Valentina Carrion of South Florida Aquatic Club is the Nike Swimmer of the Month for June.

Carrion, 12, has made remarkable progress since she started swimming two years ago with SOFLO much to the delight of the coaches and her teammates.

Carrion was happy with her best time in the 100-meter freestyle she swam at the recent Fort Myers travel meet.

“I felt really good about that,” Carrion said. “It was really exciting. It wasn’t one of my best meets but I finished off with my best time.

“It was really exciting and my teammates were there. I was just happy that I swam fast and had fun.”

Carrion swims in Coach Rose’s Bronze Group.

“I really like going to practice,” Carrion said. “I like Coach Rose. She pushes me hard to do my best in practice. When I come home I feel like I really tried my best.”

SOFLO veteran age group coach Rose Lockie has been impressed with Carrion’s progress and work ethic.

“She swam a great 100 free but it is more than just her performance at the meets,” Lockie said.

“It is also how she is training. She has come such a long way and in the last couple of meets she has just blossomed. It was not that long ago that she was in my slowest lane swimming at the back of the lane. She is now bordering on my “A” lane and is leading her lane in practice.

“Her improvement has been amazing,” Lockie said.

Carrion had other interests including dancing and tennis, but it was swimming that captured her heart.

“My mom used to swim and had always tried to get me into it but I never really wanted to,” Carrion said. “Then during the summer I decided to give it a try and I ended up really liking it. My friend told me about SOFLO so I tried out there and got into the pre-team. I really liked it and now I moved up in the Bronze Group.

“It is really fun having my friends there with me,” Carrion said. “I really like the competition and going to the meets. It’s just not just the winning part. I really like competing.”

Carrion is well-disciplined when it comes to balancing her studies with swimming. She is a seventh grader at Montessori Academy where she is an honor student and also in the Duke University program.

“I know how to manage my time with homework, studying and swimming,” Carrion said. “It is really hard because after school I go to advance math class and then straight to swimming.”

Carrion and her teammates are training for the upcoming Junior Olympics where she hopes to make it into the finals and qualify for the all-star team. “I have been wanting that for a while and that’s what I am working for,” she said.

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

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