FIVE SWIMMERS TO WATCH
Kelly Schmaedeke, Sr., Lakeland: She is a two-time Ledger swimmer of the year. She finished 15th in the state in the 200 IM and was close to reaching the consolation finals at state in the 100 breaststroke. She is the county champion in the 200 IM and 100 breast.
Anya Bogdanova, So., Lakeland: She made a big splash as a Fr., winning the 200 free at 2:02.80 at the county meet and finishing third in the 100 fly. She can swim any event and posted a 5:16 in the grueling 500.
Angelique Benda, Sr., Jenkins: She was the county champion in the 100 freestyle, runner-up in the 50 free and a led off the Eagles county championship 200-free relay squad.
Skylar Peterson, So. McKeel Academy: She was the county champion in the 500 free and runner-up in the 200 free. She posted a 2:01.79 in the 200 at the Lakeland City meet and a 5:33.38 winning the 500 at county.
Emma Foster, So., McKeel Academy: She overcame injury to win the county championship in the 100 back last year and went on to post a 1:01.07 at regionals.
DIVER TO WATCH
Haley Henson, So., Winter Haven: She finished second in the county last year with a 239.05 before qualifying for the state finals and finishing 19th overall.
FIVE TEAMS TO WATCH
Lakeland: This team is stacked with talent at the top and will challenge to unseat Jenkins as county champions if the Dreadnaughts can score enough points out of the slower lanes. Their top swimmers will dominate. Kelly Schmaedeke leads the charge and is the best in the county. She finished 15th in the state in the 200 IM and qualified in the 100 breast. With versatile Anya Bogdanova, Hollis Rosenkranz, coming off a big summer, Cassidy Jimmerson, Olivia Vignec and Alexia Riley, the squad is deep in every stroke.
Jenkins: The defending county champions lost Madison Gearhart but return a solid core with Sr. freestylists Angelique Benda and Sydney Gearhart. Also Lauren Cardosi can move out in the 200 IM and 100 fly and Tory Mano, Claire Macleod and Olivia Centanni give this team much depth and strong relays.
McKeel: The Wildcats finished third in the county last year with a young roster. Skylar Peterson and Emma Foster are two of the county’s best swimmers and Ledger First Team selections as freshmen. So. Sophia Nicholas posted a 1:10.60 in the 100 butterfly at City and is strong in the 500.
Winter Haven: Marlo DiLorenzo, now a Sr., leads the charge. She was the county runner-up in the 100 back and fourth in the 100 free. He sister Morgan, now a So., is solid in all strokes and should step up as a big force on this squad. Grace Kendall Kristen Adams, Anna Pastrami, Allison Flynn and Haven Twyford round out a strong lineup. Haley Henson finished second in the county in diving, and with county champ Gabby Tolento graduated, the door opens for her to be the diver to beat.
All Saints: There is plenty of experienced leadership on this team that will guide some new faces. Sr. Gianna Wegman is the school record holder in the 100 fly, Jr. Amanda Orcutt was a district champion in diving and helps out of relays and Sr. Hannah Wormersley will handle the long-distance swims. Look for Fr. Olivia Sorenson to be strong in the 100 fly, 200 IM and 100 back.
FIVE ATHLETES TO WATCH
Colby Garthwaite, Sr., Jenkins: He finished 13th in the state in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:00.70. He is the county champion in both the 100 breast and 200 IM and is stroke for stroke one of the best swimmers in the county.
William Paul, Sr., All Saints: He was a state qualifier in the 200 IM and stopped the clock at 1:02.95 in the 100 breast at a club meet this year along with a 1:45.88 in the 200 free and 4:47.62 in the 500 free – easily a state qualifying time.
Enrique Carrasquillo, Sr., Lake Gibson: A newcomer from Puerto Rico, Carrasquillo knocked down a 1:05 short-course time in the 100 breaststroke this summer at Sr. Champs. He is projected to trim that down to at least a 1:02 or better by season’s end. He also touched the wall a 2:14 in the 200 IM, which could drop significantly this fall if he can improve on his backstroke split.
Daryl Clark, So., Lake Region: He was a Class 3A state qualifier in the 100 back and county champ in the event. He was third at county in the 200 IM.
Ford Simons, So., Winter Haven: He finished fourth in the 100 breast and sixth in the 200 IM at county last season. Now a year older, he should challenge to be one of the top forces in the county for the next three seasons.
DIVER TO WATCH
Nick Tolento, So., Lake Wales: He is the defending county diving champion and won a fourth-place medal at the state finals. He was also the Class 3A, District 6 champion and Region 2 runner-up.
FIVE TEAMS TO WATCH
All Saints: Will Harding is one of the top swimmers in the county but is recovering from knee surgery. However, he is expected to be ready for the postseason. With William Paul, Brock Lindsey, Jace Rachid and diver Killian Wright, the Saints have enough talent and speed to make a strong effort to defend their county championship.
Jenkins: The Eagles finished fourth at the county meet last year and did not lose any talent to graduation but have gained some newbies. With Garthwaite, So. Logan Hauk, Steele Alleva, Scott and Evan Schullhofer, they will make a push for a higher county finish this season.
McKeel: The Wildcats finished second at the county meet this past season and were just 17.5 points away from its first title in school history. Jr. Emanuel Valentin is strong in the 100 fly with a 1:04.66 at regionals and also the 200 free. Seth Hibbard, Jr., was seventh in the 100 back at county and is strong in the 500. So. Kenny Roth posted a 2:01.93, finishing second at the county meet in the 200 free.
Winter Haven: With Ford Simons, Jr.s Jacob Santiago and Matthew Smith and Sr. Logan Houser along with Fr. Matthew Long, the Blue Devils, which finished third in the county last season, missing second place by 4.5 points, should be a big challenger. Look for up-and-comers on the diving boards.
Lakeland: The Dreadnaughts are not deep and are rebuilding, but with 200-free county champion Rodrigo Salinas returning and Luke Feddler in the 100 breast and 200 IM, they should be able to rebuild enough to challenge for another fifth-place finish at county like last season.
Bill Kemp can be reached at Bill.Kemp@theledger.com; follow him on Twitter @BillKempSports