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TBAY Westchase Swimmers Do the Impossible

Walt Disney once said, “It’s quite fun to do the impossible.”

The swimmers of TBAY Westchase wrapped up their spring season over the last month doing exactly that. The team participated in four meets over five weekends. These included the end of the regular season competition and short course championship series.

The short course regular season meet schedule came to a close at the 10th Annual Gasparilla Races Meet, hosted by the TBAY Central Branch at the Tampa Preparatory School over Feb.10-12. Twenty-nine swimmers attended the meet and throughout the weekend 25 of them achieved lifetime best performances in at least one race. Among these personal bests Jona Christensen, Josh Dang, Lily Dourney, Colin Maloney, Rhansey Morel, Kate Rideout, Madeline Rideout, Sam Prabhakaran, Savannah Trezza and Jack Wilson each accomplished a best time in all of their races during the weekend.

Up next, the Florida Swimming Senior Championships – which is for swimmers 14 and older who meet the necessary qualifying times – took place Feb. 23-26 at the International Drive YMCA in Orlando, Florida. TBAY Westchase had five swimmers attend, which is the largest qualifying class in almost five years! Isabel Minnis, Margaret Parker, Chris Quach, Madeline Rideout and Prabhakaran participated throughout the four-day competition, during which many best times were achieved and a few swimmers were able to score at the top of the state!

Minnis had a personal best swim it the 50 backstroke, where she also finished 14th in the state. Parker nabbed lifetime best swims in the 50 and 100 freestyle races. Quach achieved a best time in the 200 backstroke as well. Fourteen-year-old swimmers Rideout and Prabhakaran – who attended this meet for the first time – posted great swims. Prabhakaran earned four out of five lifetime best swims and Rideout achieved best times in the 50 breast, 100 breast and 400 IM while also finishing 23rd in the state in the 200 breast and 24th in the state in the 50 breast.

The following weekend 38 swimmers attended the Area 3 Championship Meet at the North Shore Pool in St. Petersburg, Florida. Over 1,000 swimmers from the Tampa Bay area came together March 3-5 to compete and TBAY Westchase showed not only massive time drops in all age groups but found many swimmers who finished in the top three in the Bay area. Thirty-three swimmers from Westchase posted best times in at least one swim. T.J. Blackwood, Elaina Flemmer, Devin Hurst, L. Maloney, Kate Rideout, Madeline Rideout, Savannah Trezza, Abby Williams and Sam Williams each posted personal bests in 100 percent of their performances throughout the weekend. Many swimmers posted at least ten second drops in their swims including Morgan Allen, William Brandon, Christensen, Grissom, Hudson Long, Hunter Long, Maloney, Kate and Madeline Rideout, Anthong Suggs, Trezza and Williams. To round out these incredible best times, 12 swimmers were able to finish in the top three of their age groups, including Kate Baranov, Maloney, Elizabeth McDonough, Tyler Henry, the Rideouts, Hurst, Abby and Sam Williams, Hunter Long and Victor Perez. Overall it was one of the most successful weekends for TBAY Westchase and our swimmers hard work paid off in big ways!

To wrap up the Spring Championship Season nine swimmers traveled to Stuart Florida March 9-12 to participate in the Florida Swimming Age Group Championship Meet (FLAGs). The group represented our largest qualifying crew in over five years! The FLAG meet is designed for swimmers 14 and under to compete against other qualifiers from around the state of Florida! Hunter Long, Prabhakaran, Maloney, Sam Williams, the Rideouts, Trezza, McDonough and Baranov each qualified to represent TBAY Westchase and the TBAY Nation, where they contributed to a third place finish for Tampa Bay Aquatics in the state of Florida. In the 10 and under age group, Maloney swam six events and had personal best swims in 200 free, 50 fly and 100 fly. McDonough also had six and posted lifetime best swims in the 100 free, 200 free and 100 breast. She also finished 14th in the state in the 100 breast as well.

Meanwhile Baranov had four races and finished 16th in the 100 breast and fourth in the state in the 50 breast. Her performance in the 50 breast earned her a spot on the Florida Swimming All Star Team – the first swimmer from Westchase to achieve this accomplishment in over five years! In the 11-12 age group, Kate Rideout represented TBAY Westchase in the 50 free and 200 free, where she missed a best time in each race by .02 and .01 respectively.

The 13-14 age group had some outrageous performances as well. Hunter Long, who qualified in the 500 free and 1,000 free, only swam the latter event, where he dropped nearly 30 seconds to earn his 14-year-old cut almost a year in advance! Sam Williams qualified in the 200 fly – his first FLAG time ever. Trezza, who earned two cuts – the 100 and 200 breast, dropped two seconds and three seconds respectively and as a 13 year old earned her 14-year-old cut in the 100 breast with an outstanding race. Madeline Rideout, who also swam the 100 and 200 breast, had a two-second drop in the 200 breast and finished 14th in the state.

To round out our FLAG crew – Prabhakaran participated in six events and posted best times in all six races with a one second drop in the 100 back, a two second drop in the 200 IM and a 5 second drop in the 200 back and the 500 free. In the 1,000 free Prabhakaran, had a lifetime best by 22 seconds and finished 13th in state. In the 400 IM he posted an eight second drop and finished 12th in the state of Florida.

After an unbelievably successful season, the team went on a week-long hiatus during spring break and returned to the water in late March to prepare for the upcoming long course summer season.

If you are interested in joining the TBAY Westchase swim team, please contact the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center, visit our website at or vi,sit us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

By Coach Alex Richardson


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TBAY Hosts USA Sanctioned Meet

During a wet and cold weekend in January, two branches of Tampa Bay Aquatics (TBAY) came together to host their very first large meet competition.

On Jan. 28 and 29, the TBAY Westchase and TBAY New Tampa branches hosted a USA-sanctioned swim meet at the North Shore Pool in St. Petersburg. Our team families welcomed over 550 swimmers from the Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater area and acted as timers, meet officials, concession stand workers and hospitality volunteers. It was really all-hands-on deck for everyone in our program.

Nearly 65 swimmers participated from the Westchase Branch and although the weather was cold and cloudy, our swimmers did not let the less than desirable conditions stand in our way. Of the 65 swimmers who attended, 45 of them achieved at least one best time throughout the weekend. Fourteen-year-old Jona Christensen and 7-year-old Colin Maloney achieved best times throughout all of their races during the weekend as well!

Many swimmers also finished in the top three of their age groups throughout the weekend including 8 and under swimmers Michal Baranov and Saige Randall, 9-10-year-olds Kate Baranov, Dane Christensen, Tyler Henry, Liam Maloney and Elizabeth McDonough, 11-12-year-olds Hunter Long, Kate Rideout and Abby Williams, and 13-and-older swimmers Madeline Rideout and Sam Prabhakaran. Of these top three performances many were first place finishers. K. Baranov was top in her age group in the 50 backstroke; M. Baranov took gold in the 25 butterfly, 25 backstroke and 50 butterfly; Henry was top of the podium in the 50 butterfly; McDonough lead the pack in the 100 freestyle and 100 individual medley; K. Rideout was the number one finisher in the 100 breaststroke; and Prabhakaran took first place in the 1,000 yard freestyle with an incredible 25 second best time!

The Westchase swim team also added one more swimmer to its championship team roster when Savannah Trezza scored her 13-year-old and 14-year-old 200 breaststroke Florida Age Group (FLAG) Championship time standard – a big feat for a new 13-year-old!

Our weekend in St. Pete was busy, exciting and full of speed. Our swimmers and families did an outstanding job to make sure the event was run smoothly and effectively.

For the most up to date announcements about the team, be sure to visit our website at like ,us on Facebook at TBAY Westchase or follow us on Twitter and Instagram @TBAYWestchase!

By Coach Alex Richardson


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TBAY Keeps Busy in January

For most, the holiday season is a time for rest and relaxation.

For the swimmers at TBAY Westchase, the holiday season provided an extra opportunity for training as they prepare for the spring season. For all of our swimmers, this meant sacrificing their days off from school for early morning practices and bringing the older swimmers back for afternoon doubles. Their hard work truly paid off as everyone prepared for the first meets of the season.

From Jan. 14-15, 20 swimmers from the Silver, Bronze and TBAY Jr. groups attended a meet hosted by St. Petersburg Aquatics (SPA). Every swimmer who attended achieved a personal best time in at least one race and many others finished as top three finishers in their events. Kate Baranov, Michal Baranov, Tyler Henry and Elizabeth McDonough each placed in top three for multiple events. Kate Baranov was an event winner in the 10 and under 50 and 100 breaststroke; Michal Baranov finished first in six of his eight events (8 and under 50 back, 25 fly, 50 free, 25 back, 50 fly, and 25 free); and McDonough took the gold in the 10 and under 100 butterfly. Kate Baranov and McDonough both achieved new Florida Age Group (FLAG) Championship time standards in the 10 and under 50 backstroke and McDonough also picked up the 50 freestyle as well. Liam Maloney also earned the 10 and under 200 yard freestyle FLAG time standard.

Jan. 14-16 was a busy weekend for our Gold, Senior and National level swimmers who attended the Al Soltis Memorial Meet hosted by the Clearwater Aquatic Team (CAT). Seventeen swimmers from these groups raced during the short course morning session with the goal of earning a spot in finals in the long course evening session. Sam Prabhakaran, Rhansey Morel, Georges Sfeir, Hunter Long, Jack Wilson, Isabel Minnis, Savannah Trezza, Devin Hurst, Abby Hartley, Sam Williams, Lexie Steinberg and Madeline Rideout all qualified for finals throughout the weekend. Rideout also achieved a huge personal best time when she achieved the 14-year-old FLAG time in the 100 breaststroke.

After great performances during MLK weekend, swimmers are now looking forward to a meet at the SPA facility from Jan. 28-29. It will be co-hosted by the families of TBAY Westchase and TBAY New Tampa – the first time the team has hosted an event of this size in its history

For the most up to date announcements about the team, be sure to visit our website at like ,us on Facebook at TBAY Westchase or follow us on Twitter and Instagram @TBAYWestchase!

By Coach Alex Richardson


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TBAY Sees Success in Final 2016 Meets

The holiday season isn’t the only thing that wrapped up recently.

The TBAY Westchase swim team put a bow on the fall 2016 season, which brought exciting success to many of its members. Throughout the last few months, swimmers have been digging in deep and it paid off with many high level performances in the last few meets of 2016.

November and December were busy months for the team. Things kicked off on Nov. 6 with the St. Petersburg Aquatics (SPA) Sunday at the Races meet, where nearly all 35 athletes from TBAY Westchase ended the day with at least one personal best time. Jona Christensen, Anna Ellis, Zach Glover, Lila Judd, Hudson Long, Charlotte McDonough, Nico Orbegozo and Geo Sfeir all pulled best times in all of their races. Orbegozo, along with Tyler Henry, Liam Maloney, Elizabeth McDonough, Sam Prabhakaran, Victor Perez and Brock Glover, each had at least one top three finish, with Perez winning the 11 and 12 boys 50 breaststroke and Glover winning the 8-and-under 25 breaststroke.

The following weekend, 30 of our athletes attended the Clearwater Aquatic Team’s (CAT) Fall Harvest meet. Top performances throughout the weekend included Savannah Trezza and Hunter Long, each taking home seven personal best times, while four other swimmers took home the gold: Hunter Long in the 11-12 50 and 100 butterfly; Perez in 11-12 100 IM; Kyle Randall in 6-and-under 25 breaststroke and Aaron Chung in 6-and-under 25 freestyle, butterfly and backstroke.

The team then moved quickly toward championship season. Our high school squad saw outstanding success this fall, with our top performer, Isabel Minnis, wrapping up the high school season at the 2016 Class 2A State Championship Meet in Stuart. Minnis finished 13th in the state in the 200 freestyle and 17th in the state in the 100 backstroke.

To kick-off December, our 14-and-under athletes attended two different championship meets, the “B” Championship Meet hosted by SPA and the Music City Invitational Meet hosted by the Nashville Aquatic Club (NAC) in Nashville, Tennessee.

At “B” Champs, 37 swimmers dominated their final meet of 2016. Five swimmers – Dane Christensen, Elise Christensen, Jona Christensen, Ella McKee and Sam Williams – achieved personal best times in all of their races. Fourteen swimmers finished in the top three of their events including Abby Hartley, Tyler Henry, Hudson Long, Maloney, E. McDonough, McKee, Rhansey Morel, Perez, Jonathan Platow, Madeline Rideout, Lexie Steinberg, Trezza, Abby Williams and Sam Williams. Event winners from the weekend were Hartley (11-12 100 backstroke), Rideout (13-14 100 breaststroke), Trezza (13-14 200 breaststroke and 13-18 100 IM) and S. Williams (13-18 100 IM).

Meanwhile two Westchase swimmers, Hunter Long and Prabhakaran, joined 41 other swimmers from the Tampa Bay Aquatics community and traveled to Nashville to participate in NAC’s 2016 Music City Invitational from Dec. 2-4. Long had a big weekend in the 11-12 boys category, finishing fifth in 50 free, sixth in 100 free, eighth in 500 free and 11th in the 100 back. Prabhakaran competed in the ultra-competitive 13-14 boys category, where he finished 10th in 200 breaststroke, 13th in 100 breast and 16th in 400 IM. He also dropped time in all six of his events, shaving more than five seconds off 100 breaststroke and 200 back, nine seconds in 400 IM and 200 breaststroke, four seconds in 200 IM and over three seconds in 100 backstroke.

At press time, TBAY Westchase had two more events to wrap up 2016, the 2016 Team Holiday Party and a co-hosted meet with TBAY New Tampa and Florida Elite (FE) swim teams in mid-December.

For more up to date information regarding TBAY Westchase (a team open to non-Westchase residents as well) please feel free to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram @TBAYWestchase.

By Alex Richardson, TBAY Coach


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TBAY Knows Recipe for Success

American humorist Arnold Glasgow smartly observed, “Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.”

Over the last four months the swimmers at TBAY Westchase have been proving that success in their sport comes from daily hard work. Since September, TBAY Nation has taken their dedication into the pool in four Tampa Bay different meets.

The team kicked off the 2016 fall season at the fourth annual Kelley Allen Memorial KAH2O Meet, hosted by TBAY Countryside over Sept. 9-11. The KAH2O Meet, held in memory of former Westchase Coach Kelley Allen, brought the best out of the 48 swimmers who attended to honor their fallen coach. This season opener is a great way to introduce new swimmers to the competitive meet atmosphere. Twelve swimmers made their meet debut during the KAH2O kick off weekend!

Further, 26 swimmers achieved lifetime best times over the course of the KAH2O Meet, which culminated in two 10-and-under athletes, Liam Maloney and Kate Baranov, earning Florida Age Group (FLAG) Championship time standards for the first time. Maloney earned his cut in the 100 freestyle and Baronov’s came in the 50 breaststroke, where she was also the top finisher. She joined Margaret Parker and Savannah Trezza as event winners. Meanwhile, Parker came out on top in the 200 IM and Trezsa took the 100 breast.

A few weeks later 30 swimmers competed under the lights for Friday Night at the Races, hosted by St. Petersburg Aquatics (SPA) on Sept. 30. The exciting evening setting pushed nine swimmers to finish in the top three in their events, including T.J. Blackwood, Tyler Henry, Elizabeth McDonough, Gianna Mejia, Rhansey Monel, Victor Perez, Sam Prabhakaran, Kate Rideout, Andrea Stingulescu and Abby Williams. Blackwood and Mejia took first place in the boys and girls 25 yard freestyle respectively while Perez grabbed the top spot in the 11-12 50 breast. Stingulescu took first in the senior girls division of the same event.

Midway through October, while many kids are preparing their Halloween costumes for trick or treating, the team competed at the Greater Tampa Swim Association (GTSA) Speedo Classic (aka the Pumpkin Meet), where any swimmer who wins his or her heat gets to take home a pumpkin! Thirty-three of the 39 Westchase participants achieved best times throughout the weekend, which also saw Baranov earning another FLAG cut in the 10-and-under 100 breaststroke.

Halloween weekend took our aquatic athletes out of the pool and onto dry land when they participated in the 15th Annual Great West Chase! Twenty-five swimmers, their families and even Coach Alex ran in the 10k, 5k or Kid’s Fun Run. Brody Grissom, Sam Prabhakaran and Sam Williams finished in the top three spots for their age group for the 10k; Ella Mckee nabbed the second place spot for her age group in the 5k, and 10-year-old Dane Christensen finished first in his age group and 20th overall out of over 800 registered 5K runners!

While the first few months of our season saw outstanding success, our swimmers are only halfway there. At press time, TBAY Westchase swimmers had four more meets to attend before the championship meet in December, which will also see two swimmers – Hunter Long and Sam Prabhakaran – attend a team travel trip to Nashville to participate in Nashville Aquatic Club’s (NAC) Music City Invitational.

For more updates on the athletes from TBAY Westchase, follow us on Facebook at TBAY Westchase or on Twitter and Instagram @TBAYWestchase!

By Alex Richardson, TBAY Coach


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Westchase Swim Coach Attends World Clinic

In recent months, the swimmers at TBAY Westchase have found themselves back in the familiar settings of the school year.

As the summer months wound down, many of the swimmers at TBAY Westchase found themselves back in the familiar settings of the school year. As a coach, however, it has been many years since I’ve found myself in the classroom. This time around, I had the opportunity to hear from some of the greatest coaches in the world of swimming when I attended the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) 2016 World Clinic in Fort Lauderdale from September 6-10.

Arriving on Tuesday afternoon, I found myself nervous and excited about the week ahead but quickly understood why the swim coaching community is unique. We want the best for our athletes and our coaches, and we want to do everything we can to help each other learn, grow and prosper.

University of Tennessee head coach Matt Kredich spoke first in a lecture called The Butterfly Effect – The Future in a Single Practice. He said, “What if this is this is the practice that changes your life?” He asked us to think back to such a moment as a coach or an athlete, and recall what that moment was for each of us. With each story Kredich shared, I began to realize the impact this clinic would have on my coaching.

Following Kredich’s talk, another coaching legend took the stage – the University of Florida head coach and 2012 Olympic head coach Gregg Troy – who spent the hour discussing some of his favorite training sets.

Wednesday opened with the coaches from the University of Incarnate Word discussing the relationship between head coaches and assistant coaches and how the unit can work together to provide the best training opportunities for our athletes. Next, I listened as Hollie Bonewit-Cron, the new head coach from Miami University (OH) and founding head coach at Nova Southeastern University, spoke on how professionalism, leadership and culture helped drive her success in the NCAA Division II arena. Wednesday continued with a talk on what I considered my weakest stroke – breaststroke – from another University of Tennessee coach, Bret Lundsgaard. His words expanded my views on the stroke, which challenges me most on a daily basis. In our final commentary of the day, I was able to sit in on a panel discussion on college recruitment and establishing a positive atmosphere for incoming freshmen – an area new to me.

On day three, the clinic format changed with the morning now an open session involving the entire coaching crew, and the afternoons split into tracks such as Age Group, Senior, Business, and High School level coaches. As a coach who deals all of these areas of competitive development, I was torn on where to take myself.

After listening to Dave Silo from the University of Southern California speak about his experience over the last four decades in the swimming world, I realized he would be spending the day speaking off and on in different tracks. I listened to Salo speak twice more that day – he was by far my favorite speaker of the week.

While Salo gave me an “outside the box” perspective on coaching, I walked into another great conversation from Olympic legend Katie Ledecky’s coach, Bruce Gemmell. Currently, I am working with an athlete whose best events mirror Ledecky’s, and his invaluable insight applies directly to how I work with this swimmer.

I spent days four and five bouncing around the Age Group and Business Level Tracks, learning skills for swimmers as young as 8 and understanding and operating a small swim-related business. By the end of the week I was filled with excitement and bursting with knowledge

I think Coach Bottom said it best: “Create your dream with uncompromising commitment!”

