tampabay.com

Choosing pool over play an easy pick for Warrior

PINELLAS SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: Jose Crescimbeni's "passion" for swimming is evident in his success.

By CHRIS GIRANDOLA
Published December 22, 2005


Jose Crescimbeni had to make a choice Thanksgiving weekend: go on a relaxing cruise with his family to the eastern Caribbean or stay at home and continue swimming thousands of yards for training.

Easy. Skip the sunny weather and get back in the pool.

And this was right after the Calvary Christian sophomore placed second in two events at the state finals in Fort Lauderdale.

"He has a passion for (swimming)," said his mother, Ruth, in a strong Peruvian accent. "I told him it would be good for him to take some time off, but he said he didn't want to fall behind."

While other teens piled into minivans and SUVs with their families to go see grandma, Crescimbeni began tapering for the U.S. Open in Alabama, held two weeks after the Nov. 19 state finals.

At those finals, Crescimbeni, or "Emman" as friends and family call him, short for his middle name Emmanuel, posted the two fastest times in the county this year.

In the 100 butterfly, Crescimbeni, who, at 5-foot-6, is admittedly short for such an event, swam 51.12, besting Clearwater senior Clay Bullock's 51.47. Bullock, who earned fourth in the Class 2A finals, is considered one of the best swimmers in the area.

In the 100 back, Crescimbeni's 52.27 bettered the 52.86 of St. Petersburg senior Kevin Nardozzi, who finished third in the Class 3A finals.

Both times were good enough for All-American consideration. Unfortunately for m Crescimbeni, Class A features one of the best swimmers in the country, Tommy Wyher, a 6-foot-5 junior from Jesuit. Wyher had All-American times of 48.35 in the fly and 49.65 in the back, both tops in the state for any class.

"I don't really think about his height (when they both get on the blocks next to each other)," said Crescimbeni during a phone call from Lima, Peru, where he is in the second week of training for the Peruvian national team that will compete in the 2006 World Cup in China. "If you concentrate on other swimmers, then you don't do well."

Crescimbeni, who commutes an hour each way from his Pasco County home to attend Calvary Christian, initially wanted to swim for Palm Harbor University when his parents, Jose and Ruth, moved to Florida from Maryland five years ago.

They had heard good things about the school from Emman's club coach, Mike Yearwood, who runs the Clearwater Aquatics Team at the Long Center. But the school system would not allow it, forcing him into another choice.

"It has turned out nice for me," said Crescimbeni, who, while in Lima, set three Peruvian national records in the 100 fly, 200 fly and 100 free. "It's a good school with a quality swim team and I've enjoyed being there."

Either way, Crescimbeni, whose sister, Suheydi, 28, and brother, Pierre, 24, serve in the U.S. Army, has made the most of his situation. While his family grew up playing soccer, he has taken his passion for swimming and reached some pretty impressive heights.

Even if it takes missing a family cruise now and again.

ALL-PINELLAS COUNTY BOYS SWIM TEAM

b SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: Jose Crescimbeni, Calvary Christian.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Lisa Bitting, Palm Harbor University. St. Petersburg, with an impressive array of returning swimmers, was poised to put a dent PHU's armor this season. But Bitting inspired the Hurricanes above and beyond expectations, winning the district and region finals in impressive fashion. The relay teams posted the county's best times at the state finals and placed in the top 10 in each event. The 200 medley team of Levi Curnutte, Alex Glover, Aaron Haas and Andrew Mertens finished third, with an All-American consideration time of 1:39.33. Glover, Haas and Curnutte joined Jasim Alidina to finish seventh in the 400 free. The 200 free team finished in ninth. Bitting also helped lead her girls team to a district title.

FIRST TEAM

50 FREE: Trevor Caldwell, St. Petersburg Catholic, 21.75

100 FREE: Alex Metka, Seminole, 48.26

200 FREE: Metka, 1:44.06

500 FREE: Richard (Clay) Bullock, Clearwater, 4:33.40

100 BACK: Jose Crescimbeni, Calvary Christian, 52.27

100 BREAST: Bojan Jovanovic, Dunedin, 58.40

100 FLY: Crescimbeni, 51.12

200 IM: Jovanovic, 1:57.89

200 FREE RELAY: Palm Harbor U. (Alex Glover, Jasim Alidina, Aaron Haas, Levi Curnutte), 1:31.01

400 FREE RELAY: Palm Harbor U. (Glover, Alidina, Haas, Curnutte) 3:15.44

200 MEDLEY RELAY: PHU (Curnutte, Andrew Mertens, Glover, Haas), 1:39.33

DIVING: Cody Dodds, Countryside, 410.10

SECOND TEAM

50 FREE: Kevin Nardozzi, St. Petersburg, 22.57

100 FREE: Curnutte, 48.35

200 FREE: Andrew Blazuk, Seminole, 1:44.68

500 FREE: Paul Hoffman, Seminole, 4:55.09

100 BACK: Nardozzi, 52.86

100 BREAST: Mertens, 1:02.18

100 FLY: Bullock, 51.47

200 IM: Glover, 2:02.17

200 FREE RELAY: St. Petersburg (John-Paul Newfield, Brent Sunnucks, Mertens, Nardozzi) 1:32.18

400 FREE RELAY: Seminole (Blazuk, Hoffman, Metka, Erik Gottschling) 3:19.36

200 IM: Seminole (same as above), 1:43

DIVING: Mohrey Ware, Osceola, 194.90

HONORABLE MENTION

Clearwater - Adam Corbin, David Lechner, Webster Cook; Clearwater Central Catholic - Cameron Martin; Countryside - James Taddeo; Lakewood - Michael Taylor; Northeast - Cameron Chambers; Northside Christian - Casey Caldwell; Shorecrest - Josh Gordon, Henry Samuel.