Rafael Rodriguez of South Florida Aquatic Club is the Nike Swimmer of the Month for May.

Rodriguez, 12, was in the spotlight during the four-day Florida Gold Coast Gulliver Long Course Invitational in Miami.

On opening night, Rodriguez broke the Florida Gold Coast and Open records in the 1500-meter freestyle in a career-best time of 17:17, shaving 48.28 seconds off his previous time.

Rodriguez broke two more FGC records during the meet. He broke the 14-year-old record in the 400-meter individual medley in a best time 5:00.84, dropping 2.85 seconds and just missing the Open record and summer sectional cut.

Rodriguez also broke the 400-meter freestyle in a best time 4:24.64, lowering his previous best time of 4:28.42.

“I had a good meet,” said the sixth grader. “I was really excited. I was a little bit tired after the mile.”

Rodriguez got his second wind quickly and went on to break two more records in best times.

“Coach Rose (Lockie) and my friends have gotten me to train harder,” Rodriguez said. “They encourage me to go faster. I am glad they did.

“My next goal is breaking the 200 free record. I would like to get all the records.”

During the 400 IM race, SOFLO teammate Ervin Marin pushed Rodriguez for most of the exciting race. In the mile, Rodriguez had Nick Carter challenging him.

“I like being pushed, it makes me go faster,” Rodriguez said.

The week before the Gulliver meet at the Coral Springs Invitational, Rodriguez dropped 12.5 seconds while winning the 400-meter individual medley and also won the 50 and 200 freestyles and 50 backstroke, achieving best times in all three.

Rodriguez has been swimming competitively for four years. Before he started to swim he played soccer but quit to devote full-time to swimming. He has been motivated to do well ever since he made his first All-Star team at age 9.

“Since then I have been really determined,” said Rodriguez, whose father swam at an early age.

Rodriguez has all sorts of goals for the future. He would like to earn a college scholarship and would also like to compete internationally in the world championships and other major meets for his native Mexico.

Rodriguez joins other SOFLO Swimmers of the Month sisters Kathleen and Molly Golding for January, Sebastian Sierra for February, Jessica Rodriguez for March and Leonardo Mateus for April.

The Nike Swimmer of the Month award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, is awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at both swim meets and practice sessions.—Sharon Robb