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

Author: South Florida Aquatic Club - SOFLO Swimming

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