The Class 1A state meet is thought, by many high school coaches, to showcase the best and fastest swimmers in the state.
Traditionally, meet times are usually faster than in the other classifications. Several national and state records were shattered last season in Class 1A by Jacksonville Bolles. Bolles, arguably the most dominant team in state history, has been the biggest obstacle local teams have had to overcome. Few teams have had the talent to challenge Bolles, a boarding school that attracts top swimming talent from around the world.
Swimmers from Miami-Dade County have fared well individually in Class1A, but team scores have fallen well short of even second place. At the start of the season, Bolles is again expected to be the heavy favorite, but a talented core of Miami-Dade swimmers could potentially stand in its way.
If things pan out the way Ransom Everglades coach Andy de Angulo sees it, his girls’ squad might stand a legitimate chance of dethroning Bolles, a feat that has not been accomplished since 1991.
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“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and a little luck,” de Angulo said.
Bolstering de Angulo’s confidence is the fact the Raiders return with the majority of their team intact, losing only one senior to graduation. Featuring a talented group of swimmers led by Annie Valls and Alexa Kalandiak, the Raiders could score enough points to compete with Bolles, if they can qualify enough swimmers into the state meet. Bolles has always benefited from its program’s large number of swimmers who have been able to advance to the final race in each event. Last season, Bolles had 32 athletes swim in the finals. Ransom had 13.
“Our number has to increase,” de Angulo said. “If we can get 18 to 20 quality [swimmers], we have a shot.”
For the Raiders to contend, they will also need better performances from their relays. The Raiders placed third and fourth in the 200-medley and the 200-free relays, respectively, but placed seventh in the 400-free relay. Valls and Kalandiak are instrumental in the Raiders’ relays, with both girls taking part in multiple events.
De Angulo is still figuring out who will swim on the relays but insists they will have faster times.
Valls was the Raiders’ highest individual finisher last season, placing third in the 100 breast. Valls has been steady training in the offseason, focusing on a grueling schedule that has her in the water most days of the week. While training and the physical aspect of the sport will usually determine who the fastest swimmer will be, Valls points out that they must believe they can beat Bolles to achieve their ultimate goal.
“Part of it is getting over the mental barriers. We have to adjust our mental capabilities,” she said. “We have to believe that we can do it and believe that we are just as good.”
News and notes
Several of Miami-Dade’s most talented swimmers missed the start of the high school season to compete at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Dubai. Among the athletes to take the trip the Middle East: St. Brendan’s Brienne Renfurm and Wayne Denswill, who both represented Suriname. Doral Academy swimmer Zuhayr Pigot also competed for Suriname.
The Florida High School Athletic Association, the state’s governing body, added a fourth swimming class. Most schools moved up a class, with large public schools making up the bulk of Class 4A. Several Miami-Dade schools were moved out of Class 1A, including Gulliver Prep. Ransom Everglades and Doral Academy remain in Class 1A.
After several years in Orlando, the FHSAA state finals are moving to Stuart. With the addition of a fourth class, the state meet will be split, with Class 1A and Class 2A competing Nov. 8-9. Class 3A and Class 4A will swim Nov. 15-16.