SOFLO’s Arlene Semeco Older, Wiser And Ready For Third Olympic Appearance

SOFLO’s Arlene Semeco Older, Wiser And Ready For Third Olympic Appearance


July 19, 2012

No matter how many Olympics a swimmer competes in, the emotions never change.

Arlene Semeco will make her third Olympic appearance for Venezuela when the swimming competition begins July 28th in London. She has qualified in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events.

The 28-year-old South American and Venezuelan national record holder may be older and wiser, but she is just as excited as she was when she made her first Olympic team in 2004.

“The first Olympics I can tell you nothing about it,” said Semeco, who trains at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex with the South Florida Aquatic Club.

“I can remember nothing. I was so freaked out. The second time I held back because I was coming off a shoulder injury.

“Now this time around I have more experience. I know what to expect. I know what to prepare for once I am there. That is an advantage. I have two Olympics under my sleeve. I have the experience.

“The fact that I have qualified for three Olympics shows how much pride I take in my swimming and how hard I worked.”

Semeco is in the best shape she’s been in since she started swimming at age 9 in Valencia, Venezuela dreaming about the Olympics. She has been injury-free and training well with Coral Springs Swim Club head coach Bruno Darzi for the past two years.

“I think I am in the best shape of my life,” Semeco said. “I really don’t feel sluggish in any way in any area. Thank God this time I have no injury and it’s been possible for me to get myself in prime shape. The last time I had shoulder surgery in January before the Olympics. This time there is no injuries. I have been training for two straight years. Now I can show what I can do.”

Semeco was injured during her training for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She needed reconstructive surgery eight months before the Games. She rehabbed and was able to return to the pool sooner than expected.

Semeco is funded by her swim federation which allows her to train full-time and work on her master’s degree in food and nutrition at Florida International University. She has two bachelor degrees from Alabama in human environment sciences and food and nutrition.

“Venezuela is super supportive,” Semeco said. “I have been fortunate to get their support. I am able to swim and train and take this as a job. I am doing my best athletically and academically.”

A University of Alabama graduate, Semeco represented Venezuela at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece and 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. She has won gold medals at the Pan American Games, South American Championships and National Championships  and various other meets.

She was an All-American and school record holder at University of Alabama, where she was the fastest swimmer in the 50 freestyle. She competed in the 50 and 100 freestyles at the NCAA Championships. She has also been the Venezuela Female Swimmer of the Year several times.

This year Semeco has done well internationally, nationally and locally. On Tuesday, she had her last double workout at Coral Springs. She is going into her third Olympics mentally relaxed, she said.

“I actually want to take it as another meet,” Semeco said. “I don’t want to freak out. I am sure it will hit me once I get there, after I see the facility and all the people. I am just trying to relax and take it easy like any other meet. I have to remember I know everybody who is going there. I know everyone has prepared as much as I have.

“I want to enjoy the moment. It is definitely a different experience moreso than any other meet. It’s one to remember. I don’t want to get there with many expectations. I don’t want to be disappointed if I don’t do what I want to do.”

Experience will be her biggest ally when she steps on the blocks.

“I have definitely gotten smarter with each Olympics,” Semeco said. “It’s definitely been learn as you go. I know everyone has been working hard for the Olympics but so have I.”

Semeco will think about her future after the Olympics. She would like to finish her masters work and internship.

“I am definitely in love with swimming, I can never fall out of love with swimming,” Semeco said. “It’s definitely not in stone what I am going to do in the future. I would definitely like to plan my life. I will decide after the Olympics whether to keep going or shift my attention.

“I am proud of not only what I accomplished but the way I took every single meet. The last two years I had little setbacks with times and it took a toll on me mentally. After I got out of that stage of not improving I trained as much as I could, beating my body up. I know I did everything possible these last two years. I have no regrets.”

Before heading to London on July 25th, Semeco will join her Venezuelan teammates for a five-day training camp in Barcelona, Spain.

Once in London, Semeco will share the pool deck with SOFLO teammates Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and Vlad Polyakov of Kazakhstan, both three-time Olympians, and former Coral Springs Swim Club swimmer Nick Schwab making his Olympic debut for the Dominican Republic. Atkinson had a training camp in London while Polyakov went to Belarus for a pre-Olympic camp.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 183: Kuczynski Finishes Sixth On Opening Night Of Summer Nationals


July 19, 2012

SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski finished sixth in her first event Thursday night at the Canadian Summer National Championships at the Kinsmen Sport Centre in Edmonton.

Swimming in Lane 6, Kuczynski, 21, finished sixth in the 50-meter butterfly in 27.62. The Canadian picked up 16 points for her Pointe-Claire Swim Club.

“Swam with my ENGINE suit tonight,” she tweeted. “Although the race didn’t go as well as I had hoped, I loooved the suit. Thanks Dara Torres.”

Torres competed in the ENGINE suit during the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha where she barely missed making her sixth Olympic team.

Kuczynski turned in the fourth fastest time in morning prelims in 27.81, off her seed time of 27.27. She called it “a decent morning swim.”

Sandrine Mainville, 20, won by 1/100th of a second in 26.96 ahead of

top-seed Noemie Thomas, 16, in 26.97.

Kuczynski, an Olympic hopeful for Canada in 2016 after barely missing the 2012 team, still has the 100-meter butterfly on Saturday and 400-meter medley relay on Sunday.

The meet is being streamed live on

UM Coach Heads To South Africa

University of Miami head swim coach Christie Shefchunas will be among ten coaches and swimmers headed to South Africa on Friday with the Athletes In Action initiative.

The group is comprised of student-athletes and professionals involved in weight training, strength and conditioning and other athletic fields. They will be working with students at South Africa’s Exercise Training Academy.

Shefchunas will be instructing students on motivation and will include her own experiences working with the Hurricane swimmers including alum and SOFLO swimmer Dana Hatic.


There were no positive drug tests at the U.S. Olympic swim trials according to USADA. All samples collected during the meet and tested came back clean. In addition to those who made the Olympic team, random athletes were also drug tested during the trials…Jacksonville Bolles coach Sergio Lopez has been selected by the Royal Spanish Swimming Federation as one of thirteen ambassadors for the 2013 World Aquatic Championships in Barcelona, Spain…Ryan Lochte of Daytona Beach is featured on the cover of this month’s Time Magazine. Time released three separate covers for U.S. readers. The other two featured athletes are gymnast Gabby Douglas and hurdler Lolo Jones. Lochte has also been featured on the cover of Vogue, Men’s Health and Men’s Journal…Swimming World Magazine was named one of the Top 10 ways to follow the Olympics by Bleacher Report. Running World, Twitter and YouTube were also among the Top 10. 

Sharon Robb can be reached at