AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 38: Boca Woman, Canadian Win Swim Around Key West

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 38: Boca Woman, Canadian Win Swim Around Key West

June 18, 2011


Boca Raton masters swimmer Dale LeClair and Canadian teenager Cameron McKnight won the 12.5-Mile Florida Keys Community College Swim Around Key West on Saturday.

LeClair, 41, a member of the GOLD Masters team, won the women’s title in 5 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds.

McKnight, 18, of Waterloo, Ontario, won the overall and men’s title in 4 hours, 11 minutes and 11 seconds.

McKnight was the youngest solo swimmer in the field. He swims at the University of Waterloo. He won the race two years ago.

About 150 swimmers, ages 18-65, in the solo (35 swimmers) and relay divisions (two to six people) competed in the event.

The course, that began at Smathers Beach, was a clockwise open water route that circled the island and included both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico waters.

The race, sponsored by the Bone Island Swim Club and event coordinator Lori Bosco, is the only sanctioned, insured and U.S. Coast Guard-permitted race around Key West.

Former FGC Swimmer Shines For USA Triathlon

USA Triathlon Project 2012 program member Manny Huerta of Miami was top U.S. male finisher at the third event of the 2011 ITU World Championship Series in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

Huerta, who was with the lead pack for most of the race, battled rainy conditions to place 24th overall and finish as the top U.S. male. He finished in 1 hour, 54 minutes and 4 seconds ahead of No. 2 American Greg Bennett of Boulder, Colo., who placed 25th in 1:54:10.

Huerta swam with clubs in Miami, trained with swim coach Boris Fernandez and at Florida Atlantic University.

Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee won the men’s race in 1:51:54, 44 seconds ahead of the field.

The women’s race is scheduled for Sunday with Laura Reback Bennett of North Palm Beach and Boulder among favorites. She will be joined by U.S. teammates Sarah Groff, Sarah Haskins and Jillian Peterson. Reback Bennett grew up swimming in the Florida Gold Coast with North Palm Beach coach Dick Cavanah.

The first qualifier event for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in London on Aug. 6-7.

Local Lifeguard Aguilar Accomplishes Paddleboard Feat

Miami Beach lifeguard Cynthia Aguilar, an endurance athlete, successfully became the first solo prone paddle boarder to complete a 103.2-mile voyage across the Florida Straits from northern Cuba to Key West on Thursday.

When verified it should set a record for the longest non-stop prone paddle. It took her 29 hours and 12 minutes. Aguilar never slept during her voyage. She wore sleeves on her arms to avoid jellyfish stings.

Aguilar, 28, an Ocean-Minded Brand Ambassador, celebrated with her Nicaraguan parents by dousing her paddleboard with champagne on the beach in Key West. It was her second attempt at the feat. Last September she tried the venture, but strong currents and jellyfish stings forced her to stop.

“Everybody here kept me going to prove that anything is possible no matter what,” Aguilar said. “You’re knocked down, you get up, you keep fighting, you keep paddling no matter what.

“This year the gods, the ocean and Mother Nature were on our side. We made it hours before we were even expected. We were planning to be here by 5 and it’s not even 1. Touching land was the happiest moment I’ve had in a long time.”

Her accomplishment will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, a non-profit that grants wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

“I’m trying to give the kids hope, but I’m also trying to inspire as many people as possible,” said Aguilar, who has been swimming since she was a baby. “I’m hoping that everyone who hears about this will be driven to make an impact and have hope that they can do something, even something little, that will make a big difference for someone else.”

Aguilar has her own website, Keep Paddlin.

GOLD Coast Masters Strike World Records

GOLD Coast Masters broke three world records recently at the Bumpy Jones Classic in Sarasota.

Maureen Hughes, Pat Sargeant, Danielle Ogier and Jeannie Mitchell of GOLD broke three masters records (240-279 age group) in the 400 medley relay (5:51.60), 400 freestyle relay (5:10.93) and 800 freestyle relay (11:30.92). The previous records were 5:52.38, 5:18.54 and 12:05.24 respectively.

