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By JOHN C. COTEY
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 18, 2000
ORLANDO -- Ora Curnette is not a morning person. The Palm Harbor junior showed up for his preliminary race in the 200 freestyle, but didn't really show up.
His time did not qualify him for the finals later in the night. But he made the consolation finals, and making the most of it, swam his best time ever in finishing ninth at the Class 3A state swimming and diving championships.
It wasn't even Curnette's best finish -- he took a fourth in the 100-yard freestyle later -- but it was his most memorable. He won his heat easily, blowing the field away, and his time of 1 minute and 44.74 seconds would have actually given him fourth had he made the finals.
Curnette's time in the 200 freestyle night session was almost four seconds better than his morning time.
"I always have trouble in the morning," Curnette said. "I just couldn't get it going. But I'm just happy with the time I got. It didn't really matter where I placed. I felt good when I started and that's how I felt when it ended. I was pretty pleased. It was the best meet I've had in a while."
Curnette also swam the third leg on the 200 medley relay (along with Robert Reinshuttle, Michael Postell and Justin Macik) that finished 13th.
Curnette's teammate, Courtney Childress, also won her heat in the consolation finals of the 200-yard individual medley, swimming a 2:12.22, a second better than she swam in the morning. She trailed after the butterfly, but made up ground on the backstroke and breaststroke, taking a small lead as she turned into the freestyle.
"I knew I could pick up in the backstroke and breaststroke," Childress said. "The butterfly is my worst stroke. I always swim like that, so I knew I'd be behind."
Childress also finished 10th in the 100 backstroke, swimming a 1:01.35.
That gave Childress 16 of Palm Harbor's 17 points in the girls competition. The Hurricane got a point from Cameron Voss' 16th-place finish in diving, and were 25th overall. The team champion was Winter Park for the 15th time.
The Hurricane boys team scored 34 points (diver Brandon Wolf was 15th in diving for two points) and finished 24th. Team champion Spruce Creek scored 226.