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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Land O'Lakes sophomore Stephanie Allen is the one to beat after last fall's upset win.
By Izzy Gould
Published September 12, 2007
LAND O'LAKES - No one yelled in outrage when the rematch failed to materialize.
Yet there they were at the same pool at the same time Monday night, both ready to go stroke for stroke in the 100-meter breaststroke. They swam in different events, which is somewhat common this early in the season.
The last meeting between these two came last fall at the Sunshine Athletic Conference and was a race worth revisiting.
Two-time conference champion Caitlin McCaffrey jumped into the pool confident she would defend her title for Mitchell. But it was the hand of Land O'Lakes freshman Stephanie Allen that smacked the wall first in one minute, 14 seconds.
"I knew going in she would be good competition," McCaffrey said. "I kind of had a feeling. She was a little faster than me that day."
Any thoughts of payback seem a bit overblown.
McCaffrey is a competitor, but she's more concerned with cutting through math equations than working on her scissor kick. The Mustangs senior is an academic champion, among the top five in her graduating class.
"I just want to finish out the year strong," McCaffrey said. "I don't want to swim in college, I'd rather focus on academics."
She knows GPAs of the kids ahead of her and says "the guy at the top" has a firm grasp on the race for valedictorian. She loves competing for the math team and could probably go anywhere for college though she's leaning toward UCF.
And if you think McCaffrey ever feels comfortable enough to cruise through her senior year or angry enough to reclaim the breaststroke title, think again.
McCaffrey made a choice during the offseason and gave up six months in the pool for a shot at being No. 1 in her class.
"I didn't want to drop any of my grades," McCaffrey said. "When I got back in the pool in March I was so bad. ... Now I'm within one or two seconds of my old times."
When Allen recalls the race she remembers feeling a bit jittery beforehand and a little stunned she upended McCaffrey.
"It was a real close race," Allen said. "I wasn't expecting it. I have a lot of respect for her. I was really scared to race her."
Allen, a lifelong swimmer, spent the offseason sharpening her skills and trying to cut down her times. She believes she'll have a shot at a state berth, hopefully this season.
First she'll have to defend her 100 breast conference title going head-to-head with McCaffrey.
"She certainly could achieve some goals if she puts her mind to it," Gators coach Barbara Hayes said of Allen. "Will she be a high school champion? Possibly. It takes a lot of focus and hard work."