just couldn't be doing it like I was anymore," she said. Novotny now can only swim in outdoor pools.
Her recovery, being a top swimmer and not a year-round one, are just some of the many surprises about Novotny. She is smaller than most girls with fast times. Almost 5-foot-5, she is powerful and strokes more like a machine than taller and fluid swimmers, such as Northeast freestyler Megan Romano.
She took first place in the 100-yard backstroke at both districts and regionals, and came in a close third at states as a sophomore last year, her first full high school season. She didn't expect those results, and said so far this year she doesn't have expectations she's ready for anyone to know about.
"I like surprises. That's me. I'm going to leave this season on the edge. I don't know why, but I really just want to surprise people this year," said Novotny, who prefers to swim the butterfly.
"She is so fun to coach," East Lake coach Cybil Lotz said. "She is so driven. She just gets stronger and stronger. She leads practices, she's easy to talk to, and she's spirited all the time."
Along with Eagles senior Jen Guyler, the team's top freestyle swimmer, Novotny has put East Lake in good position for success. The girls team took third overall a few weeks ago at North Shore in the Team Wares Challenge, ahead of Palm Harbor U., one of the best teams in the county. East Lake was edged by another county power, Seminole, in a dual meet Sept. 14, finished third in Saturday's PCAC meet and faces PHU on Wednesday.
"She has an incredible passion for swimming and I don't think there's anything that can stop her from being in the pool," said Deidre's mother, Deena.
Besides a good sale.