Girls Swimmer of the Year
By Chris Bernhardt | Hernando TodayMonica Surrena could choose to fixate on what she could not accomplish this season. But that approach hasn't helped her thus far.
Published: December 23, 2012
Published: December 23, 2012
It also wouldn't exactly be a fair way for the Springstead junior to assess her year in the pool.
At the Class 2A, Region II Meet held Nov. 1 at the YMCA Aquatic Family Center in Orlando, Surrena set a new school record in the 200-yard freestyle, 2:01.13.
Shockingly, that only placed her fourth, and ended up 21-tenths of a second short of advancing her to the FHSAA Finals.
So for the third straight season, Surrena was the only county girl to make a regional championship final, yet couldn't breakthrough to states.
"I was really upset," Surrena said. "My coach, my teammates, we were 99 percent positive I would make it. It was incredibly disappointing, but my parents and my friends said 'It's all right. You improved so much.' They helped me get past that."
It may also help Surrena to know that her efforts were nonetheless recognized. Every county coach agreed, Surrena deserved to three-peat as Hernando Today Girls Swimmer of the Year.
"Of course to have it again is really special, because most people only get it one year," Surrena said. "It's great to be a role model for the people on our team. It's really exciting to win it three years in a row.
"It (the season) was really tiring. It went too fast. It's always fun to hang out with everyone. At the end I was disappointed not making it to states, but I was happy dropping a couple seconds off my 200.
"I really wanted that record. I was so close and getting that made me really happy."
A seasoned veteran of year-round club swimming, it's no longer about making gigantic leaps forward for Surrena but rather the necessary tweaks to get over the top.
"She progressed on little things in each event," said Springstead head coach Wayne Withington, who has coached Surrena for several years on the club level.
"Of course I'd like to have seen her do better, but I know she gave all she's got and did the best she could. That's all I can ask for."
Surrena had what has become her typical year, pacing the county in four events.
One was obviously her specialty, the 200 free, but she also went to a region championship final in the 500 free, finishing in sixth place at a county-best 5:27.21.
Plus she helped two relays – 200 free and 400 free – reach regionals.
She additionally posted the county's fastest swims in the 200 IM (1:10.91 in an Oct. 11 meet against Lecanto at Bicentennial Park) and the 100 fly (2:27.69 in a Sept. 13 meet against Bishop McLaughlin at Hudson's Veterans Memorial Park).
Still, she admits, the 200 free captured her primary focus. She came in second at the 2A-District 5 Meet with a 2:03.47.
Then she moved on to regionals, wanting to improve upon her past performances (fifth in 2011, 2:04.05; sixth in 2010, 2:05.30).
"I was just really striving for a really great time, and that record, of course," Surrena said. "Last year I was bummed I didn't get it. I was overconfident and relaxed last year. This year I was more focused."
That probably speaks to the maturity gained as she has worked her way up to the rank of upperclassman.
Springstead had a generally young and inexperienced squad, thrusting Surrena into a leadership role.
"Previously, people just looked at me as 'She's the young, fast girl.' Now they look up to me and ask questions," Surrena said. "I try to help them when I can."
Both boys and girls squads ended up 9-2 in dual meets, again sweeping the county, so it would seem Surrena's influence helped the team avoid any major drop-off.
Yet that proverbial carrot is still on the end of the stick. States remains elusive to Surrena, as well as every county swimmer the past four seasons.
Surrena's regional time would have easily qualified her the last two years. For some reason – perhaps a post-Olympic surge in participation, theorized both Surrena and Withington – the competition level raised.
"She's going to continue swimming year-round with TBAY (Tampa Bay Aquatics), and we'll see what high school swimming holds for us next year," Withington said.
The coach said Surrena has resolved to no longer fret over the situation, and she backed up that assertion.
"My focus (for next year) is to hang out with the team a lot and help them out," Surrena said. "I put a lot stress on going to states this year. I want to drop time, but I don't want to be as upset next year. So I just want to get my times lower.
"If I get personal records, I'll be happy. I can't control how fast other girls are. But I definitely want to go to states next year."
By the numbers: Monica Surrena
Season-best time: 2:01.13*^
District: 2nd (2:03.47)
Regionals: 4th (2:01.13)
Season-best time: 5:27.21*
Districts: 3rd (5:34.75)
Regionals: 6th (5:27.21)
Season-best time: 2:27.69*
Season-best time: 1:10.91*
* Denotes county's fastest time
^ Denotes school record
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