By Sharon Robb
January 29, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club, a well-established age group program, is attracting elite pro swimmers to its team.
The Florida Gold Coast’s winningest program the past two years in major meets at the age group level, has added five pro swimmers to its roster, four of which will make their SOFLO home meet debut this weekend at the SOFLO Florida Gold Coast Open Invitational at Academic Village Pool in Pembroke Pines.
Three-time Jamaican Olympian and world record holder Alia Atkinson, 25, has trained at SOFLO for ten years. She will be joined by Jamaican teammate Timothy Wynter, Bermuda national record holder Lisa Blackburn, two-time Colombian Olympian Carolina Colorado, Jorge Mario Murillo Valdes and Valentina Artemyeva.
Only Atkinson and Artemyeva will not swim this weekend but will compete in next month’s Arena Pro Series in Orlando.
Wynter, 19, is a national record holder in the 50, 100 and 200 backstroke events. He set national records in the World Youth Championships, Bahamian Championships and CARIFTA. He also competed in the 2012 FINA World Championships. He also competes in the freestyle and butterfly.
Blackburn, 43, is a national record holder in the 50, 100 and 200 breaststrokes, 200 butterfly and 200 IM and three relays for Bermuda. Having dual Canadian citizenship, she qualified for the Commonwealth Games and 2003 Pan American Games where she medaled. She is also a world masters record holder.
Colorado, 27, is a two-time Olympian and national record holder for Colombia. She competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She holds five individual national records in the 50, 100 and 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle and 50 butterfly. She also holds five national relay records.
Murillo Valdes, 23, holds the national records in the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke events for Colombia and two national relay records.
Valentina Evgenevna Artemyeva, 28, is a breaststroke and sprint freestyler. She is a Russian national record holder and former European and world record holder.
SOFLO dominates the meet’s top seeds. Wynter is seeded first in the 1,000-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly; Colorado is first in the 100-yard backstroke and 50-yard freestyle; Murillo Valdes is first in the 50-yard breaststroke and 50-yard freestyle.
The meet gets under way Friday with the open 1,000-yard freestyle and 12-and-under 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard IM events.
SOFLO has the largest team entered with 131 (67 females and 64 males). Among other teams competing are AquaKids Sharks, Miami Swimming, Boca Raton Swim Team, North Miami Swim Team, Metro Aquatics and City Miami Parks.
IF YOU GO
What: SOFLO Florida Gold Coast Open Invitational
Where: Academic Village Pool, 17189 Sheridan St., Pembroke Pines.
Schedule: Friday, Session 1, 5 p.m.; Saturday, Session 2, 8:30 a.m.; Session 3, 12:30 p.m.; Sunday, Session 4, 8:30 a.m.; Session 5, 12:30 p.m.
Admission: $3 per session, heat sheets $3 per session. For information call 954-538-3721.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org