SOFLO’s Rafael Rodriguez, Alana Acevedo Win Age Group Titles At Open Water Festival

By Sharon Robb

April 26, 2015—-Rafael Rodriguez and Alana Acevedo of South Florida Aquatic Club won their age group divisions in the LSC All-Star Challenge during the Open Water Festival this past weekend in Fort Myers.

Rodriguez won the 5,000-meter race in 1 hour, 6 minutes and 23 seconds. Teammate Leonardo Mateus was second in 1:07.16. Both competed in the 13-14 boys.

Acevedo won the girls 13-14 age group.

Kevin Porto was tenth among the 15-18 boys in 1:11.35.

Alejandro Mateus was first in the 800 meters.

Rodriguez was also second in his age group at the Crippen Mile Sunset Swim. Rodriguez finished in 19 minutes and 27 seconds to place second in the 13-14 age group.

Leonardo Mateus was fourth in 19:40 and Acevedo was 12th in the girls 13-14 age group in 24:40. The course was a 1-mile loop swim with the finish on the beach. Proceeds from the Crippen Mile benefit the Fran Crippen Elevation Foundation.

The events were held over three days during the Open Water Festival.

In the USA Swimming Open Water 5K National Championships on Sunday at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club in Fort Myers, Haley Anderson made her move at the final turn to reel in Ashley Twichell to win her third title.

Anderson overtook Twichell and the rest of the field around the the final buoy and pulled away down the stretch to the finish line.

Anderson, who was runner-up in the 10K, finished in 1:01:51.29 seconds to qualify for the world championships later this summer in Kazan, Russia. Twichell of Triangle Aquatics finished second in 1:01:53.63 and former Clearwater swimmer and 10K champion Becca Mann of North Baltimore was third in 1:01:56.66.

Anderson last competed in the world championships in 2013 when she won a gold medal in the 5K.

“I didn’t know if anybody was close behind,” Anderson told the media after the race. “I don’t like to look behind me. I just like to keep looking forward in racing.

“Today was more about changing it up, seeing how I felt,” Anderson said. “I knew if I swam well I would get to swim the 5K at worlds, but if not I still have the 10K so there were no worries today.”

Miami-born and Bishop Verot alum Stephanie Peacock of Mission Viejo and Cape Coral was the early leader during the race lap but faded to ninth in 1:02:21.

In the men’s competition, Olympian and former 10K world champion Alex Meyer won his second consecutive 5K title in 57:43.940. Meyer had just missed making the 10K world team finishing third by .006.

“The first lap was really fast and I thought I was pretty much going to fall off the group at that point,” Meyer said. “But it kind of slowed down and it just played out to a very close finish and it was fun.

“I almost died a bit on the backstretch but I tried to stay up front. When David swam up beside me it ended up being a perfect scenario for us for the finish.”

Meyer’s Tennessee Aquatics’ teammate David Heron was second in 57:44.23. Andrew Gemmell was third in 57:44.39.

Robert Finke, 15, of St. Petersburg Aquatics won the 18-and-under national title. He was seventh overall in 57:51 ahead of Brendan Casey, second among 18-and-unders, in 57:51.19. Mann, at 17, won the girls 18-and-under national title with her third place overall in 1:01:56.


1.Alex Meyer, Tennessee Aquatics 57:43.940, 2. David Heron, Tennessee Aquatics 57:44.229, 3. Andrew Gemmell, Nation’s Capital 57:44.393, 4. Arthur Frayler, Unattached 57:48.610, 5. Chip Peterson, North Carolina Aquatics 57:49.247; FLORIDA: 7. Robert Finke, St. Petersburg Aquatics 57:51.006, 12. Blake Manganiello, Unattached 58:06.340, 13. Joey Pedraza, RallySport Aquatic Club 58:10.864, 24. Zane Grothe, Club Seminole 1:01:52, 29. Eric Geunes, Gator Swim Club 1:02:19,


1.Haley Anderson, Trojan Swim Club 1:01:51, 2. Ashley Twichell, Triangle Aquatics 1:01:53, 3. Becca Mann, North Baltimore 1:01:56, 4. Eva Fabian, Greenwood 1:02:09, 5. Christine Jennings, RallySport Aquatic Club 1:02:09; FLORIDA: 9. Stephanie Peacock, Mission Viejo 1:02:21, 15. Hannah Burns, Gator Swim Club 1:05:22, 18. Kahra Wiliams, Gator Swim Club 1:06:34, 32. Katelyn Kilpatrick, Central Florida Marlins 1:10:37.


13-14, 1. Ivan Puskovitch 1:01:39, 2. Michael Calvillo 1:05:39, 3. Gavin Bloch 1:06.38; 15-18, 1. Logan Houck 1:01:02, 2. Riley Molina 1:01:16, 3. Nicholas McDowell 1:01:25.


13-14, 1. Erica Sullivan 1:07:00, 2. Isabel Ivey 1:09:51, 3. Julia Byrnes 1:12:48; 15-18, 1. Erin Emery 1:06:16, 2. Sidney Kennedy 1:08:07, 3. Flo Almanda 1:10:51.


BOYS 11-12, 1. Connor Hughes 34:58, 2. Jared Carter 35:41, 3. Byron Keller 35:54; GIRLS 11-12, 1. Eliot Kennedy 35:01, 2. Julia Heimstead 35:07, 3. Meghan Lynch 36:01.


BOYS 11-12, 1. Mathew Tannenberger 20:42, 2. Jorge Guerra 20:51, 3. Byron Keller 21:35,

GIRLS 11-12, 1. Sydney Young 22:36, 2. Abigal Foreman 22:41, 3. Roxana Nolte 23:07.

BOYS 13-14, 1. Ivan Puskovitch 19:22, 2. Rafael Rodriguez 19:27, 3. Michael Calvillo 19:38, 4. Leonardo Mateus 19:40.

GIRLS 13-14, 1. Rachel Hicks 21:02, 2. Diana Dunn 21:25, 3. Julian Hill 21:29, 12. Alana Acevedo 24:40.

