SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Earns Top Seed For Her Final Event At Commonwealth Games

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Earns Top Seed For Her Final Event At Commonwealth Games

By Sharon Robb

July 27, 2014—Alia Atkinson didn’t hold anything back Sunday at the 20th Commonwealth Games at Tollcross Swimming Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.

The three-time Jamaican Olympian and South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer stormed to the top seed in the 100-meter breaststroke after winning her semifinal heat in a time of 1:06.87, a time that will probably win this event on Monday.

Atkinson’s best time is 1:06.79 from the 2012 London Olympics. She also swam 1:06.86 this past summer.

It will be her third and final attempt at her first gold medal in her third Commonwealth Games appearance. She just missed in the 50-meter breaststroke taking a silver medal and was shut out of a medal in the 200-meter breaststroke.

In her semifinal race, Atkinson, swimming in Lane 4, was quick off the blocks and bolted into the lead with a 31.16 split at the 50. She was off the wall like a rocket and left nothing to chance.

She had a full-body length lead coming into the finish. Her closest rival in the race was Canadian Tara Van Bielen in 1:81.11.

For the fourth day in a row, Australia dominated the night.

In Sunday’s championship finals:

Women’s 200-meter backstroke: Race favorite Belinda Hocking of Australia won in a Games record 2:07.24. Hocking is the only swimmer this year to break 2:08. Aussie teammate Emily Seebohm took silver in 2:08.51 and Canadian Hilary Caldwell took bronze in 2:08.55. Canadian Sinead Russell of University of Florida was eighth in 2:12.61.

Men’s 100-meter freestyle: It was an Aussie sweep in the final. Two-time reigning champion James Magnussen won the gold in 48.11. Cameron McEvoy was second just 0.23 seconds behind his teammate and Tommaso D’Orsogna was third. Dylan Carter, 18, of Trinidad and Tobago and youngest in the final, was fifth in 49.56.

Women’s 200-meter individual medley: Rising British star Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, 18, won her first gold medal in a Games record 2:08.21 to add to her three silver medals. After going out in 27.37 on the opening butterfly leg, she extended her lead to nearly two seconds after the breaststroke. Aussie veteran Alicia Coutts was second in 2:10.30 and former national record holder Hannah Miley was third in 2:10.74. “I am absolutely over the moon,” O’Connor said. “I knew it would be so hard to get a medal because of the strength of the field so I can’t ask for any more.”

Men’s 50-meter backstroke: The Aussies nearly pulled off another sweep going one-two. Ben Treffers won in 24.67 and Mitch Larkin was second in 24.80. England’s Liam Tancock was third in 24.98.

Women’s 50-meter butterfly: Defending champion Fran Halsall of England won her second gold medal of the Games in 25.20, both a Commonwealth and national record. Bahamian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace took silver in 25.53. Aussie Brittany Elmslie took bronze in 25.91.

Men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay: Australia’s relay of Cameron McEvoy, David McKeon, Nick McKendry and Thomas Fraser-Holmes won the gold medal in a Games record 7:07.38. Scotland took the silver in 7:09.18 and South Africa was third in 7:10.36. Singapore was eighth in 7:28.01.

In the men’s 50-meter breaststroke semifinal, Florida State alum Rob Holderness of Wales was fifth in his heat in 28.26.

In the men’s 100-meter butterfly semifinal, Dylan Carter, 18, of Trinidad and Tobago, swimming in Lane 1,

Bolles’ Joseph Schooling of Singapore, who had already qualified for two finals, was second in the 100-meter butterfly semifinal in a national record 52.22, third fastest qualifying time, to make his third final. Zheng Wen Quah of Singapore was eighth in 54.29. Bolles coach Sergio Lopez is coaching the Singapore team.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Misses Second Medal At Commonwealth Games

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Misses Second Medal At Commonwealth Games

By Sharon Robb

July 26, 2014—Alia Atkinson of the South Florida Aquatic Club had an off day at the 20th Commonwealth Games and it cost her.

