Never underestimate the Texas Longhorns.

With California looking like a lock with an 18.5-point lead going into the third and final day, Texas came back behind nine top-eight finishes to win its tenth NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships Sunday at Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion.

Texas overtook the Golden Bears and won with 500 points. California placed second with 469.5 points and Arizona placed third with 387 points.

The NCAA team title is the Longhorns’ first since 2002 and makes head coach Eddie Reese the first coach in NCAA Division I men’s swimming and diving history to win NCAA team titles in four separate decades.

Reese now has victories in 1981, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2010. The win also allowed Reese to break a tie with former Southern California head coach Peter Daland to move into sole possession of second-place in the career men’s title list behind Ohio State’s Mike Peppe., who won 11.
Texas took a 365-353.5 lead after collecting 19 points in the 200 backstroke. Freshman Austin Surhoff placed sixth overall in 1:41.13. Senior Hill Taylor took second in the 200 backstroke consolation final in 1:42.58. Freshman Cole Cragin took seventh in 1:42.74, and junior Bryan Collins placed eighth in 1:43.10.

Surhoff had Twittered on Saturday night that “for every single one of us the most important day of our swimming career is tomorrow; for me it is the most important day of my life.”

California’s Nathan Adrian captured the 100 freestyle in 41.50, but the Longhorns’ depth in the event enabled Cal to gain only 1 point in the event. Sophomore Jimmy Feigen took second for a second consecutive year in 41.91, and senior Dave Walters took eighth in 42.96. Junior Scott Jostes tied with Cal’s Josh Daniels in the consolation final at 42.82. Senior Ben Van Roekel took sixth in 43.25.

Texas stretched its lead over California to 433-408.5 after picking up 29 points in the 200 breaststroke. Junior Scott Spann, who broke Brendan Hansen’s school record in the event during the preliminary round, took a close second in 1:53.21. Arizona’s Clark Burckle won the event in 1:53.19. UT sophomore Eric Friedland nailed down his first individual All-America finish by taking seventh in 1:54.80.

Senior Ricky Berens added five points in the 200 butterfly consolation final where he took fourth in 1:43.89. Cal’s 200 butterfly performances sliced the Texas lead to 438-429.5, but UT divers Matt Cooper and Drew Livingston extended the lead considerably. Cooper placed third with 462.30 points, and Livingston took seventh with 382.80 points. The diving points pushed the Texas lead out to 466-429.5.

Texas wrapped up the meet by taking second in the 400 freestyle relay, as Walters, Feigen, Jostes and Berens finished in 2:49.90.

Other champions were Arizona’s Clark Burckle in the 200 breaststroke in 1:53.19; Stanford’s Chad La Tourette in the 1,650 in a pool record 14:42.87; and Arizona’s Cory Chitwood in the 200 backstroke in 1:39.29. 

The meet wasn’t without a few shockers.  

Florida’s Shaune Fraser, seeded second going into finals, defended his title in the 200 butterfly when initial winner Georgia’s Mark Dylla was disqualified for a one-handed touch at the wall. Dylla was clocked in 1:41.14. Fraser’s time was 1:41.45.

Auburn’s Christopher Fox false started in the 400 free relay, causing a disqualification for Auburn and a 10-minute break for the rest of the swimmers that all swam an all out 50.

After returning to the blocks, California’s Graeme Moore (43.31), Josh Daniels (42.01), Tom Shields (42.48) and Nathan Adrian (40.98) won with a 2:48.78. The performance broke the pool facility record of 2:50.85 set by Auburn during prelims. 

Texas’ Dave Walters (42.33), Jimmy Feigen (42.01), Scott Jostes (42.35) and Ricky Berens (43.21) took second in 2:49.90 after leading through the first three legs. Texas just had to have a clean race to hold on to the team title.

Another disappointment was during morning prelims when Cal suffered a huge setback when Sean Mahoney was disqualified for a Dolphin kick.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com






PLANTATION—Tiffany Oliver saved her best for the last night of the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships.

The Florida State-bound swimmer won the 17-and-over women’s high point award after winning two events and finishing fifth in another event.

Oliver, 17, won the 50-yard freestyle in 24.30 seconds and the 200-yard individual medley in 2:12.70. She was also fifth in the 50-yard butterfly in 27.24.

She topped an impressive women’s field to win high point with 138 points. Lindsey Meeder of Fort Lauderdale Aquatics was second with 127 and Ana Anaya of Metro Aquatics was third with 121.

Other Comets among the 17-and-over Top 20 high point finishers were Melissa Fernandez (13th with 74 points), Ashley Hicks (16th with 66 points) and Bianca Muniz (18th with 58 points).

Marc Rojas, 16, (fifth with 135 points ) Tyler Sell, 17, (ninth with 99 points) and Carlo Moranti, 17, (16th with 75 points) were among top high point boys finishers.

Sell, also bound for Florida State in the fall, was the Comets highest finisher among the boys field on the third and final night with a second place finish in the 1,650-yard freestyle in 15:59.70.

Rojas was fourth in the men’s 15-16 100-yard breaststroke in 1:02.63 and was tenth in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:08.08.

Rojas, a state high school breaststroke champion for Pembroke Pines Charter, was disappointed with his finish.