Eight world masters relay records were broken during the meet.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Wins Gold In Rome, Moves Into Seventh In World Rankings

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Wins Gold In Rome, Moves Into Seventh In World Rankings

June 18, 2011


Alia Atkinson won her first gold medal at a European meet Saturday night at the 48th Sette Colli International Open Swimming Trophy Meet.

The two-time Jamaican Olympian won the 50-meter breaststroke in a career-best 31.06, moving her into seventh place in the world rankings, her highest career ranking.

Less than 24 hours after breaking 1:10 in the 100-meter breaststroke for the first time in her career with a best time of 1:09.91, the South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer came back to top an international field in Rome.

SOFLO is the only United States team competing in the three-day meet that concludes on Sunday.

Atkinson, 22, was seeded first after morning prelims in 31.54 ahead of Germans Sarah Poewe (31.88) and Dorothea Brandt (31.91).

In the finals, Brandt was second in 31.68 and Natasha Waitzer was third in 31.69.

Atkinson’s previous career-best was 31.95.

The Jamaica Sports Woman of the Year runner-up has won her share of medals and broken meet records at the Central American and Caribbean Games and other meets and won an NCAA title her senior year at Texas A&M, but never won a gold medal overseas.

Atkinson has the 200-meter breaststroke left on Sunday in her final tune-up meet before next month’s World Championships in Shanghai, China.

Three of her SOFLO teammates swam career-best times during morning prelims on Saturday.

St. Thomas Aquinas swimmer Brandon Goldman, making his international debut, swam two career-best times in the 100-meter backstroke (1:01.84) and 400-meter individual medley (4:45.62) with big time drops. His previous best backstroke time was 1:02.07 and 400 IM was 4:46.21.

After getting over opening day jitters of competing in the biggest meet of his life, Goldman was impressive on the second day and looked smooth and in control in the water.

Goldman, one of the youngest swimmers in the meet, has the 200-meter backstroke remaining on Sunday.

Taravella’s Keegan Boisson-Yates, also one of the youngest swimmers in the meet, finished fourth in his heat in a career-best 1:02.70, bettering his previous best of 1:04.79.

University of Miami’s Dana Hatic won her heat in the 50-meter breaststroke in a career-best 33.99. Her previous best was 35.17, another big time drop. Hatic has the 200-meter breaststroke on Sunday.

Other SOFLO prelim results:

200-meter butterfly: Luke Torres, 2:14.10.

400-meter individual medley: Loai Tashkandi, 4:48.29, Julie Stupp, 4:55.18.

100-meter freestyle: Arlene Semeco, 56.48, Lindsey McKnight, 58.21, Hallie Stupp, 1:00.47.

200-meter freestyle: Hazem Tashkandi 2:00.08.

Other meet individual winners were:

Fran Halsall of Great Britain won the 100-meter freestyle in 53.72, her second 53-second time within a week. At last week’s British National she clocked 53.61.

Aschwin Wildeboer of Spain broke the meet record in the 100-meter backstroke in 53.67. The previous mark was 53.70 by Randall Bal.

Zsuzsanna Jakabos of Hungary won the 200-meter butterfly in 2:07.67.

Cameron Van Der Burgh of South Africa won the men’s 50-meter breaststroke in 27.62.

Denmark’s Lotte Friis won the 800-meter freestyle in 8:25.57 and Samuel Pizzetti won the men’s 800-meter freestyle in 7:52.68.

Pawel Korzeniowski of Poland won the 200-meter butterfly in 1:56.32.

Aussie Sophie Edington out-touched Brit Elizabeth Simmonds, 1:00.76-1:00.88 in the 100-meter backstroke.

Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe won the 400-meter individual medley in 4:38.18 and Luca Marin won the men’s race in 4:17.28.

Sharon Robb can be reached at Sharon

Coughlin Disqualified, Phelps Wins At Santa Clara International Invitational; SOFLO’s Alcaide Competes

Coughlin Disqualified, Phelps Wins At Santa Clara International Invitational; SOFLO’s Alcaide Competes

June 17, 2011


Thirty minutes after the awards ceremony, Natalie Coughlin was disqualified from the women’s 100-meter freestyle Friday night at the Santa Clara International Invitational.

