A lot of his friends were envious when Drew Thompson told them he was spending part of his winter break in Florida.

A lot of his friends were envious when Drew Thompson told them he was spending part of his winter break in Florida.

But Thompson, a junior on the Westerville Central High School boys swimming and diving team, isn't in Florida to get a tan. He, Central freshman Chelsea Staab and Westerville South's Danny Brooker are among the 32 swimmers from the Westerville Aquatic Club and the Dublin Coffman boys and girls swimming teams who left Columbus last Friday for a nine-day training trip to Coral Springs, Fla.

"A lot of my friends think I'm just going on vacation," Thompson said. "They don't see it is as a training trip. It's going to be really important to how well I do this season."

Thompson did miss last Saturday's meet against North and South, but in Florida he is enduring two-a-day practices up to 13,000 yards a session. There also are midday dry-land training sessions.

WAC coach Jim Peterfish asked the swimmers leave their cell phones at home to avoid any other distractions.

"It sounds like boot camp, but it's also a lot of fun," Peterfish said. "Our training trip allows us to go beyond any level of training we can accomplish here.

"We typically reach a breakpoint and those that allow themselves to extend well beyond their comfort zone come out on the other side with the ability to do some amazing things in the practice pool in the back half of the season."

Peterfish and Central coach Ron Staab believe Thompson is headed for a good season. At the district meet last year, Thompson was sixth in the 500-yard freestyle (4 minutes, 52.59 seconds) and 16th in the 200 free (1:49.05).

He swam faster in both events at the Ned Reeb Memorial Invitational on Dec. 13 at Ohio State, taking fourth in the 500 free (4:48.31) and ninth in the 200 free (1:46.86).

"Drew's primary improvements have come from his increased size and strength and a better understanding of how his training relates directly to his performance," Peterfish said "He has created quite a challenge for himself with where he set his season goals, and only intense training is going to allow him to accomplish them."

"This is going to be a breakout season for Drew," coach Staab said. "I don't think he made it to the night final (at the Ned Reeb) in either event last year. He's going to surprise a lot of people."

"I didn't think I'd be swimming as fast as I am," Thompson said. "I was kind of rested for the Ned Reeb meet, but I didn't know that I had improved that much."

Thompson's mother, Ann, an All-American swimmer for Upper Arlington who went on to swim for Texas, gets the credit for fostering Thompson's love of the sport.

"When things get really hard, my parents (Max and Ann Thompson) help me get through it," Thompson said. "Mom has taught me everything I needed to know about distance swimming."

"(Distance swimmers) are a rare breed," coach Staab said. "You have to be able to fight through the sheer tedium of the training. It takes a real special person to do it."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for Central, North and South boys and girls swimming teams:

CENTRAL

Dec. 13 -- Boys: Finished 23rd (24) behind champion Hunting Valley University School (278) in 42-team Ned Reeb Invitational at Ohio State; Girls: Finished eighth (108) behind champion Upper Arlington (517)

Dec. 19 -- Boys: Lost to Thomas Worthington 109-57, lost to Worthington Kilbourne 87-75; Girls: Defeated Thomas 106-74, def. Kilbourne 132-53.

Dec. 20 -- Boys: Finished third (230) behind Olentangy Liberty (394) and Delaware (253) in six-team Delaware Invitational. Winners were Drew Thompson (200 free, 1:55.56; 500 free, 5:27.86) and John Whitaker (200 IM, 2:15.27); Girls: Finished second (297.5) behind Liberty (402). Winners were Haley Agee (50 free, 25.78; 100 free, 56.66), Chelsea Staab (500 free, 5:33.14) and Taylor Schwartz (100 back, 1:03.14).

Last Saturday -- Boys: Lost to North 124-49, lost to South 114-55; Girls: Def. North 98-85, def. South 99-84

Friday -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby

NORTH

Dec. 5 -- Boys: Def. Delaware 111-64; Girls: Def. Delaware 98-85

Dec. 13 -- Boys: Did not score at Ned Reeb; Girls: Finished 25th (22).

Dec. 19 -- Boys: Def. Kilbourne 119-64, lost to Thomas 100-79; Girls: Def. Thomas 100-85, def. Kilbourne 137-49

Dec. 20 -- Boys: Def. DeSales 96-84; Girls: Def. DeSales 106-74

Last Saturday -- Boys: Def. Central 124-49, def. South 104-79; Girls: Lost to Central 98-85, def. South 103-84

Saturday -- At Pickerington North

SOUTH

Dec. 6 -- Boys: Finished second (82) behind Columbus Academy (110) in six-team Academy Relays. The Wildcats won the 800 free relay (8:55.73) and 400 free (3:54.69); Girls: Finished first (86)

Dec. 12 -- Boys: Def. Dublin Coffman 99-83; Girls: Lost to Coffman 108-78

Dec. 13 -- Boys: Did not score at Ned Reeb; Girls: Tied for 20th (26)

Last Saturday -- Boys: Lost to North 104-79, def. Central 114-55; Girls: Lost to Central 99-84, lost to North 103-83

Friday -- At Kilbourne

Saturday -- At Delaware Invitational at Ohio Wesleyan