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Knight secures place in history

With a victory in the 200 IM, River Ridge's Kevin Rumble becomes Pasco County's first boys swimmer to win a second state title.

By JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 18, 2000


ORLANDO -- Kevin Rumble's place in River Ridge athletic and Pasco County swimming history was secured last year when he won just the second boys state championship ever.

Friday night at the Class 3A State Swimming and Diving Championships, though, he updated his slice of history by becoming the first boys swimmer to win two championships, capturing the 200-yard individual medley again at the Orlando YMCA Aquatics Center.

River Ridge's Jimmy Battista won the 100 backstroke in 1997 to become the first champion.

But the one thing Rumble really wanted to do, and what Battista never did, was win two gold medals at the same meet. But that didn't happen as he finished third in the 100 backstroke.

"I was thinking about that," Rumble said. "That would have been nice."

Winning the 200 IM was more than enough consolation for the River Ridge junior.

His time of 1 minute, 52.86 seconds was a career-best and almost four seconds faster than he swam in morning preliminaries. He was seeded first and was one of the few defending champions to repeat Friday.

"There was definitely more pressure this year than last year," said Rumble, the district champion in the 200 IM and backstroke the past three seasons.

"Everyone is expecting you to win. And you know there is someone out there working harder, trying to take your title away."

It wasn't going to happen to Rumble, who opened up a lengthy lead after the first two legs of his medley as Spruce Creek's Lee Edder, who Rumble expected to challenge him, never did. Edder was more than a second behind in second place.

In the backstroke, however, Rumble knew he was in trouble when he found out at a party after the district meet that Chris Fowler of Stuart Martin County was swimming in the event.

"He came up to me and said "I got your states this year"', Rumble said. "I knew he was going to get me."

Fowler, who also won the 100 butterfly, trained at Jacksonville Bolles with Alex Lim, arguably the top prep swimmer in Florida history.

Rumble was seeded first in the race, but even he admitted it was a deceptive seed.

"(Fowler) slipped off the block and I saw it, so I knew he could go faster," Rumble said.

"He still made up a lot of time that race."

Rumble has swam with Fowler, a friend, on the Florida National Team, and jokingly said afterwards that he was switching events next year.

"Time to find another one," he said.

"Every year I seem to lose to a teammate."

Rumble's time in the backstroke, 52.39, was well behind Fowler's winning 50.57, but still a personal-best.

He finished second in the race last year when Patrick Nichols, swimming in the eighth lane, stunned him by beating him to the wall when he thought he had it won.

"This wasn't as painful as that," Rumble said.

Rumble accounted for all 36 of River Ridge's points as the Royal Knights -- or Knight -- finished 22nd. He was the only North Suncoast swimmer participating.

Winter Park won the girls meet as expected for the 15th time with 250 points, while Spruce Creek captured the boys title.

With the win in the 200 IM, Rumble joined Hudson's Amanda Paulo -- a repeat winner in the 100 backstroke Thursday night at the Class 2A meet -- as the North Suncoast's only two-time state champions.

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