BOYS 15-16, 1. Abbott Taylor 19:04, 2. Eric Geunes 19:36, 3. Cameron Anderson 19:43.

GIRLS 15-16, 1. Sidney Kennedy 19:50, 2. Anne Norris 20:21, 3. Grace Kowal 20:36.

SENIOR MEN: 1. Jordan Wilmovsky 18:05, 2. Daniel O’Connor 18:19, 3. Kyle Nash 19:38.

SENIOR WOMEN: 1. Casey Francis 19:45, 2. Dorothy Halmy 19:46, 3. Ella Bryan 20:23.

Former Florida Swimmer Becca Mann Wins 10K Open Water National Championship

April 24, 2015—In near-perfect weather conditions at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club, former Clearwater swimmer Becca Mann of Homer Glen, Ill. captured USA Swimming’s 10K Open Water National Championship for the second year in a row on Friday.

Mann, 17, of North Baltimore Aquatic Club outsprinted Haley Anderson of Granite Bay, Calif. in the final stretch to win the women’s title in for the 6.2-mile course.

Last year Mann won the 10K national title in Castaic Lake, California.

Under overcast skies in 75-degree weather, the race came down to a sprint between the four leaders on the fifth and final lap. Anderson was leading but Mann reeled her in to finish less than a half-body length ahead in 2:02.38.344 for 6.2 miles.

“I didn’t feel great out there,” Mann admitted. “I was really struggling the first 5K. After that 5K I sort of built into it. I found that I had enough speed at the end to finish it.”

Anderson, an Olympic silver medalist, was second in 2:02.38.709 followed by Ashley Twichell of Fayetteville, N.Y. in 2:02.39.903 and Emily Brunemann of Crescent Springs, Ky. in 2:02.45.022.

In the men’s 10K, Jordan Wilimovsky, 21, of Team Santa Monica, Calif. and junior at Northwestern, 1:54:27.928 out-touching Sean Ryan, 22, of Club Wolverine, second in 1:54:40.334 and Alex Meyer, 26, of Tennessee Aquatics was third in 1:54:40.340. The top five finishers all finished in the 1:54-range.

“I was just trying to kick as hard as I could the last little bit,” Wilimovsky said. “I’d rather just go for it and see what happens.”

Miami’s Blake Manganiello was ninth in 1:58:57.973. Former Florida swimmer Joey Pedraza, 27, of RallySport Aquatic Club was 16th in 2:02:14:042. Ben Lawless, 18, of University of Florida was 19th in 2:04:03.052. T.C. Smith, 16, of Sarasota Tsunami Swim Team was 30th in 2:07:52.921.

Mann, Anderson, Wilimovsky and Ryan will represent the U.S. at this summer’s FINA World Aquatic Championships in Kazan, Russia. The top two men and women in the 10K qualify. At the world championships the top 10 men and top 10 women finishers qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Mann, a high school senior, had already made the U.S. world team in a pool event, the 800-meter freestyle.

The open water nationals is also a selection meet for the Pan American Games and World University Games, senior and junior national teams.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Ryan Capote Fifth In Swim Miami 2015

By Sharon Robb

April 21, 2015—Ryan Capote of South Florida Aquatic Club finished fifth among the men’s field and won his age group in Sunday’s Swim Miami 2015, presented by Nike at the Miami Yacht Club on Watson Island.

Capote, 17, of Miami and junior at Pembroke Pines Charter, finished in 20:36 and was eighth overall among a field of 391.

Miguel Alberto Portes Matias of the Dominican Republic national open water team won the men’s 10K title. Portes, 22, of Santo Domingo won the 10K in 1 hour, 55 minutes and 32 seconds for the 6.2-mile distance.

Portes started swimming at age 3 to improve his chronic asthma and has been swimming ever since.

Christian Marsden, 26, of Bay Shore was second in 1:56.93 and Miami’s Luke Smutny, 16, of AquaKids Sharks was third in 2:03:10.

Catalina Galea Berraud, 18, of Swim Fort Lauderdale won the women’s 10K title in 2:02:53 and was third overall. Mary Smutny, 14, of AquaKids Sharks was second in 2:13:45 and Alex Costantino of Wahoos of Wellington was third in 2:18.05.

Metro Aquatics swept the top three places in the men’s 5K swim. Joseph Perez, 16, won in 58:30 followed by Alex Arrieta, 17, in 58:49 and Adrian Aguilar, 14, in 58.49. Nick Carter, 25, of Gulliver Swim Club was fourth in 59.04. Former Alabama All-American Ricardo Valdivia, 50, of Miami was fifth in 59.40.

In the women’s 5K, Alexa Rivera, 16, of Boynton Beach won in 1:02.05. Nicole Urquidi, 17, of Miami and Gulliver Swim Club was second in 1:03:16 and Emma Quintanilla, 18, of Miami was third in 1:03:25.

Brazilian Renato Donha, 33, won the men’s mile in 19:09.25. Gulliver Swim Club swept the next three places. Jonathan Rodriguez, 13, of Miami was second in 19:25. Alicia Mancilla, 15, of Miami won the women’s title in 19:59 and was third overall and Pablo Luchau, 15, was fourth in 20:05. Maricielo Otero, 43, of Miami Beach was second among women in 20:11 and Kelly Fertel, 17, also of Gulliver, was third in 20:33.

In the 800-meter race, Ricardo Monasterio, 36, a four-time Venezuelan Olympian from Miami and Swim Gym Aquatics won in 11:36. Kimberly Nordheim, 47, of Boca Raton won the women’s division in 12:06.

The course was similar to the 2012 London Olympics open water course. The 800-meter course was out-and-back at the Miami Yacht Club beach. The mile was one lap around a semi-rectangular course. The 5K was three laps and 10K was six laps.

Swim Miami is sanctioned by the World Open Water Swimming Association. Proceeds benefitted the H20s Foundation (Helping Others Swim).

