Cary, North Carolina: The Triangle Aquatic Center is deafened with the sound of whistles, cheers for swimmers to go, and above all the cheering of winning an event. This year there was a total of 42 different Florida teams, spanning from Pensacola all the way to Miami. And in typical Florida fashion, these teams were here to dominate.
Starting with the very first event, we see 13-year-old Pipeline Swimming swimmer Michelle Morgan place 2nd in the girls 800 Freestyle with an 8:55.28. Above that she was able to prove that age doesn’t matter as she was “[the] youngest swimmer in the event. Placed second right off the bat. And above all, all at her first Futures.” As Coach Piper comments of Morgan’s swims, visibly proud of the training Morgan’s put in and with the possibility for much more in the high school season. In addition to Morgan’s swim, Alixandra Roy of Highlander Aquatics posted a 9:01.14 and secured a 3rd place medal.
Following the woman’s 800, we see Florida distance swimming staples Zachary Brewer (Fast Lane Aquatics), Alec Bowie (Area Tallahassee Aquatics Club), and Ryan Staunch (Swim Florida) dominate in the mile. Brewer put up a good fight in the final heat of the mile and posted a 16:12.36, placing him second amongst 24 swimmers. Staunch, in the same heat with Brewer, raced neck to neck, eye to eye with ATAC swimmer Alec Bowie. With that, Staunch ended up placing 9th with a 16:22.61, while Bowie posted a 16:20.16 and placed 7th.
With Thursday night finals a big success for Florida, there was only one way to move: further up.
Friday night finals started off with a bang after three Florida swimmers placed in the top 3. Taking the lead was Sarasota Tsunami’s swimmer Matthew Nutter posting a 1:52.18, earning him a Winter National Championship time. With this, Nutter left a second gap between himself and the next placed swimmer, John Vandeusen from Bolles. Vandeusen swam a 1:53.26 and earned himself a 2nd place medal. And finally bringing up the “Florida Men’s 200 Free Sweep” was North Florida Swimming swimmer Tate Callahan produced a 1:53.83, securing him a 3rd place medal.
Following up the Men’s 200 Freestyles was Berkley Barracudas’ Ryaan Hatoum, who placed 3rd in the 100 Breaststroke gaining a 3rd place medal with a speedy 1:05.21.
With the sprint events down, Florida really showed its versatility with its success in the 400 Individual Medleys. Starting out we had Highlander Aquatics’ Alixandra Roy placing 1st with a 4:54.34, dropping a whole six seconds from her prelims time. This is Roy’s second time walking up the podium after her 800 freestyle she swam last night. Bringing the storm, John Vandeusen of Bolles School Sharks and North Florida Swimming swimmer Tyler Watson raced goggle to goggle most of the race, but in the end, it was Vandeusen who snagged the win posting a 4:27.19 and scoring his second medal of the night and the meet overall. While Watson got touched out swimming a 4:28.93. To quote, Coach Mel Nash, “He [Watson] loves to touch in first, but he was pleased with his swim.”
Wrapping up the already fast night, the Sarasota Tsunami Swim Team came in ready to medal on their 400-meter freestyle relay. And medal they did, placing third amongst 21 other teams. SRQ was able to drop 1.83 seconds from their seed time with a relay team composed of Rene Strezenicky, Sebastian Aguirre, Alexander Gardner, and Matthew Nutter.
Starting out Saturday night finals we have the 200 Butterfly. First up to the podium for Florida was Blue Dolphin’s swimmer Chole Hampson, who placed third with a 2:17.75. As head coach Charlie Rose says, “Hampson is a tough swimmer. Didn’t miss a practice this summer. She’ll be a great addition to FIU in the fall.”
Following right after Hampson, 15-year-old T2 Aquatics Swimmer Mason Laur snagged third place, with a 2:04.80 in the 200 Butterfly, after an admirable swim in the morning swim, where he achieved his Junior Nationals time. Leading in the Men’s 200 Butterfly was North Florida Swimming’s Tyler Watson. Watson swam a 2:02.72, winning him his second medal of the night.