The three-time Jamaican Olympian barely made it into the final of the 200-meter breaststroke qualifying eighth and then finished a disappointing seventh in 2:25.48 Saturday at Tollcross Swimming Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.

Atkinson, 25, was favored to medal in her most improved event since the 2012 London Olympics.

The women’s 200-meter breaststroke was a wide-open race with no clear-cut favorite.

Atkinson was in contention early in the race and seemed to be motivated after having to take a half-stroke to the wall and settling for silver in the 50-meter breaststroke, an event she was favored to win gold.

Atkinson was just .17 seconds behind leader Aussie Taylor McKeown after the first 50 meters and was 1 ½ seconds back in third place at the 150-meter mark.

But then it all unraveled for the experienced swimmer who started tightening up and leaning too close to the lane line to finish out of the medal race. Atkinson was visibly upset after her race.

McKeown won in 2:22.36. Aussie teammate Sally Hunter took silver in 2:23.33 and Brit Molly Renshaw was third in 2:25.00.

Atkinson will have one final shot at gold on Sunday in the 100-meter breaststroke, her third and final event of the Games and her marquis event.

At the midway mark of the swimming competition, powerhouse Australia has won 11 of the 21 gold medals and 15 silver and bronze medals. All but one of Saturday night’s gold medalists would have won a medal at last year’s World Championships had they produced the same times.

In other championship finals:

Men’s 200-meter butterfly: Olympic and world champion Chad Le Clos of South Africa turned on the afterburners in the last 50 meters to defend his title in a meet record 1:55.07 for his first gold medal of the Games. Aussie Grant Irvine took silver in 1:56.34 and South African Sebastien Rousseau of Gator Swim Club took the bronze in 1:56.43. Singapore’s Joseph Schooling of Bolles was eighth in 1:59.09.

Women’s 50-meter freestyle: After an even start, Brit Fran Halsall pulled away to break her own Commonwealth and national record in a textile-best 23.96. Aussie Cate Campbell was second in 24.00 and sister Bronte Campbell was third in 24.20. Bahamian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was fourth in 24.34, fifth fastest time in the world.

Women’s 100-meter backstroke: Defending champion Emily Seebohm of Australia, the pre-race favorite, won in a meet record 59.37; Wales’ Georgia Davies was second in 59.58 and Aussie Belinda Hocking took the bronze in 59.93. Canadian Sinead Russell of University of Florida was sixth in 1:00.27.

Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: Brit teenager Adam Peaty, 19, knocked off world record holder Cameron van der Burgh and broke his own Commonwealth record to win in 58.94. The South African went out fast and had a half-body length in the first half of the race but faded and finished second in 59.28. Ross Murdoch of Scotland was third in 59.47. Former Florida State swimmer Rob Holderness, who finished seventh in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:12.35, was disqualified in one of his best events.

Women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay: Australia held off Canada to win another gold medal in 7:49.90 with Emma McKeon, Alicia Coutts, Brittany Elmslie and Bronte Barratt. After a lackluster leg by Coutts, it was Elmslie who put the Aussies back in the lead for good. Canada took silver in 7:51.67 and England was third in 7:52.45. Singapore, coached by Bolles coach Sergio Lopez, was seventh in 8:16.39.

In the women’s 50-meter butterfly semifinals, Singapore’s Tao Li is the fifth seed in 26.33. Bahamian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace is the second seed in 25.90.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Jessica Rodriguez Takes Second At FGC Senior Championships

SOFLO’s Jessica Rodriguez Takes Second At FGC Senior Championships

By Sharon Robb

July 26, 2014

Against a strong field, Jessica Rodriguez of South Florida Aquatic Club finished second Saturday in the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships at the Michael Lohberg Pool of Champions in Coral Springs.

Jessica Rodriguez, 14, was SOFLO’s top finisher placing second in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:42.18. She was seeded fourth going into the final in 2:48.37.