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Valentina Artemeva Takes Bronze, Qualifies For World Championships At Russian Nationals

By Sharon Robb

April 20, 2015—After a few encouraging words from her coach Chris Anderson, South Florida Aquatic Club’s Valentina Artemeva qualified for the July 24-Aug. 9 World Aquatic Championships in Kazan, Russia on the opening day of the Russian National Swimming Championships in Moscow.

Artemeva, 28, of Novosibirsk Region, took the bronze medal in the 50-meter breaststroke, the first of her three events, after finishing third in 31.31.

The sprint race was a tune-up for her remaining two events, the 200-meter breaststroke and 100-meter breaststroke, her signature event.

Yuliya Efimova of the Tyimen Region, coming off her drug doping suspension, won the gold in 30.39. Efimova started the meet with the world best in 30.70 in prelims. She bettered her time in semifinals in 30.41 and finished with her third world best of the day in 30.39. It was her first national title since the suspension.

Victoria Zeinel Gunes of Turkey took the silver in 31.24. With that time, Efimova is now ranked No. 1 in the world in both the 50 and 100-meter breaststroke.

Artemeva, who has been training with SOFLO’s pro team including three-time Jamaican Olympian and breaststroke world record holder Alia Atkinson and Bermuda national champion Lisa Blackburn, is the current European champion in the 50- and 100-meter breaststroke (short course).

She is also world record holder in fin swimming and former world champion in the 200-meter surface finswimming and bronze medalist in the 100-meter surface finswimming.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Lochte, Phelps, Vanderpool-Wallace Win On Final Night Of Mesa Arena Pro Swim Series; Dwyer, Beisel Lead Series Points Standings

By Sharon Robb

April 20, 2015—It was a big night for Olympians on the fourth and final day of the Arena Pro Swim Series Saturday at Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa, Ariz.

Bahamian Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace swept the freestyle events. She won the 100-meter freestyle in 54.18 a day after she won the 50-meter freestyle.

Ryan Lochte of Daytona Beach and Swim MAC won his first event, the 200-meter individual medley in 1:58.70 ahead of Florida alum Conor Dwyer in 1:59.04 and Michael Phelps of North Baltimore third in 2:00.01.

Twenty-five minutes after the IM, Phelps came back to win the 100-meter freestyle in 49.72, Lochte, the top morning qualifier, was second in 49.77 and Dwyer was third in 50.02. Phelps surged from last to first on the final lap.

Several Floridians turned in solid swims.

Azura Florida Aquatics’ Marcelo Acosta of Louisville was third in the 1500-meter freestyle in 15:37.04.

Katie Hoff of Hurricane Aquatics was third in the 200-meter individual medley in 2:13.82 and St. Augustine’s Vien Nguyen of Vietnam was seventh in 2:19.85. The national record holder was also seventh in the 800-meter freestyle in 8:52.74.

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson won the “B” final of the 200-meter individual medley in 2:17.28 that would have placed her sixth in the “A” final.

SOFLO teammate Carolina Colorado was eighth in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:19.92.

Florida alum Conor Dwyer and Hungarian Katinka Hosszu were leading money winners in Mesa. Hosszu totaled $4,400 for three wins, two seconds and one third place finish. Even though she failed to win any prize money, Elizabeth Beisel of Gator Swim Club still leads the women’s points standings with $7,700.

Dwyer won $3,000 to break the $10,000 barrier in total earnings with $10,600. Dwyer leads the men’s points standings. Lochte is second with $4,000.

The four-day meet was the fourth stop on the Arena Pro Swim Series. The top three finishers won $1,000, $600 and $200.



200-meter individual medley: 1. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary 2:11.40, 2. Caitlin Leverenz, Cal Aquatics 2:12.59, 3. Katie Hoff, Hurricane Aquatics 2:13.82; FLORIDA: 8. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 2:17.28, 32. Lindsey Swartz, Pine Crest Swimming 2:25.37.

200-meter backstroke: 1. Kirsty Coventry, SwimMAC 2:12.05, 2. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary 2:12.14, 3. Taylor Ruck, SAC 2:12.28; FLORIDA: 8. Carolina Colorado, SOFLO 2:19.92, 9. Elizabeth Beisel, Gator Swim Club 2:12.95, 16. Vien Nguyen, St. Augustine 2:21.38, 18. Kira Toussaint, Swim Florida 2:21.02, 20. Jessica Nava, Pine Crest Swimming 2:30.23.

100-meter freestyle: 1. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, SwimMAC 54.18, 2. Allison Schmitt, North Baltimore 55.35, 3. Abbey Weitzeil, Unattached 55.59; FLORIDA: 23. Marta Ciesla, Pine Crest 58.64, 24. Heather Arseth, University of Miami 58.90, 30. Emma Svensson, Swim Florida 58.90, 47. Angela Algee, University of Miami 59.56, 48. My Fridell, University of Miami 59.64, 56. Lisa Blackburn, SOFLO 1:01.87.

800-meter freestyle: 1. Katie Ledecky, Nation’s Capital 8:13.02, 2. Lotte Friis, North Baltimore 8:31.65, 3. Kristel Kobrich, CHI 8:41.06; FLORIDA: 7. Vien Nguyen, Unattached 8:52.74, 20. Cameron Davis, University of Miami 9:27.91.

4×100-meter medley relay: 1. Louisville 4:11.16, 2. University of Miami 4:32.44.


200-meter individual medley: 1. Ryan Lochte, SwimMAC 1:58.70, 2. Conor Dwyer, Unattached 1:59.04, 3. Michael Phelps, North Baltimore 2:00.01; FLORIDA: 51. Luis Jasso, Unattached 2:16.87.

200-meter backstroke: 1. Arkady Vyatchanin, New York Athletic Club 1:56.95, 2. Tyler Clary, SwimMAC 1:58.45, 3. Jacob Pebley, Unattached 1:59.98; FLORIDA: 8. Luis Rojas, Unattached 2:08.01.

