By Sharon Robb
November 24, 2013
For the first time in the club’s fourteen-year history, South Florida Aquatic Club swept the combined, girls and boys team titles for the first time ever at a major swim meet.
SOFLO was the most dominant team among the field of 54 teams and 1,256 swimmers to win the 23rd annual Speedo Winter Championships Sunday at the Plantation Aquatic Complex.
SOFLO won the combined team title with 1,922.50 points. Azura Florida Aquatics was second with 1,125 and Metro Aquatics third with 955.
SOFLO girls defended their title with 857 points ahead of St. Andrew’s Swimming with 539 and Coral Springs Swim Club with 533.
SOFLO boys won the team title with 1,065.50 points, the only team to score more than 1,000 points. Azura was second with 869 and Metro Aquatics was third with 549.50
With the total package of talent, depth and experienced coaching staff, SOFLO took another huge step in establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with in club swimming.
“We finished strong,” SOFLO coach Chris Anderson said. “We are a lot stronger program than a year ago and a lot better program than we were five years ago.
“The hard work is paying off. The coaches are a lot more comfortable pushing our kids to reaching their limits and what we are doing with the program.”
SOFLO dominated the relays, individual events and high point awards in their finest performance in the spotlight of a major meet.
Winter Championships is among the state’s and nation’s largest age group meets and is among the Florida Gold Coast’s Big Three along with Senior Championships and Junior Olympics.
“I do feel SOFLO is emerging as one of the mega-teams in South Florida,” Anderson said. “It is definitely emerging into that. We have a lot more to prove as being one of the new powerhouses, which I think this meet established.”
SOFLO had seventy-five boys and girls competing over four days from 9-year-olds to three-time Olympian Alia Atkinson of Jamaica.
SOFLO was the only club to break a FGC record in the relay competition. The boys’ 10-and-under 200-yard medley relay (John Paul Handal, Michael Arias, Joseph Lee and Marcus Franco) broke Hurricane Aquatics’ 30-year-old record in 2:08.78.
“There was definitely a very high level of excitement out of all of our kids,” Anderson said. “Our younger kids were excited along with the older kids and they were all together which was nice to watch them enjoy and share the experience. This will help takes us to a higher level.”
Anderson is hoping several of his swimmers step it up to enable SOFLO to take six boys and six girls to national meets around the country in the near-future.
“We want our kids to represent SOFLO on the national scene and we have kids who are capable of accomplishing this,” Anderson said.
“I don’t think what we did here was a big surprise,” Anderson said. “It’s been hard work and dedication on the part of the kids and coaches. We really feel we have been climbing this mountain for a while. Now our kids are really being noticed because they are beginning to win a lot more races individually.”
Among SOFLO high point winners were Michael Arias, 10, Vanessa Mesa, 10, Rafael Rodriguez, 11, Kathleen Golding, 13, and Jessica Rodriguez, 14.
On Sunday night, SOFLO’s top performances were:
Maria Lopez, 17, 200-yard butterfly, 2:05.06
Michael Arias, 10, 100-yard freestyle 58.60
Vanessa Mesa, 11, 100-yard freestyle 58.26
Rafael Rodriguez, 11, 100-yard freestyle 55.20
Julien Pinon, 15, 100-yard freestyle, 46.94
SOFLO 11-12 girls 400-yard medley relay, 4:25.08 (Annita Huang, Elise Larin, Isabella Di Salvo, Vanessa Mesa).
SOFLO 11-12 boys 400-yard medley relay, 4:16.23 (Leonardo Mateus, Brandon Moran, Bryant Segui, Rafael Rodriguez).
SOFLO 13-14 boys 400-yard freestyle relay 3:20.02 (Ervin Marin, CJ Kopecki, Kevin Porto, Juan Lucas).
Kyana Castro, 11, 1,650-yard freestyle, 19:49.77
Annita Huang, 12, 1,650-yard freestyle, 18:57.90
Leonardo Mateus, 11, 1,650-yard freestyle, 18:22.53
Kevin Porto, 13, 1,650-yard freestyle, 17:09.81
Combined team totals: 1. South Florida Aquatic Club, 1,922.50, 2. Azura Florida Aquatics 1,125, 3. Metro Aquatics 955, 4. St. Andrew’s Swimming 947.50, 5. Coral Springs Swim Club 764, 6. FLA 733.50, 7. Pine Crest Swimming 726.50, 8. Miami Swimming 709, 9. Blue Marlins 616.50, 10. Jupiter Dragons 586.
Girls team totals: 1. SOFLO 857, 2. St. Andrew’s Swimming 539, 3. Coral Springs Swim Club 533, 4. Pine Crest Swimming 477, 5. FLA 464, 6. Metro Aquatics 405.50, 7. Miami Swimming 370.50, 8. Jupiter 364.50, 9. North Palm Beach 355.50, 10. Plantation Swim Team 317.50.
Boys team totals: 1. SOFLO 1,065.50, 2. Azura Florida Aquatics 869, 3. Metro Aquatics 549.50, 4. St. Andrew’s Swimming 408.50, 5. Blue Marlins 352, 6. Miami Swimming 338.50, 7. Pompano Beach 321, 8. Hialeah Swim Club 295, 9. Miami Dade County Aquatic Club 284.50, 10. FLA 269.50.
SOFLO HIGH POINT AWARDS
GIRLS: 10, 2. Molly Golding 63; 11, 1. Vanessa Mesa 68; 13. Kathleen Golding 75; 14, 1. Jessica Rodriguez 66, 2. Kelley Heron 63; 15-16
BOYS: 10, 1. Michael Arias 70, 2. Marcus Franco 60.50; 11, 1. Rafael Rodriguez 77, 2. Leonardo Mateus 64.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com