South Florida Aquatic Club Enjoys Another Great Year, Future Looks Bright

South Florida Aquatic Club Enjoys Another Great Year, Future Looks Bright

By Sharon Robb

December 31, 2013

After an outstanding year in 2012, South Florida Aquatic Club raised the bar even higher in 2013.

From the complete team effort SOFLO got at Winter Championships to three-time Olympian Alia Atkinson taking another huge step in the international spotlight, SOFLO earned well-deserved respect.

Buoyed by depth, talent and good coaching, SOFLO swimmers broke records, won races and dropped time throughout the short course and long course seasons.

As we ring in the New Year on Wednesday, let’s reflect on some of the highlights.

SOFLO’s top ten for 2013 were:

1.SOFLO sweeps the combined, girls and boys team titles at the 23rd annual Florida Gold Coast Speedo Winter Championships for the first time in the club’s history.

2.SOFLO is named Nike Swim Team of the Month in December.

3.SOFLO coach Chris Anderson is named Nike Swim Coach of the Month in December.

4.SOFLO’s three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson has breakthrough international season on the FINA World Cup circuit and cashes in on her biggest payday ($136,000) winning gold, silver and bronze medals and breaking her own national records.

5.SOFLO makes history by winning Senior Championships and Junior Olympics in the same season.

6.Longtime SOFLO swimmer Marc Rojas makes first senior national cut and signs with the Florida State Seminoles.

7.SOFLO’s Tiffany Oliver wins first ACC title, makes Florida State history with a school record in the 50-yard freestyle (22.17) and two gold medals and goes on to compete at NCAA Championships.

8.SOFLO’s Julien Pinon heads overseas to compete in several international meets and training camps for France to pick up valuable international experience for the future. The American Heritage sophomore then returned in the fall to help his high school team win its first boys’ state team title.

9.SOFLO’s Melissa Marinheiro pulls off a hat trick and a half, competing at the state high school meet, junior nationals, Winter Championships and senior nationals in six weeks.

10.SOFLO defends its title at the FLA International Invitational for its first major long course season win.

Now entering its 14th year, the first ten as Comets Swim Team and fourth year as SOFLO, swimmers, coaches, Booster Club, parents and volunteers pat yourself on the back for a job well-done.

The year 2013 was an outstanding year and 2014 will shine even brighter.

Happy New Year!!!

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Marinheiro, Pinon Named All-County First Team; Lucas Earns Second Team Honors

SOFLO’s Marinheiro, Pinon Named All-County First Team; Lucas Earns Second Team Honors

By Sharon Robb

December 25, 2013

Melissa Marinheiro of West Broward High School earned first team honors on the Broward County All-County girls’ team scheduled to be released in Friday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Marinheiro, a junior, earned honors in both the 200-yard freestyle (1:52.21) and 500-yard freestyle (4:51.13).

Archbishop McCarthy’s Kaitlin Armstrong, Kylie Herman and Haley Wright of Cypress Bay, Lilli Calero of Pembroke Pines Charter and Amber Hunter of West Broward earned honorable mention honors.

Debbie Cavanaugh of Fort Lauderdale High School was named Coach of the Year.

Clara Smiddy of South Florida Heat was named Girls Swimmer of the Year.

Other first team selections are:

Carolyn Chaney, Pine Crest, 1-meter diving.

Karlee Price, St. Thomas Aquinas, 1-meter diving.

Marta Ciesla, Pine Crest, 50-, 100-yard freestyles.

Emily Kopas, University School, 100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard individual medley

Emma Lincoln, Cypress Bay, 100- and 200-yard freestyles.

Tyla Martin, Pine Crest, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard individual medley

Jessica Nava, Westminster Academy, 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard backstroke

Amanda Tipton, Nova, 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard backstroke

Pine Crest, 200-yard medley relay (Miriyam Ghali, Lindsey Swartz, Tyla Martin, Marta Ciesla)

Pine Crest, 200-yard freestyle relay (Marta Ciesla, Julia Chui, Brooke Bernstein, Hannah Veale)

Pine Crest, 400-yard freestyle relay (Miriyam Ghali, Julia Chui, Tyla Martin, Hannah Veale).

Julien Pinon of state champion American Heritage earned first team boys honors.

The sophomore was selected in the 100-yard freestyle (46.66) and 200-yard freestyle (1:39.34). He was also the leadoff swimmer on the first team 400-yard freestyle relay for the Patriots.

Juan Lucas, a freshman at Pembroke Pines Charter, was named to the second team in the 100-yard backstroke.

Matthew Mila and Kry Nichlany of Archbishop McCarthy earned honorable mention honors.

Other first team selections are:

Logan Downey, South Plantation, one-meter diving.

Austin Fields, Pine Crest, one-meter diving.