I don’t plan on compromising any time soon!

For more information on TBAY Westchase visit us at, like us on Facebook at TBAY Westchase or follow us on Instagram or Twitter @TBAYWestchase.

By Alex Richardson


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Busy End of Summer Marks End of an Era

If staying busy makes the summer fly by, it’s no wonder a new school year arrived faster than Michael Phelps reached the podium in Rio.

TBAY Westchase closed out the summer with three championship meets in as many weekends – a whirlwind of top-level swimming that also capped off the decorated club swimming career of its Division I-bound standout, Maddie Strasen.

First up were the Florida Age Group Championships (FLAGs) for swimmers 14 and under. TBAY Westchase had six athletes compete in 11 different events. Samuel Prabhakaran posted time drops in four of his six individual events, cutting more than a minute in the 800 free and nearly 20 seconds in the 400 IM. Hunter Long and Victor Perez also dropped time, while Elizabeth McDonough, Madeline Rideout and Savannah Trezza gave TBAY Westchase a strong presence in the breaststroke.

The following weekend showcased the older swimmers, as Isabel Minnis and Maddie Strasen headed to Coral Springs for the Florida Gold Coast Senior championships. Minnis ripped it up in the 400 IM, cutting more than 17 seconds, and swam personal bests in five other events. Strasen turned in a seventh-place finish in 200 breaststroke while dropping time in the 50 and 100 free.

Then, in the summer finale, all 31 Westchase swimmers turned in personal-best times, including numerous double-digit time drops, in the Area 3 Championships in St. Pete. Cooper Chesser (100 free), Daniel Harris (500 free), Abi Hartley (50 back), Tyler Henry (50 free and 100 free), Long (50 back), Arina Lytvynenko (100 free, 100 breast), Minnis (500 free, 200 free), Prabhakaran (500 free, 100 fly, 200 IM, 200 free, 100 free, 200 fly), Christopher Quach (100 back), Rideout (200 breast), Strasen (200 IM) and Anthony Suggs (100 breast) all posted event victories. Trezza earned her 13-year-old FLAG and FGC qualifying times in 200 breast while Prabhakaran took new cuts in the 50 breast and 100 and 200 free.

“Our swimmers had outrageous swims to top off a hard summer of training,” Coach Alex Richardson said, noting that the across-the-board time cuts were the result of big training efforts. “It was really a great weekend for TBAY Nation.”

It was also something of a bittersweet weekend that included more than a few tears, as TBAY Westchase said farewell to the University of Vermont-bound Strasen – the first athlete to finish her club career at TBAY Westchase and go on to swim for an NCAA Division I college. The three-year captain and four-year MVP at Robinson High was the first girl in school history to qualify for the state meet – a feat she accomplished three years in a row in breaststroke. She finished sixth in the 2A state meet in 2016 and also qualified in 200 free.

The “Strasen Strive for Excellence Award” was adopted in her name last year, to be given to the Robinson swimmer who best embodies the unyielding quest for success as a leader both in and out of the pool. Strasen set six school records at Robinson, was a 200 breast finalist at the FCG Championships, became the first TBAY Westchase girl to swim at the NASA/Dolphin Junior Nationals, and won a Positive Coaching Alliance Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship Award, given to student-athletes who not only perform at a high level individually, but also impact their sport and their teammates. Also a standout in the classroom, she received her International Baccalaureate diploma with a 6.93 weighted GPA, and earned a Presidential Scholarship to UVM.

“As she gets ready to take the next step in her academic and athletic career, we are very proud of her all accomplishments while a member of the TBAY family,” Richardson said. “She showed us all what hard work and dedication can lead to, and TBAY Westchase will not be the same without her!”

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Westchase Swimmers Breaking New Ground

If the parade of TBAY Westchase swimmers qualifying for the biggest meets in the state grows any longer, the team is going to start earning mention on the local traffic reports.

Several more earned cuts (qualifying times) for the Florida Age Group Championships (FLAGs), Florida Gulf Coast Championships (FGC) and Florida Swimming Senior Championships (Senior Champs) in big meets this past month.

Many came after the team’s annual summer training trip to Florida Atlantic University, where 11 TBAY Westchase athletes put in double-training days and also had the chance to check out the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, enjoy some time on the beach and attend a vigil in memory of the victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy in Orlando.

Following the training, the team turned in standout performances at the Michael Lohberg Invitational at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex. Sam Prabhakaran (200, 400 and 1,500 free), Hunter Long (200 and 400 free) and Madeline Rideout (100 breast) all captured long-course FLAG cuts. Prabhakaran’s 1,500 and Rideout’s 100 breast also earned FGC and Senior Champs qualifying times.

“The FAU trip kicked off our summer training schedule, and these athletes were put through the ringer with long-course doubles and dryland workouts,” said Coach Alex Richardson. “We had a hard week of training which led to a great meet in Coral Springs. Our swimmers had a great time throughout the week and the trip this year was once again a success.”

One week later, on June 26, four of the younger swimmers attended 2016 TBAY Summer Open hosted by the Lakeland branch of TBAY. Elizabeth McDonough dropped time in each of her five events and was just one second away from the 100 breast FLAG time. Tyler Henry, Anthony Suggs and Jack Wilson also enjoyed some excellent swims and best times.

Six local swimmers attended two different “Last Chance” meets – one at SPA in St. Petersburg and another at Bobby Hicks pool in South Tampa. Savannah Trezza got her 12-year-old 100 breast FLAG cut (and was one second off the 13 year-old cut), along with her FGC Cut. Elizabeth McDonough earned her first FLAG time, qualifying in the 100 breast by more than a second. Abby Hartley barely missed the 50 back cut by .08 seconds, while Victor Perez barely missed a new cut in 200 free. Lexie Steinberg dropped time in 50 free at the Tampa meet.

In all, TBAY Westchase had seven qualifiers for 2016 Summer FLAGs in Orlando July 14-17 and eight qualifiers for the FGC Summer Senior Championships in Coral Springs July 22-24. “We are so excited about FLAGs,” Richardson said. “This is our biggest qualifying group, and these guys have been working so hard to achieve these cuts! We cannot wait to see how they represent TBAY Westchase at the state level.”
The season wrapped up with the Area 3 meet in St. Petersburg, with 30 swimmers looking to demonstrate the fruits of their summer conditioning. The club has more than a dozen swimmers making waves at the Westchase Village Pool in Elite Training Camp this summer.

“These swimmers are going above and beyond the average athlete this summer and are determined to get stronger and make improvements at their championship meets this summer,” Richardson said. “We have been taking advantage of Baybridge Park field and park areas. It’s a great place for the kids to work together and enhance their training.”
Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Sizzling Swims and a Super Scholarship

It didn’t take long for TBAY Westchase to heat up as the summer season approached.

The local swimmers sped to the wall for impressive time cuts in the first two long-course meets of the year, while one earned a Positive Coaching Alliance scholarship that will help toward a Division I college career that starts this fall.

The club opened the long-course season (where each lap is 50 meters instead of 25 yards) with big performances at the Blue Wave Classic in Brandon May 1 and the WFLA Spring Open in Largo May 6-8. It had been a while since the last long-course meet, so time cuts were to be expected. And the Westchase swimmers did not disappoint.

Isabel Minnis won the grueling 400-meter IM with a five-second time cut, while Nico Libreros finished third in that event. Abi Hartley dropped close to a cumulative minute in three events, including a 20-second drop in 100 backstroke – good for a fifth-place finish. Hunter Long finished third, fourth and fifth in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 back, respectively, dropping 19 seconds, while Sam Prabhakaran finished second, fourth and fifth in the 100 back, 200 breast and 100 free, cutting 10 seconds.

Devin Hurst dropped 23 seconds and Lexie Steinberg 11.5 seconds in three events. Abi Williams placed fifth in the 200 breast and eighth in the 100 back, while brother Sam also finished fifth in the 200 breast and sixth in the 50 free.

At the WFLA event, 12-year-old Savannah Trezza earned her first ever Florida Age Group Championships (FLAG) qualifying time with a third-place finish in the 50 breaststroke. Victor Perez added the 200 IM cut to his collection (dropping 12 seconds) and registered a fourth-place finish in the 100 breast, where he dropped nearly seven. He also took 13 seconds off his best 200 free time.

Rafael Borromeo finished fifth in the 200 butterfly. Hartley dropped another 50 seconds in six events, including 20 in the 100 breast. Tyler Henry dropped nearly 20 seconds in three events; 9-year-old Hudson Long dropped 15 in the 100 free, while brother Hunter dropped more than a minute over six events, including a 22.5-second drop in the 100 breast. Ella McKee dropped 12.5 seconds in the 100 free; Sara O'Connor cut 35 in the 100 breast; and Christopher Quach cut nearly a minute in three events, with a 25-second drop in the 200 free. Prabhakaran finished fourth in the 200 fly and dropped 17 seconds in four events.

“Long-course season has officially kicked off and our team showed they are ready for a great summer,” Coach Alex Richardson said. “We are training really hard and our swimmers are really excited about reaching some big goals this season.”

Maddie Strasen reached another goal when she was awarded a PCA Triple Impact Competitor Scholarship. The awards were given nationally to student-athletes who not only perform at a high level individually, but also impact their sport and their teammates. Strasen was a three-year team captain at Robinson High School and will swim at the University of Vermont beginning this fall.

“TBAY Westchase is honored to have such a well-rounded student athlete in our program,” said Richardson after the Tampa Bay scholarship winners were announced before a Rays game at Tropicana Field. “Maddie has really set the bar high for her teammates, and we are looking forward to the collegiate success she will see in the next couple of years.”

TBAY Westchase exceeded its $30,000 fund-raising goal for Swim Across America, a May 21 open-water swim in the Gulf of Mexico that raised money to battle cancer. They were also slated for a late May meet in St. Petersburg and a June 3-5 meet in Clearwater.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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TBAY Westchase Peaks When it Counts

When it comes to championship swim meets, never sell TBAY Westchase “short.”

Especially this year! Short-course season, when swimmers put in laps of 25 yards as opposed to 50 meters (the long-course, Olympic distance), culminates with a series of championship meets every spring. TBAY Westchase swimmers made quick work of their events against some of the best in the state – and country.

Eleven Westchase athletes reached finals in the Greater Tampa Swim Association Championships April 1-3 at the Bobby Hicks pool in South Tampa. Savannah Trezza won the 50 breaststroke, finished second in 100 breast and was 10th in 50 freestyle. Victor Perez won the 50 free, added second-place finishes in 100 free, 50 breast, 100 IM and 100 breast and took sixth in 200 free. Hunter Long posted five top-six finishes, including third place in 100 free and fourth place in the 200 free, where he cut 15 seconds off his previous best time.

Sam Prabhakaran dropped time in every event, including an 11-second drop in 400 IM that earned him a sixth-place finish and qualified him for Florida Age Group Championships (FLAGs). He placed among the top seven in 200 back, 100 back, 200 IM and 100 breast as well. Also making finals were Francesca Bononami, Daniel Harris, Abby Hartley, Jacob Key, Alina Lytvynenko, Madeline Rideout and Abby Williams.

There were no finals for 10-and-under swimmers, but six youngsters from TBAY Westchase posted top-10 showings at the meet. Gracie Chung was top 10 in all six of her events, dropping nine seconds in the 50 fly for a fourth-place finish and claiming third place in 25 back. Liam Maloney was second in 200 free among five top-seven finishes, while Elizabeth McDonough cut 15 seconds in the 100 fly to take second. Other top-10 finishes came from Tyler Henry, Hudson Long and Sara O’Connor.

The GTSA meet, and the always-fun TBAY Nation Spring Festival held at Tampa Prep, followed a huge weekend in mid-March when three Westchase standouts competed in the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships in Coral Springs. Meanwhile, another of our swimmers took part in the prestigious NASA national meet in Clearwater.

At the FGC meet Alina Lytvynenko raced to a third-place finish in 100 breaststroke while Isabel Minnis landed two top-10 backstroke finishes, taking ninth at 50 yards and 10th at 200. She also finished 11th in 50 breast and 100 back, while dropping 17.5 seconds in a 100 IM time trial. Also competing were Matthew Reinecke and Chris Quach, the latter of whom cut time in five of six events.

Meanwhile, Maddie Strasen was facing some of the best swimmers in the nation at the NASA Junior National Championship Cup at the Long Center in Clearwater. Top swimmers from as far away as New York, Oregon, California and Wisconsin were smashing junior national records and qualifying for U.S. Olympic Trials at the five-day event. Strasen swam in five events and made finals in the 200 breast.

Florida Age Group Championships (FLAGs) was held in Sarasota March 10-13. Long dropped half second in the 50 free; Perez made finals in the 100 breast, dropping two seconds. Kate Rideout dropped 1.24 in the 100 breast, while Prabhakaran tackled the 1,000.

“This spring we had our biggest championship season in years at TBAY Westchase,” Coach Alex Richardson said. “We had five FLAG Qualifiers, five FGC Qualifiers and one Junior National Qualifier – the first our program has had since 2010. We had many swimmers finish within the top 12 in the state and had many top-three performances. It was an exciting end to the season.”

April is “training month” for the team as it prepares for long-course season, with the first meet scheduled for May 1 in Brandon. Several members of the team will also participate in the Swim Across America open water swim in Clearwater (See the cover feature on page 4.) to help raise money for cancer research.

Please remember to register soon for swim lessons if you are interested in getting your child in the pool.

“Swim lessons are filling up fast,” Richardson said, “and we have sessions running until August. Make sure you call to schedule your swim lessons before we book up!”

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Championship Season Brings Championship Form

Spring means different things in different sports.

In baseball, spring training brings the Major League’s best and brightest to Florida and Arizona in preparation for the summer. In college football, spring is a time to run through a few weeks of workouts before breaking for the summer and pounding pads come fall. For club swimmers like those who zip through the water in TBAY Westchase red and black, spring is “championship season,” a time to rise up and compete against the best.

Suffice it to say the TBAY Westchase athletes swam like champions this championship season.

Hunter Long, Victor Perez, Sam Prabhakaran, Kate Rideout and Lexie Steinberg represented the club at the Florida Age Group Championships (FLAGs) March 10-13 in Sarasota. Long and Perez were part of second-place teams in the 200 medley and 200 free relays, and a 10th-place performance in the 400 medley relay.

Individually, Long swam a 26.89-second 50 freestyle, dropping nearly a half-second off his best time. Perez qualified in three individual events. He finished 12th in the 100 breaststroke with a 2.27-second drop and also swam the 100 IM and 1,000 free, the latter of which he qualified for just two weeks before FLAGs.

Prabhakaran also swam the 1,000 free in addition to competing in the 800 free relay. Rideout cut 1.24 seconds in the 100 breaststroke, and Steinberg swam the 200 free and 400 medley relays.

Perez’s 1,000 qualifier came on the last weekend of February at the SPA Spring Last Chance meet. It was a chilly one in St. Petersburg, but some of the TBAY Westchase performances were red hot. Chris Quach earned a FGC Senior Championships “cut” (qualifying time) with a fourth-place finish in 200 backstroke. He also finished sixth in the 200 free and ninth in the 100 butterfly.

Seven-year-old Gracie Chung was second in 25 butterfly, fourth in 50 back and sixth in 25 breast; Rideout was second in 50 breast and 10th in 100 free; Savannah Trezza placed third in 100 breast; Tito Borromeo was fifth in 50 breast, ninth in 50 fly and 10th in 100 IM; Perez was second in 100 IM and 200 IM and fourth in 50 free and 100 free; Long was sixth in 100 fly; and Prabhakaran was fifth in the 1,000.

On the same weekend those swimmers were trying to keep warm, University of Vermont-bound Maddie Strasen was cozy indoors at the Florida Swimming Senior Championships in Orlando. Despite going into this meet unrested while she trained for the recent NASA national meet in Clearwater, Strasen swam lifetime bests in the 200 IM and 100 free while making finals in three of her four events (200 IM, 500 free and 100 breast).

“Championship season is in full effect,” TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson said. “We have our biggest championship team in nearly four years – five senior qualifiers and five age group qualifiers who are representing our team at state competitions.”

NASA and FGC Senior Championships took place since this issue of WOW hit the presses. Coming up April 1-3 are the GTSA Championships.

Swim Across America, an open-water swimming event on Clearwater Beach that raises money to fight cancer, is scheduled for May 21. Please support your local swimmers as they battle the waves for a great cause.

Additionally, there are still openings for summer swim lessons at Westchase. Please contact the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center for more information or to get your young swimmer signed up!

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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TBAY Hosts Two Meets

Hosting a swim meet is no small feat, but TBAY Westchase already has two such notches in its 2016 belt.

The local swim club co-hosted a Jan. 23-24 meet at the North Shore Pool in St. Petersburg, while the larger, Bay Area-wide TBAY club hosted the ninth annual Gasparilla Races Feb. 5-7.

Mother Nature made perhaps the biggest impact at both!

Typically the first whistle from an official prompts swimmers to step up on the blocks. In St. Petersburg, that initial whistle meant “Swimmers, remove your parkas!”

Frigid temperatures kept some away, but a number of Westchase athletes posted personal-best times.

Rafael Borromeo dropped nine seconds in the 200 backstroke and more than five in the 200 IM, while his brother Tito dropped five in the 50 butterfly. Gracie Chung dropped time in three of four while Sophia Flemmer, Tyler Henry, Devin Hurst, Jacob Key, Hudson Long, Hunter Long, Bradley Palmer, Anthony Suggs (10-second drop in 100 breast), Mason Wesley (10 seconds in 50 back) and Abi Williams also dropped in three or more events.

Brody Grissom hit personal bests in two of three events. Arnav Khadkatkav, Sara O’Connor, Sam Prabhakaran, Kate Rideout, Kennedy Wesley and Jack Wilson also dropped time in a pair. Gwenyth Hope Martin dropped more than 10 seconds in 100 back, eight more in 50 breast and almost four in the 50 fly, while Rory Martin dropped time in four events, including a seven-second drop in 25 breast! Ella McKee dropped a nearly a minute total in three of four events while Abi Hartley, Rhett Palmer, Madeline Rideout, Lexie Steinberg and Jared Zack also lowered times.

“Our first meet of the season kicked off pretty well considering the extreme conditions,” Coach Alex Richardson said. “With low temperatures and high winds, our swimmers had to keep a positive attitude to make sure they could perform at their best. And most of them – even the littlest of swimmers – rose to the occasion.”

It was both cold and rainy at the Colwill Aquatic Center at Tampa Prep for the Gasparilla meet, where the older swimmers competed in distance races on Friday and the younger ones swam all weekend.

Hunter Long got his 50 free FLAGs cut and Victor Perez was just one second away from the cut in the 1000 freestyle while finishing third in overall points for 11-12 boys. Sam Williams dropped more than a minute in the mile (1,650), while the 1,000 saw Victor Perez drop 33 seconds and Lexie Steinberg 12 seconds. Other amazing time drops came from Gracie Chung (28.16 in 100 IM), Abi Hartley (17.90 in 500 free), Hudson Long (18.35 in 100 IM), Hunter Long (55.02 in 500 free and 12.21 in 100 IM), MaryClare Nestor (16.64 in 100 free) and Bradley Palmer (14.15 in 200 IM).

“We are always happy to support the TBAY Nation when they host a meet,” Richardson said. “Our swimmers enjoyed attending the Gasparilla races. We had tons of mystery heat winners who got some cool prizes.”

In addition to the likelihood of better weather, the spring brings some busy weekends and training weeks for the Westchase swimmers. They competed in the SPA last chance meet at the end of February, while March brings the annual spring picnic, FLAGs, NASA – a national meet in Clearwater – and the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships.

Team members will also be participating for the fourth consecutive year in Swim Across America, an open-water swim benefitting Moffitt Cancer Center.

