Felipe Manzo Set For Successful Senior Season

A 22-year-old  from Buenos Aires, Argentina, University of Tampa senior swimmer Felipe Manzo didn't take the summer off to relax.

He continued to swim, following a 2011 junior campaign in which he helped the Spartan men to six wins, a first place finish at the Nova Southeastern Invite and third place finish at the Sunshine State Conference Championships. The finance major also swam at the NCAA Championships, competing in four different relays.

With the guidance of assistant coach Ryan Gober, Manzo began his summer with plans on swimming in trials for the London 2012 Olympic Games to see if Argentina was interested in having him represent the country this summer, or perhaps next summer at the World University Games in Russia or World Championships in Spain.

Gober explained that in years past, international student-athletes were allowed to swim at the U.S. trials. However, their plans changed when discovering that those eligibility rules for were no longer the same.

"We found out about a month before our trials that they had changed the rules, and we weren't allowed to go to our trials because he's not an American citizen and doesn't have a passport, and wasn't going to compete for the USA," Gober said.

They looked for different options, and picked the one that seemed to be the best-- the Canada Cup in Montreal.  "In the past, some of the best swimmers in the United States had been there," Gober said. "It just happened to be this year, because of the timing of the meet, the entire Canadian Olympic team was at the meet."

Talk about good competition, as well as a valuable experience for Manzo. He swam in an Olympic-sized pool, the same one used for the Olympic Games when they were held in Montreal in 1976.

"It was a great experience," Manzo said. "It is always good to go to these world class meets and compete against the bests in the world. Swimming in the lane next to an Olympic medalist is a great learning experience. I look up to those guys a lot, and racing them was amazing."

Manzo swam the 50 meter free, 50 meter butterfly and 100 meter free. His times earned him a qualifying spot for next year's University Games, while his status for the World Championships is up in the air. As for the this year's Olympics, Argentina ultimately decided on taking a different swimmer. But Gober still felt confident in how Manzo performed in the water.

"He swam really well," the coach said. "We kind of knew it was a little late in the game for London this summer, but we figured we'd give it a shot anyways and see what happens, and worst case they tell us 'no', and it still works out for next summer."

Manzo added about the end results of his experience, "It was very exiting knowing that I qualified for the World University Games. Swimming is a though sport, and it's always rewarding when the hard work pays off."

The incoming senior who was a team walk-on nearly four years ago is expected to fulfill a big role as a Spartan in the 2012-2013 season. And that goes for both in the pool and out of it.

"He's probably one of the best pure sprinters we have on our team. He brings some serious speed. He's very good at what he does," Gober said, noting that Manzo is one of only three swimmers in program history to sprint in under 20 seconds, which he accomplished last season in the conference relay.

"We don't vote for the captains of the swim team until about a month in so that freshman can be a part of the voting process, but I would be shocked if he wasn't voted one of our captains. He's just a good leader overall, outside of the fact that he's a good swimmer."

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