There's something about the summer Olympics that brings people out to the water and when they see Michael Phelps go for another gold medal, they dream of perhaps earning one one day.
The North Fort Myers High School boys and girls swim team got a glimpse of that dream as had their finest seasons in years and put their relay squads and an individual into regionals for the first time since 2003.
Vanessa Rua reached regionals in the 100-yard butterfly as an individual and was part of the girls 200-yard relay team. The boys also qualified for regionals in the 200 free relay.
North Girls, from left, Erica Clare, Erica Dostie, Angie Skrabe, coach Julie Van Der Plaats, Aleks Skrabe, Amberly Humes and Vanessa Rua.
The girls team consisted of Rua, Erica Clare, Aleks Skrabe and Angie Scrabe. The boys relay had Chandler Rumbaugh, Roberto Tejada, Kevin Budzisch and Reinaldo Zayas.
In the end, nobody advanced to statesb ut they all achieved personal bests. With this young team and many new swimmers sure to come, the future looks bright for North swimming.
A junior, Rua said she started slow, but was able to peak as the season rolled along, which helped the girls achieve a 9-3 record, its best record in years.
"At first I wasn't getting the times I wanted, but I got that time in districts and got to regionals for the first time, so that was nice," Rua said. "My coaches helped me with my fly and my kick and it's why I did so well."
Julie Van Der Plaats, girls coach, said Rua's commitment has allowed her to get her times down. She said there have been good swimmers in the past who went through the Swim Florida program, like Rua.
Rua said her goal next year is to break a minute in her best event.
Amy Clark, in her second year as boys coach, said the boys 10-2 record is the best they have achieved in years. Even though they have four seniors graduating, they are a young and building team, and Clark said they have the potential to get to the next level.
"There was lots of word of mouth about me being the coach, so they wanted to come out. We went from six kids last year to 16," Clark said. "The kids are saying it's a great time."
Van Der Plaats should see improvement next year, as she has no seniors. Her relay team had two juniors and two freshmen with a freshman alternate.
"It was an Olympic year, so many kids come because of the Olympics. They all saw Michael Phelps on TV and they come out," Van Der Plaats said. "This happens every four years, we get an influx of swimmers."