ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Polk's prep swimming days are over.
But there he was Saturday afternoon in St. Petersburg, treading water in the North Shore Pool after Lakewood Ranch's boys team threw him in -- a ritual whenever a team wins a meet.
And what a meet to win: The Mustangs totaled 280 points to take home the Class 3A-Region 3 championship and nudge past runner-up Venice (273) and third-place Punta Gorda Charlotte (268).
"I feel amazing," said Polk, the team's first-year coach and a state-qualifier himself before graduating from Lakewood Ranch in 2010. "I'm one heck of a proud coach right now. I'm at a loss for words."
The performance came a week after the Mustangs won the district title and leaves Lakewood Ranch one trophy away from a clean sweep.
"Hopefully, we can keep this going into state," Polk said.
The Mustangs will have plenty of representatives at Friday's Class 3A state meet at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart. Eric Erlenmeyer too k first in the 100-yard backstroke (54.05) and second in the 50 freestyle (22.19), while Luke Hanner was second in the 100 butterfly (52.66) and Sang Cho was a runner-up in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.18).
Erlenmeyer, Cho, Jonathan Chaires and Daniel Erlenmeyer teamed to win the 200 medley relay (1:39.63), while Cho, Hanner, Chaires and Kevin Berkenbusch placed first in the 200 freestyle relay (1:30.62).
Daniel and Eric Erlenmeyer, Berkenbusch and Hanner were second in the 400 freestyle relay (3:15.40).
All those swimmers know their fate in those events - state bids are awarded to the top two finishers in each event, while the top 16 finishers (excluding the top two) have a chance to earn an at-large bid.
"Eric had an amazing day," Polk said. "The amazing thing is he can be faster. They call can. There are all little things they can improve on.
"The guys did what they had to do."
The Mustangs' girls were fifth with 191 points. Madison Jean won the regional crown in the 100 butterfly (55.87) and was a runner-up in the 100 backstroke (57.97), and Sydney Panzarino was second in the 100 freestyle (54.21) as each girl clinched a berth at state.
The area's other local team at the meet, Braden River, was ninth in the boys team standings (103) and 16th in the girls (32).
The Pirates' Ryan Walker won the 50 freestyle (22.13), ensuring the sophomore of a trip to Stuart next week.
Bayshore's Theodore Smith had a fine first showing at the Class 2A state meet.
The Bruins' freshman took fifth in the 500-yard freestyle (4:41.47) and 11th in the 200 individual medley (2:02.72) Saturday in Stuart, as Bayshore finished in a four-way tie for 27th with 20 points.