WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
March 19, 2011
After a disappointing meet at the Missouri Grand Prix, there’s no place like home to rejuvenate Arlene Semeco.
The Venezuelan Olympian and national record holder won the 50-meter freestyle Saturday night at the Speedo Champions Series Southern Zone Southern Sectional Championship at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex.
Semeco, 27, won the sprint race in 26.05 seconds, bettering her prelim time of 26.65. Semeco was one of three SOFLO swimmers in the women’s final.
“I feel I am getting there, I wanted 25 but at this point I feel like I am on the right track,” said Semeco, who swims the 100-meter freestyle on Sunday. “I feel good about my swims today, I felt good in the water, much better than I did at Missouri.
“I wanted to swim this meet because it’s close to home. I get to sleep in my own bed in my room. For some it’s not a big deal but for me those factors are a big deal for me. I am comfortable in my zone. I like the whole environment of the meet.”
SOFLO sprint coach Chris Jackson noticed a few technical aspects Semeco needed work on. With a few more meets and fine tuning, she expects to be ready for this summer’s World Championships in Shanghai, China and Pan American Games in Mexico this fall. She is already qualified for both major meets.
“My start was great, it felt awesome,” Semeco said. “I took my first breath at the 25-meter mark. I felt stronger at night than I did in the morning.
“I have to work on my touch, it’s just not strong enough. My body position isn’t where it should be at the finish. My head is coming up before I touch, Chris called me on it. I know there is room for improvement. I am excited I can still improve and hopefully swim faster.”
Semeco has plenty of meets lined up to fine tune. She will swim the April 15-16 JAX 50 Sprint Dual Challenge at Jacksonville Bolles School. She has nationals in May and international meet in Rome in June.
Semeco has made progress since last year. She skipped world short course because “I wasn’t feeling very fast.” She has focused heavily on her dryland training and it’s paying off.
“Mentally, I am doing so much better than last fall,” Semeco said. “I was really stressed out about my shape and how I felt last year. I am getting back in shape and feel much better.
“After eight months, my dryland is working. My muscles are getting bigger and bigger. I feel the results. I feel so much stronger now. Things are getting back in place. I still have a long ways to go but I am on the right track. I think a couple more months and I should be close to where I was at the last Olympics.”
It was another fine tuning day for SOFLO’s workhorse Lindsey McKnight.
McKnight, 16, won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:18.74, faster than her prelim top seed time of 2:21.41 but slower than her best time of 2:15.67. She finished ahead of teammate Julie Stupp, who finished fourth in 2:24.45.
McKnight also finished fourth in the 50-meter freestyle in 26.83, close to her personal best. Teammate Jessie Alcaide, 26, was tenth in 27.68.
McKnight scratched from the 100-meter backstroke final after posting the ninth fastest time of 1:06.97 in morning prelims and didn’t swim the 400-meter freestyle.
Also in the women’s 200-meter individual medley, SOFLO’s Emily Kopas, 14, was second in the consolation final in a career-best time of 2:26.04. Her previous best was 2:26.14 and her prelim time was 2:29.00.
In the men’s 200-meter individual medley, SOFLO’s Loai Tashkandi, 20, swam a career-best 2:13.20 in morning prelims bettering his previous best of 2:14.64 and then turned around and lowered his best time again in 2:11.70 for a sixth-place finish.
In men’s 100-meter backstroke, Valerio Rasi, 18, swam a career-best 1:01.84 to finish 22nd overall and second in the “C” final. He bettered his previous best of 1:02.31 and prelim time of 1:02.50.
Brandon Goldman, 16, turned in two more best times. In the 100-meter backstroke he posted a 1:02.07 for fourth place in the “C” final. His previous best was 1:02.41. In the 200-meter individual medley he swam a best time of 2:17.95, bettering his previous best of 2:18.63 less than a day after swimming back-to-back career-bests in the 400-meter individual medley.
