HomeTeam Hot Shots
Morgan Tankersley, Plant
There was tons of pressure the past four months for Tankersley.
In August, the senior was named the national female high school swimmer by Swimming World.
Tankersley's rise to the top was thanks to her performance in individual events. She is ranked No. 1 nationally in the 200-yard freestyle (one minute, 44.31 seconds) and 500 free (4:37.60). Those times were set last year at the Class 4A state meet in Stuart.
That made her a target.
Lofty expectations in the pool were not the only burden. She also was trying to decide which college to attend. There were campus visits spread out the past few months.
Tankersley eventually committed to Stanford. But the recruiting trips took time away from training. And she had to endure some breathing issues. All that while competing against some of the fastest swimmers in the state.
She still performed exceptionally well. Tankersley defended her title in the 500 free (4:44.75) and was second in the 200 free (1:44.31). The state records she set in both events last year still stand.
But Gainesville Buchholz won its third straight team title and set five records at the meet.
"Morgan overcame a lot and still swam phenomenally well," Panthers coach Gil Gonzalez said. "The trouble is we have one Morgan, and Gainesville Buchholz has four."
Robert Finke, Countryside
It was easy to tab Finke the overwhelming favorite to win the 200-yard individual medley and 500 free at the Class 4A state swim meet this past weekend.
After all, the senior won two state titles last year and was the defending champion in the 500 free. In two of the more anticlimactic races, Finke left his competitors breathlessly behind, winning gold in the 200 IM (1:47.41) and 500 free (4:18.74). His times in both events were just a second off state records.
Finke finishes his career with four golds in individual events. He could have had more if he swam at the state meet all four years.
As a sophomore in 2015, Finke was one of 68 athletes picked for the USA Swimming national select camp, held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
The date of that camp coincided with the district meet, which swimmers have to participate in to qualify for regionals in individual events.
Last year, Finke was selected for the FINA Swimming World Cup, an international series of short-course meets that is open to swimmers from FINA member countries. He declined to compete in the World Cup, opting to swim in postseason meets for Countryside and compete for individual state titles.
High school swimming is mostly a tuneup for bigger meets. In 2016, Finke finished seventh in the 1,500 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials. That year, he also won gold in the 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle races at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii. Last year, he took second in the 1,500 at the U.S. World Championships.
Next year, Finke will be swimming for the University of Florida.