“I didn’t have as good a meet as I was expecting,” Rojas said. “Ultimately, I wasn’t doing what I expected but I did give it my hardest.’

Rojas, a natural team leader, started swimming at age 2 and competitively at age 7. He has grown up with the Comets’ program and is hoping to follow in Sell’s footsteps earning a college scholarship in two years.

“I just really like the water,” Rojas said. “I like swimming and I like to race. Swimming keeps me focused and builds character. I practice every day and I am always determined to do my best.

“I like to be a team leader and getting involved with what everybody is swimming and doing. It’s really important to give the whole team support and motivate them. We all want to do well.”

Rojas said his big turning point in the sport was at age 13 when he started making sectional cuts.

“I started getting faster and moving up and going to bigger meets,” he said.

As a sophomore at Pembroke Pines Charter, he won the 100 breaststroke state title in 1:07.

“It’s a big commitment, balancing school and swimming and waking up at 4:30 in the morning for practice,” Rojas said. “But it is definitely worth it.”

Other Top 20 Comets finishers were:

Women 15-16 100-yard backstroke: 17. Madeleine Fernandez, 15, 1:06.01; 20. Amy Lunak, 16, 1:07.68.

Men 15-16 100-yard backstroke: 14. Ivan Parada, 15, 56.92; 17. Paul Guarino, 15, 59.45.

Women 100-yard backstroke: 8. Melissa Fernandez, 17, 1:03.04; 20. Stephanie Freiria, 17, 1:10.60.

Men 100-yard backstroke: 8. Carlo Morante, 17, 57.12.

Women 15-16 50-yard butterfly: 15. Nicolle Garcia, 16, 28.58.

Men 15-16 50-yard butterfly: 17. Xavier Brown, 15, 26.00.

Men 50-yard butterfly: 13. Kevin Ganaim, 17, 25.41.

Men 15-16 100-yard breaststroke: 4. Marc Rojas, 16, 1:02.63.

Women 100-yard breaststroke: 9. Bianca Muniz, 18, 1:15.14.

Men 100-yard breaststroke: 10. James Schultz, 18, 1:05.97.

50-yard freestyle: 6. Melissa Fernandez, 17, 25.11; 16. Brittany Williford, 17, 26.41; 19. Bianca Muniz, 18, 26.67.

Women 1,650-yard freestyle: 7. Brittany Williford, 17, 18:02.7; 10. Katie Brennan, 16, 18:13.53.

Men 1,650-yard freestyle: 16. Gabriel Pena, 17, 17:50.78; 23. Julio Simon, 18, 18:35.04.

Women 15-16 200-yard individual medley: 16. Madeleine Fernandez, 15, 2:24.49.

Men 15-16 200-yard individual medley: 16. Ivan Parada, 15, 2:09.41.

Women 200-yard individual medley: 8. Bianca Muniz, 18, 2:24.57.

Fort Lauderdale won the seniors team title followed by Metro Aquatic Club of Miami and host Plantation Swim Team.

Coral Springs and the Comets swam unattached, waiting out the mandatory 120-day period until the teams merge into the South Florida Aquatic Club.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com






A day after Venezuela’s Arlene Semeco of the Coral Springs Swim Club won a gold medal in the 100 freestyle, Leo Andara added a silver medal for Venezuela at the South American Championships in Colombia.

Andara, 23, of Caracas, Venezuela who also trains at the Coral Springs Swim Club with six-time Olympic coach Michael Lohberg, finished second in the 200 individual medley in 2 minutes, 8.11 seconds.

Andara, 2005 NJCAA Men’s Swimmer of the Year for Indian River College in Fort Pierce, and former South Carolina swimmer now at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, is a national record holder in Venezuela.

Semeco competes in her specialty event, the 50 freestyle, today.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com.






PLANTATION—Anne Kuczynski of the Coral Springs Swim Club raised the bar for herself on the final night of the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships.

On Sunday, the lanky 15-year-old freshman won the 15-16 200-yard individual medley in a lifetime best 2 minutes, 11.02 seconds at the Plantation Central Park Aquatic Complex.

Her morning prelim time was 2:13.48, bettering her seed time of 2:13.80.

“She has never won a final in the Gold Coast before,” said Coral Springs Swim Club coach Michael Lohberg.

“In the past, it was just about her making the final. It was a breakthrough swim and breakthrough meet for her.”

Kuczynski, who was also fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:09.53 and sixth in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:01.73 on Sunday, said she was surprised at her IM swim. She finished among the Top 10 15-16 high point finishers, placing eighth with 112 points.

“I didn’t expect to win,” she said. “I wanted to make finals and do the best I could. I don’t like to have high expectations because if I don’t do well I would get down on myself. I was really happy after my swim.

“I was a little surprised because this meet was really fast,” Kuczynski said. “I was happy I got that time. My butterfly and backstroke have gotten a lot better.

“I think I turned a corner because I won’t be known just as a breaststroker now. This is going to help my confidence. Of all my races this week, that one I was the happiest with.” 

Lohberg told Kuczynski before the race to trust her instincts.

“Michael knows I swim on instinct,” Kuczynski said. “I just swim and race.

