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St. Andrew’s Aquatics coach Sid Cassidy couldn’t have scripted a better finish for his team in the recent Florida Gold Coast 14-and-Under Junior Olympics Championships at Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.
His program topped the 32-team field by winning the combined team title with 906 points. It marked the first time in 16 years that they won the championship.
St. Andrew’s Aquatics also captured the girls’ team title with 531 points and was third in the boys with 375 points.
“That meet was an absolute joy,” Cassidy said. “I have to give it up to all of our athletes first. They did a wonderful job staying focused. I say that because of the way they have been trained. The credit goes to all of our coaches.
“What they did at this meet was a huge piece of our puzzle,” Cassidy said. “This is trophy that for 16 years has been on our bucket list to do when we got here. Quinn Cassidy, our lead coach (and the coach’s son), was our only medal winner and he won the high point…and to come back from that 2006 event and to lead the team that we have the right way, we really feel very proud of what we accomplished today. We can check one off and it is on to the next one.”
St. Andrew’s Aquatics won the combined 10-Under division with 215.50 points and placed second in the combined 11-12 division with 316.50 points. St. Andrew’s Aquatics was second in the 13-14 combined standings with 374 points.
“We only won three individual events — two guys and a girl, but we scored huge points in the relays and our depth with multiple swimmers in the finals,” Cassidy said. “In the past, we have had high point winners, but we never had it all the way through every age group.”
Parkland’s Luke Reid, 10, turned in a solid performance for St. Andrew’s Aquatics by placing third in the boys’ 10-Under high point standings with 56 points. He swam seven events, plus two relays.
“I like the individual events because you get to swim your own race, and in relays you swim with your friends,” said Reid, who trimmed three seconds off the 200-freestyle event. “I swam a 2:09 and I usually swim a 2:12. I also dropped a second in the 100 back.”
“I felt like the weekend was very long but good,” he said. “I have fun racing and I try and set personal goals like the St. Andrew’s 10-Under record.”
Despite his short stature, Caleb Caponera finished seventh in the boys’ 11-12 high point with 44 points.
“Always being one of the smallest ones always on the blocks it is always a little bit challenging, but I always overcome it,” said Caponera, 12, of Boca Raton. “I am still [4 feet 9 inches tall] and these kids are like [5 feet 8 inches tall] and stuff.
“I always put in all I have, and I try to do my best,” Caponera said. “It is not how big you are, it is how big your heart is. I try and focus underwater because it will make me less tired for the race. I think it is almost better because I think I have a lot of endurance and my favorite events are the 200 fly, the 400 IM, and the mile, but I think I can do pretty well staying with them.”
The FAU Henderson sixth-grader swam in seven events and four relays.
“I pretty much just like the feeling on being in the water,” Caponera said. “I have always loved the water. I have always been a water boy. I love surfing and doing a lot of water sports. I feel like this has always been my home ever since I started.
“My dad liked surfing and he wanted me to be confident in the water, so he put me on a swim team, and I loved it,” Caponera said. “I was good at it and I just kept going.”
Caponera set a couple of personal best times in the 200-yard IM, finishing second and dropping a second off his best time and then also finished second in the 400-yard IM and dropped two seconds in that race.
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He said his favorite events are the IMs, flys and breast.
“I was really happy with my 400-IM because that is one of the hardest races and I got second in that, which I was really proud of because I just turned 12 and I was close to first.
“I want to go as far as I can. I want to make Olympic Trials,” he said. “I want to even make it to the Olympics.”
Samantha Schoenborn, 14, of St. Andrew’s Aquatics was third in the girls’ 13-14 high point with 63 points, while teammate Sara Miller, 13, finished fourth with 43 points.
In the boys’ 13-14 high point race, Kingsley Bailey, 14, of Saint Andrew’s Aquatics, was fourth with 40 points
The top six finishers in each JO event qualified for the Florida Gold Coast All-Star team for the All-Stars meet in Fort Pierce March 25-27. There were 619 swimmers in the meet.