SOFLO teammate Gustavo Valery, 16, was fourth in the consolation final of the 50-meter backstroke in a lifetime-best 29.50, bettering his previous best time of 29.63.

University of Michigan-bound Clara Smiddy, 18, of AquaKids Sharks broke the Florida Gold Coast record in the 50-meter backstroke with a lifetime-best 28.75 seconds

The previous FGC and Open record was 28.81 set by Carolina Colorado of the Davie Nadadores in 2013.

The All-American, junior national champion and record holder is getting ready to represent Team USA at the second summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China set for Aug. 17-22 before she heads off to Ann Arbor, Mich.

Smiddy highlighted another good Florida Gold Coast showing on the second night of competition.

Alejandro Carriazo, 15, of Metro Aquatics was a double winner. He won the 50-meter backstroke in a best time 27.88, dropping from 30.53 and 100-meter butterfly in a best time 57.40, dropping from 59.59. He first lowered it in prelims in 59.31.

Andrey Arbuzov, 24, swimming unattached for Miami Swimming won the 50-meter backstroke in 26.45.

Nicole Urquidi, 16, Gulliver Swimming won the 200-meter freestyle in a best time 2:03.62, dropping from 2:04.34.

Jennifer Marquez, 23, of Azura Florida Aquatics won the 200-meter freestyle in a best time 2:03.72, bettering her previous best of 2:05.00.

Carlos Herrera, 19, swimming unattached for Azura, won the 100-meter butterfly in a best time 54.70, dropping from 55.23. He was one of four Azura finishers in the top six.

Alex Cronin, 16, of Jupiter Dragons won the 200-meter freestyle in a best time 1:56.65, dropping from 1:59.71.

Emily Jurich, 17, of Pine Crest Swimming won the 200-meter breaststroke in a best time 2:39.42, with a huge time drop from 2:46.95. She bettered it first in prelims in 2:45.28 to earn the fifth seed.

Alexander Graudins, 23, swimming unattached for Pine Crest Swimming, won the 200-meter freestyle in a best time 1:51.71, dropping from 1:52.33.

Kelly Fertel, 16, of Rockway Swimming, the top seed, won the 200-meter breaststroke in a best time 2:36.56, lowering her previous best of 2:38.29.

Azura Florida Aquatics continues to lead the overall boys’ team standings with 289 points, an 81-point cushion ahead of Clearwater Aquatic Team.

Azura Florida Aquatics is also second overall in the combined team standings with 380 points.

The three-day meet concludes on Sunday with prelims at 8 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m.


COMBINED TEAM TOTALS: 1. Empire Swimming 424, 2. Azura Florida Aquatics 380, 3. Quest Swimming 329, 4. Miami Swimming 311, 5. Swim Fort Lauderdale 308, 6. Clearwater Aquatics 262, 7. Peru 234, 8. Greenwood Swimming 209, 9. Gulliver 177, 10. Coral Springs Swim Club 162.

GIRLS TEAM TOTALS: 1. Quest Swimming 240, 2. Empire Swimming 222, 3. Greenwood Swimming 209, 4. Swim Fort Lauderdale 208, 5. Miami Swimming 161.

BOYS TEAM TOTALS: 1. Azura Florida Aquatics 289, 2. Clearwater Aquatics 208, 3. Empire Swimming 202, 4. Miami Swimming 150, 5. Peru 138.

COMBINED 15-16 TEAM TOTALS: 1. Empire Swimming 322, 2. Clearwater Aquatics 298, 3. Quest Swimming 205, 4. Virginia Gators 200.50, 5. Metro Aquatics 172, 6. Gulliver 157, 7. Peru 152, 8. Pine Crest Swimming 116.50, 9. Miami Swimming 113, 10. Greenwood 92, 14. South Florida Aquatic Club 79.

