By Sharon Robb
March 11, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club, still cloud-walking after its record five-peat at last week’s Junior Olympics, will make more swimming history at this week’s Speedo Sectional Championships at Plantation Aquatic Complex.
With 41 swimmers entered in the four-day meet, SOFLO will have its largest contingent ever in meet history with an opportunity to post its best finish as a team.
SOFLO’s world record holder and three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson heads a world-class field for the Speedo Champions Series Southern Zone South Sectional Championships that get under way Thursday.
A capacity field of 650 swimmers from 60 teams will compete over four days in one of four designated zones. The others are Eastern, Central and Western Zone Sectionals.
The meet attracts some of the top swimming talent from across the United States and internationally.
Several notable swimmers, including Olympians, national champions and record holders will compete alongside age group swimmers.
U.S. Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue, 26, currently training at South Florida Aquatic Club’s Academic Village Pool, is top seed in the 100 butterfly. The top three seeds in the race are Donahue and her SOFLO training partners, Carolina Colorado, 27, and Atkinson, 26.
Colorado is seeded first in the 100-meter backstroke. Teammate Valentina Artemeva, 28, is seeded first in the 50-meter breaststroke.
South Florida Aquatic Club’s women’s 200-meter medley and 200-meter freestyle relays are seeded first. SOFLO is seeded second in the 800-meter freestyle relay and 400-meter medley relay.
Jamaican Timothy Wynter, 19, of SOFLO is top seed in the 50-meter backstroke.
SOFLO’s Kathleen Golding, 14, one of the youngest SOFLO swimmers, is seeded third in the 400-meter individual medley.
At 43, SOFLO’s Lisa Blackburn is the oldest swimmer in the field. Blackburn, a Bermuda national record holder, is training to make the time standards for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
SOFLO teammates Marc Rojas, 21, a Florida State swimmer, and Julien Pinon, a member of the French national junior team, will compete unattached.
Florida Gold Coast teams dominate the field including Azura Florida Aquatics, Pine Crest Swimming, Wahoos of Wellington, North Palm Beach, St. Andrew’s Swimming, Swim Fort Lauderdale, YMCA of Broward County, Performance Aquatics, Coral Springs Swim Club, SwimFast, Aqua Kids Sharks, Pompano Beach Piranhas, Gulliver, Boca Raton and host Plantation Swim Team.
IF YOU GO
What: Speedo Champions Series Southern Zone South Sectional Championships
Schedule: Thursday, timed finals, 5 p.m.; Friday, prelims 9 a.m., finals 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. prelims, finals 5 p.m.; Sunday, prelims 9 a.m., finals 5 p.m.
Where: Plantation Aquatic Complex, 9151 NW Second St., Plantation.
Admission: $3 per person, heat sheets $3 per session. For information call 954-452-2526.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com