Alex Evdokimov, Taravella, 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes, 200 individual medley

Kent Haeffner, Pine Crest, 200- and 500-yard freestyles.

Raphael Marcoux, Fort Lauderdale, 50- and 100-yard freestyles.

Nico Medina, American Heritage, 100-yard backstroke, 500-yard freestyle.

Chad Moody, Cardinal Gibbons, 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard backstroke.

Alex Morgan, West Broward, 100-yard breaststroke, 50-yard freestyle.

Anton Voronin of North Broward Prep, 50- and 100-yard freestyles.

American Heritage, 200-yard medley relay (Nico Medina, Digby Nothard, Fernando Bohorquez, Taylor Eaddy).

University School, 200-yard freestyle (Nicolas Oberndorfer, Patrick Groters, Matthew Lyn, Jordy Groters).

American Heritage, 400-yard freestyle relay (Julien Pinon, Nico Medina, Fernando Bohorquez, Chris Garcia).

Karney McNear of Nova High School was selected Boys’ Coach of the Year.

Jordy Groters of University School was named Boys Swimmer of the Year.

The well-respected Miami Herald All-County teams for Broward and Miami-Dade are expected to be released in January.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Swimmers Spread Holiday Cheer To Kids At Broward Health Center

SOFLO Swimmers Spread Holiday Cheer To Kids At Broward Health Center

By Sharon Robb

December 23, 2013

Several South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers got a life lesson while bringing holiday cheer to dozens of underprivileged children on Monday at the Broward Health Seventh Avenue Family Health Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

SOFLO’s Booster Club with the help of Friends of Weston started a toy drive more than two weeks ago collecting toys from swimmers, families and community at Academic Village Pool in Pembroke Pines.

SOFLO then went a step further.

During its’ annual Holiday Breakfast and Party for 400 this past Saturday morning, each age group swimmer, from the Dippers to national team, went around tables loaded with toys, games and school supplies and chose age-appropriate gifts for girls and boys and packaged them before hand-delivering 60 bags to children, ages 3-14, at the center.

The Friends of Weston contributed new children’s clothes to add to the Christmas goodie bag.

More than 20 swimmers of all ages in two separate groups along with a handful of parents took turns distributing the toys for more than two hours at the center.

“We found this amazing group, Friends of Weston that does year-round activities and they helped us organize this,” said SOFLO Booster Club secretary Vicky Quintero.

“We wanted to do something together for the holidays and we really wanted the kids involved, not only collecting toys and dropping them in a box, but delivering and distributing them,” Quintero said.

The Booster Club put up posters and passed flyers out to help promote the toy drive.

“I think this being the first time we are very proud of our results,” Quintero said. “The children and their parents at the center were very thankful. Our swimmers got a chance to see where the bags were going.

“I think our kids appreciated what they did today and the parents did, too,’ Quintero said. “It’s a start. We would like to continue it next year and get more kids involved and more donations.”

The swimmers seemed to be enjoying themselves at the health center.

“It was really nice seeing the kids, some of them were really small and didn’t know what was going on but you could tell the older ones were really excited,” said SOFLO swimmer Jessica Rodriguez, a freshman at Hialeah Gardens High School.

“We were happy to give them the gifts,” Rodriguez said. “I felt good about what we did. We gave gifts to people who needed them. They were so happy and that made me happy. It was the true meaning of Christmas.”

SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson was impressed with the joint efforts of the Booster Club and swimmers.

“I thoroughly enjoyed watching our swimmers’ interaction during the party when they were picking gifts for the kids,” Anderson said.

“Our kids really got into picking out each gift. You could tell our kids were processing what they were doing. It wasn’t about only collecting a gift but it was choosing the right gift for the right age.”

Anderson said it was a great testimony to the team’s camaraderie and generosity.

“I am so proud of the kids getting emotionally-attached to what they were doing,” Anderson said. “They were genuinely enthused about what they were doing. It was nice for our Booster Club. They did a great job and everything was organized. It was nice to see everyone interacting for a good cause.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Team USA Wins Duel In The Pool In Overtime; NBC Broadcast On Sunday

Team USA Wins Duel In The Pool In Overtime; NBC Broadcast On Sunday

By Sharon Robb

December 21, 2013

In one of the most exciting finishes ever at an international meet, Team USA left no doubt in the final event with a world record at the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool in front of a packed house Saturday at the Tollcross International Swim Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.

The foursome of Eugene Godsoe, Kevin Cordes, Claire Donahue and Simone Manuel won the meet’s first-ever mixed medley relay tiebreaker by 2/10ths of a second in a world record time of 1:37.17 ahead of Europe’s relay in 1:37.37 with Chris Walker-Hebborn, Damir Dugonjic, Jeanette Ottesen-Gray and Fran Halsall.

The splits were 22.88 (Godsoe), 25.40 (Cordes), 25.28 (Donahue) and 23.61 (Manuel).

