By Sharon Robb
August 26, 2014—Before leaving for their first year of college, breaststrokers Emily Kopas of Swim Fort Lauderdale and Alex Evdokimov of Coral Springs Swim Club will represent the United States at the Junior Pac Pacific Championships.
The five-day meet begins Wednesday at the Kihei Aquatic Center in Maui, Hawaii.
Team USA leads a field of eight countries that includes Australia, Canada, China, Fiji, Japan, Mexico and New Zealand. The charter nations are the U.S., Australia, Japan and Canada.
The meet is for swimmers age 13-18 from non-European federations.
Like last week’s Pan Pacific Championships in Australia, Team USA is expected to dominate the medal count based on the psych sheet.
The rules mirror the Pan Pacs with only two swimmers from each country allowed to advance into the championship final and three for the “B” finals.
Team USA has 23 men and 23 women. They gathered in Los Angeles before leaving for Hawaii.
Bolles coach and Olympian Sergio Lopez is coaching the women’s team. Jaime Lewis of Gator Swim Club is an assistant coach.
Kopas and Evdokimov are the only Florida swimmers on the team.
Kopas, 18, a University School of Nova alum, headed for the University of Michigan, is the fifth seed (1:09.94) in the 100-meter breaststroke on Thursday. U.S. teammate Lilly King of Newburgh Sea Creatures is top seed in 1:08.12.
Kopas is seeded fourth in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:29.53 on Saturday. Japan’s Runa Imai, only 13, is seeded first in 2:24.00. Last year as a 12-year-old she swam 2:25.14. She is one of the youngest swimmers in the meet.
Kopas recently won her first major national title at the USA Swimming Speedo Junior National Championships in the 200-meter breaststroke in a lifetime-best 2:29.53. It was the first time the junior national team member, high school state champion and All-American cracked the 2:30 barrier.
Cornell-bound Evdokimov, 18, a Taravella graduate, is seeded 12th in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:03.34. American Connor Hoppe, 17, of Clovis Swim Club is seeded first in 1:01.84. Evdokimov is seeded 14th in 2:21.77. U.S. teammate Cody Taylor, 18, of Donner Swim Club is seeded first in 2:12.73.
At senior nationals, Evdokimov was 24th in 1:04.17 in the final after going a best time 1:03.34 in morning prelims. He was disqualified in the 200 breaststroke and was 67th in the 50 breaststroke in 30.02.
Lopez is one of the nation’s top USA Swimming club and high school coaches. He joined the Bolles staff in 2007. He had 17 swimmers with Bolles ties at the 2012 London Olympics and has coached the high school teams to national and high school titles.
The Pan Pacs 10K, postponed in Southport, Australia because of high levels of E.coli in the water, will be held on the final day of the meet along with the Jr. Pan Pacs events on Sunday at 2 p.m. east coast time. Clearwater’s Becca Mann will compete in the rescheduled Pan Pac women’s race and is a medal favorite after an extra week’s rest.
Wednesday’s events are 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter backstroke, 200-meter butterfly, 800-meter freestyle and 1500-meter freestyle.
For those swim fans who wish to remain sleep-deprived after watching last week’s Pan Pacs live-streamed from Australia, the Jr. Pan Pacs will also be live-streamed at usaswimming.org. Results can also be found on Meet Mobile.
Prelims are 3 p.m. and finals are 11 p.m. east coast time.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com