WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
June 27, 2010
CORAL SPRINGS—The four-day Florida Gold Coast Coral Springs Invitational was the measuring stick coaches and swimmers were looking for in the midst of a full summer meet schedule.
South Florida Aquatic Club, competing for the first time as a full team, dominated the meet, won the combined team title with a record 1,506.50 points, and more importantly, was able to gauge its long course training progress.
Now SOFLO coaches and swimmers, looking ahead to the July 15-18 FGC Junior Olympics at Plantation Central Park and July 23-25 FGC Senior Championships at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex and July 27-31 Southern Zone Championships in Atlanta, will be able to go back and fine tune.
“The kids did a good job,” SOFLO national head coach Michael Lohberg said. “It seems a couple of our kids had a breakthrough. Our younger ones who moved up all had best times. Some of the people who swam at the Texas meet last week like Luke Torres all did very well.”
SOFLO had three high point award winners and three runners-up.
In the girls’ 10-and-under age group, Eden Cooke, 10, captured top honors with 57 points. Kelley Heron, 10, was second with 50 points. On the final day, Cooke won the 100-meter freestyle with back-to-back career-bests in prelims (1:10.40) and finals (1:08.78). She was also fourth in the 50 butterfly in 37.05, another best time.
Steph Campo, 12, who won all of seven of her events in career-best times, earned top honors in the 11-12 girls’ age group with 63 points, the most points earned in any age group.
On the final day, Campo won the 11-12 100-meter freestyle in 1:03.12 and 50-meter butterfly in 31.59, both career-bests. Kylie Herman, second in the 11-12 high point category with 34 points, was second in the 50 butterfly in a career-best 32.82. Allison Kopas, 11, was third in a career-best 33.27.
“I was happy with every single event, I dropped time and won every single one,” Campo said. “I aim high so I can shoot even higher. Hopefully, the next meet I can drop even more time. I am excited for the rest of summer training and to see what my little body can put me through and see what times I can do. I am exceeding my expectations.”
SOFLO newcomer Emily Kopas, 13, won high point honors in the girls’ 13-14 age group with 58 points.
Marco Hosfeld, 14, was second in the 13-14 age group high point category with 58 points, just three behind FGC record-breaker Quinn Cassidy of St. Andrew’s Swimming.
“We are swimming technically better,” Lohberg said. “We are looking at strokes, starts and other technical things but still with them swimming at a decent pace. I wasn’t looking at good strokes and slow times. We can do that in practice.
“Under a little bit more stress situation and good competition we expected certain things to happen that we worked on in practice,” Lohberg said. “It seems they are a little bit ahead on paper. But now in a couple weeks we need to show what we can do. This is where we have to drop even more time and have good swims. Some of them are reaching a level of performance that becomes more interesting. It makes a difference.”
Kelly Kealty, 12, had a breakthrough meet. On the fourth and final day, she finished second in the 11-12 50-meter breaststroke with back-to-back career-bests in prelims (40.38) and finals (38.74). Her previous best was 40.92.
Kealty also finished third in the 100-meter freestyle, also with back-to-back time drops in prelims (1:08.10) and finals (1:07.47). Her previous best was 1:13.33.
“I was looking for my best times because I haven’t swum these events since last year and I got what I wanted especially in breaststroke,” Kealty said. “It all came out good. I was happiest with my 50 breaststroke because I dropped the most.
“This was a big deal for me,” Kealty said. “This is my last 11-12 meet. I was working towards getting my 13 cuts and for JOs. This was to see where I am at. I am tired but really happy about what I accomplished.”
Kopas, the newest member of SOFLO, wrapped up an impressive meet after only one week of training with Lohberg.
Coming off her junior national cut performance in the 100 breaststroke on Saturday, Kopas, the top seed and fastest qualifier, won the 13-14 50-meter breaststroke. She posted back-to-back career-bests in prelims (34.99) and finals (34.87). Her previous best was 35.79. Jillian Alexander, 13, was third in the 50 breaststroke in a career-best 36.32.
Kopas was also third in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:35.36. She bettered her previous career-best of 2:33.52 in morning prelims in 2:32.03.
“I was going after that junior national cut,” Kopas said. “I felt really good in the water because Michael started fixing my stroke and I think that helped me along the way.
“I thought about how cool it would be to get this junior national cut the whole time during my race. I just wanted it so bad. That last 50 I was pushing as hard as I could to get to that wall. Right when I finished and saw that time it was like yes, I finally did this. It was the greatest feeling.”
Kopas, who has been swimming since age 4 and got her first sectional cut at age 12, has already fit in nicely with her coaches and teammates.
“I love SOFLO, I like the pool, I like the coaches and all my teammates are so nice, they were cheering for me the whole time and motivated me and I just learned their names,” Kopas said.
While making junior nationals is nice, Kopas has loftier goals.
“My goal this season is to make senior nationals and that is the goal I am focusing on most right now because that is a privilege to go to seniors and I would really like to be able to participate in that meet,” Kopas said.
High point runner-up Kelley Heron had a confidence-building meet while developing a nice rivalry with high point winner Eden Cooke. Both are 10-year-olds and bringing out the best in each other.
On Sunday, Heron won the 50-meter breaststroke in 41.75 and was fourth in the 100-meter freestyle in 1:10.77 bettering her previous best of 1:12.88 in prelims (1:11.21) and finals.
“I wanted to win and I expected to drop times a little bit, but I didn’t expect to drop that much time,” Heron said. “I wanted to see how my training was doing. I learned a lot in prelims and finals. I am tired but I feel good about what I swam.”
Maria Lopez, 14, was runner-up in the 13-14 200-meter butterfly in 2:34.37.
In the boys’ competition:
Marco Hosfeld, 14, won the 13-14 50-meter breaststroke in 35.88 and Joshua Cutter, 14, was second in a career-best 36.07. Hosfeld was also second in the 100-meter freestyle in a career-best 57.11.
Jorge Depassier, 10, was second in the 100-meter freestyle in a career-best 1:10.23. Alex Rodriguez, 19, was second in the 50-meter breaststroke, equaling his prelim time of 30.60. Dylan Sell, 13, was third in the 200 backstroke in a career-best 2:30.90. His previous best was 2:42.69.
Blake Kelley, 14, was second in the 200-meter butterfly in a career-best 2:25.45. He bettered his seed time of 2:42.51 in prelims with a 2:30.33 and dropped even more in finals.
“This was a “I want to do good meet” because it’s prelims and finals,” Kelley said. “I was happiest with my 200 free, I dropped six seconds total. I am extremely happy with this meet. Now I am working toward JOs which I want to do better than this.”
Lohberg said the meet served as a perfect dress rehearsal for next month’s bigger meets.
“The swimmers can deal better with the expectations and stress because they consider themselves good,” Lohberg said. “Nobody goes into these events anymore with ‘hopefully, I am going to swim fast.’ I hate the word hopefully. You do your job, you do what you can and you most likely will succeed.”
Team totals: 1. SOFLO 1,506.50, 2. St. Andrew’s Swimming 362, 3. Pine Crest Swimming 343.50, 4. Davie Nadadores 342, 5. Plantation Swim Team 271.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com