“I knew I needed to take it out fast. Usually, I am tired by the breaststroke, which is my best stroke. My fly was actually fast. It helped making the final in the backstroke so that gave me more confidence for the IM. In the freestyle, I just gave it everything I had.”

Lohberg has been pleased with Kuczynski’s progress.

“She is always solid,” Lohberg said. “When she steps up, she is a very good racer. She swam several best times in this meet and had a big four- second drop in her 100 freestyle. She has always delivered.

“I told her on Saturday not to worry about her swims. Sometimes swimmers think too much. She has a great feel for what to do. I told her to use her instinct and just swim. She is good at fighting her way through and not everyone can do that. Now all of a sudden she pops up and is in the spotlight.”

A week after an outstanding sectional meet in Fort Lauderdale, teammate Lindsey McKnight, 16, shared that spotlight going three-for-three on the final night of seniors. She moved into the Top 10 high point finishers, tying for sixth place with 120 points.

McKnight won the 15-16 100-yard backstroke in 57.08, 50-yard butterfly in 25.92 and 50-yard freestyle in 23.47.

“Last week gave me a big confidence boost,” McKnight said. “I never really changed my game plan of kicking back for this week, it just happened. I was happiest with my 100 back and 50 fly because I don’t usually swim those events. I was happy to do well in my off events.

“It was definitely another stepping stone,” McKnight said. “Little meets like this help you go fast even though you’re not trained for the meet. The quality was there but there weren’t a lot of people. It was weird splitting up JOs and senior champs. I just wanted to swim my races here and whatever happens happens. I was happy with the outcome.”

McKnight and 12 of her teammates will kick it up another notch this week when they leave for training camp in St. Croix on Monday. The March 29-April 5 camp during the holiday break will focus on heavy training for the upcoming summer meet schedule. McKnight is working toward her international debut in Europe with the U.S. junior national team this summer.

“The camp should be pretty hard,” McKnight said. “Michael said this is what training will be like at the next level. He called it an eye opener. It’s more than the usual mileage. Everyone will be in for something. It will be nice to get away and train somewhere else in a different atmosphere.”

Lohberg said after sectionals he left it up to McKnight what she wanted to do at seniors.

“It was fun for her, mostly short stuff,” Lohberg said. “She didn’t have to but she wanted to swim and once she is there, she wants to win.”

Lohberg is excited to return to St. Croix and work with his swimmers in a different atmosphere. The team’s early season training at their home pool was hampered by the cold and rainy weather.

“The camp is a mixture of hard training and having some fun which is important,” Lohberg said. “They need to learn to focus, to do things differently than at home. The hotel is not like their house. The food is not what mom puts on the table. And, the texting is distracting. I want to show them they can have fun hanging out in their room with their teammates and actually talking eye-to-eye with each other instead of all this texting.”

The campers will swim 2 ½ hours in the morning and another 2 ½ hours in the afternoon.

“We are going to have fun and do solid work,” Lohberg said. “Swimming is just part of the education. We want to take them totally out of their comfortable environment and do something different. It will help them grow and make decisions on their own. These are life lessons, not just swimming.”

Other Top 20 Coral Springs finishers were:

Women 15-16 100-yard backstroke: 2. Emily Greenwood, 15, 1:00.75; 8. Linea Cutter, 16, 1:02.27; 9. Brittany Hanson, 15, 1:02.75; 14. Kristen Garza, 15, 1:05.02.

Men 15-16 100-yard backstroke: 7. Brandon Goldman, 15, 56.59; 11. Luke Torres, 15, 56.26.

Men 100-yard backstroke: 3. Les Moore, 53.92.

Women 15-16 50-yard butterfly: 10. Linea Cutter, 16, 28.18.

Men 15-16 50-yard butterfly: 12. Mauricio Hidalgo, 16, 25.50.

Men 50-yard butterfly: 4. Les Moore, 18, 24.12.

Women 15-16 100-yard breaststroke: 6. Gina Gautieri, 16, 1:09.66; 9. Lucia Morris, 16, 1:10.07; 13. Allison Cowett, 16, 1:14.51; 14. Kristina Nork, 15, 1:14.62.

Women 100-yard breaststroke: 4. Philomena Fiorenzi, 14, 1:12.50; 7. Nicole Schein, 17, 1;13.05.

Men 100-yard breaststroke: 14. Bogdan Cioanta, 14, 1:08.45.

Women 15-16 50-yard freestyle: 5. Linea Cutter, 16, 24.74; 12. Emily Greenwood, 15, 25.91.

Women 15-16 200-yard individual medley: 11. Brittany Hanson, 15, 2:18.50; 14. Kristina Nork, 15, 2:22.41.

Men 15-16 200-yard individual medley: 7. Brandon Goldman, 15, 2:04.88; 9. Mauricio Hidalgo, 16, 2:05.97; 11. Luke Torres, 15, 2:01.31.

Women 200-yard individual medley: 4. Philomena Fiorenzi, 14, 2:17.57.

Men 200-yard individual medley: 2. Les Moore, 18, 1:56.90.

Fort Lauderdale Aquatics won the seniors combined team title followed by Metro Aquatic Club of Miami and host Plantation Swim Team.

