The ultimate victory, finally, was theirs. Friday night (Nov. 3) at Sailfish Splash Waterpark in Stuart, Jesuit swimming seized its first State title.
The Tigers’ Class 2A championship was a remarkable in many ways. After three straight years of top 3 placings at State, including runner-up results in 2014 and ’15, the Tigers broke through with an onslaught of top finishes across numerous events, racking up 271 points to outdistance swimming powerhouse Pinecrest Gulliver Prep by 27 points.
Swimming becomes the seventh sports program at Jesuit to win a State title and the school’s 20th State champion overall, joining soccer (6), baseball (4), cross country (4), basketball (3), football (1), and track & field (1).
In 22 seasons under head coach Bill Shaffer, Jesuit swimming has been accumulating trophies at a remarkable rate, winning 21 straight District and 9 straight Region crowns, and now adding the State trophy. Amazingly, Jesuit’s State title is the first by a Hillsborough County swimming program in 71 years, since Hillsborough High in 1946.
Brendan Driscoll ’19 claimed Jesuit’s lone individual State title Friday, powering to victory in the 500 freestyle. And a slew of other Tigers earned top finishes, including silver medals earned by all three relays: 200 medley (Nick Shaffer ’21, Chris Jennings ’18, Tyler Carreja ’19, Alex Caceres ’19); 200 freestyle (Jennings, Caceres, Tyler Petitt ’19 , Sam Sands ’18) and 400 freestyle (Driscoll, John Jansen ’18, Shaffer, Sands).
With relay events counting for twice as many points as individual events, Jesuit scored an amazing 102 points in relays alone. Sands, anchoring the meet's final event, the 400 freestyle, pulled Jesuit up from 7th to 2nd place.
The Tigers' top individual performers were:
- Driscoll – 1st in 500 freestyle, 3rd in 200 freestyle
- Jennings – 3rd in 100 breaststroke, 3rd in 50 freestyle
- Sands – 3rd in 100 freestyle, 5th in 50 freestyle
- Nick Shaffer – 5th in 100 backstroke, 9th in 200 IM
- Diego Perez-Aracena ’18 – 5th in diving
Earning top 16 results and scoring additional points for Jesuit were: Robbie Shaffer ’19 – 15th in 200 freestyle; Carreja – 10th in 100 backstroke, 11th in 100 butterfly; Anthony Kirchner ’20 – 11th in 100 breaststroke, 16th in 200 IM; Jansen – 13th in 200 IM; Jack Stanislow ’19 – 13th in 500 freestyle; Sam Prabhakaran '21 – 14th in 500 freestyle; and Caceres – 16th in 50 freestyle.
Several Jesuit swimmers in recent years, including Austin Sellers ’15 and Tommy Shaffer ’16, have won individual State titles or taken part in State champion relay teams, including gold medal-winning 200 freestyle relays each of the past two years. But the team title remained just out of reach until Friday, when Jesuit swimming ascended to the highest level in Florida.
Please click here to watch a post-victory video, in which Shaffer talks about how the team learned perspective and courage from Cailin Cannella, the Academy of the Holy Names swimmer who lost her battle with cancer in early September.
Please view the photo slideshow below from the Convocation celebration on Nov. 7.