By Sharon Robb
October 20, 2014–On a day when South Florida Aquatic Club is celebrating its 15th anniversary, the team is also celebrating its ranking among the Top 12 USA Swimming clubs in the nation.
After competing in the IMR-IMX Challenge earlier this month at Academic Village Pool, SOFLO has been ranked 12th in the nation in the Virtual Club Championship.
Only two Florida clubs, Tampa Bay Aquatics (11th) and SOFLO are ranked in the Top 12. SOFLO compiled 109,906 points for the ranking.
SwimAtlanta of Lawrenceville, Ga. is ranked No. 1 with 165,919 points. Irvine Novaquatics is ranked second with 152,419 points and Boulder City Henderson Swim Team is ranked third with 144,271 points. All three clubs have been in existence longer than SOFLO.
The Virtual Club Championship ranks all USA Swimming member clubs based on swimmer performance. Clubs can see how they stack up against others in the LSC, Zone and nationally.
It recognizes and highlights clubs that are developing athletes and achieving success at multiple levels emphasizing the team element in club swimming. The program serves as a key part of the Athlete Development and Performance component of the Club Recognition Program.
SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson, responsible for building the program into one of the best, was hired Oct. 20, 1998-99 by the City of Cooper City as aquatics supervisor.
The City of Pembroke Pines in conjunction with Cooper City named Anderson head coach of the Comets Swim Team in 2001.
“We are a lot stronger program than a year ago and a lot better program than we were five years ago,” Anderson said. “The hard work is paying off. The coaches are a lot more comfortable pushing our kids to reaching their limits and what we are doing with the program.”
The Nike-sponsored team name was changed to South Florida Aquatic Club four years ago to show a true reflection of the team’s diversity.
In fifteen years, the coaching staff has built the program into one of Florida’s top clubs that feature elite swimmers at every level including Olympians such as Alia Atkinson of Jamaica, collegiate swimmers including Marc Rojas and Tiffany Oliver, junior national qualifiers such as Melissa Marinheiro and Kathleen Golding, top high school swimmers such as Kelley Heron and Julien Pinon, up-and-coming age groupers including Rafael Rodriguez and Sara Quintero and young up-and-comers Erika Pelaez, Isabella Di Salvo and Farouk Musa.
As a team, SOFLO continues to make history every year.
In July, SOFLO swept the combined, boys and girls team titles at the Florida Gold Coast Junior Olympics. It was SOFLO’s fifth consecutive JO title and 11th overall JO title.
SOFLO also became the first club in FGC history to sweep the Junior Olympics and Senior Championships during the same year.
With overall depth, talent, balance and good coaching, SOFLO swimmers have dominated most of the FGC meets while improving times, winning events and qualifying for various meets including JOs, seniors, junior and senior nationals and zones.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org