The newest member of the TBAY Westchase family will be exempt from meet swimming for at least a few years. Assistant coach Jordan Richardson welcomed baby Mackenzie Hope on Jan. 26 at 12:17 p.m. She weighed seven pounds, eight ounces and measured 20 inches long – possibly a butterflyer like her mom. Time will tell.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Westchase Swim Lessons Offered Beginning Feb. 1

Do you or someone you love need to learn to swim?

If so, the most experienced and talented swimming instruction staff in Coach Alex Richardson’s three years with TBAY Westchase is poised to help swimmers of all ages improve their water skills.

Rather than wait for the summer, the swim lessons are open to residents and non-residents beginning Feb. 1.

Eight lessons are scheduled during February, either on a Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday cadence. Beginning in March and running through Aug. 4, nine additional sessions will include eight or nine lessons apiece.

“We are really excited about another great season of the swim lesson program,” Richardson said. “Due to the high demand of lessons last season, we have extended the program with more sessions and more hours of availability. We can’t wait to continue to serve the community with this important program.”

The swimming lessons are designed for swimmers 18 months and older. For swimmers 18 months to age 3, lessons are geared toward teaching water safety and confidence while building foundations the swimmer can use to continue in the program. For stronger swimmers (generally ages 4-8), lessons help swimmers learn and understand the four basic strokes while teaching water safety. The lessons will help develop basic skills that could allow them to consider advancing to the TBAY Westchase swim team.

For swimmers 8 and older, lessons are designed to teach swim team fundamentals so swimmers can be ready to join the team and succeed in all types of swimming environments.

The swimming lesson staff thoroughly knows the Westchase program. In fact, every member of the staff is a TBAY Westchase product, including the head coach and assistant coach. Coach Alex and his sister, Jordan Richardson, bring a combined 20 years of experience in swim instruction.

Also instructing will be TBAY Westchase leaders, former standouts, high school captains, school record-holders and state qualifiers. The staff includes Tiffany Quach, John Dang, Kaylee Folta, Isabel Minnis, Daniel Harris, Matthew Reinecke, Katelyn Rosenblum and Lauren Sellers.

“Our staff this year has grown to meet the needs of the program,” Richardson said. “Our instructors this year are all members of the swim team and have grown up in our program. They are excited about giving back to the team and helping to pass on the knowledge that has made them successful in their own swimming careers.”

Lessons will be offered in the evenings during Sessions 1 and 2 and in afternoons and mornings during Sessions 3-9. The greatest availability of lessons will be during the summer sessions. This includes Sessions 5-9, from May 30 through Aug. 4. Cost for the eight-lesson sessions is $95 for residents and $124 for non-residents. For the nine-lesson sessions, the cost is $105 for residents and $137 for non-residents.

TBAY Westchase co-hosted a meet with St. Petersburg Aquatics Jan. 23-24 and is set to compete in two February meets – the Gasparilla Races on Feb. 5-7 and the SPA Last Chance Meet on Feb. 27-28.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

Swim Lesson Sessions

Preliminary Session (Feb. 1-25): 8 Lessons Offered Mon/Wed or Tue/Thu
Session 1 (March 7-24): 9 Lessons offered Mon/Tue/Thu
Session 2 (March 28-April 14): 9 Lessons Offered Mon/Tue/Thu
Session 3 (April 18-May 5): 9 Lessons Offered Mon/Tue/Thu
Session 4 (May 9-26): 9 Lessons Offered Mon/Tue/Thu
Session 5 (May 30-June 9): 8 Lessons Offered Mon-Thu
Session 6 (June 13-24): 8 Lessons Offered Mon-Thu
Session 7 (June 27-July 7): 8 Lessons Offered Mon-Thu (Week 1) Tue-Fri (Week 2)
Session 8 (July 11-21): 8 Lessons Offered Mon-Thu
Session 9 (July 25-Aug. 4): 8 Lessons Offered Mon-Thu

Sessions with 8 lessons cost $95 for residents; 124 for non-residents; Sessions with 9 lessons cost $105 for residents and $137 for non-residents.


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Westchase Swimmers Rock Jingle Bell Meet

Fractions of seconds are often all it takes for swimmers to turn solid performances into all-time bests, or to jump from 10th place onto a medal stand.

So imagine the excitement under the TBAY Westchase tent when the club’s swimmers dropped a collective total of almost 11 minutes at the pre-Christmas Jingle Bell Meet at the Long Center in Clearwater!

More than 40 TBAY Westchase swimmers cut time in at least one event at the annual three-day meet – one of the big ones on the swimming calendar. Abby Hartley (47.65 seconds), Liam Maloney (40.88), Ella McKee (37.23), Matthew Reinecke (28.32) and Isabel Minnis (26.82) were the biggest time droppers. Reinecke also went fast enough in the 50 breaststroke to qualify for the FGC Championships.

Sisters Arina and Alina Lytvynenko were the top Westchase point-scorers in the meet with 16 points apiece. Arina, 8, cut a total of 20.36 seconds over her events and Alina, who turned 15 during the meet, cut 25.99. Alina earned a Senior Championships qualifying time with a seventh-place finish in the 200 breaststroke and also turned heads with an amazing fifth-place finish in the 100 breast despite the fact she lost her goggles during the race. She also finished fifth in 50 breast.

Several other TBAY Westchase performers made finals. They were: Brody Grissom (fifth place) in 200 breast and 200 butterfly; Jacob Key in 50 backstroke (eighth place); Hunter Long in 200 butterfly (eighth place);  Maloney in 25 free (second place) and 50 free (10th place); Minnis in 50 back (eighth place), 200 back (fifth place), 200 breast (ninth place) and 100 back (9th); Reinecke in 50 breast (ninth place); and Kate Rideout in 100 breast (eighth place).

Also scoring points for the team were:  Gracie Chung (sixth in 25 free, eighth in 25 back); Tyler Henry (fourth in 25 free); Arina Lytvynenko (fourth in 25 breast, seventh in 25 free, and sixth in 25 back); Delaney Peterson (fifth in 25 free and seventh in 25 back; Kennedy Wesley (seventh in 25 breast and 10th in 25 butterfly); and Mason Wesley (third in 25 breast and 10th in 25 butterfly).

In the longest event of the meet, Sam Prabhakaran swam an amazing first-ever 1,650-yard free, coming within five seconds of a Junior Olympic qualifying time.

“It was really a great meet for our whole team,” said TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson. “The Jingle Bell Meet is the last big meet of the year, and it was great to see our athletes end 2015 with a tremendous overall team performance.”

In other news over the past month, Robinson High School senior Maddie Strasen signed her official national letter of intent to swim for the University of Vermont (see page 30).  Also, the first all-TBAY gathering in more than five years took place at John Chestnut Park. The rainy weather didn’t cooperate, but it did not stop members from all TBAY branches throughout Tampa Bay from having a great time.

TBAY Westchase enjoyed their annual holiday party before the close of the year, and is now working off the Christmas calories in preparation for the T2 Open in Naples on Jan. 16-18 and a meet the following weekend at SPA in St. Petersburg.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen


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Westchase Swimmers Cap High School Season with State Success

Years of hard work paid off for two TBAY Westchase swimmers at the Class 2A state high school swimming championships in Stuart on Nov. 7.

Maddie Strasen and Isabel Minnis each qualified in two individual events and put an exclamation point on their most successful seasons at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center.

Strasen became TBAY Westchase’s highest finisher since 2012, when she took sixth in the 100 breaststroke. The Robinson High senior was also 20th in the 200 freestyle in her final high school meet, which preceded her official signing of a national letter of intent to swim next year for the University of Vermont. Minnis, a Jefferson High sophomore, finished 17th in the 200 IM and 18th in the 100 backstroke.

“When I was presented with my medal at the podium, of course it was an amazing feeling to know I worked so hard to get there, and I wouldn’t trade that feeling for the world,” Strasen said.

Several other Westchase athletes joined Strasen and Minnis in qualifying for their respective regional championship meets. Katelyn Rosenblum and Kendal Allen from Sickles made it in 3A; Daniel Harris of Jesuit and Robinson’s Tiffany Quach, Chris Quach and Matthew Reinecke all qualified in 2A; and Margaret Parker of Clearwater Central Catholic reached the 1A regional meet.

“Seeing all the hard work these athletes put in turn into great results at the end of the high school season is what every coach loves to see,” said TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson. “I’m really proud of how the high school swimmers finished the year.”

Halloween time was busy with more than trick-or-treating for the TBAY Westchase swimmers. On Halloween day several of them dressed up as runners and took part in the Great West Chase road race. Parents, too! It was the third consecutive year the swim team has supported the event, and the lungs built up in the pool helped many of them finish at the front of the pack.

Elise Christensen won her age group in the 5K race while Cooper Chesser finished second, Brody Grissom fourth and Sam Williams and Liam Maloney fifth. Also running the 5K were Jago Stokes, Abby Williams, Abi Hartley, Lexie Steinberg, Victor Perez and Jack Wilson. In the 10K event, Sam Prabhakaran finished fourth and Jacob Key took fifth.

The next day the team enjoyed great success back in the pool at the SPA Penny Per Yard Sunday Morning at the Races. Top finishers among the girls were: Savannah Trezza, first in 50 breast and a FLAG qualifying time; Gracie Chung, fourth in 25 breast; Kennedy Wesley, third in 25 back, second in 25 breast and fourth in 25 fly; Elizabeth McDonough,  fourth in 50 free and fifth in 50 breast; Alina Lytvynenko, second in 100 free, first in 100 breast and fourth in 100 fly; Minnis, first in 200 back; and Strasen, first in 200 breast.

Top boy finishers were: Cooper Chesser, fourth in 25 free and fifth in 25 back; Brock Glover, fifth in 25 breast; Zach Glover, second in 25 back and first in 25 fly; Wesley Mason, third in 25 breast; Victor Perez, second in 50 free, first in 50 breast and second in 100 breast; Sam Prabhakaran, third in 50 free and fifth in 200 fly; and Sam Williams, fifth 50 in free and fifth in 100 back.

The team picnic was set to highlight pre-Thanksgiving festivities in November. Coming up Dec. 11-13 is the big Jingle Bell Meet in Clearwater.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Westchase Swimmers Among County’s Best

Big stakes brought out the best in several TBAY Westchase swimmers, who took their performances to new heights during recent championship meets.

Maddie Strasen captured the Hillsborough County championship in the 100 breaststroke while Isabel Minnis finished second in the 100 backstroke at the Western Conference championships for public schools.

The meet began with preliminaries on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Those who made finals returned two days later to compete for championships. In addition to her breaststroke win, Strasen finished fourth in the 200 freestyle, breaking her own Robinson High records in both events. Minnis, a Jefferson standout, added a fifth-place finish in the 200 IM to her runner-up finish in the backstroke. Meanwhile, Chris Quach from Robinson made finals and finished eighth overall in 100 backstroke.

“I was shocked that I got first (in prelims) and it feels amazing to be second in the county,” said Minnis, a junior. “It motivates me to keep working hard so I can maybe win it next year.”

“It’s hard to believe this is my last Western Conference,” said Strasen, who last month verbally committed to swim for the Division I University of Vermont Catamounts beginning next season. “All the training, the hard work, the 5 a.m. practices – it’s great when it comes together.”

The Wednesday portion of the meet featured several stellar TBAY Westchase results: Strasen (Second, 200 Free; First, 100 BR), Emily Baer (Ninth, 200 Free; Eighth, 100 Fly), Nico Libreros (Sixth, 200 Free and 500 Free), Minnis (Second, 200 IM; First, 100 BK), Katelyn Rosenblum (Sixth, 200 IM and 100 BR), Matthew Reinecke (Sixth, 200 IM;  Fifth, 100 BR),  Alina Lytvyneko (Fifth, 50 Free and 100 BR), Jared Zack (Ninth, 50 Free; Fourth, 100 Free), Kaylee Folta (Fourth, 100 Fly; Sixth, 100 BK), Erykah Farrant (Eleventh, 100 Fly; 14th, 100 Free), Christopher Quach (Sixth, 100 Fly; Fourth, 100 BK), and Tiffany Quach (Sixth, 100 Free; Eighth, 100 BK).  Registering career best times were Minnis, Libreros, Rosenblum, Reinecke, Lytvyneko, Zack, Farrant and Tiffany Quach.

“It was great to see our high school swimmers perform so well in a big meet, against the best competition in the county,” TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson said. “With districts, regions and the state meet coming up, it was a terrific opportunity for the athletes to get accustomed to a championship setting.”

The younger TBAY Westchase swimmers also enjoyed their share of success over the last month. In the Total Team Wares Fall Invitational, Rafael Borromeo dropped time in every event, including a 36-second drop in the 1,000 free. Sam Prabhakaran dropped more than a full minute from his best time in the same event, while Margaret Parker cut 11.5 seconds. Also posting time improvements were Tito Borromeo, Gavin Chesser, Georges Sferi, Anthony Suggs and Savannah Trezza.

Two weeks later at a sizzling Friday Night at the Races, 26 Westchase swimmers cut time. Those who dropped three seconds or more were Elise Christensen, Abi Hartley, Arnav Khadkatkav, Liam Maloney, Elizabeth McDonough, Sara O'Connor, London Palmer, Kate Rideout, Mason Wesley and Jack Wilson. Rideout earned an Age 10 Florida Age Group (FLAGS) cut in the 100 breaststroke.

The team was competing in the GTSA Speedo Swim Classic in mid-October and a Sunday Morning at the Races in St. Petersburg on Nov. 1. On Halloween the swimmers were scheduled to lace up their running shoes for their annual dash in the Great West Chase 5K and 10K races.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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A Colorful and Inspired Tribute

Sometimes Mother Nature writes the script herself. This time, she could hardly have been more poignant.

As the clouds broke before the Saturday morning session of the KAH2O Kelley Allen Memorial Swim Meet – days after Allen’s convicted killer was handed two life sentences for a crime committed three years ago – a magnificent double rainbow brightened the sky above the Countryside pool in Clearwater.

All agreed that Allen, the beloved TBAY Westchase coach at the time he was killed, would have been incredibly proud of “his” swimmers’ performances in the third annual event.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since we lost Coach Kelley,” veteran swimmer Maddie Strasen said. “He had such a positive impact on so many lives, and that impact lives on every time we get in the pool.”

Strasen won the 200-yard breaststroke and was fifth in the 500 free during a meet – the first of the short-course season – in which every single Westchase swimmer dropped time in the Saturday sessions. Also winning an event was Arina Lytvynenko, who took the 100 IM in her very first meet! Her sister, Alina, earned the FGC qualifying standard with a fifth-place swim in the 200 breaststroke.

Other top-five finishes came from: Kate Rideout, who finished second in the 100 breast and third in the 50 breast; Sam Prabhakaran, who placed fifth in the 200 IM, second in the 500 free, third in the 50 free and 200 free, and fourth in the 50 back, 100 free, 100 back and 200 free; Isabel Minnis, who took fourth in the 100 breast and fifth in the 100 back; Arina Lytvynenko, who placed fourth in the 25 back and 50 back; Alina Lytvynenko, who finished fourth in the 200 IM; Nolan Becker, who took fourth in the 50 fly; Victor Perez, placed fourth in the 100 breast and 50 breast; Margaret Parker, who finished second in the 200 free and fourth in the 200 IM; Rafael Borromeo, who placed fourth in the 200 free and 200 breast; and Chris Quach, who took fifth in the 100 free, third in the 100 back and fourth in the 50 free.

“The KAH2O meet isn’t one of the big championship meets, but it’s always one of the most important ones of the year for everyone on this team who was impacted by Coach Kelley,” TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson said. “Not a day goes by when we don’t miss him. He will always be a huge part of our program.”

Also in September, while Robinson senior co-captains Strasen and Tiffany Quach were taking their ACT exams, several of the other TBAY Westchase high schoolers were swimming in City Relays – a spirited relay-only meet for schools from all over Hillsborough County. Those taking part were Chris Quach and Matthew Reinecke of Robinson; Isabel Minnis of Jefferson; Daniel Harris and John Dang of Jesuit; Katelyn Rosenblum, Erykah Farrant and Jared Zack of Sickles; Kaylee Folta, Nicolas Libreros, Maria Fernandez and Emily Baer of Steinbrenner; and Alina Lytvtynenko of Alonso.

At press time, there were two meets coming up in St. Petersburg (SPA) – the Total Team Wares Invitational and Friday Night at the Races – along with the GTSA Speedo Swim Classic and conference championship meets for the high school athletes.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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TBAY Puts Bow on Stellar Summer

Swimming through torrential downpours, one might suspect, would not be ideal for a competitor looking to improve his or her best times, or achieve a qualifying “cut” for an upcoming championship meet. The TBAY Westchase swimmers proved that suspicion wildly incorrect at the rain-soaked Area 3 Championships in St. Petersburg Aug. 1-3.Despite multiple weather delays and several events that were held while buckets of water pummeled the swimmers, seven members of the Westchase contingent posted first-place overall finishes in a total of 12 events. Maddie Strasen won four events, Victor Perez and Isabel Minnis took two each, and Nico Libreros, Margaret Parker, Chris Quach and Jago Stokes captured one event apiece.

Strasen swept the three breaststroke events and earned a Senior Championships cut in the 500 freestyle. In the 200 breast, she went a scorching 2:23.69 to achieve a NASA Junior National cut and got within a half-second of the NCSA and Futures cuts.

Minnis earned a whopping four Senior Champs cuts at the meet, qualifying in the 400 IM, 100 breast, 200 breast and 100 free. FGC cuts came from Alina Lytvynenko in the 100 breast and 50 free, Parker in the 50 free and Quach in the 200 back. FLAG (Florida Age Group) qualifying cuts were earned by Sam Prabhakaran in the 500 and 200 free and Perez in the 200 free.

Dropping time in every event were Francesca Bonanomi, Noah Hall, Samantha Hall, Elizabeth McDonough, Drake Palmer, Lytvynenko, Rafael Borromeo, Sophia Flemmer, Danny Harris, Perez, Prabhakaran, Quach, Katelyn Rosenblum, Lexie Steinberg, AnneMarie Johnson and Libreros. Cutting a total of at least 10 seconds were Rafael Borromeo, Flemmer, Danny Harris, Richard Harris, Jacob Key, Libreros, Minnis, Prabhakaran, Chris Quach and Nicky Quach.

“The Area 3 Champs meet this year was an unbelievable success,” TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson explained.  “After a summer of hard work, our swimmers found great success across the board.  Every swimmer had at least one lifetime best and many swimmers reached big personal goals.”

The Area 3 Championships kicked off the 25-yard, short-course season. The final two long course (50 meters) meets of the year came on the same weekend in July – FLAG Championships in Sarasota for the younger swimmers and the FCG Senior Championships near Miami for the older ones.

Perez posted best times in the 50 and 100 breast while Prabhakaran made his FLAGs debut in the 800 freestyle. Minnis and Strasen enjoyed several big swims at FCG, dropping time in virtually every event.

“We had some great performances at our Florida Age Group Champs and the FGC Senior Champs,” Richardson said. “These kids are some of the best in the state, and they had a lot of lifetime bests in Sarasota and Miami.”

A huge reason for the big finish to the summer season was the work put in by 10 swimmers in the Elite Summer Training Program – an intense training stretch that pushed the athletes to new heights through two-a-day pool sessions and “dry land” training. “These kids spent six hours a day training, developing their technique and physical strength.  Best of all, this group really came together and bonded as a team while driving each other toward achieving their goals.”

It was also the end of the summer for several swim lesson instructors who – with any luck – had a hand in molding some of the future TBAY Westchase stars. Austin Sellers, Ally Strasen, Jordan Richardson, Tiffany Quach, and John Dang brought a wealth of club, high school and college swimming experience to the pool in helping several youngsters begin to master their strokes.

“We had a great staff of instructors this summer and they’ve done a great job of developing the base level of our program,” Richardson said.

