WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
October 16, 2013
Marc Rojas knew it was only a matter of time.
The South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer and sophomore at national champion Indian River State College, verbally committed to Florida State on Wednesday.
“Everything I did in the past was just building blocks to get to be where I am at now,” Rojas said. “The ultimate goal was to get into a great college and swimming the times I needed to do to get there.
“I think this is No. 1 for me in swimming,” Rojas said. “I worked really hard in and out of the water.”
Rojas is excited to swim for FSU first-year coach Frankie Bradley, a former Indian River head coach and Florida Gold Coast and Florida State Seminoles swimmer.
“When I took my trip to Florida State I felt very comfortable with the team and the head coach,” Rojas said. “I felt a connection with the school and coaches. I saw I would be a good addition to the team.”
Rojas will have two years of eligibility with the Seminoles.
“Going to a junior college was good but now I will be experiencing the whole package at Florida State and I am pretty excited about that. Of course, I still want to do great things here at Indian River.”
Rojas is defending junior college national champion in the mile (15:38.80) and was third in the 500-yard freestyle (4:33.52). He may be swimming the breaststroke after a breakthrough summer where he made his first U.S. Open cut (1:03.72) at senior zones.
“We are still talking about what I am going to swim at the big meets and nationals,” Rojas said. “My 100 breaststroke is pretty good. I want to drop some bombs.”
After winning a state high school title in the 100-yard breaststroke at Pembroke Pines Charter his sophomore year, the only boy from Broward County to win a state title that year, Rojas hit a rough patch.
“I had a kind of slump my junior year,” Rojas said. “I had to develop mental toughness when I wasn’t doing well in the water. It was a huge factor in my training.
“It wasn’t until my senior year of summer I had the meet of my life. I wish I had those times in my senior year at the beginning but everything happens for a reason.”
The “meet of my life” Rojas was referring to was the August Senior Southern Zone Long Course Championships in Plantation where he swam a lifetime-best and his first-ever U.S. Open qualifying standard (1:03.72).
Rojas splits were 29.68 and 34.04. The qualifying standard is 1:04.69. His seed time going into the meet was 1:05.97 for the third seed.
It was his seventh event of the weeklong meet but most memorable. He swam best times in nearly every event.
“Last summer I was training for the mile to make my standardized cut to help me get into a good college but it wasn’t working out, I wasn’t hitting my pace in practice,” Rojas said. “When in doubt, go to the breaststroke. I switched my mile mentality to the breaststroke.”
After finishing his sophomore year at Indian River, Rojas plans to take a summer class at Indian River and return to SOFLO to train with head coach Chris Anderson for a few summer meets before heading off to FSU.
SOFLO is fast-becoming a pipeline for FSU where SOFLO swimmers Tiffany Oliver and Alex Rodriguez are currently competing.
“I am on the right path, I am swimming fast,” Rojas said. “I am really fortunate to be going to Florida State. Everything is falling into place. I just learned that everything will be okay if you just believe in yourself.”
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org