By Sharon Robb
August 14, 2014—Florida Gold Coast will be well-represented at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China that begin Saturday with the Opening Ceremony.
The six-day swimming competition begins on Sunday and end Friday.
The Youth Olympics are an international multi-sport event held in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee that takes place every four years consistent with the format of the Olympic Games.
They are designed to integrate sport with education and culture, inspiring participants to live by the Olympic values and become ambassadors of the Olympic spirit. It also provides a dress rehearsal for 2016 Rio Olympic hopefuls.
AquaKids Sharks, Azura Florida Aquatics, Pine Crest Swimming, St. Andrew’s Swimming and South Florida Aquatic Club will have swimmers in the field representing various countries including the U.S.
University of Michigan-bound, Clara Smiddy, 18, of AquaKids Sharks is the only Florida Gold Coast swimmer on Team USA.
The 5-foot-9, 159-pound swimmer, coming off Speedo Junior Nationals and Phillips 66 National Championships will compete in four events. They are the 50-meter freestyle (26.38), 100-meter freestyle (56.61), 50-meter backstroke (28.86) and 100-meter backstroke (1:00.51).
Azura Florida Aquatics and Pine Crest Swimming each have two swimmers in the field.
Azura’s Daniella Van Den Berg, 18, of Aruba will swim in two events. The 5-foot-6, 128-pound Florida State-bound swimmer is entered in the 400-meter freestyle (4:28.37) and 800-meter freestyle (9:12.35).
“I am looking forward to seeing what I can do in Nanjing,” Van Den Berg said.
Her Azura teammate Marcelo Acosta, 18, will represent El Salvador. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound will compete in the 200-meter free (1:55.10), 400-meter freestyle (3:59.46) and 800-meter freestyle (8:17.39).
University of Missouri-bound Jordy Groters and Lydia Musleh are Pine Crest Swimming’s athletes. The 5-foot-11, 172-pound Groters, 18, will compete for Aruba in the 50-meter breaststroke (29.17) and 100-meter breaststroke (1:04.25).
Teammate Lydia Musleh, 17, will compete for Jordan in the 200-meter freestyle (2:08.03). The 5-foot-9, 132-pound athlete, who has dual citizenship with Greece, is the only girl swimmer representing Jordan.
St. Andrew’s Swimming and South Florida Aquatic Club each have one swimmer, both representing Jamaica.
St. Andrew’s 6-foot-2, 159-pound Sidrell Williams, 18, will compete in three events. They are the 50-meter butterfly (25.71), 100-meter butterfly (56.36) and 50-meter freestyle (24.21).
South Florida Aquatic Club’s 6-foot-2, 163-pound Timothy Wynter, 18, will swim the 50-meter backstroke (26.71), 100-meter backstroke (59.00) and 200-meter backstroke (2:10.61).
Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Ruta Meilutyte, 17, of Lithuania heads the field. The 5-foot-9, 168-pound 11-time national champion will compete in four events which she is the overwhelming favorite. She is entered in the 100-meter freestyle (54.94), 50-meter breaststroke (29.48), 100-meter breaststroke (1:04.35) and 200-meter individual medley (2:12.32). She is the youngest Lithuanian athlete in any sport to win an Olympic gold medal (100-meter breaststroke, 1:05.47).
The top men’s swimmer is University of Southern California sophomore Dylan Carter, 18, of Trinidad and Tobago. The 6-foot-6, 190-pound swimmer who frequently trains in South Florida after graduating from Plantation American Heritage, will compete in the 50-meter freestyle (23.01), 100-meter freestyle (49.93), 50-meter backstroke (25.99) and 50-meter butterfly (23.87).
One of the unusual storylines is Cuba sending two swimmers. Elisabeth Gamez Matos, 17, 5-foot-4, 115 pounds, will swim the 50- (26.79), 100- (57.56) and 200-meter freestyle (2:05.10) events. Luis Vega Torres, 16, 5-foot-11, 165-pounds will compete in the 400-meter freestyle (4:08.35) and 800-meter freestyle (8:32.49).
The United Kingdom is one of the few countries not sending a team to this year’s event.
The United States is competing in 23 disciplines across 21 sports, with a 94-athlete U.S. Youth Olympic Games Team.
China is hosting 3,800 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees at the second Youth Olympics.
During 13 days of competition in 32 sports, 222 medals events will be spread over 27 competition venues.
NBC, NBCSN and Universal Sports will combine for 54.5 hours of coverage beginning with the Opening Ceremony and concluding with the Closing Ceremony on August 28.
NBC Sports Live Extra—NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices and tablets—will provide streaming coverage of all the Youth Olympic Games appearing on NBC and NBCSN.
For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at nbcsports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app is available for Apple, Android and Microsoft mobile devices and tablets.
Coverage of the 2014 U.S. Youth Olympic Team can be found at TeamUSA.org and Twitter.com/USOlympic utilizing the #2014YOG hashtag.
For more information on the Games, visit Nanjing2014.com.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com