WASHINGTON, D.C. - A 22-person crew from Springstead High School won first and fifth place in an international submarine racing competition in Washington, D.C. last week against competition that included several prestigious universities.
"We have fifth place in the one-person propeller, and this is out of 20 teams like MIT. So, again, a really good showing for a high school, considering our competition," said Pat Barton, who supports the team with her husband, Steve, by allowing the students to build and race the submarines at their Hernando Beach home. "We have first place in two-man propeller."
The one-man propeller submarine - coined "Subzero" - had technical trouble a couple times when the lights on the underwater course got caught up in its propeller, shutting down the lights on the course, Barton said.
"We were told to take it out of the pool and not bring it back," she said.
"Today (the judge) changed his mind, and at the last run of the day our previous speed was 3.15 knots, and we put a girl in back and a guy in front and they ran 4.33 knots."
After claiming the fifth place spot, the judges joked that the submarine had been disqualified.
"They said they won't count it because (they've) classified it in the destroyer category," she said.
Springstead High School Principal Susan Duval was in Washington on Friday to attend the awards ceremony.
Barton has been a strong supporter of the submarine team for several years, going so far as purchasing and overnight shipping equipment with her own money to get the crew what they needed.
"I think we've made her proud," Barton said. "It really does work. It can do what we thought it would do."
Now the challenge will be to develop a crew and come back the last week of June 2015, Barton said, to make the submarines better and go even faster, just as this year's Springstead students have done.
"We're proud, and the kids have done an awesome job, just awesome," Barton said.
"Half of them will be lost this year, and the other half will graduate next year, so we're looking for kids to keep this going."
In 1989, Florida Atlantic University, Perry Submarines and General Dynamics Electric Boat Division got together, originally wanting to establish a competition for universities, and had the first competition in the Pacific Ocean.
Now it's held in Washington, D.C., where the Navy runs tests, the Bartons said.