Coral Springs and the Comets swam unattached, waiting out the mandatory 120-day period until the teams merge into the South Florida Aquatic Club.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com





After some outstanding morning swims, the California Golden Bears put themselves in position to win the NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships tonight.

In a see-saw battle with Texas, the Golden Bears won three events on Saturday at Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion and have an 18.5-point lead (348.5-330) over the Longhorns going into the third and final day.

Texas closed the gap with a win in the 800 freestyle relay but clearly has its work cut out for them. Arizona and Florida are separated by five points (269-264) and Stanford (221) and defending champion Auburn (215.5) are separated by 5.5 points.

In a thrilling finish to the night, the Longhorns broke the previous pool record of 6:15.80 (held by Michigan last month at the Big 10 Championships) with a 6:12.77 victory in the 800 freestyle relay.

Texas won its 11th 800 relay in the event’s history with outstanding splits from Scott Jostes (1:33.25), Dave Walters (1:32.76), Neil Caskey (1:33.86) and Ricky Berens (1:32.90).

Florida’s Shaune Fraser, Brett Fraser, Jeffrey Raymond, who grew up swimming in the Florida Gold Coast, and Conor Dwyer finished second in 6:14.72 in the 800 free relay.

California lost the chance to put the meet away finishing 10th in the 800 relay which may make Sunday morning’s prelims even more interesting than expected.

California, buoyed by its breaststroke leg, started off the night with a win in the 200 medley relay in a pool record 1:23.08 with Guy Barnea (21.30), Damir Dugonjic (23.10), Graeme Moore (20.01) and Joshua Daniels (18.67).

“The relay was unbelievable,” Daniels said. “We are just feeling great and having a blast.”

In the 400 individual medley, defending champion Tyler Clary of Michigan took it out fast and stayed ahead of the pack. By the third leg he was a full four seconds ahead and finished in 3:38.89. Clary was a true comeback story. He had the H1N1 virus and shoulder ailments earlier this season.

The Golden Bears picked up more points in the 100 butterfly with Tom Shields and Mathias Gydsen finishing 1-2. Shields went out fast to take the lead and win in 44.91 a full body length ahead of Gydsen, who came on late in his race to finish second in 45.83.

Florida’s Conor Dwyer won his second NCAA title in as many days in the 200 freestyle in 1:32.31, making him the seventh fastest performer of all time.

“It was a good swim,” said Dwyer, who won the 500 freestyle on Friday. “I really tried to push that third 50 to win the race and move us up in the team scores.”

The Golden Bears success in the breaststroke continued in the individual 100 breaststroke event. NCAA record holder and defending champion Damir Dugonjic won the event in 51.65.

The Bears finished 1-3-6 in the breaststroke. Martti Aljand took third and Sean Mahoney was sixth.

“I really felt I needed to have a good, fast first 50 to get myself in the lead and to have a chance to win,” Dugonjic said. “I just went out fast and I went out easy.”

Eugene Godsoe of Stanford won the 100 backstroke by a full second in 45.11, the only swimmer under 46 in the heat.

Purdue’s David Boudia won his second NCAA title in diving winning the 3-meter springboard title with 494.90 points. After winning the 1- and 3-meter titles, Boudia could become the first diver in NCAA history to sweep all three diving titles if he wins on platform today.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com





PLANTATION—Growing up around the Comets pool deck had its advantages for Tiffany Oliver.

“I remember when I was 12 I saw my older friends graduating high school and getting a college scholarship and I thought it would be great to get one, too,” Oliver said.

With friends and role models like Olympians Alia Atkinson of Texas A&M and Natasha Moodie of Michigan, Oliver knew she was on the right path if she stayed in swimming.

After five years of hard work and dedication, Oliver, 17, is headed to Florida State this fall on a swimming scholarship.

The outgoing West Broward High senior said she has only “scratched the surface” when it comes to swimming. She has gotten far with her natural ability and hopes to hone her technical skills even more at the college level.

On Saturday night at the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships, Oliver took another step in the right direction with a victory in the 200-yard freestyle against an impressive women’s field. She won in 1 minute, 52.27 seconds, finishing ahead of Ana Anaya of Metro Aquatics, Comet teammate Melissa Fernandez and Lindsey Meeder of Fort Lauderdale Aquatics.

Oliver had a busy night at the Plantation Central Park Aquatic Complex. She was also second in the 400-yard individual medley in 4:40.40 and eighth in the 50-yard backstroke in 29.13. She swam a lifetime best 28.61 in morning prelims. Her previous best was 29.25.

“I never really pick and choose which events I want to do well in, I want to do well in all of them,” Oliver said. “I love to compete.”

Oliver, who is sixth among high point leaders going into the third and final day of the seniors meet on Sunday, is hoping to improve over the next four years.

Florida State coach Neil Harper is looking forward to working with Oliver, one of three Comets headed to FSU.

“Tiffany has amazing potential,” Harper said. “I am still amazed how fast she has swum to this point with so many small technique flaws and inexperience. She had instant chemistry with our staff and is excited about her future at Florida State.”

Oliver visited two other colleges but said “I just knew when I got to Florida State I was in the right place. The coach and swimmers were so nice. It was the right fit for me.”

The Hollywood-born Oliver, a former basketball player, started getting serious about swimming when she was 11.