The Olympian was stripped of her gold medal after USA Swimming officials said she broke the 15-meter mark rule on the start of her 54.14 swim.

Runner-up Missy Franklin of Colorado Stars was awarded first place (54.33) and another podium awards ceremony was held for the 100-meter freestyle.

Coughlin tweeted about the incident throughout the night.

“Happy with my swim…apparently, I went a little far on the start, oops, guess my kicks are getting strong,” Coughlin tweeted.

“Been working on my start and underwaters off my start, so same number of kicks and way further is actually a really good thing.

“Stupid thing is that it took the officials 30 minutes to tell me that I got DQed because I went too far on the start. Am I that intimidating?

“Did my post-race interview, drug test, awards and showered before they decided to tell me. Didn’t think they could take that long. Silly.

“I always thought the rule was to be notified immediately…not. There should be a statute of limitations. Say, 5 minutes?”

In another major race, after finishing second in the 100-meter freestyle in 49.61, superstar Michael Phelps came back to win the 100-meter butterfly in 52.41, his second fastest time this year. Aussie Nick D’Arcy was second in 53.34.

Korean Tae Hwan Park, who beat Phelps to win the 100-meter freestyle in 48.92, also won the 400-meter freestyle in an impressive time of 3:44.99.

Floridian Ryan Lochte was eighth in the 100-meter freestyle in 50.63.

Rebecca Soni dominated the 200-meter breaststroke to win in a meet record 2:23.38. The previous record was 2:23.92. It was Soni’s third 2:23 performance of the year. Amanda Beard was second in 2:27.53.

California’s Dana Vollmer, who was fitted for her wedding dress in San Francisco earlier this week, won the 100-meter butterfly in 58.22. Vollmer also anchored California Aquatics winning 400-meter freestyle relay in 3:45.10.

Trojan Swim Club’s Eric Shanteau won the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:13.52 and the Comeback Kid, Brendan Hansen, was second in 2:14.56 in his first competitive meet since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

North Baltimore Aquatic Club’s Allison Schmitt won the 400-meter freestyle in 4:08.25.

SOFLO’s Jessie Alcaide, 26, finished the 100-meter freestyle in 59.14, placing 90th among a field of 267 swimmers. She went out in 30.77 for

the first 50.

Other Florida Gold Coast finishers:

Ricardo Monasterio, Davie Nadadores, 400-meter freestyle, 12th, 3:57.69.

Pine Crest Swimming “A” (Jeffrey Raymond, Gottfried Eisenberger, Thomas Veale, Austin Evenson), 14th, 3:37.92.

Jeffrey Raymond, Pine Crest, 100-meter freestyle, 40th, 52.15.

Gottfried Eisenberger, Pine Crest, 100-meter freestyle, 92nd, 53.67.

Michal Rokita, Pine Crest Swimming, 200-meter breaststroke, 79th, 2:30.72.

Brittany Hammond, Pine Crest Swimming, 400-meter freestyle, 67th, 4:27.94.

Thomas Veale, Pine Crest Swimming, 400-meter freestyle, 63rd, 4:07.33.

Austin Evenson, Pine Crest Swimming, 400-meter freestyle, 118th, 4:15.91.

Gottfried Eisenberger, Pine Crest Swimming, 400-meter freestyle, 126th, 4:16.91.

Jeffrey Raymond, Pine Crest Swimming, 100-meter butterfly, 43rd, 56.77.

California Aquatics leads the women’s team standings with 141 points followed by Canada, 120.5, Tucson Ford, 103 and Australia, 92.

Canada leads the men’s team standings with 137 followed by Tucson Ford, 110, Australia, 107 and California Aquatics, 105.

The meet continues on Saturday and is being webcast live at

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Hits Milestone, Breaks 1:10 For Career-Best At Sette Colli Rome Meet

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Hits Milestone, Breaks 1:10 for Career-Best At Sette Colli Rome Meet

June 17, 2011


For the first time in her swimming career, South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson broke 1:10 in the 100-meter breaststroke Friday at the 48th Sette Colli International Open Swimming Trophy Meet.