Team USA, down by 23 points coming into the final day, edged the Europe All-Stars, 132-131.

“Not only did USA win the tie-breaking relay but we broke the world record,” said Donahue on Twitter after the meet. “I’m a world record holder. Does it get any better than this?”

Donahue, a frequent visitor to South Florida, will be training with the South Florida Aquatic Club after the holidays along with three-time Olympian Alia Atkinson, Florida State sprinter Tiffany Oliver and Western Kentucky’s Courtney Marx.

It was the sixth consecutive year that Team USA has captured the meet title.

Team USA came back to tie Europe, 131-131 after the 30 scheduled races. The meet was decided by a winner-take-all, one-point tiebreaker in the 200-meter mixed medley relay with two men and two women.

“I knew that with the team behind my back, as excited and as close as we were, the adrenaline could carry me,” said Manuel, who outsprinted Britain’s sprint champion Francesca Halsall on anchor leg.

In individual races:

American Michael McBroom broke the 800-meter freestyle short course American record in 7:33.99. The previous record was 7:39.90 held by Michael Klueh. McBroom now has both the short course and long course meters American records.

Tom Shields broke his own 200-meter butterfly American record in 1:50.61.

Kevin Cordes broke his second American record of the meet in the 100-meter breaststroke in 56.88.

The U.S. men swept the 50-meter freestyle with Jimmy Feigen (best time 21.20) and Anthon Ervin and Cullen Jones tying for second in 21.27.

Godsoe and Shields finished one-two in the 100-meter backstroke and Jessica Hardy and Micah Lawrence finished one-two in the 100-meter breaststroke.

Conor Dwyer was a double winner, capturing the 200-meter freestyle in 1:14.68 and 200-meter individual medley in 1:53.51. He also won the 400-meter individual medley Friday night.

“That was the most exciting meet I have ever been a part of,” Dwyer said. “I think it’s a unique event. It’s unlike anything else we do internationally. We take a lot of pride in it.”

Meet highlights from the The Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool will be aired on NBC-TV on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 4-6 p.m.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Europe All-Stars Lead Team USA After Day One Of Duel In The Pool

Europe All-Stars Lead Team USA After Day One Of Duel In The Pool

By Sharon Robb

December 20, 2013

Spain’s Mireia Belmonte won two events on opening night of the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool to give the Europe All-Stars a 68-54 lead over Team USA Friday in Glasgow, Scotland.

Belmonte won the 400-meter individual medley and 400-meter freestyle at the Tollscross International Swimming Centre.

The two-day, short-course meters competition concludes Saturday at 9 a.m. with 16 events remaining and $120,000 in prize money on the line.

Five U.S. swimmers won individual events:

Conor Dwyer, 400-meter individual medley, 4:01.76.

Eugene Godsoe, 200-meter backstroke, 1:52.14.

Micah Lawrence, 200-meter breaststroke, 2:19.15.

Tom Shields, 100-meter butterfly, 49.80.

Michael Klueh, 400-meter freestyle, 3:39.94.

Despite finishing third, Kevin Cordes broke the American short course record in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:02.38. Brit Michael Jamieson won in 2:01.83.

Belmonte got her team fired up from the opening event. Belmonte won the 400-meter individual medley in 4:24.58 and teammate Aimee Willmott of Great Britain took the silver in 4:26.80.

Michelle Coleman of Sweden won the women’s 100-meter freestyle in 52.65.

The Europe All-Stars went one-two in the men’s 100-meter freestyle with Yannick Agnel of France winning in 47.13 and Adam Brown of Great Britain second in 47.24.

Europe had another one-two finish in the 200-meter backstroke with the Ukraine’s Daryna Zevina first in 2:01.62 and Simona Baumrtova of the Czech Republic second in 2:04.06 to give Europe a 30-15 lead at one point.

Jeanette Ottesen-Gray of the Netherlands won the 100-meter butterfly in 56.78, just .05 ahead of American Claire Donahue, who will be training with the South Florida Aquatic Club after the holiday.

Belmonte won her second title in the 400-meter freestyle in 3:57.65, followed by Spanish teammate Melani Costa in 3:59.14.

Going into the 400-meter medley relays, Europe lead, 61-47 and remained in the lead by 14 points after the two teams split.


Swimming will get some national television exposure on Saturday, Dec. 21 and Sunday, Dec. 22 on NBC-TV.

The AT&T Winter Senior Nationals highlight show will be televised Saturday at 5-6 p.m.

The Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool will be on Sunday at 4-6 p.m.