“I could swim before I could walk because my mom wanted me water-safe,” Oliver said. “But I never thought that far ahead that I would one day swim competitively and go to college with swimming. I really love swimming. Sometimes I don’t want to go to practice but I know it’s worth it.”

Oliver said she has a tendency to overthink her races and gets into trouble with her strokes.

“My coach told me to finish my strokes and do good technique but I wasn’t thinking,” Oliver said. “Sometimes I don’t think, I just go. I overthink it and then I don’t do it right.

“Tonight I felt sloppy in the water and my technique was pretty bad. I know I was doing my turns wrong. I know I have to be more disciplined and practice more. I know I can be a lot cleaner in the water. I know when I improve all my mistakes I will drop seconds off my times.

“In my 200 tonight I wasn’t thinking. Instead of sprinting the whole thing, I paced off whoever was first and then caught them at the end.”

Oliver said she has sacrificed most of her “free time and hanging out” for swimming but she wouldn’t have it any other way, she said. Most of her friends are on the team and she enjoys the camaraderie.

“It’s all been worth the sacrifices,” Oliver said. “When I was 11 and 12 I wasn’t very good. My swimming friends encouraged me. I saw them every day and they kept me going. When I started winning, it was really fun.”

During the high school season at West Broward, Oliver was a top five finisher at the state meet and all-county first team selection. Her best events were the 50 freestyle (23.75, A-AA), 100 freestyle (51.69) and 200 freestyle (1:53.87).

Other top Comets finishers on Day Two were:

Men 15-16 200-yard freestyle: 9. Marc Rojas, 16, 1:48.99.

Men 200-yard freestyle: 7. Tyler Sell, 17, 1:46.40.

Men 15-16 50-yard backstroke: 11. Ivan Parada, 15, career-best 26.57, bettering 27.66.

Men 50-yard backstroke: 6. Carlo Morante, 17, 26.75; 7. Andrew Ling, 17, 26.86.

Men 15-16 200-yard breaststroke: 4. Marc Rojas, 16, 2:15.99.

Men 200-yard breaststroke: 6. James Shultz, 18, career-best 2:19.68, bettering 2:25.69.

Men 100-yard butterfly: 15. Tyler Sell, 17, 54.49.

Men 15-16 400-yard individual medley: 6. Marc Rojas, 16, 4:27.35; 7. Daniel Lee, 15, career-best 4:29.59, bettering 4:30.13.

Men 400-yard individual medley: 8. Tyler Sell, 17, 4:16.66.

Women 15-16 200-yard freestyle: 20. Amy Lunak, 16, career-best 2:01.33, bettering 2:08.69.

Women 200-yard freestyle: 3. Melissa Fernandez, 17, 1:53.96; 5. Ashley Hicks, 18, 1:55.39; 15. Leonie Davies, 13, 2:01.85; 17. Brittany Williford, 17, 2:02.78.

Women 15-16 50-yard backstroke: 10. Juana Vargas, 16, 30.02; 17. Nicolle Garcia, 16, 30.52; 19. Madeleine Fernandez, 15, 30.84.

Women 50-yard backstroke: 2. Ashley Hicks, 18, 27.17; 10. Melissa Fernandez, 17, 30.91.

Women 200-yard breaststroke: 12. Bianca Muniz, 18, 2:40.87.

Women 15-16 100-yard butterfly: 9. Juana Vargas, 16, 1:02.36; 19. Nicolle Garcia, 16, 1:03.65; 20. Linea Cutter, 16, 1:04.00.

Women 100-yard butterfly: 7. Amber Hunter, 14, career-best 1:02.33, bettering 1:02.65.

Women 15-16 400-yard individual medley: 11. Amy Lunak, 16, 4:50.50; 16. Melissa Fernandez, 15, career-best 5:03.53, bettering 5:04.07; 18. Belinda De La Torre, 15, 5:06.27.

Women 400-yard individual medley: 8. Stephanie Freiria, 17, 5:21.18.

Heading into the third and final day on Sunday, Fort Lauderdale Aquatics leads the combined team standings with 2,566.50 followed by Metro Aquatics (1,255.50), Plantation Swim Team (940) and AK Sharks (770).

The Comets and Coral Springs Swim Club are competing unattached during the 120-day mandatory period before the teams merge into the South Florida Aquatic Club (SOFLO).

After two days, the Comets have several swimmers in the high point individual rankings. They are:

*Marc Rojas, tied for second with 101 points among 15-16 men.

*Tiffany Oliver sixth with 72 points among open women.

*Ashley Hicks, seventh with 66 points among open women.

*Tyler Sell, second with 78 points among open men.

Prelims are 9 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m. Admission is $3 per session and $2 heat sheets. For information call 954-452-2526

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com





Venezuelan national record holder Arlene Semeco of the Coral Springs Swim Club wasted no time making her presence known Saturday at the South American Championships in Colombia.

Semeco, 26, making her fourth appearance at the championships, won the 100 freestyle in 56.11. It was the first time the high-tech swim suits were not allowed at the meet.

Semeco, a favorite in the 50 freestyle, had planned to use the 100 event as a tuneup for the sprint race on Monday. She was pleasantly surprised to win it and so was her coach.

“I felt great,” she texted Coach Michael Lohberg afterwards.

