How they were chosen
Athletic directors from the 14 schools — Barron Collier, Community School, Estero, First Baptist, Golden Gate, Gulf Coast, Immokalee, Lely, Marco Island Academy, Naples, Palmetto Ridge, Seacrest, St. John Neumann and South Fort Myers — in the Daily News' coverage area were contacted and asked to have their coaches nominate players. That information, along with all-conference and all-district honors and postseason performances, were used to make up the teams and choose Players of the Year.
Elise Haan continued to make big waves in Florida swimming as a sophomore.
Not only did the 15-year-old Gulf Coast student repeat as the Class 2A 100 backstroke champion, but she finished second in her first run at the 50 freestyle.
Her selection as the 2012 Daily News Girls Swimmer of the Year was as easy as her stroke, according to Gulf Coast coach Tom Keer.
"To watch her swim, it looks almost effortless," Keer said.
Sure, there's hard work involved. But Haan, also last year's Daily News winner, is quite the natural. The daughter of Ericka, who swam for Michigan's Grand Valley State, has been swimming for just a handful of years. Although it comes fairly easy to Haan, she still has a hard time grasping what she already has accomplished.
"It's still a surprise for me," Haan said. "I've only been swimming for almost four years now. It's not something that happens very often."
Keer said Haan's dominance in the backstroke comes from her arm tempo and conditioning. Haan thinks her underwater abilities and kicking are keys. Whatever the case, it all comes together in golden fashion. Her time of 54.43 in the 100 was 1.71 seconds faster than her state-winning time as a freshman.
But it was her performance in the 50 free that knocked everyone's socks off. The original thought was to have her do the individual medley as the year prior, but Keer and company decided the 50 free was better suited as a warm-up for the 100 back. The hope was for a top-eight finish.
Haan blew those expectations out of the water, churning it in 23.89 seconds, and finishing second.
"It shocked me," Keer said.
"I hit the wall and thought I didn't look at the (score) board right," she said.
It should be a shock to no one that Haan already is getting a slew of recruiting letters. This week, one came from Kentucky.
"We'll see where she ends up in the long run, but where she's at right now, she's going to be looking at some big-time schools," Keer said.