100-meter freestyle: 1. Michael Phelps, North Baltimore 49.72, 2. Ryan Lochte, SwimMAC 49.77, 3. Conor Dwyer, Unattached 50.02; FLORIDA: 5. Renzo Tjon A Joe, Unattached 50.26, 20. Jesus Marin, Unattached 51.67, 36. Allan Gutierrez, Unattached 51.98, 48. Raul Garrastazu, Unattached 52.48, 53. Cody Cline, Wahoos of Wellington 52.55, 70. Edson Lima, Unattached 53.91, 87. Moose Skjaerpe, Unattached 55.36.

1500-meter freestyle: 1. Michael McBroom, TWST 15:09.20, 2. Nick Norman, Unattached 15:29.39, 3. Marcelo Acosta, Louisville 15:37.04; FLORIDA: 10. Matt DeAngulo, Club Seminole 15:57.32, 13. Juan Tolosa, Unattached 16:02.59.

4×100-meter medley relay: 1. Flemish Swimming Federation 3:50.17.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Swimmers Have Another Good Night At Mesa Arena Pro Swim Series

By Sharon Robb

April 17, 2015— Colombian national record holder Jorge Valdes Murillo of South Florida Aquatic Club was the top male Florida finisher on Day Three of the Arena Pro Swim Series Friday at Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa, Ariz.

Murillo placed fourth in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:17.73.

SOFLO teammate Alia Atkinson, three-time Jamaican Olympian, won the “B” final of the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:32.29.

Colombian Carolina Colorado of South Florida Aquatic Club was sixth in the 100-meter backstroke in 1:02.46.

In a time trial, Colorado went 29.41 in the 50-meter backstroke. She was also 24th in the 50-meter freestyle in 26.62.

Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace won the 50-meter freestyle and was the top Florida finisher. The two-time Bahamian Olympian and national record holder, training at SwimMAC, won the splash and dash in 24.84, slower than her morning time of 24.72.

She finished ahead of Simone Manuel in 24.98 and Natalie Coughlin of Cal Aquatics in 25.15 to pocket $1,000 in prize money.

Just minutes after swimming the 200-meter butterfly, Kelsi Worrell won the consolation final of the 50-meter freestyle in 25.27, which would have placed her fourth in the “A” final.

A day after winning the 100-meter butterfly, Michael Phelps failed to qualify for the 400-meter freestyle final placing 17th overall. The 18-time Olympic champion was fourth in his heat in 4:02.67 to make the “C” final which his coach scratched him.

It was the first time Phelps swam the 400 since 2009. Phelps also scratched from the 100 backstroke prelims on Friday.

“I just wanted to see how much I can do and how much I can hang,” Phelps said. “Well, I guess I can chalk that up as an interesting race. Not one for the record books.”

Ryan Lochte of Daytona Beach was fourth in the 400-meter freestyle consolation in 4:01.26. He went out fast and was under world record pace and led for the first 350 but faded in the final lap.

Marcelo Acosta of Louisville was fourth in the 400-meter freestyle in 3:55.44.

On Saturday, Phelps will swim the 200-meter individual medley and 100-meter freestyle.

Stanford-bound teenager Katie Ledecky ended up tying Phelps time in the women’s 400-meter freestyle prelims earning her the top seed for finals., also in 4:02.67. She went on to win the race by a half-pool length in 4:01.95. She went out under world record pace in the first 100 meters.

A day after Pine Crest teammate Jessica Nava broke a club record in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:02.11, the top seeded time for the “C” final, Nava qualified for the “B” final in the 200-meter butterfly with the eight fastest time of 2:19.07. She went on to finish seventh in 2:19.33.

Pine Crest Swimming’s Lindsey Swartz was fourth in the “B” final of the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:36.85.

Teammate Marta Ciesla was sixth in the “C” final and 22nd overall in the 50-meter freestyle in 26.48.

Vietnam national record holder Vien Nguyen of St. Augustine was fourth in the 400-meter freestyle in 4:15.08 and also won the “B” final in the 200-meter butterfly in 2:14.90, nearly two seconds faster than her morning time.

In other championships finals:

Women’s 200-meter butterfly: Cammile Adams of SwimMAC won in 2:08.80, 6/100ths of a second ahead of Katie McLaughlin in 2:08.86. She reeled in McLaughlin in the final 50-meters. Hungarian Katinka Hosszu was third in 2:11.83. Elizabeth Beisel, the eighth seed in 2:15.43, was seventh in 2:15.22. “It felt really great,” Adams said. “I have been training for this event and trying to fine tune my strokes.”

Men’s 200-meter butterfly: Belgium’s Luis Croenen, making his U.S. debut, on the event in 1:59.61, more than two seconds faster than he went in prelims. He finished ahead of Tyler Clary in 2:00.23. “I am coming off training camp for two weeks,” Croenen said. “This was an amazing race for me.”

Men’s 50-meter freestyle: Full-time swim coach Josh Schneider won the sprint event in 22.52 and said he isn’t done with swimming just yet. Azura Florida Aquatics’ Renzo Tjon A Joe was just .01 behind him. “This is the only race I truly like,” Schneider said.

Women’s 100-meter backstroke: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu won her second race of the meet in 1:00.72. Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe was second in 1:00.89. “This race was definitely better than last night,” said Hosszu, who has been training in Fort Lauderdale.

Men’s 100-meter backstroke: Arkady Vyatchanin of New York Athletic Club won a three-man race in 53.84. Matt Grevers was second in 54.23 and David Plummer was third in 54.45. It was the same order as last year’s Mesa meet and all three had faster times. “I could see the others and I knew I would have to be pretty fast coming home,” Vyatchanin said.

Women’s 200-meter breaststroke: Hometown girl Breeja Larson dropped three seconds from prelims to win in 2:27.82. Katie Meili was second in a best time 2:28.53 and Micah Lawrence was third in 2:28.73. “I was trying to hold back a little bit on the first 100 and stick to my race strategy,” Larson said. “It’s always nice to win here. I heard family and friends cheering in the crowd.”

Men’s 200-meter breaststroke: Venezuelan national record holder Carlos Claverie completed his breaststroke sweep of the meet in 2:14.31. He won by more than two seconds ahead of Carl Mickelson in 2:16.56.