Said Lohberg: “I expected her to win the 50 but not necessarily the 100. There were some strong Brazilians in the field. She didn’t train as much as she wanted to train because of college and bad spring because of the weather. She stepped up and came through. This is wonderful. A gold medal is a gold medal.”

Semeco is funded by her swim federation which allows her to train full-time and work on her masters degree in nutrition at Florida International University.

Semeco, a University of Alabama graduate, represented her native country in two consecutive Summer Olympics in 2004 and 2008. She won two gold medals at the 2007 Pan American Games.

After the South American Championships, Semeco will compete in Europe and then follow up with the Central American Games in July and after that start preparing for the World Championships in December.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com





PLANTATION—Two years ago, Brittney Phelan was beginning to have second thoughts about swimming.

It was the end of her sophomore year Cypress Bay High School and the talented breaststroker was having a hard time in workouts.

“I wanted to quit very badly,” said the Coral Springs Swim Club swimmer.

“I was training but I wasn’t doing well and I wasn’t sure why,” Phelan said. “I was second guessing myself and I honestly wanted to quit. It was just a year where I wasn’t doing anything with my swimming. But I worked through it. I wanted to see if I could get better and I did.”

Phelan never thought about quitting again and has yet to regret her decision to stay in the pool and keep swimming.

On Saturday night, she saw one of the many rewards why during the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships at the Plantation Aquatic Compelx. The 17-year-old won the 200-yard breaststroke in a career-best 2 minutes, 20.52 seconds.

Phelan, tapered for the meet, was seeded second going into finals. After a blistering opening 50-yard split of 31.83, she went on to win by nearly half a pool length.

Another reward was earning a scholarship to Indiana at Bloomington. She starts classes this fall.

“Swimming is still a huge priority for me,” Phelan said. “I love the sport and I am so motivated to swim. I did think I would go to college and swimming has played a big part.”

Coral Springs Swim Club coach Michael Lohberg wasn’t surprised when Phelan had doubts about her swimming. He said he sees it often with teenage girls.

“At that age, there are always motivational and other issues,” Lohberg said. “Sometimes 16 and 17-year-olds get a little off track but she found her way back. She is fully back on track. The last couple of meets she has done really well and after our camp in St. Croix she will be even better. She is focused again.”

Phelan was extremely focused during her race. She had a plan to go out fast and stayed with it.

“I don’t go out that fast, I usually pull back and go faster on my last 100,” Phelan said. “I wanted to take it out fast and see if I could hold it. The third 50 I felt like I was dying but I felt good in the water and went faster. I just tried my hardest.”

Phelan has been swimming since she was little along with gymnastics, soccer and basketball. She said she loved swimming the most and started getting competitive at age 10.

Three years ago, she left Team Weston and started swimming at Coral Springs. At zones in Texas, one of her biggest meets, she won the 100 breaststroke at age 15.

“Michael has been great to work with,” Phelan said. “He has done a lot for me actually. I am swimming fast again. He is happy and I am happy with it.”

Day Two was another good day for Coral Springs swimmers.

Lindsey McKnight, 16, needed a career-best swim to knock off Lauren Driscoll of Fort Lauderdale Aquatics and she did just that to win the 15-16 50-yard backstroke in 26.72, bettering her previous best of 27.16. Driscoll was second in 26.96.

McKnight came back to win the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:18.07, nearly four seconds ahead of Driscoll (2:22.28).

In the boys competition, Brandon Goldman, 15, turned in two more career-best swims in the 15-16 400-yard individual medley to finish third in 4:16.25 (previous best was 4:21.36) and the 50-yard backstroke to place fourth in 26.34, bettering his previous best by 1/100th of a second.

Other top finishers for Coral Springs were:

Men 200-yard freestyle: 4. Les Moore, 18, 1:44.76; 9. Loai Tashkandi, 19, career-best 1:47.01, bettering 1:47.60.

Men 15-16 200-yard freestyle: 17. Mauricio Hidalgo, 16, career-best 1:50.47, bettering 1:51.45.

Men 50-yard backstroke: 2. Marco Camargo, 20, 24.98.

Men 15-16 200-yard breaststroke: 3. Luke Torres, 15, 2:10.88.

Men 200-yard breaststroke: 11. Bogdan Cioanta, 14, career-best 2:24.33, bettering 2:27.12.

Men 15-16 100-yard butterfly: 4. Luke Torres, 15, 51.84; 15. Mauricio Hidalgo, 16, career-best 55.75, bettering 55.85.

Men 100-yard butterfly: 2. Les Moore, 18, 51.72; 11. Zain Qali, 22, 52.01.

Men 400-yard individual medley: 2. Loai Tashkandi, 19, career-best 4:07.56, bettering 4:08.00; 5. Les Moore, 18, 4:13.66.

Women 15-16 200-yard freestyle: 7. Linea Cutter, 16, career-best 2:00.24, bettering 2:01.57.

Women 200-yard freestyle: 9. Emma Lincoln, 14, 1:57.60; 10. Philomena Fiorenzi, 14, career-best 1:59.51, bettering 2:04.49; 16. Martie Vicent, 18, 2:02.74.

