By Sharon Robb
November 28, 2014—Marc Rojas came home for Thanksgiving holiday to spend time with family, friends, teammates and coaches at South Florida Aquatic Club.
Rojas, 20, is enjoying his first season competing in NCAA Division I swimming at Florida State.
Now a junior, Rojas spent his first two seasons at national champion Indian River State College. He was an NJCAA national champion in the 1,650-yard freestyle in 2013 posting a career-best 15:38.80.
In high school, he was the first sophomore ever to win a state high school title at Pembroke Pines Charter in 2009.
Now he hopes to add to his swimming resume over the next two seasons working with second-year FSU head coach Frankie Bradley, a former St. Thomas Aquinas High School and Pine Crest club swimmer, Florida State swimmer and former Auburn associate head coach and Indian River head coach.
FSU is a Division I program on the rise and back in the college swimming spotlight under Bradley’s guidance.
The transition from club and his first two years of college swimming to a Division I team took time, Rojas admitted.
“I really just got adjusted maybe three weeks ago,” Rojas said. “It took me a while training-wise. The program is really tough and it challenges you. I love that stuff.
“It’s a new environment, new coaches and I am learning things every day,” Rojas said. “My swimming is improving.”
In the Seminoles’ recent 168-119 victory over Florida Southern, Rojas was second in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:08.24 with a 1:01.83 split.
“I am definitely excited about the future,” Rojas said. “I knew I wanted to go to Florida State. I took my trip there and I told myself this is the place. This is the place where I feel I am going to excel the most. I love it there. I am so thankful to be there. I worked very hard and it’s all paying off.
“It is a dream come true.”
Rojas is enjoying the perks that come with being a college athlete including the athletic cafeteria with healthy food geared toward elite athletes. “I go for the yogurt, fruit and bagels between classes all the time,” he said with a smile.
Rojas is competing in his specialty breaststroke and freestyle events and relays.
“I want to see what I can do,” Rojas said. “It’s great training with all these quality athletes along with the pros like (FSU alum) Pavel Sankovich (of Belarus) and Jared Pike (of the United Kingdom).
“It’s cool when you see the pros coming here to train with Frank. Being around those athletes you can see the way they train. We can train with them and it makes you better.”
The Seminoles next meet is the Dec. 5-7 Georgia Invite in Athens, Ga. FSU also has a training trip scheduled at Indian River.
The biggest meets of the season Rojas is looking forward to are the Feb. 25-28 Men’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championships in Atlanta and March 26-28 Men’s NCAA Championships in Iowa City, Iowa.
“This is a top tier team and we have big goals for ourselves,’ Rojas said. “We don’t mess around, we don’t play any games. This is the real deal. This is what I have been looking for. This is where greatness happens.”
Rojas returns to Tallahassee this weekend. He was happy to get a chance to see his SOFLO teammates and SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson and age group coach Rose Lockie of Pembroke Pines Charter, who made a huge difference in his life.
“The relationships I built here are going to last forever,” Rojas said.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com