Two meets are on the schedule in September, one of which is near and dear to Westchase hearts – the KAH2O Open/Coach Kelley Allen Memorial Meet. Also on the docket is the SPA/Total Team Wares Invitational.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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TBAY Makes Tallahassee Tour

Moments after Florida State University swimmers wrapped up their workouts at the Morcom Aquatics Center in Tallahassee, 10 TBAY Westchase swim team members began cutting through the same water.

The Westchase swimmers trained at FSU from June 22-25 before joining a group of about 40 TBAY athletes who competed in the Area Tallahassee Aquatic Club (ATAC) meet as part of a memorable week.

During the training portion of the trip the swimmers stayed in FSU dorms, ate in the dining halls and immersed themselves in college life. And that wasn’t all they immersed themselves in. It turns out every fountain on the FSU campus is registered as a pool. So, without hesitation, the TBAY athletes climbed into each and every one of them.

“These kids lived the life of a college athlete,” said TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson. “We stayed on campus for the entire week, we trained at the college facility and they traveled throughout campus to understand student perspective.  We were able to train in a 50-meter facility for six workouts. The kids were able to step up to the advanced training and had some great practice performances.”

Every Westchase swimmer registered personal best times in the ATAC meet, which was the very first long course meet for Jared Zack. Sam Prabhakaran earned a FLAG qualifying time and Maddie Strasen nabbed an FCG cut – both in 800 freestyle. Other top showings came from Rafael Borromeo, Danny Harris, Jacob Key, Nico Libreros, Isabel Minnis, Margaret Parker, Victor Perez and Lexie Steinberg.

“After a week’s worth of training in a 50-meter pool, our kids were even more psyched about racing at ATAC Summer Long Course Open,” Richardson said. “Each swimmer was able to pull out lifetime bests and tremendous races.  Their hard work throughout the trip really paid off.”

At the same time TBAY was enjoying Tallahassee, nine 11-and-under Westchase swimmers were setting personal-best marks at the TBAY Summer Open in Lakeland.  Myah Haslop, Devin Hurst, Hunter Long, Liam Maloney, Drake Palmer, London Palmer, Rhett Palmer, Kennedy Wesley and Mason Wesley clocked their fastest times in various events.

“Our branch had a great time supporting TBAY Lakeland in their summer short course meet,” Richardson said. “The Age Group swimmers had some excellent performances in the middle of the season.”

TBAY Westchase hosted a mini-meet in July before the big summer championships meets came up on the schedule. Those events – both held the weekend of July 17 – saw Perez and Prabhakaran compete at the FLAG Championships in Sarasota while Strasen and Minnis swam at the FGC Senior Championships in Coral Springs. The Area 3 championships then followed July 31-Aug. 2.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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TBAY Westchase Swims to Fight Cancer

By open-water swimming standards Clearwater Beach’s waters run shallow.

But our swimmers’ efforts at the annual Swim Across America recently ran deep to fight cancer. For the third year in a row, TBAY Westchase drummed up pledges to support Moffitt Cancer Center and freestyled through the Gulf of Mexico over three distances. TBAY saw 80 swimmers participate, raising almost $8,000.

Isabel Minnis did an amazing job, raising almost $3,000 on her own. Minnis and Maddie Strasen completed the longest swim of the event at 2.4 miles. Strasen and Sadie Jacobsen each raised more than $1,000.

Other TBAY Westchase participants were Gavin Chesser, Abi Hartley, Margaret Parker, Devin Hurst, Sam Prabhakaran, Katie Reed, Elise Christensen, Laney Jacobsen and Coaches Alex and Jordan Richardson. While TBAY Westchase raised $7,950.99, the total TBAY contribution topped $34,000. The SAA Clearwater event raised more than $209,000.

The Westchase swimmers also hosted a “mini-meet” at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center to acclimate the younger swimmers to competitive swimming. More than 30 athletes ages 12 and under took part. The older members of the team volunteered to run the meet.

“Our first mini-meet of the summer was a great success,” Coach Alex Richardson explained. “New swimmers and their families use these meets to learn how the meet process works and to network with other families. It was a great way to kick off our summer.”

The summer has already produced some terrific results for many of the TBAY Westchase veterans.

At the SPA meet the week before SAA, Elise Christensen, Danny Harris and Nico Libreros dropped time in their events while four others – Minnis, Parker, Tristan Sanders and Alexandria Steinberg – dropped 10 or more seconds across all their events.

At the CVST meet the weekend after SAA, spectacular lightning had everyone taking cover, causing Saturday’s 12-and-under session to be cancelled. But once the danger cleared, times were dropping faster than the raindrops.

In the 100 freestyle, Josh Dang dropped 33 seconds, brother John cut 16 and Francesca Bonanomi took nine off her previous best.  Devin Hurst dropped time in three of four events, Ali Johnson dropped 15 seconds in 100 breast and also posted personal bests in 50 back and breast. Meanwhile, her sister AnneMarie improved in all six events she entered.

Libreros saw improvement in all of his events as well, including a 43-second drop in 400 free. Minnis dropped time in three events; Parker cut time in nearly every event, including more than a minute off in the 1,500 free; Prabhakaran  dropped 14 seconds in 200 IM; Steinberg swam her best 100 free; and Strasen dropped nearly 25 seconds in 400 free.

Several TBAY Westchase swimmers competed in a long course (50-meter pool) competition for the first time – Noah Hall; Nolan and Savanna Becker; Tyler Henry; Karlee and Madison Howard; Hunter Long; Elizabeth McDonough; Drake, Rhett and Bradley Palmer; Katelyn Rosenblum; Tristan Sanders; and Savannah Trezza.

“The long course season has been very successful so far,” Coach Alex said. “Our swimmers don’t get the opportunity to train long course meters, but that doesn’t hold them back!  They’ve stepped up their game in practice and made we are seeing those results now at our summer meets.”

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Westchase Swimmers Tri and Tri Again

Several TBAY Westchase swimmers added cycling and running to their repertoires when they recently competed in two triathlons 

Over the last two months they participated in the third annual Tampa Bay Kids Triathlon and the prestigious St. Anthony’s Triathlon.

Nolan Becker, Savannah Becker, Brock Glover, Zack Glover and Liam Maloney participated in both competitions, with 9-year-old Liam finishing second in his age group at St. Anthony’s. That event includes a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 40K bike ride and a 10K run. Brock Glover, 7, won his age group at St. Anthony’s while 9-year-old brother Zack Glover finished third despite being one of the younger competitors in his age group.

The Tampa Bay Kids Triathlon, held at Busch Gardens’ Adventure Island, drew a record 385 participants. Joining Maloney, the Beckers and the Glovers at this event were TBAY Westchase swimmers Cooper Chesser, Elise Christensen, Brody Grissom, Abigail Hartley, Abby Williams and Sam Williams.

In the pool TBAY Westchase wrapped up the short-course (25-yard pool) season at the fourth annual Land O’ Lakes Spring Classic. The older swimmers competed in distance events on Friday while the younger age-groupers raced Saturday and Sunday.

Hartley cut a whopping 37 seconds from her top time in the 500 freestyle, while AnneMarie Johnston and Alexandria Steinberg dropped 20 and 13 seconds in that same event, respectively.

Monster cuts also came in the 100 breaststroke from Rhett Palmer (17 seconds) and Kennedy Wesley (nine seconds). Myah Haslop, London Palmer, Bradley Palmer and Tyler Henry dropped time in every event they swam. It was also a meet of “firsts” for a few TBAY Westchase swimmers. Sophia Flemmer competed in her very first competitive meet while Francesca Bonanomi and Abigail Williams took on the 500 free for the first time.

Antonio Borromeo, Danny Harris, AnneMarie Johnston, Jacob Key, Nico Libreros, Victor Perez and Jack Wilson all posted time cuts in every event they swam at the first long course meet (50 meters) of the season, the WFLA Spring Open. Johnston dropped more than a minute in total.

The WFLA meet also saw Rafael Borromeo cut almost 25 seconds in 100 breast, Isabel Minnis drop more than 37 seconds in 400 IM, Samuel Prabhakaran trim almost 16 seconds in 200 free and Danny Harris slice almost half-a-minute off his 200 IM time. It was the first-ever long course meet for Noah Hall, Samantha Hall, Myah Haslop, Leila-Anais Pyrczak and Alexandria Steinberg .

As the calendar turned to May, many of the TBAY Westchase swimmers were turning to one of the most rewarding events of the year – the annual Swim Across America open-water event – either a half-mile, one-mile or 2.4-mile swim in the Gulf of Mexico. The event raises money to support  Moffitt Cancer Center.

Recently Coach Julia Lamb from the Arbor Green Brach attended the ribbon-cutting for the Adolescent and Young Adult Lounge at Moffitt.  This is the first of its kind in Florida, and the majority of the funds used came from our Swim Across America event.

“TBAY was thanked and applauded many times for the commitment that we’ve made in the last three years,” Lamb said. “After this year, TBAY will have raised over $75,000 for Moffitt.  I have never been so proud to be a part of this team.”

If you would like to donate to Swim Across America and Team TBAY, please visit


Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase.

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Swim Like a Champion Today

“Before we can talk about a championship, we have to practice like a championship team,” said former Chicago Bears Super Bowl champion Mike Singletary.

The TBAY Westchase swim team spends plenty of time putting in championship practice efforts year-round. A couple of times every year, the top swimmers get to reap the rewards during “championship” meets, as a number of the locals did in March.

One of the biggest was the Florida Age Group Championship meet in Sarasota, where Elliot Easton and Victor Perez took on the best in the state. Victor swam in two individual races and a relay while Elliot swam on four TBAY relay teams.

For the older swimmers, the Florida Gold Coast (FGC) Senior Championships in Pembroke Pines were the big reward. Maddie Strasen dropped time in virtually every event over the three-day meet, making finals in each breaststroke race and finishing eighth in the 200-yard distance. Teammate Isabel Minnis swam her best career times in multiple events as well. Both Strasen and Minnis posted their biggest time cuts on the last day – a terrific way to enter a short break before the April season began.

While Coach Alex was busy at FGC, Coach Jordan was with a contingent of younger swimmers at the Tampa Bay Kids Triathlon. This was the second time TBAY Westchase has participated in this event, held at Adventure Island. Our participants performed swimmingly well!

Also on the championship season calendar in March were the Area 3-5 Championships, also in Sarasota. Rain delayed the Friday portion of the meet for a lengthy period, but inclement weather could not keep Margaret Parker from turning her hard work into results. She attained FGC senior cuts in the 200 backstroke and 200 freestyle, ensuring that her championship meet fun will continue!

“Those championship meets are what we work for, so to see the athletes perform at that level and swim their best against some of the best competition they’re going to see is very rewarding,” Coach Alex Richardson said. “It’s great to see all the hard work pay off when it counts.”

In addition to a short break before getting back to work in April, the team took some time for its spring picnic. The first meet after break was the fourth annual STA/FE Spring Classic on April 24-26. Long course season, where the athletes cover 50 meters per lap instead of 25 yards, begins with the WFLA Spring Open in Largo May 1-3.

In other Westchase swimming news, swim lessons are in full swing and TBAY Junior has resumed. To see if your child is eligible for TBAY Junior, swing by the pool Monday through Thursday at 3 p.m. for a tryout. For more information, contact the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center at 855-0662.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Westchase TBAY Swimmers Apring Forward

Last month the TBAY Westchase swim team took “spring forward” literally – and it had nothing to do with Daylight Saving Time.

Several members of the club propelled themselves through the water faster than ever before just as some of the biggest meets of the year hit the calendar.

Take Sunday, March 1, for example. One day after rainy weather kept some away from the start of the SPA Last Chance meet in St. Petersburg, Abby Williams landed her first-ever Florida Age Group (FLAGs) Championships qualifying time in the 100-yard backstroke. At the same meet, Dylan Nolan, 9, and Armando Destrade, 10, swam the 500 free for the first time.

That same day two of the team’s veteran performers were ripping through the water at the Florida Senior Championships in Orlando. Isabel Minnis swam lifetime bests in both the 50 back and 100 free, while Maddie Strasen did the same in 100 breaststroke (twice) and 50 free. Strasen reached finals in the former event, finishing 18th overall.

“That was a great weekend for our swimmers and for all of TBAY Nation,” said TBAY Westchase Coach Alex Richardson. “The kids who made those big championships meets worked really hard to get there, and it’s great when you see all that hard work pay off.”

Those meets were only the beginning of “Championship Month” in the pool. At the mid-March FLAGs meet in Sarasota, Williams, Victor Perez and Elliot Easton were poised to represent TBAY Westchase. A week after that, Strasen and Minnis were back in another championship meet as qualifiers for the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships in Pembroke Pines.
A large TBAY Westchase contingent then wraps up a big month at the Area 3 & 5 Spring Championships March 27-29 in Sarasota before taking a well-deserved week off before the beginning of summer season.

With summer right around the corner, don’t forget the importance of teaching those little ones (or even not-so-little ones) to swim. Swim lessons start in April at Westchase, and having your children feeling confident and comfortable in the water is a great way to enjoy the summer.
Lessons are offered in sessions, each of which includes eight, 20 minute, one-on-one lessons with our returning instructors: Jordan Richardson, Austin Sellers and Ally Strasen. They are offered Monday-Thursday. Please see the box for the dates.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

Westchase Swim Lesson Schedule

Session 1 – April 6-16
Session 2 – April 20-30
Session 3 – May 4-14
Session 4 – May 18-29
Session 5 – June 8-18
Session 6 – June 22-July 2
Session 7 – July 6-16
Session 8 – July 20-30

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Westchase TBAY Swimmers Mark Successes in Busy Spring

March Madness is a well-known basketball phrase.

In the swimming pool, there was no waiting for March – at least not for a TBAY Westchase contingent that’s been wall-to-wall busy since the holiday break.

Two weeks into the New Year, the branch co-hosted its largest meet to date when it put on the SPA/TBAY $1.50/Event Races in St. Petersburg. Thanks to loads of great parent volunteers, the meet was a smashing success. The swimmers played a part in that success, too, of course! From the Westchase branch alone, 64 athletes took part and several posted significant drops in their top times.

“Our team had a great experience co-hosting a meet with St. Pete Aquatics,” TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson said. “It was a great fundraiser for our program. The swimmers had above-and-beyond performances for our first meet of the season. Their improvements – and there were some big ones – show just how hard they worked during the winter holidays.”

Just a few weeks later, TBAY Westchase was back in the pool at the eighth annual Gasparilla Meet, hosted by the TBAY Central branch at Tampa Prep. The older swimmers each competed in one distance event on Friday night before turning the spotlight over to the younger ones. Almost 40 athletes 12-and-younger represented Westchase on Saturday and Sunday. While it’s typicaly one of the colder meets of the winter, Mother Nature cooperated with an unseasonably warm and sunny weekend.

At the meet Paige Easton finished second and Aly Johnston was third in the 8-and-under high point chase. Abby Williams came within a half-second of earning her Florida Age Group (FLAG) Championship cut (qualifying time) in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke. Distance swimmers Maddie Strasen and Anne Marie Johnson dropped six and nine seconds respectively in the 400 IM while Elliot Easton, Sam Prabhakaran and Samuel Williams all posted improvements in the 500 free. Meanwhile Rafael Borromeo, Nico Libreros, Prabhakaran and Williams conquered the mile (1,650 free) for the first time ever and Danny Harris and Margaret Parker recorded triple- and double-digit improvements in the same. Rounding out the accomplishments, Isabel Minnis added 1,000 yards of freestyle to the team's impressive distance total.

“Our 12-and-under team had great performances at the TBAY Gasparilla Meet,” Richardson noted. “Each swimmer went home with a best time and we had two high-point finishers. We had a great time supporting TBAY Nation and racing fast!”

The schedule didn’t slow the following month. It began with the SPA Last Chance meet – the last meet in which swimmers can earn those coveted FLAG and Senior Championship cuts for the upcoming championship meets. The Senior Champs meet was in Orlando at the end of February, with Maddie Strasen and Isabel Minnis having qualified as of press time for March’s WOW.

FLAGS, Florida Gulf Coast Senior Championships and the Area 3/5 Championships all take place in March.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Westchase TBAY Team Loving New Pool Canopies

Neither rain nor sleet nor heat nor gloom of night keeps these swimmers from the swift completion of their appointed laps.

OK, it’s a paraphrasing of an old United States Postal Service credo, but it applies to the TBAY Westchase swimmers now more than ever. Because of their tireless dedication? Of course. Because of their commitment to reaching their 2015 goals? Certainly. Because of a sparkling new canopy that helps keep the elements from beating down on them during practice sessions?
Well, that too!

If you haven’t been to the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center pool in a while, you might be surprised to see a new canopy covering the east side of the pool. It’s over the starting blocks, helping to keep the sun and rain off the swimmers and coaches. It came in handy during some wet practices over the recent holiday break. Another canopy shades the “baby pool” as well – clearly an effort to keep those up-and-coming TBAY junior swimmers protected from the elements as they set their sights on racing for the team someday. The canopies are the most noticeable of several recent improvements at the facility.

TBAY Westchase did not compete in any meets over the holiday break. As this issue of WOW was hitting the presses, the club, however, was co-hosting a January meet at North Shore Pool in St. Petersburg. The SPA/TBAY Saturday and Sunday at the Races in mid-January marked the first time the Westchase branch has co-hosted a meet of that magnitude. In addition to the work put in by the swimmers, numerous volunteers were required to make the event a success.

“It’s a big deal,” said TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson. “A lot of people have to step up to put on a meet like this. It’s something we’re proud of, and something we’d like to do more of in the future.”

Richardson put his team through some tough training over the break. There were several chilly practices, some rain and some intense training for the upcoming meets. Many of the older swimmers, free from their school responsibilities, took advantage of two-a-day workouts to hone their strokes.

Results of the SPA/TBAY meet will be covered in next month’s WOW. Also coming up on the meet schedule is the eighth annual TBAY Gasparilla Open the weekend of Feb. 6-8 at Tampa Prep.

Richardson encourages anyone who is interested in joining the team to contact the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. “Just a reminder that our learn-to-swim programs will return in the springtime,” he said, “and we are only taking swimmers with previous swimming ability. Information on swim lessons, TBAY Junior and other developmental groups will become available in late February. Looking forward to a new crop of future TBAY Champions!”

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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TBAY Enjoys Holiday Potluck

The TBAY Westchase swim team took a dive into the New Year after having made a big splash to close out 2014.

The club celebrated its success over the past year and toasted its upcoming 2015 goals (with soft drinks and water, of course) at the annual Holiday Potluck at Baybridge Park. “The team had a great fall season in every age group,” said head coach, Alex Richardson, who recently celebrated his two-year anniversary at the helm. “We are looking forward to refocusing throughout the holidays and then gearing up for a great meet schedule this spring!”

It certainly felt a lot like the holidays as the TBAY Westchase swimmers braved chilly temperatures in the 40s during their morning practice that preceded the bash. The potluck included a gift exchange and a donation drive that benefited a terrific cause – the Tampa Bay Humane Society.

The 2014 calendar year ended with some huge successes for the team. At the year-ending YCF Almost Turkey Meet in Orlando, 8-year-olds Paige Easton and Liam Malony earned high-point championships in their age group. Paige placed first in every event except 25 back, where she was third, while Liam took first or second in every event in which he logged a time. London Palmer placed third for 6-and-unders.

In addition to those fantastic finishes, a dozen swimmers placed in the top eight in at least one event. Those athletes were Richie Bui, Danny Harris, Richard Harris, Aly Johnston, Nico Libreros, Alina Lytvynenko, Gwenyth Martin, Isabel Minnis, Gavin Nolan, Margaret Parker, Sam Prabhakaran and Jake Key, who broke his elbow at a baseball tournament the next day!

Impressive time drops were posted by Francesca Bonanomi, who cut 45 seconds in 4 events; Danny Harris, who dropped in all seven events he swam (29.04 seconds total); and Libreros, who dropped 47.44 seconds over six events.

