By NANCY MORGAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 17, 2000
Nearly 300 swimmers kicked and splashed to team awards, high-point honors and personal bests in the largest Sweet September meet that host Dunedin Aquatic has had in its four years.
The Greater Tampa Swimming Association finished first among 10 teams and placed five swimmers at the top of their age group.
Clearwater Aquatic Team's 40-plus swimmers finished second, and the Dunedin Aquatic Team was third. West Florida Lightning Aquatics placed 10th.
"This meet was a little bigger than in the past with more teams and swimmers," said Linda Haley, DAC's coach.
"I think the word is getting out that it's a fun meet with not quite as much pressure as some of the much bigger meets," she said.
Haley's squad earned 92 personal bests. She rewarded all of her swimmers with ribbons.
"I think it's important to remember that these swimmers are still children and they need to be praised for their efforts," Haley said.
Six-year-old Zachary Perrotti of Oldsmar won his second high-point award (his first was at the Pinellas Aquatic League Championships last month) with first-place finishes in the 25-yard backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly events.
"Zachary was awesome and has wonderful coordination for his age," Haley said.
"He has the ability to mentally take a challenge and uses his natural ability to swim exceptional strokes for his age. Plus, he has fun."
Chelsea Nauta of Palm Harbor, who swims for GTSA, was the 11-12 high-point winner and won the 100- and 200-yard freestyle, 50- and 100-yard backstroke, 50 butterfly and 200-yard individual medley.
In August, Nauta was the only 11-year-old in the nation to compete in Junior Nationals.
Chelsea's older sister, Brittany, was third overall in the 13-14 age group. She was first in the 100-yard freestyle and backstroke and the 200-yard freestyle.
Other high-point honors went to April Moore (6-and-under) and Kristin Norton (13-14) from the City of Lakeland Aquatics; Mary McGeehan (8-and-under) from the Pasco Suncoast Swim Team; Stephanie Barker (10-and-under), Weston Sterns (8-and-under), Tommy Wyher (11-12) and Carter Crosby (senior boys) of GTSA; Anna Midence (senior girls) and James Jordan (13-14) from Bartow Imperial Flyers; and Jonathan Jordan (10-and-under) from the Berkley Barracudas.
CAT's Madison Hansen, second overall in the the girls 8-and-under division, earned firsts in the 50-yard freestyle, back and breaststroke events as well as the individual medley with a time of 1:27.29.
CAT's Jonathan Taddeo, who was second in the boys 8-and-under overall, won his division's 50 freestyle and breaststroke events and the 25 breaststroke.
Levi Curnutte of Clearwater and Wyher, both 11, swam in the senior boys competition and finished second and third overall, respectively, with Curnutte winning the 200-yard freestyle and placing second in 200 backstroke.
Other local top finishes were earned by DAC's Kelsey Buckley in the 6-and-under, Joy Taylor in the 13-14 and Janeen Alidina in senior girls; CAT's Dana Fredericks in the girls 10-and-under and James Taddeo in the boys 10-and-under; and TBB's Andy Helvenston in the 13-14 and senior division.
Local relay squads earned top honors, including CAT's 8-and-under girls medley squad of Taylor Morti, Colleen Sears, Courtney Grace and Bavya Lakshmanan; DAC's 10-and-under girls 200 free team of Nicole Dehnel, Domenica Belloo, Suzanne Alidina and Catherine Hofacker; and DAC's 8-and-under boys 100 free squad of Justin Haas, Perrotti, Jared Peltz and Jonathan Kovach.
Perrotti, Haas and Peltz teamed with Lorenzo Russo to win the 100 medley relay.
"These are strong teams," Haley said of the 8-and-under boys, "so, I wasn't too surprised at their winning."
SWIMMING CORRECTION: An oversight in reporting the Pinellas Aquatic League Championships last month resulted in omitting a tie for the high-point award in the 10-and-under girls division between Tara Cromer of the Bardmoor Aquatic Team and Julianne Tsagaris of Countryside Aquatics.
In 15-18 girls, Jaime Armstrong of the Westlake Village Swim Team and Courtney Childress of Countryside tied.
CAT COACH: Mike Yearwood, originally from Florida and a graduate of the University of South Florida, moved from Houston to assume the head coach position of the Clearwater Aquatic Team last week.
Yearwood brings 23 years of experience, including a stint at the University of Georgia, to the well-established CAT program.
The program has more than 200 swimmers and divers from beginners to masters.
GYMNASTICS: Levels 3, 4, 5 and 6 gymnasts opened their competitive season in the Aloha Invitational in Tampa last weekend.
Gemini School of Gymnastics finished first in team competition in Level 3, second in Levels 4 and 6 and fourth in Level 5.
LaFleur's of Largo won Levels 4 and 5. Medalist All-Star Gymnastics won Level 6 and Level 3 small team, finished second in Level 5 and was fifth in Level 4.
All-around winners were Helen Gristi in Level 3 and Cristina Gunter in Level 4 for Gemini; Kaley LaFleur, Megan VonStetina, Alana Rivera and Ashleigh Johansen in Level 4 and Jamie Applefield and Nicole Abdo in Level 5 for LaFleur's; Kristin Dibell in Level 5 and Andrea Bairam and Amanda Shumake in Level 6 for Medalist.
Medalist is scheduled to play host to the First AAU Qualifier, Sept. 23-24, and is expecting about 365 gymnasts.
SOCCER: The Azalea Youth Soccer League will play host to the Octoberfest 2000 for boys and girls teams Oct. 13-15.
In its seventh year, the three-day competition will be staged on fields at Walter Fuller Park, Azalea Park and Azalea Little League.
Last season, more than 80 squads participated from all over Florida.
For more information, call 345-8787.