WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
February 3, 2011
The South Florida Aquatic Club is becoming a pipeline for Florida State.
Doug Ramos and Alex Rodriguez will join SOFLO swimmers Tiffany Oliver, Ashley Hicks and Tyler Sell, all freshmen, this fall in Tallahassee.
Ramos, a senior at Miami Columbus High School, is a five-time state qualifier. This past season the rising breaststroker was state runner-up in the 100-yard breaststroke in a career-best All-American time.
Ramos is rated No. 17 in Florida on the collegeswimming.com website.
“Doug is a late bloomer and has a great breaststroke and IM,” said FSU coach Neil Harper. “He is a great student-athlete and had the opportunity to go to some Ivy League schools, but wanted to stay in the state.
“He wanted to come train with our breaststroke group and I think he can really develop here at Florida State.”
Ramos won the state 100-yard breaststroke title as a junior. Ramos finished his high school career with three seconds, one first and 11th place in eighth grade, his first year of high school swimming.
Since August, Ramos has been working with six-time Olympic coach Michael Lohberg and training with SOFLO at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.
“Coming to Michael’s team changed my swimming a lot. He made my stroke a lot smoother, before it was really jerky and wasn’t very efficient. Now every stroke I take is efficient in my races. I did dryland every day and lost a lot of weight. He really helped me get to this point.”
Rodriguez also turned around his swimming career with Lohberg’s help with the breaststroke and as a result has a second chance at collegiate swimmimg.
The SOFLO swimmer has made remarkable progress training with Lohberg and several world-class swimmers including two-time Olympians Vlad Polyakov and Alia Atkinson.
Rodriguez has become more focused in and out of the water since a disappointing freshman season at Florida Atlantic University. He has three years of college eligibility remaining.
“Quitting never went through my mind,” Rodriguez said. “I am always looking to improve. I just thought I needed something else to get to that next level.”
Atkinson Competes In Jamaica This Weekend
SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson is returning to compete in her native land Jamaica for the first time in ten years.
The two-time Olympian will compete in the 16th annual LIME/Y Speedos Karl Dalhouse International Swim Meet Friday through Sunday at Jamaica’s National Stadium Pool.
For the first time in meet history it will serve as a FINA World Swimming Championships qualifier.
Atkinson is entered in six events. The multi-national short course and long course record holder in Jamaica, will also conduct two clinics for Jamaica’s junior swimmers.
“She is very excited about competing here and we believe some great times are in store for us,” said meet director Dr. Brian James.
The 22-year-old was runner-up for the 2010 Sportswoman of the Year Award behind track star Veronica Campbell-Brown at the recent 2010 Sports Foundation Awards. It is the highest honor she has received in her swimming career.
Atkinson, a Texas A&M graduate, was the first Jamaican swimmer to qualify for two world championship finals at the world short course championships in Dubai. She also won four gold medals in record-performance at the Central American and Caribbean Championships in Puerto Rico.
This weekend’s meet will serve as a tuneup for Atkinson who is also scheduled to compete in the Feb. 18-21 USA Swimming Grand Prix in Missouri.
Gators Continue To Reap Honors
The University of Florida swimming and diving team became only the second school in Southeastern Conference history to sweep all four weekly swimming honors.
Conor Dwyer was named SEC Male Swimmer of the Year for a record fifth time this season. The senior captain was also named the Counsilman-Hunsaker National Collegiate Male Swimmer of the Week on Thursday.
Freshman Elizabeth Beisel earned SEC Female Swimmer of the Week honors for a record fourth time.
Newcomers Marcin Cieslak of Poland and Hilda Luthersdottir of Finland were named SEC Male and Female Freshman of the Week.
Bryant, Watson Win National One-Meter Titles
Kelci Bryant and Brandon Watson won the 1-meter springboard titles at the USA Diving Winter National Championships in Iowa City.
Bryant, a 2008 Olympian, defended her title with 283.90 points to win her eighth national title. She clinched the win on her final dive.
“My first dive went pretty well but then I missed two in a row, so I knew the pressure was on,” Bryant said. “I knew I had to go for it and do a great last dive and it worked.”
University of Miami’s Brittany Viola was 14th with 235.20 points.
Watson won the men’s title with 443.20, edging Aaron Fleshner (442.95). His come-from-behind victory was his second career national title.
“I couldn’t be happier, it was an intense competition and God really blessed me to do well today,” Watson said. “I felt like there was a little pressure on me having won a title before.”
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org