Easton also won high points for 8-and-unders at the LOLL meet the weekend before, where Tito Borromeo captured high points among the boys in the same age group. Tito’s brother, Rafael, dropped 45.5 seconds in the 500 free, Danny Harris dropped 44.52 in the 1,000 and Sam Williams dropped a-minute-and-a-half in his 1,000 free. Top-three finishers were Tito, Paige, Richie Bui, Daniel Harris, Tyler Henry, Nico Libreros, Dylan Nolan, Margaret Parker, Summer Senior, Gregory Tilzer, Nicole Tilzer and Sam Williams.

“Our last few meets of the season were a great success across the board for our team,” Richardson said. “Many of our swimmers had outstanding finishes in their age group and others showed huge improvements individually.”

High school season also wrapped up on Nov. 7, with Robinson junior Maddie Strasen qualifying for finals in the Class 2A state swim championships. The Knights captain finished 14th in the 100 breaststroke.

Coming up Jan. 17-18 TBAY Westchase is co-hosting a meet with SPA in St. Petersburg.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Former TBAY Coach Allen Remembered

Two years after the tragic death of former TBAY Westchase Swim Coach Kelley Allen, all seven TBAY branches gathered at their respective pools to honor their beloved mentor with a moment of silence. “I remember seeing Kelley when I was a young swimmer and thinking he looked like a pirate,” said TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson. “Then he came over to TBAY and it was just fitting, because now he really was a pirate [the club mascot]. To get a chance to work with him – to know him as a friend and mentor – he had a great impact on all of us.”

Swimmer Maddie Strasen recalled how Coach Kelley used to race up and down the pool deck, trying to see everything at once. “If everything happens for a reason, and if he had to be taken from us so soon,” Strasen said, “it was so that he could be somewhere where he can see everyone at once.”

Even Coach Kelley might have had trouble keeping up with a frenetic TBAY Westchase schedule over the last month. The team raced at the WFLA Halloween Invitational in Largo, an annual stop on the calendar, and the SPA Penny Per Yard meet in St. Petersburg. In addition, several high schoolers competed at district and regional meets, with two qualifying for the state championships.

At the Oct. 17-19 Halloween meet, Rafael Borromeo, Sam Prabhakaran and Sydney Senior posted 10-second drops in their respective events while Paige Easton and Aly Johnston recorded top-five finishes. Prabhakaran and Savannah Trezza cut 10 seconds in the Nov. 2 SPA meet, while a long list of top-five finishers included Easton, Prabhakaran, Johnston, Armando Destrade, Noah Hall, Tyler Henry, Nicolas Libreros, Liam Maloney, Elizabeth McDonough, Gavin Nolan and Gregory Tilzer.

The club’s high school athletes had been training for peak performances at the district and regional meets that lead to the state championships, and the hard work paid off for several of them. Abby Rose of Sickles made the Class 3A state meet in three events – 50 free, 100 free and the 200 free relay. Strasen, Robinson High School’s captain, made the Class 2A state meet for the second consecutive year in 100 breaststroke while also qualifying for senior championships with her regional 200 free time.

In addition to that pair, Richie Bui, Danny Harris, Isabel Minnis, Tiffany Quach, Ben Brown, Johnny Dang and sixth-grader Summer Senior all qualified for high school regionals, while Erykah Farrant and Katelyn Rosenblum competed at districts.

“Our high school swimmers did a great job this season,” said Richardson proudly. “It’s hard work to represent your school and continue to train with our program. I am very proud of the two ladies who made it to the state competition. They had big goals this season and they really stepped up to the challenge.”

Before taking a week off at Thanksgiving and getting back at it in December, TBAY Westchase was looking forward to the LOLL/TBAY Fall Challenge in mid-November, when the club’s younger swimmers were slated to compete in distance events for the first time. About 40 club swimmers were also scheduled to participate in the YCF Almost Turkey Invitational in Orlando Nov. 21-23. Also coming up is our annual holiday party and lots of holiday training!

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Five Westchase High Schoolers Make Conference Finals

While younger Westchase swimmers saw new adventures, high school swimmers began to prepare for all-important district, regional and state championships in recent weeks.

The Westchase TBAY club recently attended the Get Rowdy and Race meet in Winter Haven for the first time. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate, as rain Friday and Saturday complicated things just a bit for the 23 Westchase swimmers who raced.

It didn’t put a damper on success, though. Paige Easton, Aly Johnston and Drake Palmer turned in top five finishes.  Abby Williams dropped more than 20 seconds in 100 butterfly. Marissa Dunlop cut more than 10 seconds in 100 breaststroke and Dylan Nolan did the same in 100 IM.

Later in the month the weather was lovely in St. Petersburg for the SPA Friday Night at the Races.  Several TBAY Westchase swimmers posted best times, with Emily Kramer dropping more than 10 seconds in 100 back and 100 breast.  Top five finishers were Paige Easton, Noah Hall, Hunter Long, Dylan Nolan, Drake Palmer, Sam Prabhakaran, Leila-Anais Pyrczak, Tristan Sanders, Robert Shaw, Gregory Tilzer, Nicole Tilzer and Sam Williams.

As for the high schoolers, the County Conference Finals were held at Bobby Hicks pool across from Robinson High School. After divisional meets whittled down finalists from all 27 high schools in the conference, the finalists returned to chase conference championships. The top two division finishers in each event, plus two wild cards, reach finals.  Each swimmer can participate in two individual events and two relays.

Abby Rose of Sickles took third in both 50 and 100 free. Maddie Strasen of Robinson was third in 200 free and seventh in 100 breast, while competing on two relay squads along with Robinson teammate Tiffany Quach. Richie Bui of Sickles finished third in 100 breast, while Jefferson’s Isabel Minnis placed fifth in 200 IM.

Up next for high school swimmers are District Championships.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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TBAY Swimmers Remember Coach Kelly Allen

Eight-year-old Sydney Senior hit the water excited to “go really fast” in the 50-yard butterfly.

It’s considered the most demanding of the four competitive swimming strokes. It was her first time swimming the event in a meet, and in the last 25 yards the youngster was feeling the strain. She slowed down to catch her breath and finished the race, dejected that she had not gone as fast as she’d hoped.

It was then that her sister, Summer, 11, dashed up and consoled her with these words: “Coach Kelley would be so proud of you!”

Coach Kelley was Kelley Allen, the late TBAY Westchase coach whose life was taken in a senseless shooting two years ago. The meet where this scene transpired was the second annual Kelley Allen (KAH2O) Memorial Meet at Countryside, where TBAY Westchase came out in force in honor of the man who made such a lasting impact on its young athletes.

“I was crying under my sunglasses,” said Chris Senior after witnessing the exchange between her daughters. “Sydney sat on my lap as she calmed down after the race and said that Coach Kelley once told her she could call him Charlie for a week at practice if she ever swam 50 fly in a meet.”

As far as his former swimmers were concerned, Coach Charlie – er, Kelley – was watching every stroke of this meet with pride.

“The KAH2O Meet is a personal one for our team,” TBAY Westchase coach Alex Richardson noted, “and we had record-breaking attendance (70 TBAY Westchase swimmers) and impressive overall performances. Four of our girls finished in the top three of their age groups.”

Paige Easton won the overall high point title in the 8-and-under division, with Aly Johnston taking third. Elliot Easton finished second in the 9-10 girls group while Maddie Strasen was third among senior girls.

Westchase had eight swimmers with top three finishes in an individual event (Richie Bui, Elliot Easton, Paige Easton, Aly Johnston, AnneMarie Johnston, Alina Lytvynenko, Isabel Minnis and Strasen) and 11 swimmers with time drops of 10 or more seconds in a single event (Francesa Bonanomi, Tito Borromeo, Emerson Chiado, Marissa Dunlop, AnneMarie Johnston, Ethan Kalichak, Penelope Laret, Nico Liberos, Ella McKee, Dylan Nolan and Sam Prabhakaran).

Participating in their first ever meet were Denver Adams, Ryan Banas, Nolan Becker, Noah Hall, Samantha Hall, Myah Haslop, Elizabeth McDonough, Gavin Nolan, Sara O'Conner, London Palmer, Connor Pelesh, Tyler Pelesh, Greg Tiltzer, Nicole Tiltzer, Kennedy Wesley and Mason Wesley.

The weekend of the KAH2O meet was a busy one for the high school swimmers on TBAY Westchase. It coincided with City Relays at Bobby Hicks pool in South Tampa and required some interesting travel schedules.  Ten members of the TBAY Westchase squad swim for four different high schools: Robinson (Maddie Strasen, captain; and Tiffany Quach), Jefferson (Isabel Minnis), Sickles (Abby Rose, captain; Richie Bui; Katelyn Rosenblum and Eryka Farrant), and Jesuit (Danny Harris; Ben Brown; and Johnny Dang).  Sixth-grader Summer Senior swims for Academy at the Lakes.

“Our team's high school group has grown over the last year and we are excited to represent TBAY Nation in their high school programs,” Richardson said.  “We are training toward a great championship season for districts, regions and hopefully states.”

It’s a good thing many of the TBAY Westchase swimmers were so busy at the aforementioned meets, considering how much they consumed at the awards banquet that preceded them. The program marked the end of the long-course season and the beginning of short-course swimming in 25-yard lanes – the more standard length and the one used in high school competition.

Up next on the schedule for TBAY Westchase is the WIN Get Rowdy & Race Meet, a Friday Night at the Races in St. Petersburg and a rare team event on dry land – the Great West Chase 5K.  “We are looking forward to participating in the Westchase 5K run as a team and supporting the local Westchase community,” Richardson said.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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TBAY Swimmers Attain Personal Bests at Senior Championships

The long course swimming season is actually the shortest, when measured on the calendar.

That, however, didn’t stop TBAY Westchase from making a huge statement at the championship meets that mark the end of the summer’s long course campaign.

At the Florida Age Group Championships (FLAGs) in Gainesville, Elliot Easton swam best times in each of her four events. The following weekend at Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships in Coral Springs senior swimmers Richie Bui, Isabel Minis, Abby Rose and Maddie Strasen capped the long-course season with more personal bests.

Following those two championship meets was the Area 3/5 Championship Meet in St. Petersburg. Nearly every Westchase swimmer dropped time, with Bui earning Senior Champs cuts in 100 and 200 breast and 50 free. Minnis smashed the 200 back senior cut and also scored another in 100 back. Sam Prabhakaran achieved a FLAG cut in 100 back, while Easton added cuts in 50, 100, and 200 free, 50 and 100 back, and 200 IM to her FLAG collection. Several swimmers had top ten finishes in their events. These were Bui, Elliot Easton, Paige Easton, Danny Harris, AnneMarie Johnson, Aly Johnson, David James, Jacob Key, Nico Libreros, Minnis, Prabhakaran, Margaret Parker, Rose, Katelyn Rosenblum and Strasen.

“Our team had another unbelievable Summer Championship Meet,” said TBAY Westchase Coach Alex Richardson, who attributed the great results to the hard work put in by swimmers during the summer training program and – for some – trips to Florida Atlantic University and the U.S. Olympic Training Center. “TBAY Westchase swimmers saw outstanding best times and had many competitive races. Their hard work and dedication this summer really paid off.”

Before this edition of WOW hit the presses, TBAY Westchase honored its swimmers with the annual summer awards banquet. Next on the schedule is the meet formerly known as Sweet September, but now named after the late Kelley Allen, the popular former TBAY Westchase coach. The KAH2O Memorial Meet takes place Sept. 5-7 at TBAY Countryside.

Richardson also wanted to express gratitude to those who taught swim lessons this summer. These valuable instructors worked very hard and helped mold many new swimmers who have become part of our TBAY Family!

Ally Strasen is a former TBAY Westchase swimmer and Robinson High School varsity swimming captain/alumna who currently attends Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana, where she is a special education major. This is her second summer as a lesson instructor and she is a valued member of our team.

Jimmy Dang, also a former TBAY Westchase swimmer and Jesuit High School varsity swimming alum who swam on the state-qualifying 200 free relay, will be attending the University of Florida this fall. Dang is in his second year as a swim lesson instructor and also served as an assistant coach this summer, working primarily with the Age Group team.

Austin Sellers is another former TBAY Westchase swimmer who currently swims for Academy Aquatic Club. He is a senior at Jesuit High School. Sellers is a high school state finalist and a Junior National Qualifier. He is in his second summer as a lesson instructor.

Paige Schmidt was a Division II Scholarship swimmer for Wingate University. She will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to earn her master's degree in sports management and has coached all levels of swimming at TBAY Westchase.

Jordan Richardson, a conference finalist for Division I Florida Atlantic University, is in her first summer with TBAY Westchase and will continue as an assistant coach working with the TBAY Jr, Age Group and Elite swimmers.

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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TBAY Westchase: From FAU to Colorado

The TBAY Westchase swimmers combined work and play on a weeklong trip to Boca Raton for a training camp at Florida Atlantic University (FAU).

They worked on their strokes during two daily practices, while dodging rain and storms the whole time. The work paid off, as there were some outstanding swims turned in at the end of the week at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatics International Invitational.

There was also some fun to be had. During the week, the swimmers had the opportunity to experience college life while staying in the campus dorms. They also participated in team-building exercises put on by the FAU Recreation Department. And, of course, they experienced the rare chance to train at a long-course collegiate facility. “By the end of the week,” said head coach Alex Richardson, “our swimmers were as fierce as most college athletes.”

Two TBAY Westchase athletes had particularly memorable performances in recent weeks. Elliot Easton earned her Florida Age Group (FLAG) times in both the 50 and 100 butterfly at the TBAY Lakeland meet. She became the only Westchase swimmer with four FLAG “cuts,” having already qualified in two breaststroke races.

Another TBAY Westchase swimmer, Maddie Strasen, enjoyed a Rocky Mountain high in July. The Robinson High captain was invited to a weeklong camp at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Maddie, along with a group of TBAY athletes from the area initially trained in Denver. They worked to become acclimated to the mile-high altitude, then went to Colorado Springs for an Olympic-like experience at the facilities where gold medalists hone their skills.

TBAY Westchase hosted its first ever developmental, intra-squad mini-meet for the younger swimmers on July 12. It gave those without much meet experience the chance to perform under real meet conditions; meanwhile the older swimmer officiated and helped run the event. All of the nearly 40 swimmers, including about 20 first-timers, had a fantastic time. The event was a huge success.

Four senior swimmers – Richie Bui, Isabel Minnis, Abby Rose and Maddie Strasen – also qualified to swim in the FCG Senior Championships the weekend of July 25-26 (WOW’s August deadline occurred prior to the meet). The team is also looking forward to the Area 3/5 Championships Aug. 1-3 in St. Petersburg and our annual awards banquet on Aug. 16.
Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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TBAY Westchase Swimmers Give Back and Train Hard

Swimming has given a lot to many of the TBAY Westchase athletes – a sense of dedication, a strong work ethic and lots of smiles and great times with friends.

Few things are more rewarding than giving back. TBAY did just that at the Swim Across America open-water event held May 31 at Clearwater Beach. The overall TBAY contingent raised more than $26,000 to support Moffitt Cancer Center. Maddie Strasen, who swam the “marathon” 2.4-mile distance, raised $1,690 – more than any other under-18 participant. TBAY Westchase also made waves in the competition, with Coach Paige and Jacob Key finishing first and second, respectively, in the half-mile event. Forty swimmers, parents and coaches from TBAY Westchase participated.

Earlier last month, at a Saturday and Sunday Morning at the Races Meet in St. Petersburg, Elliot Easton earned her first FLAG (Florida Age Group) Championships cut in the 50 breaststroke. She earned a second cut at CAT (Clearwater) in the 100 breast. Additionally, the SPA meet was the first long-course meet for Francesca Bonanomi, Tito Borromeo, Emerson Chiado, Paige Easton, Devin Hurst, Aly Johnston, AnneMarie Johnston, Emily Kramer, Liam Maloney, Ella McKee, Ava Tompkins, Abby Williams and Sam Williams. In addition a group of the more veteran swimmers (Richie Bui, Isabel Minnis, Margaret Parker, Abby Rose and Maddie Strasen) took part in the All-Florida Senior Circuit meet June 8 in Orlando.

Summer is an exciting time for TBAY Westchase. With no school commitments, it’s a time when swimmers can truly dedicate themselves to the sport and see dramatic improvement in performance. To that end, the Elite Performance Program is keeping the most dedicated of the group busy with two pool sessions, dry land training and instruction each day. Coach Alex Richardson started the program last summer and it paid off for several swimmers in the high school and fall season.

“We are hosting our second year of the Elite Performance Program and we are excited about seeing another successful summer of swimming,” Coach Alex said. “These swimmers will get extensive dry-land training, nutritional seminars and additional technique time to foster improvement in all areas of swimming.”

Opportunities for instruction and improvement will not be limited to the local pools for several TBAY Westchase swimmers. A June training trip to Florida Atlantic University included no less than 10 TBAY Westchase athletes, along with several from the Arbor Green branch of TBAY. Just a few days after returning from that experience, Maddie Strasen also has the opportunity to spend a week swimming at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs with a group from the larger TBAY squad. Olympic coaches and athletes are expected to be on hand.

TBAY will be hosting an upcoming Lakeland meet at which the Westchase branch will send a team of 10-and-under swimmers. In addition Westchase will be holding its own intra-squad developmental meet on July 12. It will be a great opportunity for TBAY Junior swimmers to prepare for bigger meets.

Many of those TBAY Junior swimmers first got their feet wet taking swim lessons at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center. The swim lesson program has been booming this summer. At least one new session will be opening in August, so hurry up and get those TBAY Westchase champions of the future signed up. Stay tuned for more details!

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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Gold Medalist Brooke Bennett Visits Westchase

On April 26 at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center several TBAY Westchase swimmers had authentic Olympic gold medals draped around their necks.

While they weren’t gold medals won by the Westchase swimmers themselves, the thrill – like the medals – was very real. Three-time Olympic gold medalist Brooke Bennett, a Tampa native, was in Westchase to conduct an open-water clinic for the 2014 Swim Across America event, and she graciously shared her 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games hardware.

Bennett covered a variety of topics in her session, from nutrition and training to mental preparation and the importance of team camaraderie. An only child, Brooke said she always thought of her teammates as her brothers and sisters. When asked if she ever felt like she had disappointed people with a bad swim, she advised, “You can’t swim for anyone else but yourself.”

The clinic was well-attended by TBAY Westchase, just as the May 31 Swim Across America (SAA) event at Clearwater Beach was expected to be. Last year TBAY was out in remarkable force at SAA, raising more money than any other area team to benefit the Moffitt Cancer Center.

“TBAY Westchase is excited to support the Moffitt Cancer Center again this year through Swim Across America,” said Coach Alex Richardson. “Our kids are always excited to give their time and skills to raise awareness for cancer research.”

As of press time, nearly 30 swimmers and parents (including Coach Alex) were signed up to participate.

The TBAY Westchase swimmers also competed in two meets since the last WOW deadline. They made waves at the third annual Land O’ Lakes Spring Classic on April 27 and the WFLA Spring Open on May 2-4 in Largo. At the LOLL/STA meet, which sandwiched Bennett’s clinic, 20 swimmers achieved personal best times. Dropping more than 10 seconds in a single event were Rafael Borromeo, Dane Christensen, Elliot Easton, Abigail Hartley and AnneMarie Johnston. First through third-place finishes were had by Antonio Borromeo, Richie Bui, Dane Christensen, Elliot Easton, Paige Easton, Daniel Harris, Richard Harris, Sadie Jacobson, Isabel Minnis, Dylan Nolan, Margaret Parker and Maddie Strasen.

Coach Alex noted, “The WFLA meet in Largo was our team’s first Long Course meet of the summer. Many swimmers did their first-ever long course races in Largo and were excited to try a new style of competitive swimming.”

Swimmers participating in their first (and rather intimidating) long course (50-meter) meet were Armando Destrade, Erykah Farrant, Ryan Farrant, Abby Hartley, Dylan Nolan, Luke Lozosky, Kate Rideout, Madeline Rideout and Jack Wilson.

