Original article by Chuck Frye, Tampa Bay Times
ST. PETERSBURG — With about a month to go before district meets, swimmers are usually well into their hard-core training regimens by now. Exhaustive practices held now followed by tapering which, if all goes well, means peak performances come states.
But that doesn’t mean forgoing record-breaking performances when the opportunity arises, and a pair of area athletes did just that on a beautiful but blustery Saturday in the Tampa Bay Classic.
After establishing the meet standard in the 100-yard freestyle last year, Academy at the Lakes junior McKenna Smith shaved another one-tenth of a second off of her mark, winning comfortably in 52.18 seconds. She also was triumphant earlier in the 50 freestyle (24.23 seconds).
“(Saturday morning) didn’t go as well as I wanted (finishing second in her 50 free preliminary race) but my 50 final felt really good,” Smith said in between races. “I hope my 100 does, too.”
Smith is feeling energized by the growth of the AATL program and her role within it.
“Last year, we had eight or nine swimmers and this year we have almost 20. The seventh graders came in and wanted to swim and it’s super exciting. I guess I’m a mentor, they’re always asking me questions, helping them learn and improve,” Smith said.