One arm was folded stroking his trademark black and white goatee while the other arm was folded underneath.
American Heritage swim coach Nobutaka Tan knew his boys had the state title wrapped up, but he was still trying to send a message.
“I told our boys, don’t let up," Tan said. "Do not swim loose. No matter how big our lead is, don’t take anything easy.”
These were wise words as Tan led American Heritage to it’s first-ever title on Saturday at the Class 2A Swimming and Diving Championships at the Sailfish Aquatics Center in Stuart. Tan and his black-and-gold clad army of coaches and swimmers won the title over Clay by more than 100 points.
Consistency helped. So did wins from swimmers like sophomore Nico Medina who won the 500-yard freestyle.
Medina kept hearing his coaches and teammates cheer him on. But on that last stretch of the race, he saw he had a chance.
So he went for it. And he won.
“I was in a lot of shock,” said a panting Medina trying to catch his breath. “I thought they were going to go a lot faster and I was just trying to give it my best.”
Medina began the race sitting in about fifth place until he made his move around halfway through the race.
With every turn he made, he streamlined his body to where it was cutting into his opponent’s lead. It began with him being behind by a full-body length. Then, by he was a half-body length.
All of a sudden, he was in contention.
When he made the last turn the sounds of the American Heritage coaching staff and their swimmers boomed as they cheered Medina on.
Because Medina edged Naples’ Shawn Lemaire there was a split-second where nobody knew who won. Then when the scoreboard had “1” next to Medina’s name signifying first place, his team went crazy.
“That last 50, I thought, “Oh my God. I have a chance,’” Medina said. “When I saw my chance, I said go for it.”
American Heritage’s pursuit of first was challenged early in the 200-yard medley relay by Suncoast.
Both schools were in a dead heat for first place until American Heritage managed to pull away for first place.
American Heritage junior Fernando Bohorquez, his team’s third leg, was the one who opened the gap before fellow junior Taylor Eaddy closed it out.
Eaddy powered ahead of Suncoast senior David Bucko helping American Heritage win nearly half of a second.
“I know our kids are a little tired…but overall I cannot say anything bad about what we did,” Tan said. “I think we had a deep group for the first time. Nico was a special bonus to get a state championship. We knew with as many kids we had if we seeded well, we would have an opportunity. “