WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
Thirty-seven Comet swimmers will have a change of scenery when they compete Saturday in the Nike Swim Miami 2010.
From the youngest, Samuel Quintero at age 9 to the oldest, Miles Malmborg at 49, the Comets move from the pool into the Miami Marine Stadium Basin off Rickenbacker Causeway.
Most of the Comets will compete in the 5K (3.1 miles). Johnny Dodero, 15, is set to compete in the 10K (6.2 miles).
Other distances offered in the Florida Gold Coast-sanctioned event are the mile and 800 meters.
“Our team definitely does a lot of different things to keep it fun and interesting,” said Comets coach Chris Anderson. “I like it. It makes the kids hang tough. It’s a little different and it keeps them interested in the sport of aquatics.”
The Comets will be one of the busiest teams this weekend.
In addition to the Nike Swim Miami 2010, the team will host April Pool’s Day on Saturday with several fun activities scheduled.
The event will showcase the City of Pembroke Pines Academic Village Pool and Training Center’s numerous renovations and upgrades. There will also be a pool party, dunk tank, barbecue and several other planned activities for the whole family. Every swimmer is encouraged to bring a friend.
On Sunday, the Comets will hold their annual banquet to honor swimmers, coaches, parents, volunteers and other supporters at the Signature Grand in Davie, 5-9 p.m.
“This is half of what we normally send to the Nike Swim,” Anderson said. “We have a lot going on this weekend.”
The Nike Swim Miami 2010, one of the world’s largest open water events, will use a similar course as the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games open water event. With downtown Miami as a backdrop, the 10K swim is four loops of a 2,500-meter course. The 5K swim features two loops. The one mile and 800-meter races are one loop.
Thirty-six swimmers from the Nike Swim Miami 2010 will be selected to an All-Star team that will travel to Fort Myers this summer. Other swimmers will shoot for open water nationals that same weekend or the Swim Around Key West.
“Race organizers do such a great job with this event,” Anderson said. “They make it interesting for the kids. It’s not just an open water event. It has a flair with vendors, Olympians, announcer on the beach. It makes for a nice day for the kids. It’s a cool ambience, the kids are on the beach, hanging out with friends.
“It is an entirely different environment from the pool swimming and it’s easier for the kids to socialize in these open water settings. It also gives our swimmers a chance to get a taste of what open water swimming is about. It is a little different but our kids are really into it.”
Poliana Okimoto, a Brazilian long distance swimmer and 2008 Olympian, will compete among the elite field. She was seventh in the women’s 10K race in Beijing. Others in the field are ex-Cuban national team swimmer Boris Fernandez, training for his second attempt at the English Channel; three-time Olympian Gary Hall Sr.; and Alabama All-American and masters record holder Ricardo Valdivia.
All participants will get a finisher Nike Swim Miami race patch. The top three finishers in each age group will receive a die cut Nike Swim Miami medal. The top three overall finishers will receive a unique bobble head. The overall winner of every race will be awarded a Nike Swim Miami backpack.
Pre-race registration is Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. at the Miami Rowing Club in the Swim Gym office trailer. On Saturday, swimmer registration opens 6:45 a.m. The sponsor expo is 7 a.m.-2 p.m. The race starting times are: 8 a.m. for 800 meters 10-and-under; 8:30 a.m. mile; 9:55 a.m. 10K; 10 a.m. 5K and 1 p.m. K-9 Krawl. The award ceremony will be held after the results are posted.
In addition to Dodero, Quintero and Malmborg, other Comets participating in the Nike Swim Miami 2010 are:
10-year-olds: Kelley Heron, Matthew Menocal.
11-year-olds: Alani Carrasco, Jack Davies, Alfredo Mesa Jr., Stephanie Mlujeak, Carlos Rodriguez, Samantha Stinemire.
12-year-olds: Jessica Cordero, Andres Menchaca, Gustavo Valery, Cristina Villegas, John Walpole.
13-year-olds: Caroline Cabeza, Nicole Cordoba, Leonie Davies, Edward Kon, Tomas Legaspi.
14-year-olds: Roger Capote, Blake Kelley, Javier Menchaca.
15-year-olds: Xavier Brown, Meris Drew, Nicholas Manning, Chloe Sell, Arturo Valery, Cynthia Walpole.
16-year-olds: Nicolle Garcia.
17-year-olds: Carlo Morante, Gabriel Pena, Brittany Williford.
18-year-olds: Courtney Marx, Bianca Muniz.
46-year-old: Leticia Walpole.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com