The team also participated in the Saturday and Sunday Morning at the Races long course meet held May 17-18 at the North Shore Pool in St. Pete. Look for updates on this meet and Swim Across America in the next WOW!

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen and Alex Richardson


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TBAY Westchase Swimmers Fly at Area 3/5 Championships

Thunderstorms wiped out two sessions of the Area 3/5 Championships in Sarasota, but they did not dampen TBAY swimmers’ outstanding performances.

One of the biggest meets of the spring season, it saw several Westchase athletes post top-eight overall finishes, while many others turned in their personal bests in multiple events. In swimming, getting to the wall faster than ever before is cause for celebration – rain or shine.

Coach Alex Richardson was understandably pleased with his team’s performance and described the meet as a great success. “The Area 3/5 Meet showed big improvements for our team. Every swimmer bettered their times and many finished top eight in their age group,” he said.

Richie Bui brought home a championship in the 100 breaststroke, while adding a fourth-place finish in the 50 freestyle and a seventh-place showing in 200 IM. Nicolas Libreros placed in two butterfly events – finishing third at 50 yards and sixth at 100. Sam Prabhakaran did the same in backstroke, claiming fifth in the 100 and seventh in the 50. Daniel Harris took seventh in the 200 back.

Among the girls, Maddie Strasen and Isabel Minnis each notched top-eight finishes in four events. Maddie was third in the 200 breast and 100 free, fourth in 400 IM and fifth in 50 free. Isabel took fifth in the 100 back and seventh in the 200 breast, 200 back and 200 IM. Margaret Parker placed in three events, getting fourth in 200 fly, fifth in 100 back and eighth in the 50 free. Also among the girls, Katherine Rideout finished second in 50 breast while Paige Easton claimed fourth in 50 breast. Seventh-place finishes were also turned in by Elliot Easton in the 100 breast and Madeline Rideout in 200 breast.

In addition to the medals and ribbons swimmers brought home, several Westchase competitors chopped significant time off their previous bests. Cutting more than 10 total seconds in an event were Savanna Becker, Rafael Borromeo, Johnny Dang, Armando Destrade, Erykah Farrant, Brody Grissom, Richard Harris, Sadie Jacobson, David James, AnneMarie Johnston, Jacob Key, Nicolas Libreros, Isabel Minnis, Margaret Parker and Sam Prabhakaran. Swimming in their first-ever meet were Rhett and Rockwell Palmer.

In addition to their prowess in the pool, the TBAY Westchase swimmers have also been known to make a dent in food trays from time to time. They did just that at the annual Spring Picnic on March 23 – a well-attended event at which the upcoming schedule was discussed. That schedule includes the LOLL meet April 25 and 27 in Land O’ Lakes. On April 26 Olympian Brooke Bennett hosted a clinic at our pool for TBAY swimmers participating in May’s Swim Across America. Look for updates in the upcoming editions of the WOW!

Be sure to like TBAY Westchase on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @tbaywestchase!

By Jean Strasen


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TBAY Swimmers Splash into Short Course Championships

March and April are short-course championship meet time for Westchase swimmers.

First came Senior Champs in Orlando, which is for swimmers who are 15 and older and who have qualifying times. Westchase’s Maddie Strasen, 16, swam in events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

FLAGS, known to swimmers as Junior Olympics, was held in Sarasota March 13-16 for swimmers 14 and under. TBAY Westchase sent five swimmers who achieved the very challenging qualifying times – Jacob Key, Kory Kimura, Zachary Bennett, Joshua Bennett and Eliot Easton.

The last short course championship meet is March 28-30, held after WOW deadline in Sarasota. That meet is open to all swimmers.

In April the long course season starts for our swimmers. A long course meet uses a pool that is 50 meters in length. Some pools, like the Northshore pool in St. Petersburg or the Long Center in Clearwater, can be adjusted to accommodate either length. Our Westchase pools, however, can only accommodate the standard 25 yards so our swimmers must adapt when they attend long course meets. Some swimmers who aren’t as fast on flip turns and off the walls actually swim better in long course meets. Others find the longer swim to the wall a challenge.

For more information about the team, please visit


By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Swimmers Tackle Chilly Meets

Sixteen of our TBAY Westchase swimmers started their swimming New Year off at a meet in Naples, Florida on Jan. 18-20.

Four other TBAY branches attended the meet as well. Unfortunately for our 13-and-older swimmers, they had to be at warm ups at 6:45 a.m. when it was 37 degrees outside. The parents had to scrape ice off of their car windows to drive to the pool. The older swimmers actually had steam coming off of their bodies when they got out of the pool. By the time the 12-and-under swimmers arrived for their session in the afternoon, it had warmed up into the 80s. When we went back for finals and the sun went down, however, the parents had to huddle under blankets to stay warm. These kids are tough! (The parents complained and we didn’t even get in the pool.) At the meet first through third place finishes were achieved by Jacob Key, Joshua Bennett and Nicholas Libreros.

A few weeks later our swimmers had beautiful weather at a meet in St. Petersburg. All of our 13-and-over swimmers raced by time rather than age, which provided an interesting challenge. At most meets, swimmers race by age or are ranked by age. At this meet, however, everyone 13-and-over swam against each other regardless of their ages. Jacob Key made a new FLAG (known to swimmers as JO’s or Junior Olympics) cut in the 100 Back. First through third place finishes were had by Paige Easton, Dane Christensen, Dylan Nolan and Kate Rideout. Four of our swimmers completed the 1,000-yard race, which is a very long way to swim quickly.

A week later our swimmers attended the Gasparilla meet at TBAY Central’s pool at Tampa Prep. This is a meet they attend every year with all of the other TBAY branches as well as other teams. The 13-and-over swimmers had 6:45 a.m. warm ups again. This time the weather was in the 50s. While still chilly, it was much more tolerable than the 30s at Naples. Zachary Bennett and Kory Kimura achieved new FLAG/JO cuts and first through third place finishes were achieved by Sadie Jacobson, Richard Harris, Joshua Bennett, Paige Easton, Christopher Quach, Kory Kimura and Kate Rideout.

In March our swimmers will attend their championship meets – Senior Champs in Orlando for 14-and-older swimmers; Flags (Junior Olympics) in Sarasota for 14-and-under swimmers and Area 3/5 in Sarasota.  For more information about the team, please visit


By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Swimmers’ Sacrifice Acknowledged

While the TBAY Westchase swim team works really hard all year long, they really make sacrifices in the months of November and December.

While other kids are sleeping late every day of their vacation, our swimmers are getting up early and spending two to three hours at practice. The recent colder weather has also posed challenges for swimmers. While Westchase pools are heated, standing on deck in bathing suits and emerging from that warm pool into the cold air take serious commitment.

The TBAY Westchase swim parents and Coach Alex try to reward swimmers’ dedication with a big holiday party in December. This year the team had a brunch after practice with donuts, bagels, egg casseroles, fruit, muffins and a waffle station where the kids could add their own toppings. Luckily, the December Saturday parents chose was a warm day. The kids swam first and then came into the party to consume large quantities of food. After everyone ate, the kids participated in a fun gift exchange.

After winter break, our swimmers went back to their normal school schedules – another way our swimmers show their dedication. Like other kids, TBAY Westchase swimmers have lots of homework, but our swimmers spend two to three hours at the pool on most days of the school week and on Saturdays.

These kids definitely work hard to reach their goals and their work ethic will benefit them in everything else that they do.

For more information about our swim team, visit If yo.u are in need of swimming, running, biking or triathlon gear, you can help the team with fund-raising by clicking through the link on their Web site.

By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Swimmers Train Hard Over Break

Over the Nov. 23 weekend, the TBAY @ Westchase swim team enjoyed beautiful weather at a meet in St. Petersburg.

First through third place finishes were made by Paige Easton, Joshua Bennett, Kate Rideout, Madeline Rideout, Richard Harris, Maddie Strasen and David Farrant.

While most kids were sleeping in over their Thanksgiving break, our swimmers were working hard at early morning practices. The older group did an hour of dry land training followed by two hours of swimming. They did, however, take Thanksgiving Day off to eat tons of food, rest and spend time with their families.

Over the Dec. 6 weekend seven of the team’s swimmers attended the Gator Invite at the University of Florida in Gainesville. This meet requires very fast qualifying times – in some cases faster than FLAGS (Junior Olympic) cuts, so it is an honor to qualify. Swimmers attending the meet were Kory Kimura, Joshua Bennett, Zachary Bennett, Isabel Minnis, Sadie Jacobson, Paige Easton and Maddie Strasen. The older swimmers had very early warm ups and swims while the 12-and-unders started at noon. Joshua Bennett achieved three new FLAGS (Junior Olympic) cuts and Maddie Strasen made it to finals in the 200 breast stroke. That same weekend, 20 swimmers attended a local meet in St. Petersburg. Elliot Easton (who swam Saturday in St. Pete and Sunday in Gainesville), Margaret Parker and Lindsey Valancius all finished in the top three.

If you would like more information about our team, please visit Pleas.e use the link on our page to click thru to help us with fund-raising.

By Brenda Bennett


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Three TBAY Athletes Swim at State Competitions

Last month’s TBAY article mentioned our swimmers representing their high schools at District and Regional competitions.

At Regionals, the top 24 overall for each region and class then proceeded to States. Three of our swimmers made it all the way to the State competitions – Maddie Strasen, representing Robinson High School, Lauren Sellers, representing the Academy of Holy Names, and Jimmy Dang, representing Jesuit High School. We are so proud of all of our high school swimmers.

Before they swim, our age group and elite swimmers run during their dry land training, which helps with their cardiovascular fitness. To continue to encourage them to run, Coach Alex asked the team to sign up for the Great West Chase 5K or kids’ fun run. On Saturday, Oct. 26, TBAY had over 20 kids, parents and Coach Alex run in the race. Everyone had a great time and I am sure it is something we will do every year.

On Sept. 21-22 the team competed in the SPA meet in St. Petersburg. First through third place finishes were achieved by Joshua Bennett, Elliot Easton, Christopher Quach and Maddie Strasen.
On Oct. 4 the team swam at the Friday Night Races again in St. Petersburg. Joshua Bennett, Dane Christensen, Elise Christensen, Paige Easton and Lauren Sellers all finished races in first through third place.

On Nov. 4 the team swam at the Penny a Yard meet, where families only paid one penny for each yard swam. Swim meets usually cost parents anywhere from $30-60 per child, depending on the meet and the number of events swum. This meet proved very economical, with most parents only paying $20-25 per child. First through third place finishers included Joshua Bennett, Dane Christensen, Elise Christensen, Liam Maloney, Lindsey Marian and Summer Senior.

For more information on our team and events, visit Addit.ionally, you can help the team with fund-raising by simply clicking through the link on our Web page.

By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Swimmers Participate in Memorial Meet Honoring Former Coach Kelley Allen

Every year the Westchase TBAY team looks forward to the Sweet September meet held at the Countryside branch location in Clearwater.

Last October after Westchase Swim Coach Kelley Allen died, the meet was renamed the KAH2O Kelley Allen Memoriam Swim Meet in his honor. The weekend of Sept. 6, 49 swimmers from the Westchase branch participated in the meet. For many of the newer swimmers, this was their very first meet. Coach Alex Richardson had encouraged them to swim in the meet since it was held in a smaller venue similar to our own Westchase pool with fewer competitors.

A banner that the Westchase Community Association had made and various pictures of Coach Kelley were placed around the pool and within the heat sheet. Coach Sue Curnutte, head coach of the TBAY Clearwater branch and host for the meet, had special T-shirts made for the meet and opened each day by highlighting Allen’s impact on the swimmers in the area. She also asked everyone to join hands for a moment of silence.

Allen’s mother, Jean, and his sister, Lynn, attended the meet on Sunday morning when the 10-and-under swimmers swam. They both commented on how it was so great to see all of the swimmers commemorating Allen. They, however, also felt bad for the younger kids who were disqualified in their events. At an official swim meet, each stroke has to be swum in accordance with USA Swimming rules or the swimmer is disqualified. For example, the hands cannot move below the hips on the breaststroke and the swimmer cannot be completely submerged when they come into the wall for the finish on the backstroke.

First through third place finishes were had by Jacob Key, Kate Rideout, Richard Harris, Dane Christensen, Sadie Jacobson, Joshua Bennett, Kory Kimura, Lauren Sellers, Christopher Quach, Jimmy Dang and Maddie Strassen.

Dane Christensen received the second place highpoint for Boys 6-and-under while Lauren Sellers received the third place high point for 13-14 girls.

The meet was a wonderful tribute to our beloved swim coach, Kelley Allen.

By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Swimmers Perform Strongly in Championship Meets

The end of summer marks the moment that Westchase swimmers compete in championship meets.

Four Westchase swimmers who achieved FLAG – Florida Age Group Championship (known by swimmers as Junior Olympic) – cuts traveled to Gainesville, Florida to compete at the O’Connell Center at UF from July 18-21. FLAG cuts are very fast and very hard to achieve so it is an accomplishment just to achieve those times.

FLAGs is held only twice per year, in spring for the short-course season and in the summer for the long-course season. Being summer, the recent FLAGs was a long-course meet entailing 50-meter pool lengths.

Westchase FLAG swimmers were Kory Kimura, Lauren Sellers, Zachary Bennett and Joshua Bennett. All four of our swimmers participated in relays, helping our TBAY team secure a third place finish in points against 54 teams.

The FLAGS equivalent for kids older than 14 is Senior Champs, also entailing long-course swims and held this year in Fort Meyers from July 25-28. Two Westchase swimmers achieved qualifying times to compete – Maddie Strassen and Ben Parker.

The last championship meet was in Saint Petersburg on Aug. 2-4. That meet was for swimmers who had not achieved a current FLAGS or Senior Champs cut for events within their age group. At the meet swimmers can swim events that they don’t have cuts for or swim up – swimming against a higher age group – in the senior events if they are not a senior. This meet was short course and entailed 25-yard pool lengths. First through third-place finishes were had by: Kory Kimura, Maddie Strassen, Jacob Key, Elliot Easton and Armando Destrade. Maddie Strassen achieved new Senior Champs cuts in the 500 Free and 200 Breast and new bonus senior champs cuts in the 100 Free, 200 Free and 200 IM. All of our swimmers dropped time and had a great meet.

Swimmers are back in school now, so they have switched back to afternoon practices instead of morning practices. Practices have also returned to the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center pool off Countryway Boulevard.

For more information about the team or upcoming events or to use the link for swim apparel, visit


By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Keeps Swimmers Active Over Summer

The TBAY Westchase team is having a busy summer.

On Father’s Day on Sunday, June 16, the team swam one day of a two-day meet. That particular event is the only meet the team swims every year that holds finals for swimmers who are 10 and under. The top eight swimmers in each event have the option to go to finals that evening and swim the event again. It’s quite exciting for some of the younger swimmers since finals are usually only for senior-aged swimmers. Almost all of our swimmers made it to finals. First through third place finishes were had by Zachary Bennett, Joshua Bennett, Jacob Key and Lauren Sellers. In addition Joshua Bennett achieved a new Florida Age Group Championship (FLAG) cut in the 100 Fly.

On June 21 seven Westchase swimmers who had achieved qualifying times attended an International Meet in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the Hall of Fame Aquatic Complex. TBAY swimmers from Westchase, Countryside and Arbor Green branches placed seventh in points against 40 teams from all over the world. Swim teams at the meet were from many places, including Missouri, Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, Costa Rica, Omaha, Argentina, Georgia and Connecticut. The heat sheet showed swim records that were still in existence for Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin and other Olympic swimmers.

Most of our swimmers made it to finals each night. Zachary Bennett achieved a new FLAG cut in the 50 Fly. Kory Kimura achieved a new FLAG cut in the 100 Back; a first place finish in the 50 Back and the 100 Back; and a second place finish in the 100 Free. Lauren Sellers achieved a new FLAG cut in the 200 Back. Maddie Strassen landed first place in the 200 Breast meanwhile Joshua Bennett achieved new FLAG cuts in the 50 Fly, 50 Free and the 100 Breast.

The following weekend, 18 swimmers attended the TBAY invitational meet in Lakeland. This meet is the only short course meet in the middle of the long course season. The swimmers have been swimming the longer 50-meter length since April, which made for a very enjoyable return to the shorter 25-yard distance. Almost all of our swimmers dropped time and swam well; unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. Saturday’s afternoon session had rain delays and was called off early. The next day, while the 12-and-under swimmers got all of their swims in, the only event the older kids participated in before weather again triggered the meet’s cancellation were the IMs that had been cancelled the previous day. Nevertheless first through third place finishes were had by Dane Christensen and Paige Easton in the 6-and-under events. Meanwhile Jacob Key took third in the 11-12 100 Back and Lindsey Marian placed third in the 13-14 200 Breast.

The swimmers are now preparing for the FLAG championship events, which will be held in Gainesville July 18-21, and Senior Champs, which will be held in Fort Pierce July 25-28.

By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Attends Swim Across America

On Saturday, May 18, the TBAY Westchase branch attended Tampa Bay’s Swim Across America.

At the Clearwater Beach event the team raised over $23,000 in donations for the Moffitt Cancer Center. One hundred twenty swimmers and volunteers from TBAY participated. Coach Alex and our swimmers swam a half-mile course in the ocean while some of the swim team parents swam the half-mile, one mile and even the 2.4-mile swims. For some swimmers, this was their first experience with open water. The team loved the event and we plan to do it again next year. The next day, Sunday, May 19, 20 swimmers got up very early to swim one day of a meet held in St. Petersburg. Lauren Sellers won first in the women’s 50 breaststroke.

Over the summer, while most kids enjoy sleeping in, the swim team’s older kids have been at the pool for practice from 7-9:30 a.m. The younger group goes to practice from 9-10:30 a.m. Some of the older swimmers are also staying for a swim camp that lasts until 1 p.m. Swimming is a sport that requires extreme dedication.

For more information about the team or if you would like to help the team by purchasing such things as swim suits, goggles and clothing, please visit For p.urchases please follow the link on the site.

By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Enjoys Kick-Off of Long Course Season

The TBAY Westchase branch loves to attend the annual Winter Haven Rowdy Cup every year.

The April meet is named after Olympic swimmer Rowdy Gaines and it kicks off long-course season, which runs from April through July (the short-course season runs from August through March). While short-course meet participants swim laps of 25-yards, the length of our Westchase pools, long course meets are swum in 50-meter laps. Olympic and World Championship meets are held in long-course pools.

Some Tampa Bay swim clubs can change their pools to long-course pool by adjusting the lane ropes perpendicularly to the short-course lanes, but our Westchase pools do not have the length to do this. Even though our swimmers cannot train in a long-course pool, they did exceptionally well at the April 19-21meet. TBAY Westchase and TBAY Lakeland came away with the third place trophy out of eighteen teams. Points are scored for swimmers who place in the top eight with nine points awarded for first place, eight points for second place, seven points for third place and so on. First through third-place finishes were had by Lauren Sellers, Kory Kimura and Zachary Bennett. Kory Kimura won the third place highpoint for 10U Boys and Zachary Bennett won the second place highpoint for 11-and-12 Boys. New Florida Age Group Championship cuts were made by Joshua Bennett, Zachary Bennett and Lauren Sellers.

The next weekend the team attended a short-course Land-O-Lakes meet, perfect for our new swimmers and their parents to experience a swim meet for the first time. The older, more experienced racers swam the 500 Free, 400 IM and the 1,650 (mile) on Friday night while the younger, new swimmers swam events on Saturday and Sunday. First through third-place finishes were made by Johnny Dang, Jimmy Dang, Jacob Key, Zachary Bennett, Rafael Borromeo, Tito Borromeo, Nicolas Libreros and Paige Easton. A new Florida Age Group Championship cut was made by Kory Kimura. TBAY took third place again as a team with seven teams competing.

