SOFLO’s Davies Leads Race, Gets Out-Touched At Finish Of Open Water All-Star Challenge

SOFLO’s Davies Leads Race, Gets Out-Touched At Finish Of Open Water All-Star Challenge


April 29, 2012

Leonie Davies, a late addition to the All-Star roster, was leading the 5K girls’ race until the finish when she got out-touched by Casey Francis by 1/10th of a second Saturday at the annual Florida Swimming-Florida Gold Coast All-Star Challenge at Miromar Lakes in Fort Myers.

Francis, 17, of Pine Crest Swimming, won the 15-18 age group title in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 7 seconds.

Davies, 15, one of South Florida Aquatic Club’s top swimmers competing in her final Florida All-Stars event, finished in 1:05:08. Davies was also fifth in the Fran Crippen Mile Saturday night in 22:29.

Davies is moving to Texas with her family on June 9, two days after her last day of school at West Broward High School. Davies plans to continue her swimming career with The Woodlands Swim Team.

“After leading the 5K for 4,999 yards, I got out-touched, but still happy with second,” Davies tweeted after the race on Twitter.

At the finish, Francis had the advantage of reaching the finish board first by positioning herself inside. Davies was more at an angle coming in more from the outside, according to SOFLO coach Megan Garland, a member of the All-Star coaching staff.

“It happens,” Davies said during the bus ride home. “It’s something I learned for next time. We were both going into the board. I was just at a strange angle to the board and she was closer. She is a very good swimmer in the pool. Everyone thinks so highly of her. If I had to lose to someone, I am glad it was her.

“It was a great race. I think I had a pretty good swim. It’s one of my smartest races. I have to work on the back end with my coach. I can work on sprinting the back end. I can do better on it next time when I am in that situation.”

Racing conditions were ideal for the race with the water temperature at 79 degrees.

“There were parts where I could see the bottom of the lake,” Davies said. “I’m not a big fan of that. I am glad it wasn’t salt water.”

Davies has enjoyed great success in several open water swims including Swim Miami. She hopes one day to swim the English Channel. “I want to do that, it’s a long range goal,” Davies said.

For Davies, her runner-up finish was another confidence-booster.

“It felt good to know I can compete with these girls,” Davies said. “I barely made the team and to know I was leading all the girls shows me just because you don’t have a specialty in one event, you can be very good in another thing.

“I do like open water, it’s not as restricted as the pool. Every open water swim is different. Time doesn’t matter because every course is different and the conditions always change. Hopefully, it’s one of my strengths.”

Davies said she will miss her team and teammates.

“It’s bittersweet,” Davies said. “I did a lot better this year than previous years. I am glad our team did well and I was a member of the team. I wish the best for SOFLO.”

Davies was one of nine SOFLO swimmers named to the FGC All-Star open water team.

In other SOFLO results:

Kelley Heron, 12, tied for second in the 11-12 2.5K race in 38 minutes and 12 seconds. Andrea Bucaro, 12, was eighth in 41:46 and Bianca Monti, 12, was ninth in 42:03.

Nicholas Perera, 12, was the top boys’ finisher placing third in the 11-12 2.5K race in 37:35 just ahead of teammate Kevin Porto, 12, in 37:36. CJ Kopecki was seventh in 38:44.

In the boys’ 5K, Julien Pinon, 13, was sixth in 1:09:10. Alfedo Mesa was seventh in 1:12:41.

In the team results, Florida Gold Coast boys edged Florida Swimming, 56-55; Florida Swimming girls defeated Florida Gold Coast, 57.50-53.50; and Florida Swimming won the combined team title, 112.50-109.50, in one of the closest finishes in race history.

In the Fran Crippen Mile Saturday night, SOFLO’s Vanessa Mesa, 10, won the 10-and-under age group in 3:42 for 500 meters and teammate Kelley Heron, 12, won the 11-12 mile in 23:10. Garland, 25, was eighth in 25:33. In the boys’ mile competition, Alfredo Mesa won the 13-14 age group in 22:13. Perera was second in the 11-12 in 22:59.