Former Florida Gold Coast swimmer Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago, now a freshman at Southern California, broke the national short course record in the 400-meter freestyle in 3:50.05 at his country’s Short Course Trials. He broke the 15-17 record held by Josh Romany (3:58.41) and national record set by 2000 Olympian Sebastien Paddington (3:55.89). The national record was 17-years-old. Carter was coming off the Winter National Championships…Rachael Bradford-Feldman of St. Andrew’s Swimming, coming off Winter Junior Nationals, underwent thumb surgery.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Tampa Sweeps Team Titles At NSU Sharks Invitational

Tampa Sweeps Team Titles At NSU Sharks Invitational

By Sharon Robb

December 17, 2013

Tampa University swept the men’s and women’s team titles Tuesday night at the fourth annual NSU Sharks Invitational at the Nova Southeastern Aquatic Complex in Davie.

Tampa’s women’s team, featuring former SOFLO swimmer Leonie Davies, won the team title with 1,340 points among a field of ten teams followed by Florida International with 1,213 points, Florida Southern with 1,192 and host NSU with 804.50.

The Spartans men’s team won the team crown with 1,718.50 points, topping the field of eight men’s teams. Florida Southern was second with 1386.50 points, NSU with 1,087.50 and Florida Tech with 659.50.

Nova Southeastern senior Oscar Aldabe of Spain won the Michael D. Fish Top Male Performer Award as the men’s high point finisher with 110 points.

Florida International University’s Sonia Perez won the Top Female Performer Award with 149 points.

On the final night of the four-day meet, Florida Southern’s Thomas Nguyen swam an NCAA automatic qualifying time in the 200-yard backstroke in 1:45.70, also a meet record.

Host NSU will now take a holiday break and return to the pool on Jan. 11 against Florida Southern in Lakeland.

For complete meet results go to


Registration is underway for the 45th annual International Swimming Hall of Fame Fort Lauderdale Rough Water Swim scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 4 at 9:30 a.m. off Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Age group divisions are 10-and-under, 11-12, 13-14, 15-18 and 19-24. There is also a masters division featuring age groups from 25-29 to 80-84 and college division.

The race course map is available at and sign-up at or at the ISHOF gift and pro shop. There is also race day registration with an additional $10 late fee.

For questions call 954-462-6536.


Team USA, which is riding a winning streak since the first Duel in the Pool in 2003, will not be the overwhelming favorite at this weekend’s Omaha Duel in the Pool in Glasgow, Scotland.

Team USA will go head-to-head against the European All-Stars. Team USA is missing its superstar Ryan Lochte, who recently returned to training after a freak knee injury with a fan. While France’s top four swimmers have withdrawn, the team title is still up for grabs.

The U.S. will be led by Olympics gold medalists Katie Ledecky, Tyler Clary, Anthony Ervin and Claire Donahue, who will be training with the South Florida Aquatic Club later this month.

The European All-Stars will be led by Yannick Agnel of France, Michael Jamieson of Great Britain and Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands.

The two-day short course meters meet will be held at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre, site of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

NBC will broadcast the meet on Sunday, 4-6 p.m.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Tampa Leads Shark Invite; Several Florida Gold Coast Swimmers Competing

Tampa Leads Shark Invite; Several Florida Gold Coast Swimmers Competing

By Sharon Robb

December 16, 2013

University of Tampa leads both the men’s and women’s team standings headed into Tuesday, the fourth and final day of the fourth annual Nova Southeastern Shark Invitational at the NSU Aquatic Complex.

Tampa’s women extended their lead to 1,006.50 points, 75.5 points ahead of Florida International with 931 Host NSU is fourth with 613.5.

Tampa’s men’s team leads with 1,313.50 points ahead of Florida Southern (1,044.50) and NSU (807.50). The field features ten teams.

Four meet records were broken Monday night. Florida Southern set three of the records in the women’s 500-yard freestyle, women’s 100-yard backstroke and men’s 800-yard freestyle relay and Tampa set a meet record in the 800-yard freestyle relay.

On opening day of the meet, former SOFLO swimmer Leonie Davies was 22nd in the 1,000-yard freestyle in 10:50.23, just off her 10:50.02 seed time.

Current SOFLO swimmer Bianca Muniz, 21, of St. Leon University was 16th overall in the 50-yard freestyle in 24.78 after going 24.74 in prelims. She was sixth in the “B” final.

Muniz also swam anchor leg of the 12th place 200-yard medley relay (1:51.20).

On Day Two, Muniz led off the 11th place 200-yard freestyle relay (1:40.17) and anchored the 16th place 400-yard medley relay (4:05.80).

The meet features several former high school and current Florida Gold Coast swimmers. Among them are Alec Wathen of Florida Southern, Franco Lupoli of Florida Southern, Luis Rojas of Florida Southern, Leonie Davies of Tampa, Bianca Muniz of St. Leo and Chantal Bouthillier of St. Leo.

On Tuesday the prelims begin at 10 a.m. with video streaming beginning at 9:30 a.m. at NSUSharks.comAll-Access. For full results go to

Sharon Robb can be reached at