Three meets in a row can definitely tire out a coach and swimmers but the following weekend our swimmers swam well again at a Brandon long-course meet. Since the swims were longer distances, only the experienced swimmers attended. First through third-place finishes were made by Zachary Bennett, Kory Kimura, Lauren Sellers, Preston Smith, Isabel Minnis and Maddie Strassen. New Florida Age Group Championship cuts were made by Joshua Bennett and Zachary Bennett and a new Senior Champ cut was made by Maddie Strassen. Kory Kimura received the third place highpoint for 9-10 Boys and Zachary Bennett took the second place highpoint for 11-12 Boys. For this meet, some heats were identified as “mystery heats” and the heat winner won a stuffed toy peacock. The peacock is significant because the area around the aquatic center is overrun with live ones. The team was pleased to see and hear peacocks walking up the street, perched on nearby homes, in  backyards and in trees. We learned that the peacock or male peafowl is actually the one with the vibrant tail while the female peafowls are just brown and gray. The things you learn at a swim meet!

For more information about our team, please visit


By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Enjoys Spring Picnic

March saw Westchase TBAY swimmers turning in solid times at meets while gathering for a fun picnic.

On March 22-24, 23 members of the TBAY Westchase Swim Team attended the Area 3-5 meet in Sarasota Florida. The meet is for swimmers who haven’t achieved FLAGs cuts in specific events. Our swimmers did very well, with many of them making finals. Top three finishes were had by Lauren Sellers, who placed first in the 500 Free, second in the 13-14 400 IM and third in the 13-14 100 Breast. Lauren also achieved FLAGS cuts in the 500 Free, 400 IM and the 1,000 Free. Maddie Strassen placed first in the girls 15-18 100 Breast, achieving her Senior Champs cut in the 100 Breast.

On Saturday, March 30, the entire team had a fun picnic celebration at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center after the morning’s swim practice. The kids and parents were broken up into teams and completed a scavenger hunt, ending with each team performing a team cheer for Coach Alex. In addition to consuming large amounts of food, the kids participated in fun pool relays and tug-of-war competitions between the boys and girls. There was even a make-your-own sundae bar.

On May 18 the team will participate in Swim Across America, which raises money for and awareness of cancer prevention and treatment through swimming events. Some of our swimmers and Coach Alex will do a half-mile open water swim at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach. Some of our parents will participate in half mile, one mile and even 2.4 mile swims. We would love to have Westchase residents sponsor us and even cheer us on. The swim starts at 8:30 a.m. To sponsor our team please click here.

For more information about our team, please visit Once .there please use our link, a pass-through on our Web site, to order any swimming or beach gear.

By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Swims Gasparilla

March saw many Gulf Coast residents flocking to the local beaches.

Yet 28 of our Westchase swimmers headed to Tampa Preparatory Academy for the TBAY Central Gasparilla Races, Feb. 8-10. Last year's meet would have been better left to the Polar Bear Club as temperatures barely left the lower 30s. Fortunately this year our swimmers enjoyed warm sunshine and some blazing fast races − except for early Saturday morning, when the temps were briefly in the 50s.  Many of our swimmers dropped time and showed continued improvement and promise in the pool.

The Gasparilla meet serves as a last chance to secure spots in the upcoming spring FLAGs (Florida Age Group Championships,) as well as the spring Senior Championships.  Both Ben Parker and Joshua Bennett each earned one new qualifying spot for the Senior Champs and FLAGs, respectively.

Six swimmers placed in the top three in one or more races: David James in the 8U, Joshua Bennett and Kory Kimura in the 9-10 age group, Zachary Bennett in the 11-12 age group, Daniel Harris in the 13-14 age group and Ben Parker in the men's 17-and-over.   As swimmers get older, the distances that they must swim get longer and the events more challenging.  At this meet our swimmers challenged themselves with some tough events.  Lauren Sellers swam the 400 IM for eighth place, Ben Parker swam the 200 fly for fourth place, Zachary Bennett swam the mile for first place and Daniel Harris swam the mile for third place. 

Another great accomplishment is Zachary Bennett's second place finish in high points, which is an accumulation of points earned in each event swum throughout the meet. The higher one places in an event, the more points he or she acquires.  

Later in February, Ben Parker then swam in the Senior Champs in Orlando, Florida. He swam well, cutting time in most of his races. Way to go, Ben!

On March 6-9, five of our 14U swimmers who had achieved qualifying times swam at the Florida Age Group Championships (formerly Junior Olympics) in Sarasota. The TBAY Club won third place among more than 50 swim clubs throughout Florida. Swimmers attending the championship meet were Lauren Sellers, Kory Kimura, Jacob Key, Joshua Bennett and Zachary Bennett.

For more information about our swim team, please visit  If you need swim suits, caps, goggles or triathlon gear, you can help our swim team by using the link off of our page or visit


By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY at Westchase Has Busy Winter Months

The TBAY at Westchase swimmers made the most of their cooler months.

The TBAY Westchase team attended the Jingle Bell Meet the weekend of Dec. 14-16 at the Clearwater Long Center. This was a huge meet with 914 athletes, including former Olympian Brooke Bennett and former national team member Erika Erndl. This was our first official meet under our new coach, Alex Richardson, and almost every child on the team swam personal best times.

Among 18 teams TBAY placed fourth in high points. The meet hosted finals for the top eight finishers in each race and five of our Westchase swimmers, Kyle and Kory Kimura, Zachary and Joshua Bennett, Jacob Key and Ben Parker, attended. We were thrilled when our children made finals but it made for a very long day for parents, swimmers and Coach Alex, who spent three 12-hour days on deck! Top three finishes were had by Kory Kimura, Zachary Bennett, Kyle Kimura and David James while two new Junior Olympic/FLAGS cuts were made by Zachary Bennett.

One of the fun things that swimmers do when they visit meets from far away is to exchange swim caps. A Costa Rican team attended and one of their swimmers exchanged a swim cap for one of our TBAY caps.

The meet was televised and replays can still be viewed at


The team also held its annual holiday party in December, when we had a brunch open house for swimmers and their families. The team presented Rachel Sellers, who was this year’s president and treasurer, with a thank you card and gift certificates to recognize the many volunteer hours that she has put into our club. Sellers was part of the initial creation of the booster club six years ago and has been an active member of the board every year since. The club also elected its new board for 2013. As with any organization, the swim team relies heavily on its parent board volunteers to keep the team running efficiently.

On January 12-13, 21 TBAY Westchase swimmers splashed into 2013 at the North Shore pool in St. Petersburg for an exciting short course meet. The swimmers and fans were both welcomed with − and grateful for − clear blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures for a winter meet.

The majority of the swimmers dropped time and exhibited continued improvement under Coach Richardson. Coach Alex moved enthusiastically between the 10-and-under swimmers and the 11-and-up competitors as the meet ran in two pools simultaneously.
Seven of our swimmers placed in the top three in one or more events: Joshua Bennett, Zachary Bennett, David James, Jacob Key, Kory Kimura, Ben Parker and Carolina Ricciardi.

In addition to overall terrific performances, we are so pleased that two of our swimmers, Joshua Bennett and Carolina Ricciardi, achieved new time standards for this spring's Junior Olympics.

The TBAY team continues to train hard in preparation for upcoming meets. The next competition will be in early February when swimmers will have one last opportunity to make Junior Olympic cuts.

By Brenda Bennett and Sara James


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TBay Welcomes Coach Richardson

Our Westchase TBAY Swim Coach Kelley Allen will forever be in our hearts, but this month we also welcome a new coach who was a friend of Kelley.

Coach Alex Richardson, who previously coached at two TBay branches prior to coming to Westchase, knew Coach Allen well and was already a part of our TBay family. The Westchase group has seen him on deck at various meets so he was already a familiar face.
Our swim team kids were heartbroken to lose their beloved coach, but they are a resilient bunch. They banded together because they knew that Coach Kelley would have wanted them to keep swimming. Thankfully, the TBay coaches from four of the other branches and two swim team fathers - Eric Hirsbrunner and Mike Easton who are both accomplished swimmers, donated many hours to coaching the swim team and keeping the swimmers in shape until Coach Alex could get to our pool full time.

In November, our swimmers proudly wrote KAH20 (for Kelley Allen H20) on their backs and shoulders as they competed at the SPA meet in St. Petersburg. Top three finishes were had by Joshua Bennett, Summer Senior, Ava Carter, Casey Knowles and Austin Sellers. Two weeks after that, seven TBay Westchase kids swam in the Gator meet at the University of Florida. This meet required highly competitive qualifying times and included swimmers from across the state. Swimmers who attended the meet were Kory and Kyle Kimura, Jacob Key, Carolina and Bruna Ricciardi and Joshua and Zachary Bennett.

Over Dec. 8 and 9, 16 team members attended the Harry Meisel meet, which is only for swimmers who have not achieved a USA swimming ‘A’/Junior Olympics FLAGS time in that stroke. Top three finishes were had by Carolina Ricciardi, Lindsey Marian, Maddy Strassen, Lauren Sellers, Tiffany Quach, Nicki Quach and Jacob Key. New Junior Olympic/FLAGS cuts were made by Jacob Key and Carolina Ricciardi.

Our swim team is also a family. We are sticking together and welcoming our new coach. For more information about the team and upcoming meets, please visit You also help support the team by using the link on our team Web site.

By Brenda Bennett


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Westchase High School Swimmers Compete in District Meets

The swimmers from TBAY@ Westchase swim club have practically doubled in size since last year.

They currently swim for 12 Tampa Bay high schools. They include (see photo): (top row) Lindsey Marian (Gr. 7-Academy of the Holy Names), Harrison Keane (Soph.-Berkeley Prep), Kent Kimura (Sr.- Jesuit), Ben Parker (Sr.- Jesuit), Austin Sellers (Soph.-Jesuit), Jimmy Dang (Jr.-Jesuit), Kyle Kimura (Jr.-Plant), Michael Melendez (Sr.- Tampa Catholic); (bottom row) Kendall Clarke (Fr.-Alonso), Paige Carter (Fr.-Alonso), Kendal Allen (Fr.-Sickles), Maddie Strasen (Fr.-Robinson), Tiffany Quach (Fr.-Robinson), Kayli Diaz (Soph.-Hillsborough) and Jocelyn Williams (Jr.-Land O Lakes).  Unavailable for the photo are Taylor Anderson (Soph.-Mitchell), Richie Bui (Fr.-Sickles) and Casey Knowles (Fr.-Gaither).
Currently, Taylor Anderson holds the Mitchell H.S. school records in the 50 Free, 100 Free and 100 Breast strokes. Kendall Clarke holds Sickles H.S. school records in the 100 Free and 100 Back. Paige Carter holds the Sickles H.S. school records in the 100 Breast, 200 IM and 200 Free. Kyle Kimura holds the Plant H.S. school record in the 100 Fly.

The swimmers represented their high schools at the 2012 FHSAA Swimming and Diving Championships.  All also competed in their high school district meets, where they could only compete in two individual events. Those meets occurred Oct. 22-27, after deadline for November’s WOW.  The top eight swimmers in each event qualified to compete in the Region meets on Nov. 1-3, 2012.  The top 24 overall swimmers in every region of each class will then qualify to compete in the state meets held Nov. 8-10.

We wish all our high school swimmers the best of luck!

By Rachel Sellers


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TBay Swimmers Shine on High School Teams

In August when Florida kids returned to school, 20 TBAY Westchase swimmers became stars on their high school swim teams.

Our Westchase team members swim for a plethora of public and private schools across Hillsborough and Pasco counties. Many have already proven stand-outs on their teams.
On Sept. 8 many of our TBAY Westchase swimmers helped their high school teams do well at the City Relay Championships. Kent Kimura helped his Jesuit relay team place third in the 400-yard freestyle relay and first in the 200-mixed relay. Austin Sellers and Jimmy Dang led their Jesuit team to a first place finish in the 200-yard medley relay while Ben Parker helped Jesuit take first place in the 500-free relay. Kent Kimura and Jimmy Dang helped their Tigers relay team place second in the 200-yard freestyle while Austin Sellers helped his relay take first in the 200-mixed breaststroke.

Ben Parker helped his 400-IM mixed relay team take first place while Taylor Anderson set a record in the 100- and 50-free for Mitchell High School in Pasco County. Meanwhile Paige Carter broke three records for Alonso High School and recorded personal best times in the 200-free, 100-breast and 200-IM. Paige also helped break three relay records with fellow TBAY swimmer Kendal Clarke.

That same weekend, our younger swimmers competed at the Sweet September meet in Clearwater. The team swims at this meet every year. Although we all love it, the past two years have brought storms and this year was no different. On Friday evening and Saturday the kids swam with just a few stray showers. Strong winds caused one of the tents to get launched into the air with parents and swimmers underneath. Thankfully, no one was hurt. After a short delay, the meet continued. Sunday morning, however, brought massive lightning, thunder and downpours, ultimately cancelling the day’s events. It was still a very successful meet for our swimmers with five of them winning high point trophies. New Junior Olympic cuts were also made by Carolina Ricciardi, Lauren Sellers, Zachary Bennett, Ava Carter and Kory Kimura.

Another amazing thing about all of these swimmers is that they are good students. Many of them are in IB programs and advanced honors classes and they are able to keep their grades up while practicing and swimming hard.

By Brenda Bennett


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TBay Swimmers Feted for Success

In July Westchase swimmers attended the annual awards banquet at the Swim and Tennis Center.  

At the banquet Coach Kelley Allen distributes a number of different awards. Swimmers were given participation trophies based on the number of swim meets they attended during the year.  Coach Kelley also choose swimmers from each of the four practice groups for special awards, including Most Improved, MVP and Coach’s Award. The Coach’s Award is given based on the swimmer demonstrating hard work, competitive drive, sportsmanship, improvement and work ethic. 
Also in July, TBAY Westchase sent 10 swimmers to the Florida Age Group (FLAGS) Championship meet in Gainesville. Known as JO’s to swimmers, the meet is for swimmers who are aged 14 and under and who have qualifying times. Achieving one or more qualifying times for these meets is one of the goals for swimmers, so it is quite an honor to attend.

TBAY as a club placed third overall in points behind the Sarasota Sharks and Bolles.  Ava Carter won second place high point for 10U girls by taking second place in the 50 free and 50 back, first place in the 50 breast, third in the 100 breast, first in the 50 fly, first in the 200 IM and third place in two relay finishes.  Her older sister, Paige Carter, placed seventh in the Girls 13-14 100 breast and fifth in the 200 breast.  Paige and Casey Knowles helped their TBAY Relay team win fourth place in the Girls 13-14 200-meter free relay.   Kory Kimura placed ninth in the 10U Boys 200 free and tenth in the 50 backstroke.

Westchase swimmers who qualified for FLAGS were Lauren Sellers, Kory Kimura, Ava Carter, Paige Carter, Zachary Bennett, Casey Knowles, Kendall Allen, Richie Bui, Ryaan Hatoum, Christopher Quach and Carolina Ricciardi.

On July 26 TBAY Westchase sent five swimmers to the Florida State Long Course Senior Champs competition in Sarasota for swimmers 14 and older.  Olympian Ryan Lochte currently holds six of the meet’s existing records in various strokes, including the 400 IM, for which he won a gold medal in London. 

Competing at the Senior Champs, Kyle Kimura placed tenth in the Boys 15-16 50 free, ninth in the 100 free and tenth in the 200 free.  Austin Sellers landed third place in the Boys 15-16 100 breast and third in the Boys 15-16 200 breast. 

Westchase Swimmers who qualified for FLAGS were Austin Sellers, Kyle Kimura, Kent Kimura, Jocelyn Williams, Ben Parker and Taylor Anderson

Many of our team members will be swimming for their high schools, so look for their names in the newspaper for being stars on their teams.

By Brenda Bennett


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TBay Swimmers and Parents a Dedicated Lot

TBAY Westchase’s swim team continues their very busy summer of long practices and hot weekends at swim meets.

After each meet, swim parents should also be awarded medals for getting up at the crack of dawn, dragging groggy swimmers from their beds and getting the meet’s supplies packed and loaded. These dedicated parents drive to the meets while trying to get their groggy swimmers to eat and drink something. Arriving, they sweat in the hot sun beside a cool, inviting pool that they can’t jump into. After cheering on their child, they reload the car – and do it all over again the next day.

We do love it though!

The weekend of June 15, the club swam at the Lightning Invitational in Largo. First through third places finishes were had by Carolina Ricciardi, Lauren Sellers and Joshua Bennett.

First through eighth place finishers also came back in the late afternoon for finals. Many parents therefore spent our entire weekend at the meet – yet another reason for a swim parent medal!

It goes without saying that Coach Kelley should also be thanked for his boundless energy. For three days straight he runs up and down the pool while cheering for his swimmers from morning until night.

Two weeks later, the team swam a short course meet in Lakeland. The team is in long-course season so this meet is an anomaly and most swimmers do really well after racing the longer, 50-meter courses. First through third place finishes were had by Carolina Ricciardi, Zachary Bennett, Lauren Sellers, Richie Bui, Jacob Key, Lindsay Valancius, Paige Carter and Ava Carter. Lauren Sellers also won the third place high point trophy.

The last meet up before our championship FLAGS and Senior Champs was in St. Petersburg the weekend of July 6. Placing first through third were Joshua Bennett, Zachary Bennett, Elliott Easton, Lauren Sellers, Austin Sellers, Paige Carter, Ava Carter, Taylor Anderson and Casey Knowles. Taking home first place highpoint awards were Ava Carter and Joshua Bennett.

Normally, winning swimmers get medals or trophies, but for this meet, the first and second place winners received rubber ducks. It was fun to see that the kids were more thrilled with the rubber ducks than medals!

Please visit for the swim team’s schedule and more updates.

By Brenda Bennett


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TBay Continues Hard Work Over Summer Break

You might be planning a relaxing summer of sleeping in every day, but the TBAY Westchase swim team is working harder than ever.

The Age Group 1 and Senior swimmers are at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center pool six days a week from 7-10 a.m., with a second afternoon practice from 4-6 p.m. Meanwhile the Age Group 2 kids swim from 10 a.m.-noon, with the novice group swimming from 10-11:30 a.m. That is a lot of swimming!
The team knows that to swim their best, they have to put in the hours at practice. Including Little Flippers, that swim schedule puts Coach Kelley Allen on deck for at least eight hours per day in the very hot sun. You’ll notice that coach has a large container of cold water close at hand through the day as he endures the Florida heat.

During the school year, that hard work has paid off as our swimmers have continued to excel at meets. On May 19-20, the team swam a meet at the St. Petersburg Northshore pool. The meet didn’t designate team winners or high points but first through third place finishes were made by
Carolina Ricciardi, Bruna Ricciardi, Ava Carter, Taylor Anderson, Paige Carter, Joshua Bennett, Zachary Bennett, Kory Kimura, Kyle Kimura and Ryaan Hatoum.

Many residents may not know that over half of our swim team members are Westchase residents whose parents pay homeowners’ association dues plus an additional monthly swim and tennis center fee and swim team dues. Like any other sport, swimming requires a physical and financial commitment. It also demands dedicated parents who will get up early to drive their swimmers to practices and weekend meets.

Team members 14 and under with qualifying cuts are getting ready for the Florida State Age Group Championships (formerly Junior Olympics) July 19-22 in Gainesville while the 15–18-year-old swimmers with qualifying cuts will compete at the Senior Championships July 26-29 in Sarasota. It is an honor just to compete in either of the two events and something our swim team kids strive to achieve.

By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY @ Westchase Takes First Place at Rowdy Cup

Westchase’s TBAY Swim Team continued their winning streak with two more team trophies at recent meets.