Men’s 400-meter freestyle: Michael McBroom overtook early leader Conor Dwyer at the 200-meter mark to win in 3:50.38. Dwyer was second in 3:51.87.

The four-day meet and fourth stop on the Arena Pro Swim Series, capped at 600 swimmers, concludes on Saturday with a full schedule of prelims and finals. Top three finishers will win $1,000, $600 and $200.

Prelims are 9 a.m. and finals 6 p.m. MST. The meet will be live streamed at



200-meter butterfly: 1. Cammile Adams, SwimMAC 2:08.80, 2. Katie McLaughlin, Unattached 2:08.86, 3. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary 2:11.83; FLORIDA: 7. Elizabeth Beisel, Gator Swim Club 2:15.22, 9. Vien Nguyen, St. Augustine 2:14.90, 15. Jessica Nava, Pine Crest Swimming 2:19.33, 23. Yee Ching Wong, Swim Florida 2:25.13, 31. Angela Algee, University of Miami 2:24.03.

50-meter freestyle: 1. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, SwimMAC 24.84, 2. Simone Manuel, Unattached 24.98, 3. Natalie Coughlin, CAL 25.15; FLORIDA: 21. Emma Svensson, Swim Florida 26.55, 22. Marta Ciesla, Pine Crest Swimming 26.48, 24. Carolina Colorado, South Florida Aquatic Club 26.62, 35. Heather Arseth, University of Miami 26.85, 49. My Fridell, University of Miami 27.58, 53. Angela Algee, University of Miami 27.98.

100-meter backstroke: 1.Katinka Hosszu, Hungary 1:00.72, 2. Kirsty Coventry, SwimMAC 1:00.89, 3. Iryna Glavnyk, Unattached 1:01.84; FLORIDA: 6. Carolina Colorado, South Florida Aquatic Club 1:02.46, 8. Kira Toussaint, Swim Florida 1:03.11, 32. Heather Arseth, University of Miami 1:10.78, 37. Marta Ciesla, Pine Crest Swimming 1:13.27.

200-meter breaststroke: 1. Breeja Larson, Unattached 2:27.82, 2. Katie Meili, SwimMAC 2:28.53, 3. Micah Lawrence, SwimMAC 2:28.73; FLORIDA: 5. Katie Hoff, Hurricane Aquatics 2:30.75, 9. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 2:32.29, 12. Lindsey Swartz, Pine Crest Swimming 2:36.85, 30. Julia Schippert, University of Miami 2:46.15.

400-meter freestyle: 1. Katie Ledecky, Nation’s Capital 4:01.95, 2. Lotte Friis, North Baltimore 4:10.34, 3. Allison Schmitt, North Baltimore 4:13.21; FLORIDA: 4. Vien Nguyen, St. Augustine 4:15.08, 7. Elizabeth Beisel, Gator Swim Club 4:19.86, 30. Cameron Davis, University of Miami 4:32.03.


200-meter butterfly: 1. Louis Croenen, Belgium 1:59.61, 2. Tyler Clary, SwimMAC 2:00.23, 3. Grant Shoults, Unattached 2:00.25; FLORIDA: 7. Andres Felipe Montoya, Unattached 2:01.89, 14. Esnaider Reales, Unattached 2:04.30, 18. Raul Garrastazu, Unattached 2:05.89, 22. Moose Skjaerpe, Unattached 2:08.70.

50-meter freestyle: 1. Josh Schneider, New York Athletic Club 22.52, 2. Renzo Tjon A Joe, Azura 22.53, 3. Jasper Aerents, Flemish Swimming 22.58; FLORIDA: 24. Allan Gutierrez, Unattached 24.22, 45. Cody Cline, Wahoos of Wellington 24.30, 55. Edson Lima, Unattached 24.57.

100-meter backstroke: 1. Arkady Vyatchanin, New York Athletic Club 53.84, 2. Matt Grevers, Tucson Ford 54.23, 3. David Plummer, New York Athletic Club 54.45; FLORIDA: 7. Luis Rojas, Unattached 57.21, 40. Cody Cline, Wahoos of Wellington 1:01.70, 43. Moose Skjaerpe, Unattached 1:03.55.

200-meter breaststroke: 1. Carlos Claverie, Louisville 2:14.31, 2. Carl Mickelson, Unattached 2:16.56, 3. BJ Johnson, PASA 2:17.63; FLORIDA: 4. Jorge Murillo Valdes, South Florida Aquatic Club 2:17.73, 24. Luis Jasso, Unattached 2:23.98.

400-meter freestyle: 1. Michael McBroom, TWST 3:50.38, 2. Conor Dwyer, Unattached 3:51.87, 3. Michael Klueh, Club Wolverine 3:54.99; FLORIDA: 4. Marcelo Acosta, Azura 3:55.44, 11. Mateo DeAngulo, Club Seminole 4:00.42, 12. Ryan Lochte, SwimMAC 4:01.26, 17. Juan Tolosa, Unattached 4:02.48, 35. Jesus Marin, Unattached 4:10.94.


Aruba’s Patrick Groters of Pine Crest Swimming finished sixth in the 400-meter individual medley and seventh in the 100-meter backstroke in the South American Junior Championships.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Sends Four Swimmers To Finals; Phelps Wins First Comeback Race At Mesa Arena Pro Swim Series

By Sharon Robb

April 16, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers had one of their best showings as a team on Day Two of the Mesa Arena Pro Swim Series Thursday at Skyline Aquatic Center in Arizona.

Three-time Jamaican Olympian and world record holder Alia Atkinson was second in her signature event, the 100-meter breaststroke, in 1:08.01 behind Katie Meili of SwimMAC in 1:07.28.

Teammate Lisa Blackburn, at 43 the oldest swimmer in the meet, was fifth in the “D” final in 1:14.81.

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Jorge Murillo Valdes of Colombia was fifth in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:03.08.

Colombian teammate Carolina Colorado of SOFLO was sixth in the “B” final of the 100-meter butterfly in 1:02.06.

The team is in the middle of heavy training while competing in the meet. It is the largest contingent of pro swimmers SOFLO has sent to a national meet.

