BRADENTON -- Ellie Berdusco knows where to eat prior to the Class 1A state swimming and diving championships.
"Olive Garden," she said. "That's where we go for any meal."
She isn't sure of the name of the hotel, but Berdusco knows it's only about two blocks from Orlando's Central Florida YMCA Aquatic Center, site of the state meet.
Berdusco knows the state swim meet. And it's safe to assume the meet knows her, too.
The Saint Stephen's sophomore will be a state qualifier for the fourth time when the 1A meet gets under way at 9 a.m. Saturday. Final events are scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
"I know what to expect now," Berdusco said. "I learned the competition at Orlando is more competitive at state. I know the competition is going to be at its best."
The Berduscos are a Saint Stephen's family. Ellie's sister, Annie, swam for the Falcons and is now a distance swimmer at the College of Charleston. Three of Berduscos brothers are enrolled at Saint Stephen's as well.
While the school is renowned for its educational benefits, Saint Stephen's, as a private school, is permitted to allow athletes to compete at the varsity level before they enter high school.
Consequently, Ellie has been a varsity swimmer, and a state qualifier, since she was in seventh grade.
"I've learned how the state series goes. I just got to experience it before everybody else," he said. "I grew closer with my teammates, too."
Berdusco took first in the 200- (1 minute, 52.51 seconds) and 500-yard freestyle (4:57.16) during last week's Region 3 meet at Sarasota's Selby Aquatic Center.
It's a pool Berdusco knows well. She practices there six days a week with the Sarasota Sharks, a powerful club team. She is seeded fourth in both freestyle events heading into Saturday's state meet.
The Selby Aquatic Center also was witness to a bit of school history last week, when Berdusco and fellow sophomores Kristen Brockett, Kristi Schleicher and Lauri Schleicher placed second in the 200 freestyle relay (1:43.31).
It marked the first time in program history the Falcons sent a relay team to state.
"It was actually really exciting," Berdusco said, "and we all really wanted it. We all had a lot of energy, and it was just fun."
Now comes Berdusco's next step: leaving Orlando with a state medal, awarded to the top six finishers in each event, for the first time in her career.
That's the one thing at the state meet Berdusco hasn't experienced.
Everything else, however, she is ready for.
"I know what it's going to be like," she said. "Nothing makes me uncomfortable."