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For their own good
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Swimmer and coach of the year, with first team, second team and honorable mention.
By BOB PUTNAM
Published December 20, 2006
Swimmer of the year | Megan Romano
Except for Nicole Haislett and Brooke Bennett in the 1990s, Megan Romano may well be, or may be on her way to becoming, the area's best-ever female swimmer. And the most battered. The Northeast sophomore owns three gold medals, three silvers and one insistent back injury. Last spring, she sustained whiplash in a car accident. The injury limited her racing and success in some offseason meets. Still, she felt she would be healthy again in time for the state meet. Though her ailing back would flare up from time to time, she found the will and the way to dominate.
Why we picked her
At the Class 2A state meet, Romano was a multitasking medal machine. She won her individual events in a walk, swimming the 200-yard freestyle in one minute, 47.54 seconds, a time that automatically earned her All-America status. She finished the 100 free with another All-America time of 49.94 seconds.
Romano also got back into the pool for two relays. In the 200 medley and 400 free relays, she swam fast, handing off a big lead, then watched nervously as her teammates swam some of their best times all season and withstood furious charges to give the Vikings second-place finishes in both events.
In November, Romano competed at the U.S. Open in Indianapolis and saw snow for the first time.
Romano will continue to compete in open meets in hopes of recording Olympic trial cuts in multiple events.
Coach of the year | Ian O'Neill
After years of obscurity, Countryside became the most dominant team in the county. The Cougars rolled to their first conference title, won districts and finished second at regionals. At the Class 3A state meet, Countryside was the runnerup, the highest finish in school history. O'Neil had a stellar group. Katie Kastes, Kylie Kastes, Rachel Burns and Kelly Grace all returned. The Cougars also had a strong freshman class, led by Melanie Margalis. As a bonus, Jana Willsey transferred from Clearwater. That gave the Cougars unmatched depth and versatility. And O'Neil put those numbers to good use.
50 Free - Kaitlin Frehling, Fr. Seminole, State runnerup
100 Fly - Katie Kastes, Sr. Countryside, State champion
100 Free - Megan Romano, So. Northeast, State champion
100 Back - Deidre Novotny, Sr. East Lake, Fifth at state
100 Breast - Tracy Rorer, So. St. Petersburg, Third at state
200 Free - Megan Romano, So. Northeast, State champion
200 Individual medley - Melanie Margalis, Fr., Countryside, State runnerup
500 Free Claire Thompson, Sr. Admiral Farragut, Third at state
200 Free relay - Katie Kastes, Sr. Rachel Burns, So. Melanie Margalis, Fr. Kylie Kastes, Sr. Countryside, State champions
200 Medley relay - Megan Romano, So. Elyse Snyder, Fr. Katie Brown, So. Lindsay Daniel, So. Northeast, Second at state
400 Free relay - Katie Kastes, Sr. Kylie Kastes, Sr. Melanie Margalis, Fr. Rachel Burns, So. Countryside, Third at state
Diving - Jordan Weber, Sr. Northeast, Fifth at state