In other races, Michael Phelps won the first race of his comeback after coming off his sixth-month suspension following his DUI arrest last September, Phelps won his signature event, the 100-meter butterfly in 52.38, more than 7/10ths of a second ahead of Ryan Lochte in 53.11 out-touching Tom Shields in 53.18.

Phelps led at the turn in 24.71 seconds. He was also faster than his top qualifying morning swim of 52.92. His world record is 49.82 set in 2009.

With a perfect stroke into the wall and strong push-off, Phelps finished strong against a top men’s field, a good indicator where he is at, which is much farther along than he was in last year’s Mesa meet.

“I am always hard on myself,” Phelps said while wrapping himself in a towel. “Being my first race back I think it was okay. There are probably some things to fix. I think it’s a good starting point. Bob (Bowman) and I are working a lot harder in training than we have in a long time. I’m looking forward to see more to come.”

Phelps joked about his first Mesa comeback meet after coming out of retirement.

“My turns were a lot better than last year,” Phelps said. “Last year I took my last stroke at the flags.

“Being back in the water is what I enjoy doing and it feels great to be back,” Phelps said. “It’s a different feeling. This is the first time I have been in a race since Pan Pacs. Being back in the water racing is something that I love, it’s something that I really do enjoy. It’s good to be back.”

In other championships finals:

Women’s 200-meter freestyle: A day after winning the 1500, Katie Ledecky held off Katinka Hosszu (1:57.51) and Allison Schmitt (1:57.86) to win in 1:56.79, sixth fastest time this year.

“I am excited about the 200 free, I am just going to continue to train and do the best I can with it,” Ledecky said. “I feel really good where I’m at. I put together two months of good training since my last meet. I am excited about swimming fast at worlds.”

Men’s 200-meter freestyle: On the last 50 meters off the turn, Conor Dwyer pulled ahead and hung on for the win in 1:48.29, outside the Top 10 fastest times, ahead of Ryan Lochte, second in 1:49.28.

“I am happy how it went coming off altitude camp,” Dwyer said. “I thought it was a good race. I didn’t see Ryan. I just tried to swim my own race and stay long.”

Women’s 100-meter breaststroke: Katie Meili finished ahead of Atkinson to win in 1:07.26. Breeja Larson was third in 1:08.60. It was just 1/10th off her best time in the morning in 1:07.16.

“It feels pretty good,” Meili said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of good work. It’s nice to put everything together and have everything click and swim fast.”

Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: Louisville’s Carlos Claverie of Venezuela topped a talented men’s field to win in 1:02.42.

“I am so glad to be here training in this country, it’s been great,” Valdes said.

100-meter butterfly: Kelsi Worrell of Louisville knocked off Claire Donahue to win in a best time 58.24. Donahue’s time was 59.19.

“I am having so much fun and I am healthy this year,” Worrell said. “I just give all the glory to God. I am trying to figure out how to transition my short course to long course. I am having a good time with it.”

Women’s 400-meter individual medley:

Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, after finishing second in the 200 freestyle, came back to win in 4:36.77, a Top 10 world time. Hosszu has been training with Swim Fort Lauderdale. Caitlin Leverenz was second in 4:40.29 and Vien Nguyen of St. Augustine was third in 4:42.60. Elizabeth Beisel, nursing a nagging groin injury, competed in the consolations and finished first in 4:46.75.

“This is a race I have been swimming for a really long time,” Hosszu said. “I still love it. For me it is always challenging. I haven’t gotten a best time for a long time. I feel I am going to get it this year. I really just love swimming. I love to race. The atmosphere for me is always exciting to get up and race.”

Men’s 400-meter individual medley: Tyler Clary held off Conor Dwyer in the last ten meters to win in 4:19.59. Dwyer was second in 4:20.25 and 16-year-old Sean Grieshop was third in 4:23.16.

“I felt Conor close by, he is really a great freestyler so I knew I needed a good gap there,” Clary said. “I only wanted to go as hard as I had to. I think there is a little more in the tank. You can’t fake your physical conditioning in this event. Coming off altitude I was happy to do a double like this today.”

The four-day meet and fourth stop on the Arena Pro Swim Series, capped at 600 swimmers, continues on Friday with a full schedule of prelims and finals.

The meet ends on Saturday. Top three finishers will win $1,000, $600 and $200.

Prelims are 9 a.m. and finals 6 p.m. MST. The meet will be live streamed at

Universal Sports Network will air live television coverage on Friday with Floridian Rowdy Gaines as color analyst.



200-meter freestyle: 1. Katie Ledecky, NCA 1:56.79, 2. Katinka Hosszu, HUN 1:57.51, 3. Allison Schmitt, NB 1:57.86; FLORIDA: 7. tie, Vien Nguyen, St. Augustine 2:01.80, 12. Katie Hoff, Hurricane Aquatics 2:02.38, 23. Elizabeth Beisel, Gator Swim Club 2:05.35, 30. Kira Toussaint, Swim Florida 2:07.39.

100-meter breaststroke: 1. Katie Meili, MAC 1:07.26, 2. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 1:08.01, 3. Breeja Larson, Unattached 1:08.60; FLORIDA: 19. Lindsey Swartz, Pine Crest Swimming 1:13.62, 29. Lisa Blackburn, South Florida Aquatic Club 1:14.81, 31. Julia Schippert, University of Miami 1:15.39.

100-meter butterfly: 1. Kelsi Worrell, Louisville 58.24, 2. Claire Donahue, WKU 59.19, 3. Katie McLaughlin, Unattached 59.32; FLORIDA: 6. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, MAC 1:00.41, 14. Carolina Colorado, South Florida Aquatic Club 1:02.06, 15. Jessica Nava, Pine Crest Swimming 1:02.14, 32. Alia Atkinson, South Florida Aquatic Club 1:03.78, 35. Angela Algee, University of Miami 1:03.95, 39. Yee Ching Wong, Swim Florida 1:04.37.