The team is now swimming their long-course season, which means they are swimming 50-meter laps instead of 25-yard laps. The fact that the team still excels in long course meets without access to a long-course training pool speaks highly of our coach, Kelley Allen. Coach Kelley has the kids flip-turning without using the wall to push off. This feels much like a dead stop in the water and is quite difficult. A long-course, 50-meter or 100-meter butterfly can be extremely daunting when you realize it’s about twice the length of our Westchase pool.The weekend of April 20 the team competed in the annual Rowdy Cup meet in Winter Haven. The meet is named after U.S. Olympic Hall of Famer and three-time Olympic gold medalist Rowdy Gaines, now a TV commentator. TBAY competed with 21 other clubs but finished with the first-place trophy. High point awards for first through third place were won by Carolina Ricciardi (8U Girls), Ava Carter (10U Girls), Kory Kimura (10U Boys), Lauren Sellers (11-12 Girls), Paige Carter (13-14 Girls) and Kyle Kimura (Senior Boys).

Two weekends later the team also took the first place trophy at the WFLA Spring Open held in Largo. First- through third-place highpoint awards were won by Carolina Ricciardi (8U Girls), Joshua Bennett (8U Boys), Ava Carter (10U Girls), Kory Kimura (10U Boys), Zachary Bennett (11-12 Boys), Paige Carter (13-14 Girls), Casey Knowles (13-14 Girls) and Kyle Kimura (Senior Boys).

This month the team will compete the weekend of June 15 in Largo and June 30 in Lakeland. For updates please visit our Web site,


By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Celebrates Spring

Every spring the TBAY @ Westchase swim team looks forward to its annual spring picnic.

This year’s picnic was held at Baybridge Park after Saturday swim practice. You would think that our swimmers would be tired after one group had swum for three hours and the other had swum for one and one half hours. That, however, was certainly not the case. The kids played games and held relay races. Soon they began their annual tradition of getting each other sopping wet with water balloons, water guns and buckets of water. Prior to the drenching, the parents made sure the kids ate lots of burgers, hot dogs, chips, cookies, cake and plenty of other goodies. The kids all had a wonderful time having fun together outside of the pool.

During the picnic, Coach Kelley Allen took what, for him, is an unusual position – sitting in a chair in the shade. Most of you have probably seen Coach Kelley around our pool during practice. He doesn’t sit down for four to six hours straight, running up and down the side of the pool while instructing the swimmers.

Two weeks later many of our swimmers participated in the Area 3-5 meet in Sarasota. The meet is for swimmers who have not achieved a current FLAG (JO) or Senior Champ cut in their event. Our swimmers had a great meet. Richie Bui placed third in the Boys 13-14 200-yard breast stroke while Christopher Quach placed second in the Boys 11-12 100-yard backstroke. Carolina Ricciardi had a great meet with many solid finishes in the Girls 8U races, including first in the 25- and 50-yard breast and 50 free; second in the 100 IM; and third in the 25 fly. Lindsey Valancius placed third in 11-12 Girls 100-yard back. Meanwhile new Junior Olympics times were achieved by Kendal Allen in the Girls 13-14 Fly, Richie Bui in the Boys 13-14 100- and 200-yard breast and Christopher Quach in the Boys 11-12 100 back.

If you would like to follow the activities of the swim team, please visit our Web site,


By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Swimmers Take Second at Senior Championships

In late February Westchase’s TBAY branch sent four 15-and-older swimmers to the highly competitive Florida Swimming Senior Championships in Orlando.

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte swam at the meet along with many of Florida’s future Olympic hopefuls. Our four swimmers all did exceptionally well and improved upon their fastest times. At the meet’s end Tampa Bay Aquatics (TBAY) had won second place behind Bolles, with both beating the Sarasota Sharks team, which placed third. If you are familiar with the Bolles School in Jacksonville, you will know what an accomplishment it is to compete with them for top finishes.
Among the Senior Champs, Austin Sellers placed fourth in the boy’s 14-16 200-yard breast stroke and sixth in the 100-yard breast. After the meet, Kyle Kimura, who had helped TBAY win fifth place in two relays, was asked to swim on a relay team at USA Swimming’s Junior Nationals, which will be held in Orlando on March 20–24. This is a huge honor for Kyle and the team is very proud of him.

On March 8-11, Westchase’s TBAY sent ten 14-and-under swimmers to the Florida Age Group Championships (FLAGS), still known in the swimming world as Junior Olympics. At the meet’s close, TBAY had placed third behind the Bolles team and the Sarasota Sharks, who enjoyed a home pool advantage. Ryaan Hatoum placed seventh in the Boys 10U 50 breast. Lauren Sellers kicked TBAY off by knocking nine seconds off her time in a very long and difficult 11-12 Girls 1,000 freestyle. Paige Carter made it to finals for three events, placing sixth in the 13-14 Girls’ 200-yard breast, tenth in the 100-yard breast and sixth, seventh and eighth in three relays.

Younger sister Ava Carter starred in the Girls 10U, placing fifth in the 50 fly, fourth in the 100 IM, sixth in the 50 free, seventh in the 100 free, first in the 50 breast, second in the 100 breast and fourth in a relay. If a swimmer achieves a top-six finish, they earn a spot on the Florida All Star team, so both Carters will swim at the All Star meet in Fort Pierce March 24-25.

Jabari Ramsey, 12, made finals for four 11-12 Boys events and won third place in the 50 fly, fourth in the 100 fly, fifth in the 200 IM and first in the 100 IM, 100 breast and 50 breast. Jabari also helped his relay teams place first and third and second in two additional events. 

Once again our swimmers demonstrated that hard work and focus can help them shine!

By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Team Triumphs with Help of High Temps

In the last week of December 2011, TBAY Westchase Swim Coach Kelley Allen made a very wise decision to have our team swim their first meet of 2012 indoors.

He scheduled them for the indoor meet at Clearwater Long Center on Jan. 14-16. There was another outdoor meet that weekend that the team had originally planned to attend. Its format, however, was changed, so that seniors who had achieved Sr. Champs cuts would not be allowed to swim.Florida temperatures in January can vary significantly. On the weekend of Jan. 14-16, the TBAY Westchase team was all thanking Coach Kelley since the temperature had plunged into the 40’s.

Our swimmers were nice and warm in the indoor Long Center and their results showed it. TBAY placed fourth overall out of 31 clubs, which is a huge accomplishment in such a competitive meet. It hosted 20-25 Olympic trial qualifiers, the Canadian National Junior Team, several national age group record holders and many Olympic hopefuls.

High point winners were Carolina Ricciardi (first place, 8U Girls), her twin sister Bruna Ricciardi (second place) and Joshua Bennett (first place, 8U Boys). Many of our swimmers made finals each night. First through third place preliminary and finals victories were achieved by Taylor Anderson, Paige Carter, Ava Carter, Kory Kimura, Casey Knowles, Jabari Ramsey and Lauren Sellers.

Two weeks later when the team swam at an outdoor meet in St. Petersburg, the weather had changed again. It grew much warmer, which also allowed them to excel. First through third place finishes were had by Taylor Anderson, Joshua Bennett, Zachary Bennett, Richie Bui, Ava Carter, Paige Carter, Kayli Diaz, Ryaan Hatoum, Jacob Key, Kory Kimura, Kyle Kimura, Casey Knowles, Lauren Sellers, Austin Sellers and Preston Smith.

On Feb. 23-26, our older swimmers with cut times swam at the Florida Senior Champs meet in Orlando while our 14-and-under swimmers with cut times will race at the FLAGS (formerly Junior Olympics) March 8-11 in Sarasota.

If you would like to see live feeds from some of our meets, go to selec,t then click on Westchase.

By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Team Proudly Displays Championship Banner

If you have been around the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center pool on Countryway Boulevard, you have seen a new championship banner.

The banner announces that the TBAY @ Westchase swim team is the Silver Champs for the Harry Meisel Championships. That event was held Dec. 10-11, when the team finished second out of 13 swim clubs. This is no surprise given the number of first, second and third place finishes our team had. Top three finishes were achieved by Lauren Sellers, Maddie Strasen, Richie Bui, Christopher Quach, Ben Parker, Tiffany Quach, Austin Sellers, Kayli Diaz, Carolina Ricardi and Zachary Bennett.
After the team put in their hard work racing, they were ready for the fun of their annual Christmas party. Every year the kids look forward to the very messy but tasty donut eating contest, sack relays and Secret Santa gift exchange. As in past years, Coach Kelley even competed with the kids in the donut eating contest. Everyone ended up with a face covered in chocolate and/or powdered sugar. Club members also feasted on a huge spread of food; these kids have to keep their energy up for swimming!

Over the Christmas vacation, while most of their peers were sleeping late and relaxing, the TBAY @ Westchase swimmers were spending two to five hours at the pool practicing. The older group practiced daily from 7-10 a.m., with some returning for a second practice from 4-6 p.m. The younger swimmers practiced from 10-11:30 a.m. or noon each day.

That is dedication to their sport and the reason this team keeps winning!

By Brenda Bennett


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WCA Board Meeting Notes, Jan. 2012: Board Debates Grass Moratorium and Pool Fence

The first meeting of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors in 2012 kicked off with fireworks. The Jan. 12 session began with the residents forum that saw two voting members, Carlos Quiros (Villas of West Park Village) and Gene McArthur (Woodbay), express concerns about fireworks being set off in the community over the recent holiday season. McArthur said a pick-up truck parked in front of his house on New Year’s Eve and set off canister-style fireworks, which burned a neighbor’s screen enclosure. McArthur described the fireworks as, “…not kids’ stuff but major explosives.”

After WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga suggested that the fireworks issue be added to the February meeting agenda so the matter could be properly addressed, the board agreed.

In new business, a motion was made to roll over the year-end cash available balance of approximately $232,000. The motion was seconded and approved.

Directors then discussed assessment deadlines for homeowners’ late payments. The annual homeowner’s assessment was due by Jan. 1; a notice and $25 late fee will be sent to the owner on Feb. 1. A follow-up letter will be sent out on March 1 advising delinquent owners they will be forwarded to legal counsel if the assessments are not paid by March 15. Those homeowners whose accounts are sent to legal counsel for collection generally see significant legal fees added to their bill.

The Nathan Lafer Award, which was awarded to Harbor Links/The Estates resident Ben Stein for his work in establishing the Westchase Thanksgiving Food Drive, was presented to his father, Jonathan, since Ben is currently away at college.

During the meeting, directors debated whether there should be a temporary moratorium on dead sod violations due the winter weather. Dyan Pithers commented, “It’s been a mild year in regards to weather so I don’t support it.”

Greens resident Ernie Sylvester, a supervisors on the Community Development District, asked, “Has anything been written in WOW about how to grow grass in winter?” The board agreed that education of residents might be a good idea.

Directors also discussed adding fencing at the West Park Village pool, which would allow access to the pool bathrooms for tennis players. To protect the association against liability, the suggested fence would keep restroom visitors from approaching the closed pool. Currently, those utilizing the tennis courts have to walk to the Baybridge Park restrooms. Brian Ross stated, “I’m not ready to talk about quotes for fencing when we aren’t clear on a master plan.”

The board agreed it was a good idea to put together a two- to five-year master plan for the facilities first.

Alonso High School requested use of the West Park Village tennis courts from 3-5 p.m. each day for their tennis team’s practices. Westchase Operations Manager Kelly Shires expressed support for the proposal and the board approved it.

In other news:

The board voted unanimously to re-appoint Dale Sells to the Modifications Committee.

The last West Park Village water bill was higher than normal and a leak was discovered and repaired.

Association Manager Debbie Sainz announced that Shires and Westchase Swimming Coach Kelley Allen had received Red Cross certifications. This will allow Westchase to become a training center for certifying individuals seeking to become lifeguards at Westchase pools.

Sainz announced there were 400 violation letters sent to residents in December.

A volleyball tournament is planned for February with Westchase villages competing against each other. Interested residents should contact the Swim and Tennis Center at 855-0662.

Zookeeper will be February’s featured Movie in the Park. It will be shown on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at Baybridge Park.

By Lisa Puster


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TBAY Swimmers Finish 2011 Strongly

November and December saw impressive accomplishments among Westchase’s TBAY squad, including one swimmer beating an Olympic champion.

Nov. 5-6 saw TBAY at the CAT Fall Classic at the Long Center in Clearwater. Many of our swimmers came out with top ten finishes. High point medals for second place were awarded to Jabari Ramsey among the 11-12 Boys and Joshua Bennett among the 7-8 Boys.
On Nov. 19-20 our swimmers participated in a meet in St. Petersburg where triple Olympic champion Brooke Bennett raced. Bennett, now 31, is quite a celebrity to the swimmers and she was kind enough to sign autographs while trying to prep for her own races. TBAY swimmer Jabari Ramsey, 12, raced Bennett on the Long Course 50 Fly and out swam her by sub seconds. How many kids can say they swam against a former Olympic swimmer and beat them?

Twins Carolina and Bruna Ricciardi, 8, also had an outstanding meet and finished in first and second place in many of their races. TBAY’s Westchase swimmers achieved top ten rankings in most events in which they swam.

Over Dec. 2-4 16 members of the TBAY Westchase branch attended the Gator Holiday Classic in Gainesville. This meet was highly competitive and included swimmers from Georgia and Florida. It was quite an accomplishment just to swim in the meet since there were qualifying times for each race. Finals were held for those swimmers 11 and older who achieved top finishes. Many of our TBAY swimmers went on to them on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening.

Among them Ava Carter placed second in the 10U 50 breast and 100 breast races out of almost 100 girls racing! Ava’s 200 free relay team also came in third place and she finished sixth in the 50 fly and ninth in the 100 fly and 100 IM. Older sister Paige Carter took ninth place in the 200 breast and made it into finals each night.

Jabari Ramsey placed first in the 11-12 Boys 50 breast and 100 breast, second in the 200 yard breast and 100 IM, fourth in the 200 IM and tenth in the 50 fly. All three Kimuras, Kory, Kyle and Kent, made cuts with Kyle making finals in some events and achieving an eighth place finish on a relay. Siblings Austin and Lauren Sellers also both swam and Lauren achieved another FLAGS (formerly called the Junior Olympics) cut in the 100 IM.

As usual the TBAY @ Westchase swimmers represented their community proudly.

By Brenda Bennett


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Westchase High School Swimmers Shine

The teen swimmers from TBAY @ Westchase swim club are representing several high schools in Tampa Bay this year.

The Westchase high school swimmers are: Taylor Anderson (Freshman, Mitchell H.S. – Class 2A, Region 2), Jimmy Dang (Sophomore, Jesuit H.S. – Class 2A, Region 3), Kayli Diaz (Freshman, Hillsborough H.S. – Class 2A, Region 3), Harrison Keane (Freshman, Berkeley Prep – Class 1A, Region 3), Kent Kimura (Junior, Jesuit H.S. – Class 2A, Region 3), Kyle Kimura (Sophomore, Plant H.S. – Class 3A, Region 2), Michael Melendez (Junior, Tampa Catholic – Class 1A, Region 3), Ben Parker (Junior, Jesuit H.S. – Class 2A, Region 3), Austin Sellers (Freshman, Jesuit H.S. – Class 2A, Region 3) and Jocelyn Williams (Sophomore, Land O’ Lakes H.S. – Class 2A, Region 2). Also competing for her school with the high school swimmers is Lindsey Marian, a sixth grader at the Academy of the Holy Names.

Currently Taylor Anderson holds the Mitchell H.S. record in the 50 Free, 100 Free and 100 Breast. Kyle Kimura holds the Plant H.S. record in the 100 Fly.

The teen swimmers represented their high schools at the 2011-12 FHSAA Swimming and Diving Championships. All of these swimmers competed in their high school district meets and could only compete in two individual events. The district meets occurred Oct. 27-28. The top eight in each event from the district meets qualified to compete in the regional meets on Nov. 4-5. The top 24 overall swimmers in every region of each class qualified to compete in the state meets Nov. 10-12.

In Class 3A, Region 2, Kyle Kimura placed eighth in the 100 Fly. In Class 1A, Region 3, Harrison Keane placed seventh in the 200 Free and 10th in the 500 Free; and Michael Melendez placed 16th in the 200 Free. In Class 2A, Region 2, Taylor Anderson won first place in the 50 Free and 12th in the 100 Breast and Jocelyn Williams placed fifth in the 200 IM and seventh in the 100 Breast. 

In Class 2A, Region 3, Kayli Diaz placed sixth in the 200 Free and 11th in the 100 Fly; Jimmy Dang placed ninth in the 100 Back and 11th in the 200 IM; Kent Kimura placed 10th in the 200 Free and the 500 Free; Ben Parker placed third in the 200 Free and seventh in the 500 Free; and Austin Sellers placed third in the 100 Breast and placed fifth in the 200 IM.

Taylor Anderson, Jocelyn Williams and Austin Sellers advanced to states in their respective classes in individual events. There Taylor Anderson placed 11th in the 50 Free, Jocelyn Williams placed 22nd in the 200 IM; and Austin Sellers placed 16th in the 100 Breast.

Congratulations to our Westchase high school swimmers!

By Rachel Sellers


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Fall Brings Great Times and Pumpkins to TBAY @ Westchase

September and October saw Westchase swimmers bring home championship times, high point awards and pumpkins.

On Sept. 18 some of the TBAY @Westchase swim team’s 11-and-older swimmers took on the 1,000-yard swim at the St. Petersburg invitational meet. All of the swimmers who participated successfully completed the distance.

Three swimmers, Lauren Sellers (11-12 Girls), Jabari Ramsey (11-12 Boys) and Austin Sellers (13-14 Boys), achieved Florida Age Group Championship (FLAGS, formerly Junior Olympics) time cuts and Paige Carter (13-14 Girls) achieved a Senior Champ cut.

While this is exciting news for these racers, it also means they are going to be swimming the event at least once more at the championship competitions. None of these swimmers look forward to swimming fast for that distance, but they enjoy the challenge!

The weekend of Oct. 8-10 the TBAY @ Westchase swimmers and their parents endured a full day of extreme wind followed by a full day of non-stop rain. Nevertheless they continued to excel at the Nike Swim Classic. At the meet Westchase’s team came in second place out of 15 teams. This was a significant accomplishment because Westchase was the only TBAY branch racing. Many of our swimmers placed in the top ten for high points.  To determine high point awards, points are given each time a swimmer races for first place and so on.)

High Points Awards:

Carolina Ricciardi, fifth place (8U)
Joshua Bennett, sixth place (8U)
Ava Carter, third place (10U)
Kory Kimura, third place (10U)
Lauren Sellers, eighth place (11-12)
Zachary Bennett, fourth place (11-12)
Christopher Quach, ninth place (11-12)
Paige Carter, first place (Senior Girls)
Kendal Allen, eighth place (Senior Girls)
Austin Sellers, first place (Senior Boys)
Michael Melendez, ninth place (Senior Boys)

One fun thing about the meet was that swimmers who won their heats were allowed to pick out pumpkins from the pumpkin patch.

The TBAY @ Westchase team took home lots of pumpkins!

By Brenda Bennett


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TBAY Places Third in FLAG Championships

Fifty teams across Florida sent swimmers to the Florida Age Group Championship Long Course meet in Orlando Florida and Tampa Bay Aquatics came away with third place overall.  

The third place finish is a huge accomplishment based on the competitiveness of Florida’s swim clubs. Directly after that meet, Westchase’s Paige Carter was one of 48 swimmers selected for the Southern Zone team.  The top five swimmers in each age group are chosen to swim for the Zone team and it is quite an honor to be selected.  

Carter flew to Cary, North Carolina, where she spent the week training and competing in various races including a three-kilometer open water swim.   Carter had never done an open water swim before but she ended up loving the event.  Carter’s mom, April, her dad, Marc, and sister, Ava, were able to travel to North Carolina to see some of the events.

TBAY continued their high performances at the Area 3 meet July 29-31, where the team garnered many first, second and third place finishes. In addition, swimmers Taylor Anderson, Kory Kimura, Ryaan Hatoum, Austin Sellers and Lauren Sellers achieved new Florida Age Group Championship short course cuts.

For more information onWestchase’s TBAY team, visit then click on Westchase. 

By Brenda Bennett


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