GIRLS 15-16 TEAM TOTALS: 1. Empire Swimming 267, 2. Clearwater Aquatics 178, 3. Gulliver 145, 4. Miami Swimming 112, 5. Greenwood 92, 13. South Florida Aquatic Club 27.

BOYS 15-16 TEAM TOTALS: 1. Virginia Gators 200.50, 2. Metro Aquatics 165, 3. Quest Swimming 159, 4. Clearwater Aquatics 120, 5. Pine Crest Swimming 91.50, 11. South Florida Aquatic Club 52.


200-meter freestyle:

15-16, 1. Nicole Urquidi, Gulliver 2:03.62; SOFLO: 33. Lilli Calero 2:22.09, 53. Carly Swanson 2:28.13; Open, 1. Jennifer Marquez, Azura 2:03.72; SOFLO: 28. Kylie Herman 2:14.74, 56. Abolade Oyetunji 2:19.83, 75. Astrid Rigau 2:27.24, 80. Whitney Johnson 2:31.71.

50-meter backstroke:

15-16, 1. Madison Conway, Clearwater 31.36; SOFLO: 16. Liz Travieso 34.18, 33. Star Fassler 35.90, 42. Carly Swanson 37.38; Open, 1. Clara Smiddy, AquaKids Sharks 28.75, FGC, Open records; SOFLO: 71. Astrid Rigau 38.89.

200-meter breaststroke:

15-16, 1. Kelly Fertel, Rockway 2:36.56; SOFLO: 2. Jessica Rodriguez 2:42.18; Open, 1. Emily Jurich, Pine Crest Swimming 2:39.42.

100-meter butterfly:

15-16, 1. Beatrice Thompson, Empire Swimming 1:03.25; SOFLO: 36. Jessica Rodriguez 1:13.77, 37. Natasha Testa 1:13.97; Open, 1. Madeline Banic, Quest Swimming 1:01.49; SOFLO: 54. Whitney Johnson 1:13.87.

400-meter individual medley:

15-16, 1. Beatrice Thompson, Empire Swimming 5:00.28; Open, 1. Megan Brown, Greenwood Swimming 4:56.94; SOFLO: 12. Kylie Herman 5:30.83.


200-meter freestyle:

15-16, 1. Alex Cronin, Jupiter Dragons 1:56.65; SOFLO: 14. Ryan Capote 2:03.05, 16. Juan Lucas 2:04.27, 18. Alfredo Mesa 2:04.54, 34. Jonathan Strod 2:07.34, 49. CJ Kopecki 2:10.21, 60. Cristian Rossi 2:14.25; Open, 1. Alexander Graudins, Pine Crest Swimming 1:51.71.

50-meter backstroke:

15-16, 1. Alejandro Carriazo, Metro Aquatics 27.88; SOFLO: 12. Gustavo Valery 29.50, 20. Juan Lucas 30.52, 46. Brandon Fratianni 35.71, 47. Bryan Moran 35.88, 51. Mathew Delvalle 38.52; Open, 1. Andrey Arbuzov, Unattached Miami Swimming 26.45.

200-meter breaststroke:

15-16, 1. Mitchell Irwin, Clearwater 2:28.95; SOFLO: 26. Tyler Gibson 2:56.99, 28. Brendan Cassie 2:58.82; Open, 1. Shane McNamara, Empire Swimming 2:16.79; SOFLO: 33. Bowie Suen 2:52.56.

100-meter butterfly:

15-16, 1. Alejandro Carriazo, Metro Aquatics 57.40; SOFLO: 13. Alfredo Mesa 1:00.89, 19. Juan Lucas 1:01.94, 24. Esteban Diaz-Velasco 1:03.29, 28. Ryan Capote 1:03.38, 32. CJ Kopecki 1:03.94, 51. Cristian Rossi 1:06.95, 62. Matthew Delvalle 1:13.42, 63. Brandon Fratianni 1:13.92; Open, 1. Carlos Herrera, Unattached-Azura 54.70.

Sharon Robb can be reached at