400-meter individual medley: 1. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary 4:36.77, 2. Caitlin Leverenz, CAL 4:40.29, 3. Vien Nguyen, St. Augustine 4:42.60; FLORIDA: 9. Elizabeth Beisel, Gator Swim Club 4:46.75, 37. Cameron Davis, University of Miami 5:22.15.

4×100-meter freestyle relay: 1. University of Miami 4:04.64 (Heather Arseth, My Fridell, Angela Algee, Cameron Davis).


200-meter freestyle: 1. Conor Dwyer, CAL 1:48.29, 2. Ryan Lochte, MAC 1:49.28, 3. Tyler Clary, MAC 1:49.85; FLORIDA: 13. Marcelo Acosta, Azura 1:53.13, 21. Mateo De Angulo, Club Seminole 1:54.04, 22. Luis Rojas, Unattached Florida, 1:55.53, 24. Jesus Marin, Unattached Florida 1:54.31, 29. Juan Tolosa, Unattached Florida 1:55.80.

100-meter breaststroke: 1. Carlos Claverie, Louisville 1:02.42, 2. Azad Al-Barazi, TRO 1:02.44, 3. Mike Alexandrov, NYA 1:02.59; FLORIDA: 5. Jorge Murillo Valdes, SOFLO 1:03.08, 15. Luis Jasso, Unattached Florida 1:05.06, 16. Carlos Mahecha, Unattached Florida Gold Coast 1:04.32.

100-meter butterfly: 1. Michael Phelps, NB 52.38, 2. Ryan Lochte, MAC 53.11, 3. Tom Shields, CAL 53.18; FLORIDA: 13. Esnaider Reales, Unattached Florida Gold Coast 54.82, 14. Andres Felipe Montoya, Unattached Florida Gold Coast 54.88, 27. Allan Gutierrez, Unattached Florida 55.75, 31. Raul Garrastazu, Unattached Florida 56.24, 48. Edson Lima, Unattached Florida 57.25,

400-meter individual medley: 1. Tyler Clary, MAC 4:19.59, 2. Conor Dwyer, CAL 4:20.25, 3. Sean Grieshop, NTR 4:23.16; FLORIDA: None.

4×100-meter freestyle relay: 1. Flemish Swimming Federation 3:25.55, 2. Nitro Swimming 3:35.62.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Ledecky, Acosta Win On Day One Of Mesa Arena Pro Swim Series; Atkinson, SOFLO Swimmers Compete Thursday

By Sharon Robb

April 15, 2015—Teenager Katie Ledecky had the crowd on its feet at Skyline Aquatic Center on opening day of the Arena Pro Swim Series Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz.

Ledecky, 18, of Nation’s Capital didn’t break any world records but did run away with the 1500-meter freestyle title in 15 minutes, 42.23 seconds. She took the lead early and built on it every 100 meters.

It was the fifth fastest time in event history and was the fastest time in the world this year becoming the first woman to crack the 16-minute barrier. The previous fastest this year was 16:06.72 by Lauren Boyle of New Zealand.

Ledecky was coming off a few weeks of altitude training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Chile Olympian Kristel Kobrich was second in 16:26.95. Madelyn Donohoe of The FISH, at 13, the youngest swimmer in the field, was third in a best time 16:44.01, dropping six seconds from her previous best.

Top seed and American record holder Michael McBroom scratched leaving the men’s 800-meter freestyle wide open. The three-man race came down to Marcelo Acosta of El Salvador and University of Louisville freshman winning in 8:10.85 and out-touching Nick Norman of Mission Viejo in 8:11.41 and teammate Daniel O’Connor in 8:12.76.

Both races are non-Olympic events.

Earlier in the day, swimmers held court with the media including Michael Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman. It was his first pre-meet press conference in six months since serving his suspension for his second DUI.

The 18-time Olympic medalist said he is not planning on competing for a spot on the world team for the World Championships. USA Swimming has banned him from the world championships in Kazan as part of his DUI punishment.

Instead, he said he hopes to compete for the U.S. at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. It was the first time he let his Olympic intentions be known publicly.

During his 40-minute press conference, Phelps admitted the last few months have been some of the most difficult in his life.

“I did more growing up in the last probably eight months than I ever have in my life just on a lot of different levels,” Phelps told a packed house of reporters. “I’m in a better place and a better state of mind mentally, emotionally, spiritually, everything.

“Like I said, it’s been some of the most challenging times of my life. Brutal. But you know, it’s life, and I have been able to come out on a better end and have a clearer head. I don’t think I’ve ever been like this once in my life.”

The 29-year-old said he has rekindled his passion for the sport. He is now engaged to his on-again, off-again girlfriend of eight years, Nicole Johnson.

“I feel like I am back in high school and even leading up to the 2008 Olympics,” Phelps said. “Just how I feel in the water. I’m happy at workout. I’m smiling. I actually come to every workout, which is a surprise. It’s a change from last year. It’s because I want to be there.”

The four-day meet and fourth stop on the Arena Pro Swim Series, capped at 600 swimmers, continues on Thursday with a full schedule of prelims and finals. Phelps will swim the first of five events, the 100-meter butterfly, on Thursday along with Ryan Lochte. The rivals are entered in the same events but are at different levels of training. SOFLO three-time Jamaican Olympian and world record holder Alia Atkinson and her teammates will also compete on Thursday.

The meet ends on Saturday. Top three finishers will win $1,000, $600 and $200.

Prelims are 9 a.m. and finals 6 p.m. MST. The meet will be live streamed at Universal Sports Network will air live television coverage on Thursday and Friday with Floridian Rowdy Gaines as color analyst.



1500-meter freestyle:

1.Katie Ledecky, Nation’s Capital 15:42.23, 2. Kristel Kobrich, CHI 16:29.95, 3. Madelyn Donohoe, FISH 16:44.01; FLORIDA: 11. Cameron Davis, University of Miami 18:01.18.


800-meter freestyle:

1.Marcelo Acosta, Louisville/Azura Florida Aquatics 8:10.85, 2. Nick Norman, Mission Viejo 8:11.14, 3. Daniel O’Connor, Mission Viejo 8:12.76

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Well-Represented; Phelps Returns At Arena Pro Swim Series That Begins Wednesday In Mesa

By Sharon Robb

April 14, 2015—Three-time Jamaican Olympian and world record holder Alia Atkinson of South Florida Aquatic Club heads a star-studded field for the Arena Pro Swim Series that begins Wednesday at Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa, Ariz.