Women 15-16 50-yard backstroke: 3. Emily Greenwood, career-best 28;06, bettering 28.19; 9. Linea Cutter, 16, career-best 29.64, bettering 30.95; 13. Brittany Hanson, 15, career-best 29.62, bettering 30.26.

Women 15-16 200-yard breaststroke: 4. Gina Gautieri, 16, career-best 2:24.84, bettering 2:25.99; 5. Anne Kuczynski, 15, career-best 2:24.98, bettering 2:27.58; 7. Lucia Morris, 16, 2:30.13; 12. Kristina Nork, 15, 2:37.87.

Women 200-yard breaststroke: 6. Nicole Schein, 17, career-best 2:37.29, bettering 2:38.45; 11. Emma Lincoln, 14, 2:34.73.

Women 15-16 100-yard butterfly: 20. Linea Cutter, 16, 1:04.00.

Women 100-yard butterfly: 8. Martie Vicent, 18, 1:02.78; 11. Emma Lincoln, 14, career-best 1:01.08, bettering 1:02.46; 16. Jenna Moodie, 14, career-best 1:02.71, bettering 1:05.21.

Women 15-16 400-yard individual medley: 12. Kristina Nork, 15, 4:53.88.

Heading into the third and final day on Sunday, Fort Lauderdale Aquatics leads the combined team standings with 2,566.50 followed by Metro Aquatics (1,255.50), Plantation Swim Team (940) and AK Sharks (770).

The Comets and Coral Springs Swim Club are competing unattached during the 120-day mandatory period before the teams merge into the South Florida Aquatic Club (SOFLO).

In the high point individual rankings, Luke Torres is 10th among the 15-16 men with 77 points.

Prelims are 9 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m. Admission is $3 per session and $2 heat sheets. For information call 954-452-2526

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com





The impact of the 24-hour delay in the start of the NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships at Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion resulted in a tight team race between Texas and California.

Texas, one of the three top teams in the field hit by what has been diagnosed as Norovirus, an ailment that is easily transmitted to others, has a slim lead over California after the opening night of championship finals.

Texas, buoyed by its depth, leads with 145 points and California is second with 139 points with Florida (118), defending champion Auburn (114.5) and Stanford (106) rounding out the top five teams.

Arizona and Stanford were the other teams affected by the outbreak of severe gastrointestinal illnesses that struck 18 swimmers and one coach during the same American Airlines flight from Dallas to Columbus.

As of Friday, health investigators hadn’t ruled out the possibility of the illness being contracted from food or at other locations.

Arizona was hit hardest with nine swimmers stricken with diarrhea, vomiting and cramping.

Health officials said Friday that no other cases had been reported.

The meet began with preliminaries at noon.

The day before the meet started, the building was cleaned and disinfected. The pool water was tested and extra pool chemicals were added. Hand sanitizers were installed in the facility.

After the action started, no one seemed to be talking about sickness.

Austin Surhoff was the Longhorns only individual champion when he out-touched Florida’s Shaune Fraser. Surhoff won in 1:42.95, giving Texas only its second win ever in the IM event. Nate Dusing was the first Longhorn to win the 200 IM in 2001. Fraser’s time was 1:42.99.

“It’s just crazy, I can’t process winning especially in the heat I was in, all those crazy good underclassmen,” said Surhoff, one of four Longhorn top five finishers during the night.

Junior prep star David Nolan of Hershey, Pa., who set the national high school record in the event earlier this month in 1:43.43, would have tied for fourth in the race.

Texas, runner-up the past two seasons, has won the last of its nine team titles in 2002 and is in good position to add another trophy.

In another close exciting race, Conor Dwyer of Florida edged Arizona’s Jean Basson by 0.01 to win the 500 freestyle in 4:13.64. Dwyer is a transfer from Iowa.

It was only the Gators second win in the event ever. The first was Olympian Matt Cetlinski, who grew up competing in the Florida Gold Coast and Cardinal Newman High School, and won in 4:15.19 in 1986.

“It’s a true honor to win a race with such great competition,” Dwyer said. “My aim was just to go out and try to help us win some races.”

Top-seed Josh Schneider of Cincinnati beat defending champion Nathan Adrian of California (18.93-19.02) in the 50 free. Schneider is Cincinnati’s first individual swimming champion since 1946.

“I’m overwhelmed with emotion,” Schneider said. “I came here and did what I wanted to. I came in with the mindset. I told my teammates before that if I go out and race my best race the only person that can beat me is me.”

Adrian earlier swam leadoff leg for California’s winning 200 freestyle relay (1:15:71) to edge Auburn and finished the night by anchoring the winning 400 medley relay (3:02.83) over Auburn again.

“It really feels good,” Adrian said. “We came here to do our best, even if we came in somewhat as underdogs. Our team is really together. It feels great to accomplish what we did today.”

Purdue’s David Boudia, the 3-meter and platform champion last year, won the 1-meter springboard title. He was second in the event last year. Boudia will compete in May in Fort Lauderdale in an international meet.

University of Miami senior diver Reuben Ross of Canada picked up his seventh career All-American honor after finishing fifth.

The NCAA Championships continue through Sunday.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com






PLANTATION—At 5-foot-2, Brandon Goldman of the Coral Springs Swim Club knows exactly what he’s up against.

