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Club work pays off for Shorecrest senior

Steven Lowry swims a personal-best time to finish third in the 50 freestyle.

By JOHN SCHWARB
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 16, 2001


FORT LAUDERDALE -- Unlike many club swimmers, Steven Lowry cannot graduate and say he spent season after season making the 5 a.m. wake-up calls required of the elite.

The Shorecrest senior has only been working with the St. Petersburg Aquatics for three months, but the effort paid off in a hurry Thursday at the Class A state championships at the Hall of Fame Aquatic Complex.

In the 50-yard freestyle, Lowry posted a personal-best time of 21.90 seconds, finishing third. A year ago, he failed to finish in the top 16 and missed the evening swim.

"I've only really trained for, like, three months, but (club coach) Fred Lewis and the club team have done wonders for me," Lowry said. "I wanted 21 (seconds) so bad, and finally the training paid off."

While Lowry finished his prep career on a high note, Austin Hampton's is just starting. The Admiral Farragut freshman turned in a big effort at his first state meet, placing second in the afternoon's diving competition.

Hampton compiled a personal-best score of 471 points over 11 dives, coming in second behind club partner Chris Colwill of Tampa Prep (636.35 points).

Hampton said he knew coming in that top-seeded Colwill would be out of reach, and instead focused on a pair of Jacksonville Bolles freshmen that he knew who had posted better district scores.

"I was a little nervous, but I knew I was going to dive well," Hampton said.

Farragut teammate Stase Michota, a seventh-grader, advanced to evening swims in the 500 free and 100 backstroke, finishing 16th in both. Farragut sophomore Nicole Margaritondo won the consolation final in the 500 free.

Shorecrest's 200 free relay team finished sixth and the 200 medley relay team placed 10th.

Marlise Davidson, the lone swimmer for Indian Rocks Christian, finished sixth in the 100 free and eighth in the 100 back. And despite the lack of teammates, she found a rooting section for the first time.

"Tampa Prep adopted me on the airplane yesterday," Davidson said.

Not surprisingly, Jacksonville Bolles swept the team titles. Bolles has won 14 consecutive boys team titles and 12 consecutive girls titles.

Shorecrest's boys finished 12th to lead all county teams, and Indian Rocks Christian led the way with a 17th-place finish on the girls side, all thanks to Davidson.

In the morning preliminaries, Miami Gulliver Prep junior Christina Swindle set a national record in the 50 free (22.39).

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