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The speedy freshman helps Northeast capture wins in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle.
By BOB PUTNAM
Published November 20, 2005
FORT LAUDERDALE - Megan Romano, pink-cheeked and smiling, was doing something no 14-year-old should ever be required to do.
She was talking seriously about her future, which, after Saturday's Class 2A meet, looks long and bright.
"I want to improve," Romano said, "and I have a lot of time to do so."
Romano, a freshman at Northeast, does not have to improve much to become the finest female swimmer in the nation. She clocked the second-fastest 50-yard back relay split (26.20 seconds) in high school swimming history. Teammates Jaime Milo, Katie Brown and Jessie Bardin took it from there as the Vikings won the 200-yard medley.
It was the first time coach Bill Burrows won a relay at state and the team's time of 1:50.69 was good enough to be considered for All-America status.
"I knew I was close (to the record)," Romano said. "I was 0.2 seconds away from getting it. I messed up a little on my turn and that was the difference."
Romano also swam the opening leg of two other relays, propelling Northeast to place second in the 200-yard freestyle and first in the 400 freestyle.
Thanks in large part to the relays, Northeast finished third with 64 points, 11 behind champion Satellite Beach Satellite.
"Megan set the pace for us," Burrows said. "We just were a swimmer or two short from collecting enough points to win."
Last month, the Vikings didn't know if they would have Romano.
She was one of three Florida swimmers invited to participate in a mandatory camp for the U.S. junior national team, a precursor to the Olympics. The camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., coincided with the region meet.
Because USA swimming refused to let Romano leave the camp early and the Florida High School Athletics Association was unwilling to grant her a waiver, Romano was unable to qualify in individual events. The only way she could compete at state was if her teammates qualified in relays.
The teammates did their part.
Romano did the rest.
In the 200-yard freestyle, Romano got things going with an opening split of 23.33 seconds. Melanie Stickney, Lindsey Daniel and Lauren Sanchez, however, could not uphold the lead as Northeast was out-touched at the wall and finished second.
Romano capped her state debut by swimming her split of the 400 free in 49.98 seconds. Brown, Milo and Bardin kept up the blistering pace to help the Vikings win in 3:33.43, which automatically earned them All-America status.
"I can't be disappointed at all with how we finished," Romano said. "We were able to get first in some events and that's all you can ask for."
Romano's performance was more amazing considering she didn't taper her training to peak this week.
"Imagine what she'd do if she did that," Burrows said.