Right after the 200 Butterflies, we go into the sprinty-est and the sprint events, the 50 Freestyles. Right of the bat we see Florida Gold Swimmer Hailey Jerew, of AquaKids Swimming, swim a 26.15. With this speedy time, she grabbed first with a reasonable gap between her and second. Following Jerew, in fourth place, was Gator Swim Club’s Sydney Kang. As thirteen-year-old Kang has proven before, she is a force to be reckoned with. She posted a 26.58, just ahead of Pine Crest Swimming’s Rachel Botting (26.97).
In the Men’s 50 Freestyle, Seminole Aquatics swimmer Dawson Joyce swims a 23.51. With this time, he grabbed second place all while swimming right under first place’s nose.
After the 50 Freestyles, the 100 Backstrokes were swum with a men’s heat full of Florida swimmers. Right out of the gate, TBAC swimmer Joseph Licht, out touched, and won the event with a 57.74. Quickly following is Pine Crest Swimming’s Elvis Kotikovski who swam a 58.04, and grabs third place, all the while racing neck and neck with Treasure Coast swimmer William McCloud (who swam a 58.12).
Following the 100 Backstroke’s the 400 Freestyles take their place on the stage. From East Coast Aquatic Club, Anna Auld placed fourth with a 4:26.12. Following right on her feet was Pipeline Swimming’s thirteen-year-old phenom Michelle Morgan, who swam a 4:26.50, snagging fifth overall.
Moving to the Men’s 400s, we see Bolles swimmer John Vandeusen, swim a 4:01.91 to grab a second-place medal. Following right behind was the pair of Noah Smith (Central Florida Marlins) and Tate Callahan (North Florida Swimming), who raced neck and neck to the finish. In the end Smith out touches Callahan for third, swimming a 4:04.03. All the while Callahan swam a 4:04.48, with team mate Tyler Watson right behind. Watson swam a 4:05.32 and placed sixth overall.
Now with the Women’s 800s and Men’s 1500s swam on Thursday, we finally get to see the classic distance events on a Saturday night. Starting out, we see East Coast Aquatic swimmer Anna Auld snag the win by a five second gap swimming a 17:02.20. Following closely was Highland Aquatic’s swimmer Alixandra Roy, who swam a 17:07.73. Following right behind was FSU swimmer Daniella Van Den Berg, who swam a 17:07.88. And to finish the Florida heat was Pipeline Swimming’s own Michelle Morgan. Morgan swam a 17:15.30 and ended up dropping 4 seconds from her seed time.
Finishing up the distance events of this year’s Futures, was the Men’s 800. Snagging first, with an 8:24.48, was Central Florida Marlins’ Noah Smith. Right behind was Swim Florida duo Brendan Peacock and Ryan Staunch. Peacock swam an 8:30.13, dropping 8 seconds, while Staunch swam an 8:31.08.
Wrapping up with the last night of finals, Florida proved that their swimmers still got it with lots of amazing swims.
Starting off with speedy 100s Freestyle, accomplished Gator Swim Club swimmer Sydney Kang took fourth with a 58.10.
Following Kang was Matthew Nutter. He won the men’s event with a 51.23, closely trailed by Academy Aquatics Swimming’s Ethan Long. Long placed third in the event swimming a 51.78 and out touched North Florida Swimming’s Tate Callahan, who swam a 51.81.
With all the freestyle events completed, next to swim was the 200 backstroke events. East Coast Aquatics swimmer Madison Cummings and Kelley Heron of South Florida Swimming, swam goggle to goggle, but Cummings ended up taking the fourth-place win with a 2:19.80. Heron finished fifth with a 2:20.58. Following the girls, was a heated race between Treasure Coast’s William McCloud and Pine Crest’s Elvis Kotikovski. Barely out touching Kotikovski, McCloud snagged the second-place win with a 2:05.21. Right behind Kotikovski places third with a 2:05.49.
Next, the final event of the meet: 200 Individual Medley. First up was Sydney Kang, of Gator Swim Club, who ended up placing fifth with a 2:22.20. Right behind for the final swim of the night, and of the meet, was Tyler Watson and Joseph Licht. Watson, of North Florida Swimming, won the 200 IM in a 2:07.30. This was Watson’s fourth medal, second first place, of the meet over all. And finally, we have Licht of TBAC, who swam a 2:09.48, placing fifth overall.
In the end, Florida proved once again that it is not a force to be reckoned with. Whether it be distance, sprint, or stroke, there is no event that Florida cannot push through and win in.
By Davis Shelton