WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
The South Florida Aquatic Club made history in the Florida Gold Coast.
The newly-formed club won its first major team titles Sunday night at the Florida Gold Coast 14-and-under Junior Olympics Long Course Championship at the Plantation Central Park Aquatic Complex.
SOFLO swept the combined, boys and girls team titles, topping an impressive field that included Fort Lauderdale Aquatics, defending champion Lake Lytal Lightning, AK Sharks, Pine Crest and Broward Aquatics.
SOFLO, just two months old, is the youngest club ever to win a major FGC title.
The Nike-sponsored club is a result of the merging of the Coral Springs Swim Club and Comets Swim Team, two of the most well-respected USA Swimming clubs.
Since SOFLO’s first official meet at the May 13-15 FGC Open Invitational at the Academic Village Pool, swimmers, parents and coaches quickly established chemistry and team camaraderie which shined through during the post-meet celebration Sunday night.
“This was the first real test for our new team, since it was a Championship Meet,” said SOFLO head coach Michael Lohberg. “As Head Coach I could not be more pleased. To win all three team titles is something special. Especially considering the fact that we used some of our top kids, who qualified for the Southern Zone Championships in Atlanta in 10 days, only in very few events, to make sure they can peak and rest for Atlanta.
“We we were expecting a tough fight for the team titles,” Lohberg said. “That it turned out that way and our kids swimming over 200 personal best times speaks for the excellent work of our coaches, and for the talent and toughness of our kids.”
Heading into Sunday night championships finals, SOFLO led Fort Lauderdale Aquatics, 576-498.
SOFLO won the combined team title with 705 points. FLA was second with 622. SOFLO won the girls crown with 388 points and FLA was second with 324. SOFLO won the boys team title with 317 points and FLA was runner-up with 298.
For the third day in a row, SOFLO posted career-best times including 51 in prelims and another 15 in finals. Over three days, SOFLO had a record 262 career-best times.
“The team was great,’ said Catharine Cooper, who had career-best swims in every event including the 100 freestyle where she finished third in 1:10.14. “We did a couple relays together. It was pretty fun. Everyone was really happy. The whole meet was amazing.”
“For us coaches, teaching a high standard of stroke technique to these young swimmers is more important than winning,” Lohberg said. “But if technique and swimming fast comes together like today, I don’t mind. It definitely was impressive. The kids stepped up and turned in one great performance after another. Especially I enjoy to see a girl like Catharine Cooper progress. She started in our SwimAmerica Learn To Swim Program, learned all the techniques, continued to our Mullins Park Program, and now, at age 10, swimming with our Head Age Group Coach Bruno Darzi. She is scoring in finals left and right. And there are many more stories like that. For us coaches, this is pure joy!”
SOFLO’s depth was never more evident during the three-day meet.
Sisters Emily and Allison Kopas, SOFLO’s newest members, were unable to contribute points since they were competing unattached in compliance with the mandatory Florida Gold Coast transfer rule.
Several other top swimmers including Steph Campo, Tyla Martin, Marco Hosfeld and Emma Lincoln swam in limited events, opting instead to focus on the July 27-31 Southern Zone Championships in Atlanta.
“I am very excited and happy for the kids,” Darzi said. “This is great. It was really a great team effort, a good combination of results from both pools. The kids did a great job. We had high expectations without knowing how it would turn out.”
“Absolutely the future looks good, we are excited about it,” Darzi said. “We got the chance to see a lot of our young ones really step it up. There are some things we need to work on as a team. Knowing there is still a lot of room for improvement but we had great results is very encouraging.”
SOFLO’s Emily Kopas, 13, competing unattached, was a double winner on Sunday night.
Kopas won the 13-14 200-meter individual medley in a career-best 2:26.14. Her previous best was 2:26.82. She also won the 50-meter breaststroke in 34.70, another career-best. Her previous best was 34.87.
Ten-year-olds Eden Cooke and Kelley Heron were individual champions.
Cooke won the girls 10-and-under 50-meter backstroke in a career-best 36.84. Cooke was second in the 100-meter freestyle in 1:10.08, a career-best. Cooke was also fourth in the 200 IM in a career-best 2:54.90.