Still, the Coral Springs Swim Club swimmer is more determined than ever to work hard to compensate for his lack of size.

Goldman, 15, proved it Friday on the opening day of the Florida Gold Coast Senior Swimming Championships at Plantation Central Park Aquatic Complex by swimming career-best times in the 200-yard backstroke and 200-yard butterfly.

Goldman was fourth in prelims in the backstroke in 2:01.09, bettering his previous best of 2:02.16 and was 12th in the 200 butterfly prelims in 2:02.63, bettering his previous time of 2:09.28.

A few hours later, he came back in finals to finish seventh in the 200 backstroke in 2:01.86 and 13th in the 200 butterfly in 2:01.90, another lifetime best.

“I am really small,” said the St. Thomas Aquinas freshman. “I am racing against all 6-foot tall kids. I turned 15 two weeks ago and just aged up so I am swimming against taller and older swimmers.

“Look at the lineup at every race, I am definitely the shortest,” Goldman said. “I usually finish in the top three but being in a whole new age group it’s going to take some time.”

Goldman said he had trouble with his turns during finals. He enjoys long course a lot more, he added.

“I was messing up my turns a little in the breaststroke,” Goldman said. “I was missing the walls and then I was way too close. Things happen but I had a nice high turnover with my strokes. I am much better at long course. I am good under the water. I just don’t have the power coming off the wall.

“I was really happy with my morning swims,” Goldman said. “I was excited going into finals. I was surprised I had a really good swim in the butterfly because I don’t really train that much fly. I am mostly an IMer and breaststroker. I swim fly for fun.”

Coral Springs coach Michael Lohberg admires Goldman’s work ethic.

“I have been swimming since I was five years old,” said Goldman, who also played soccer and baseball. “I saw myself getting a lot better as I got older.

“I really like to train. Ask anyone, they will say I am a really hard trainer,” Goldman said. “It’s probably my favorite thing to do. I really look forward to practice. I know, it’s kind of weird. Not everyone likes to go to practice but I really look forward to it.

“I look at the meets as a big reward for how hard I work. The work is paying off.”

Goldman said Lohberg has been the key to his success in the pool.

“Michael is the greatest coach,” Goldman said. “He’s just great. I couldn’t ask for anything better. He is one of the best people I know and I have learned so much. And no, he didn’t pay me to say that.

“I am excited for the rest of my races. Some of my best ones are coming up. I just want to keep the ball rolling the rest of the weekend.”


Brittney Phelan was Coral Springs top girls’ finisher winning the 50-yard breaststroke.

Phelan, 17, topped an impressive field to win the open title in 31.07 seconds. She was Coral Springs only champion, boys or girls, on Day One.

Othe top girls’ finishers were:

*15-16 200-yard backstroke: 4. Brittany Hanson, 15, career-best, 2:14.61, bettering previous best of 2:17.81 and 2:16.64 prelim time.

*15-16 100-yard freestyle: 3. Linea Cutter, 16, career-best 53.31, bettering 53.74; 6. Anne Kuczynski, 15, career-best 54.76, bettering 57.09 seed and 55.20 prelim times.

*Open 100-yard freestyle: 4. Taylor McKnight, 17, 53.87; 6. Jenna Moodie, 14, career-best 54.11, bettering 54.50.

*Open 200-yard butterfly: 5. Taylor McKnight, 17, 2:10.05.

*15-16 50-yard breaststroke: 4. Gina Gautieri, 16, 31.93; 5. Anne Kuczynski, 15, career-best 32.33, bettering 32.96; 11. Lucia Morris, 16, 32.93; 15. Kristina Nork, 15, 34.65.

*Open 50-yard breaststroke: 7. Nicole Schein, 17, career-best 33.53, bettering 34.51; 10. Philomena Fiorenzi, 14, 34.30.

*Open 500-yard freestyle: 5. Emma Lincoln, 14, 5:15.16.

Other top Coral Springs men’s finishers were:

*Open 100-yard freestyle: 6. Dawud Al-Khalefi, 18, 48.67; 19. Colton Kleynhans, 20, 52.27.

*15-16 200-yard butterfly: 5. Luke Torres, 15, 1:56.05; 12. Mauricio Hidalgo, 16, career-best 2:01.09, bettering 2:10.47 seed time and 2:01.84 prelim time.

*Open 200-yard butterfly: 2. Marco Camargo, 20, 1:52.84; 5. Zain Qali, 22, career-best 1:58.09, bettering 1:59.10 seed time.

*15-16 50-yard breaststroke: 3. Luke Torres, 15, career-best 28.69, bettering 29.92 seed time.

After Day One, the team point leaders are Fort Lauderdale Aquatics, Metro Aquatics, Plantation Swim Team and AK Sharks.

The Comets and Coral Springs Swim Club swimmers are competing unattached during the 120-day mandatory period before the teams merge into the South Florida Aquatic Club (SOFLO).

The opening day’s competition featured 319 swimmers in the field. It is the first time the Florida Gold Coast separated the senior swimmers from the Junior Olympic swimmers into two meets.

The three-day meet continues Saturday with prelims at 9 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m. Admission is $3 per session and $2 heat sheets. For information call 954-452-2526.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com