11-12: 1. Maria Ruppert-Gomez, Florida 38.02; SOFLO: 2. Kelley Heron 38.12, 8. Andrea Bucaro 41:46, 9. Bianca Monti 42:03.


13-14: 1. Megan Moroney, FGC 1:08:54; 15-18: 1. Casey Francis, FGC 1:05:07; SOFLO: 2. Leonie Davies 1:05:08.


11-12: 1. Santiago Corredor, Florida 37:18; SOFLO: 3. Nicholas Perera 37:35, 4. Kevin Porto 37:36, 7. CJ Kopecki 38:44.


13-14: 1. Eric Ordaz, Florida 1:06:05; SOFLO: 6. Julien Pinon 1:09:10, 7. Alfredo Mesa 1:12:41; 15-18: 1. Sam Smiddy, FGC 1:03:30.



10-and-under: 1. Vanessa Mesa, SOFLO 3:42, 500 meters; 11-12: 1. Kelley Heron, SOFLO 23:10; SOFLO: 4. Bianca Monti 23:50, 5. Andrea Bucaro 24:07; 13-14: 1. Jordan Stout, Unattached 22:22; 15-16: 1. Isabella Paez, FGC 22:11; SOFLO: 5. Leonie Davies 22:29; 17-and-over pro: 1. Ashley Twichell, Unattached 19:40; 17-and-over: 1. Kaitlin Pawlowicz, Unattached 21:39; SOFLO: 8. Megan Garland 25:33.


10-and-under: 1. Zachary Brewer, Unattached 3:46; 11-12, 1. Santiago Corredor, Unattached 21:49; SOFLO: 2. Nicholas Perera 22:59, 4. Kevin Porto 23:11, 7. CJ Kopecki 24:07; 13-14: 1. Alfredo Mesa, SOFLO 22:13; SOFLO: 6. Julien Pinon 23:01; 15-16: 1. Ronald Santos, FGC 20:50; 17-and-over pro: 1. Dan O’Connor, Unattached 19:36; 17-and-over: 1. Sam Smiddy, FGC 20:57.

Twichell Doubles At USA Swimming Nationals

After winning the women’s 10K title on Friday and Fran Crippen Mile on Saturday, Duke alum Ashley Twichell won the women’s 5K Open Water National Championship on Sunday at Miromar Lakes.

Twichell made her move at the start for the front of the pack and broke away at the 2.5K mark.

In the final 500 meters, former Michigan swimmer Emily Brunemann caught up and made it a race getting out-touched by Twichell by 3/100ths of a second in 58:54.17. Brunemann finished in 58:54.47. Christine Jennings was third in 59:11.01.

“That’s how these races go,” Twichell said. “You race really hard for 40 minutes and then you push yourself harder for the final 15 minutes. For the last 500 meters it was pretty much an all-out sprint.

“I got touched-out like three times at the world championships last summer. That kind of replays in my mind weekly. That was good for me to be able to finish strong.”

Twichell is the first swimmer to sweep both national titles since Chloe Sutton in 2007.

“I was definitely tired,” Twichell admitted. “The last 1,000 meters was pretty painful.”

California teenager David Heron, 17, a junior in high school, outkicked the field in the fall 500 meters to win the men’s title in 57:50.92. Jordan Wilimovsky was second in 57:53.97 and Daniel O’Connor third in 57:55.83. Heron had finished third in Friday’s 10K.

Alex Meyer, coming off a broken collarbone, led early in the race for the first 1500 meters and ended up eighth. Meyer, the men’s Olympic qualifier for London 2012, is working his way back from the injury.

“I didn’t know where I was at the end,” Heron said. “I just wanted to pass as many people as I could and finish first. I was a little tired from the 10K but I felt pretty good. I didn’t really use my legs. I’m not good kicking.”

In the Masters 5K competition, Olympic gold medalist Brooke Bennett won the race in 1:06:57. Bennett is training on a regular basis and expected to come out of retirement and begin competing on a regular basis in the fall. She did a recent photo shoot for FINIS, one of her sponsors. She got the chance recently to work out with her old coach, Peter Banks, while he was visiting the Tampa area.

Sharon Robb can be reached at