Heron won the girls 10-and-under 50-meter breaststroke in a career-best 42.17. Heron was second in the 200-meter individual medley in a career-best 2:51.40 and fourth in the 100-meter freestyle in a career-best 1:10.17.
Maria Lopez, 14, was second in the 13-14 200-meter butterfly in a career-best 2:27.84. Marco Hosfeld, 14, was second in the 100-meter freestyle in a career-best 56.65.
Other SOFLO top results were:
Boys 10-and-under 200-meter individual medley: 5. Ricardo Roche, 10, 2:54.34, career-best.
Boys 10-and-under 100-meter freestyle: 6. Ricardo Roche, 10, 1:12.36; 8. Jorge Depassier, 10, 1:14.76; 10. Kevin Porto, 10, 1:12.90 (prelims).
Boys 10-and-under 50-meter backstroke: 5. Kevin Porto, 10, 39.28, swam career-best 39.24.
Boys 11-12 50-meter backstroke: 4. Gustavo Valery, 35.62; 5. Juan Lucas 36.81; 7. Alfredo Mesa, 11, 37.23.
Boys 11-12 50-meter breaststroke: 5. Diego Rodriguez, 12, 38.49.
Boys 11-12 200-meter butterfly: 7. Andre Menchaca, 12, 3:01.89, career-best.
Boys 11-12 100-meter freestyle: 10. Cristian Rossi, 11, 1:06.55.
Boys 13-14 200-meter individual medley: 6. Dylan Sell, 13, 2:28.01, career-best.
Boys 13-14 100-meter freestyle: 7. Blake Kelley, 14, 1:00.28.
Girls 10-and-under 50-meter breaststroke: 8. Catharine Cooper, 10, 46.36 (swam career-best 44.72 in prelims); 9. Delanie Perez, 10, 47.42.
Girls 11-12 50-meter breaststroke: 9. Audrey Mason, 12, 40.63.
Girls 11-12 50-meter backstroke: 8. Danielle Ginzburg, 12, 37.28.
Girls 11-12 200-meter individual medley: 6. Allison Kopas, 11, 2:44.11, career-best; 10. Jess Rodriguez, 11, 2:48.25.
Girls 11-12 100-meter freestyle: 6. Carly Swanson, 12, 1:11.87.
Girls 13-14 200-meter individual medley: 8. Kristi Brennan, 14, 2:41.44.
Girls 13-14 50-meter breaststroke: 10. Kelly Kealty, 13, 40.01, 11. Kayla Moodie, 13, 40.07.
SOFLO had eight swimmers among Top 10 high point finishers. They were:
10-and-under: (Girls) 2. Kelley Heron, 53 points; 3. Eden Cooke, 50; 4. Catharine Cooper 29; (Boys) 6. Kevin Porto, 22.
11-12: (Girls) 10. Carly Swanson, 19.
13-14: (Girls) 2. Emily Kopas, 54; 9. Maria Lopez 20; (Boys) 4. Marco Hosfeld, 25.
COMBINED: 1. SOFLO 705, 2. FLA 622, 3. Lake Lytal Lightning 447, 4. AK Sharks 316.50, 5. Pine Crest Swimming 301, 6. Broward Aquatics 289, 7. Blue Marlins 268, 8. Miami Dade County Aquatic Club 260.50, 9. Rockway Swimming Team 198, 10. Jupiter Dragons 187.
GIRLS: 1. SOFLO 388, 2. FLA 324, 3. Lake Lytal Lightning 302, 4. AK Sharks 289, 5. Pine Crest Swimming 175.50, 6. Miami Dade County Aquatic Club 166.50, 7. Jupiter Dragons 132, 8. Plantation Swim Team 127.50, 9. St. Andrew’s Swimming 95.50, 10. Broward Aquatics 51.
BOYS: 1. SOFLO 317, 2. FLA 298, 3. Blue Marlins 254, 4. Broward Aquatics 238, 5. Rockway 194, 6. Lake Lytal Lightning 145, 7. Pine Crest Swimming 125.50, 8. Miami Dade County Aquatic Club 94, 9. City of Hialeah 91, 10. Heritage Aquatics 90.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org