The two-time Olympian from Jamaica was one of three SOFLO swimmers to advance to the championship finals on the opening night of the three-day meet in Rome, Italy.

Atkinson was the top SOFLO finisher, placing fifth in one of her signature events. More importantly, she finished in a career-best 1:09.91. Her previous best was 1:10.25.

Atkinson qualified for the 100 final, finishing second in her heat in 1:11.22 and was the eighth seed for finals. Rikke Moller Pedersen won the event in 1:08.32.

Two other SOFLO Olympians, Dara Torres and Arlene Semeco, made it to the finals of the 50-meter freestyle.

Torres, 44, competing in only her third race since the 2009 Rome World Championships and reconstructive knee surgery, was seventh in 25.18 swimming in Lane 7. Semeco was eighth in 25.25.

For Torres the race was bittersweet.

It was Rome that was the site of her first meet since her 2007 comeback and her last meet, 2009 World Championships, with her beloved SOFLO coach Michael Lohberg, who died on April 4 after a lengthy battle with aplastic anemia. It was her first major race without Lohberg by her side on the pool deck.

“It’s kind of a sentimental reason to come back here,” Torres said. “It felt good to be on the deck walking out there, being part of the competition again.  It’s nice to be back.”

Torres is still in the midst of another comeback after a 16-month layoff after state-of-the-art knee surgery. She has the endurance but admitted she needs to work on strength.

“Today’s race isn’t bad for a 44-year-old. I have another year still to improve.”

Unlike Atkinson and Semeco, who are fine tuning for next month’s world championships in Shanghai, Torres is focused solely on next year’s U.S. Olympic trials and making her sixth Olympic team.

Four SOFLO swimmers turned in career-bests during morning prelim swims.

University of Miami’s Dana Hatic finished second in the opening heat of the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:13.74. Her previous best was 1:13.97. She finished 30th among a field of 44 swimmers.

Teenager Keegan Boisson-Yates finished eighth in his heat of the 50-meter backstroke in 29.60. His previous best was 29.94.

Loai Tashkandi of Saudi Arabia finished fourth in his 100-meter breaststroke heat in 1:06.48. His previous best was 1:08.17.

Teenager Lindsey McKnight won her 100-meter butterfly heat in 1:03.41. Her previous best was 1:04.01.

Other SOFLO finishers in Friday’s prelims:

50-meter freestyle: Keegan Boisson-Yates, 25.16, Lindsey McKnight 26.93, Hallie Stupp 28.08.

50-meter backstroke: Brandon Goldman 29.14.

100-meter breaststroke: Lindsey McKnight 1:13.01.

100-meter butterfly: Alia Atkinson 1:02.58, Hallie Stupp 1:05.75.

400-meter freestyle: Hazem Tashkandi 4:14.21.

Three meet record were broken during Friday night’s championship finals.

Australia’s Sophie Edington broke the meet record in the 50-meter backstroke in 28.15. The previous record was 28.31 set by fellow Aussie Emily Seebohm in 2008.

Two days after turning in the fastest 100-meter freestyle time in the world at the British Nationals, Fran Halsall broke the meet record in the 100-meter butterfly in 57.48. The previous record was 58.28 held by Jemma Lowe.

Denmark’s Lotte Friis won the 1500-meter freestyle in a meet record 16:09.48. It was the first time the event was held at Sette Colli.

In other races:

American-born Serbian swimmer Milorad Cavic won the 100-meter butterfly in 52.40. Cavic is now with the ADN Swim Project, the first project of its kind in Italy headed by Coach Andrea Di Nino since September 2005 using the experience he acquired while working with six-time Olympic coach Michael Lohberg at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.

Fabio Scozzoli, Italy, 100-meter breaststroke, 1:00.96.

Aschwin Wildeboer, Spain, 50-meter backstroke, 25.26.

Federica Pellegrini, Italy, 400-meter freestyle, 4:04.67.

Cesare Sciocchetti, Italy, 400-meter freestyle, 3:51.09.

Therese Alshammar, Sweden, 50-meter freestyle, 24.63.

Roland Schoeman, South Africa, 50-meter freestyle, 22.31.

Sharon Robb can be reached at