Palmetto High boys swim team repeats as state champion

By Gary Alan Ruse….

Pictured is the Palmetto High School boys swim team after receiving the state championship trophy. They are the (front row l-r) Coach David Booher, Austin Manganiello, Nathaniel Jones; (back row l-r) Samuel Smiddy, Andrew Smiddy, Michael Tandlich, Blake Manganiello, Derek Chait, Jack Danon, Derek Iglesias, Brian Blum and Sheri Horvitz.

For the second year in a row, the Palmetto High School boys swim team has won the Class 3A state championship.

The state swim meet was held Nov. 13 at the Central Florida YMCA Aquatic Center in Orlando and brought together teams from throughout the state.

“The funny thing was that we also won the championship last year on the 13th of the month, but on an earlier day of the week,” said Palmetto Coach David Booher. “I told the boys that it was kind of ironic. But I’m just overjoyed and ecstatic, and I’m very proud of the boys winning again this year. We lost so many good swimmers last year to graduation and they’re all in college now, so for our team to be able to come back and win again this year is amazing. All the boys swam really strong throughout the yea, and when it came time for districts, regionals and state, they ended up doing well in the relays. One of our boys had the fastest time ever posted.”

There were more than 40 students, both boys and girls, who participated on the swim team during the year and 11 boys and 7 girls were in the state meet.

“The state level is the highest they can go, but they publish their times in the national magazines and there’s a ‘mythical’ national champion chosen based on the best times of each team,” said Booher. “But it’s all done on paper; they don’t have a real swim-off. One of our boys was acknowledged at the national level last year, so we’ll have to see how we do this time.”

Booher is just in his fourth year as coach at Palmetto, so winning the state championship two years in a row is all the more impressive. He previously coached at Coral Reef Senior High. He says he had a special reason for switching to Miami Palmetto.

“It’s my alma mater, so I really wanted to come over and coach here,” he said. “The championships are not only a first for our school, I think it’s the first time any Miami team has done it since 1967. And we’ve had to do it while practicing in borrowed pools. Some of the other teams around the state have their own pools on campus.”

Booher said that he thinks Palmetto has a good start on having a great team next year, too.

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