Keegan Boisson-Yates, 15, also had a career-best time in the 100-meter backstroke prelims in 1:04.20, bettering his previous best of 1:05.28.
Allison Kopas, 12, had a best time in the 200-meter individual medley in 2:40.80, bettering her previous best of 2:44.11.
In the men’s 50-meter freestyle, Robert O’Gorman swam 26.04 in prelims bettering his previous best time of 26.05.
Hazem Tashkandi, 18, swam a best time 4:25.75 in the 400-meter freestyle prelims. His seed time was 4:50.51 in yards.
Other SOFLO finishers:
Women’s 100-meter backstroke: 124. Kristina Brennan 1:15.51, 182. Allison Kopas 1:18.69.
Women’s 200-meter individual medley: 16. Emily Kopas 2:26.04, 101. Allison Kopas 2:40.80.
Women’s 50-meter freestyle: 30. Linea Cutter 28.60, 72. Kristina Brennan 29.45, 125. Katie Brennan 30.09.
Women’s 400-meter freestyle: 61. Katie Brennan 4:46.63, 69. Leonie Davies 4:50.05.
Men’s 100-meter backstroke: 42. Keegan Boisson-Yates 1:04.20.
Men’s 200-meter individual medley: 12. Alex Rodriguez 2:12.09, 26. Leo Andara 2:16.67, 37. Brandon Goldman 2:17.95, 81. Zain Qali 2:22.31, 114. Valerio Rasi 2:27.31.
Men’s 50-meter freestyle: 14. Abbas Qali 24.83, 30. Gianpaolo Barelli 26.07, 66. Robert O’Gorman 26.04, 69. Keegan Boisson-Yates 26.07, 75. Zain Qali 26.24.
Men’s 400-meter freestyle: 38. Marco Hosfeld 4:18.11, 66. Hazem Tashkandi 4:25.75.
After three days, host Fort Lauderdale Aquatics leads the women’s team standings with 370 points followed by Bluefish Swim Club (316) and Gator Swim Club (295). SOFLO is ninth with 188.
Davie Nadadores remain in the men’s team standings lead with 493 points. Bluefish Swim Club is second with 391 and Gator Swim Club third with 356. SOFLO is 12th with 87.
Individual and relay champions on the third night of competition were:
Two-time Olympian Ryan Lochte of Daytona Beach, despite heavy training, won the 100-meter backstroke in 55.24. He was also second in the 400-meter freestyle in 3:59.02.
Ramire Gonzalez, 20, of Acuatica Nelson Vargas Swim Club won the women’s 100-meter backstroke in 1:02.62.
Two-time Olympian Peter Vanderkaay, 27, now training in Gainesville, won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:06.69 and 400-meter freestyle in 3:58.78.
Marcos Macedo, 20, of Davie Nadadores won the 50-meter freestyle in 24.08. Davie had four swimmers in the final.
Miyam Castaneda, 21, of Jalisco won the women’s 400-meter freestyle in 4:15.43.
Acuatica Nelson Vargas Swim Club won the women’s 400-meter medley relay with Sharon Rivera Rodriguez, Eva Castello Bello, Diana Luna Sanchez and Martha Aleja Beltran Sanchez in 4:25.99.
Davie Nadadores continued their domination of the men’s relays by winning the 400-meter medley relay in 3:52.50.
In a late night Friday result that was not posted until Saturday, Davie Nadadores won the men’s 800-meter freestyle relay with Jesus Marin, Daniele Tirabassi, Yousef Alaskari and Aaron Dsouza in 7:51.20 and were in the men’s team standings lead with 337 points.
The meet, with nearly 1,000 swimmers and 121 teams, concludes on Sunday.
IF YOU GO
What: Speedo Champions Series Southern Zone Southern Sectional Championship
Schedule: Sunday, 9 a.m. prelims, 5 p.m. finals.
Where: Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex, 501 Seabreeze Blvd.
Admission: $6 per session including heat sheet. For information call 954-468-5590.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com.