Atkinson, 26, opens with the 100-meter breaststroke where she is seeded fourth in her signature event in 1:06.86 behind Jessica Hardy, Breeja Larson and Micah Lawrence.

Atkinson is also entered in the 100 butterfly, 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

Atkinson will be joined by SOFLO teammates Jorge Murillo Valdes, 23, and Carolina Colorado, 27, both of Colombia; and teenager Julien Pinon of state champion American Heritage Plantation. Pinon will compete in the 100, 200 and 400-meter freestyles.

Colorado will swim the 100 butterfly, 50 freestyle and 100 and 200 backstrokes. Murillo Valdes will swim the 100 and 200 breaststrokes

At 43, SOFLO and Bermuda Olympic hopeful Lisa Blackburn is the oldest swimmer in the field. Blackburn is entered in the 100 breaststroke, 100 and 200 freestyles.

The fourth stop on the Arena Pro Swim Series opens with the men’s and women’s distance events timed finals.

Katie Hoff, 25, of Hurricane Aquatics, Elizabeth Beisel, 22, of Gator Swim Club, St. Augustine’s Vien Nguyen, 18, of Vietnam and Lindsey Schwartz, 18, Marta Ciesla, 16, and Jessica Nava, 15, of Pine Crest Swimming and Cody Cline, 17, of Wahoos of Wellington leads the Florida Gold Coast and Florida Swimming contingent.

Beisel is the women’s points leader on the series with 38.5 points. She has entered more than the limit seven events and is expected to drop one. She is entered in the 200 freestyle, 200 and 400 individual medleys, 200 butterfly, 100 and 200 backstrokes, 400 and 800 freestyles.

Ryan Lochte, 30, of SwimMAC and Daytona Beach heads the Florida men’s contingent that also includes Florida 2012 alum Conor Dwyer, 26, the men’s series leader with 38 points, and South African two-time Olympian Sebastien Rousseau, 24, of Gator Swim Club.

The meet also marks the return of Michael Phelps, 29, from his six-month suspension for a second drunk driving charge. Phelps, seeded first in the 100-meter butterfly (51.17), is entered in five events and will go head-to-head with Lochte in all five events.

The 18-time Olympic champion is entered in the 100 butterfly on Thursday, 100 backstroke and 400 freestyle on Friday and 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle on Saturday. Phelps hasn’t competed in the 400 since 2009.

For the second time Phelps is using the Mesa meet as a springboard meet back into competition. Phelps competed in the Arena meet after coming out of retirement last year after a 20-month hiatus since the 2012 Olympics.

Phelps, now engaged to be married, has gone through a six-week rehab program after his suspension by USA Swimming in October. His last competitive meet was the Pan Pacific Championships in August.

While Phelps is expected to be in the media spotlight, U.S. Olympians Katie Ledecky, Tyler Clary, Natalie Coughlin, Matt Grevers and Allison Schmitt head the field.

Fifty members of the U.S. national swim team are expected to compete. The field is a good mix of pro, collegiate and high school swimmers.

Among other Florida swimmers entered are:

Venezuelan Olympian and Gator Swim Club’s Andreina Pinto, 23, opening the meet in the 1500-meter freestyle (8:25.93). Hungarian Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu, 25, who has been training in Fort Lauderdale, is also entered in the distance event.

Poland Olympian Marcin Cieslak, 23, and Nick D’Innocenzo, 24, Gator Swim Club.

Carlos Mahecha, 22, Andres Felipe Montoya, 24, and Esnaider Reales, 18, Azura Florida Aquatics.

Mateo De Angulo, 24, of Club Seminole.

Emma Svensson, 22, of Swim Florida.

Bahamian Olympian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, 25, of SwimMAC, seeded first in the 50-meter freestyle (24.34).

Kira Toussaint, 20, of Swim Florida

Caroline Simmons, 24, of Performance Aquatics.

My Fridell, 22, Heather Arseth, 21, and Cameron Davis, 19, of University of Miami.

Claire Donahue, 26, of Western Kentucky, who has been training with Atkinson and SOFLO, will compete in the butterfly where she is seeded second in the 100 in 58.03.

The four-day meet, capped at 600 swimmers, ends on Saturday. Top three finishers will win $1,000, $600 and $200.

Prelims are 9 a.m. and finals 6 p.m. MST. The meet will be live streamed at Universal Sports Network will air live television coverage on Thursday and Friday with Floridian Rowdy Gaines as color analyst.

Sharon Robb can be reached at


By Sharon Robb

April 12, 2015—CJ Kopecki is the perfect example what hard work and sheer determination can do for a swimmer.

The South Florida Aquatic Club age group swimmer has risen through the ranks since he started swimming competitively at age 10.

“When I first started, I was a slower kind of swimmer, I wasn’t fast at all,” Kopecki said. “I would see the older groups swim at meets and everyone would congratulate them after they would win. I started working towards that.”

Kopecki, now 15, didn’t do it alone.

First there was SOFLO veteran age group coach Coach Rose Lockie encouraging him.

“She was one of the big coaches who helped me the first year,” Kopecki said. “She put me in butterfly which is my best stroke.”

And there was former SOFLO coach Megan Garland the past three years.

“After Coach Rose helped me I started progressing a lot and doing really good after I turned 13,” Kopecki said. “I didn’t think I could get fast enough to move up to Silver and went into Senior Developmental. After one practice Coach Rose came to me and talked about it. She believed I could get there if I worked my butt off in swim practice. Eventually, after JOs, I moved up. Coach Megan helped me tremendously, too. I wouldn’t be where I am without her.”

And, of course, there are his teammates he trains with day in and day out.

Kopecki was 3 when his grandmother taught him how to swim. He played soccer, but soon realized he was more suited to swimming.

“I have flat feet and can’t run fast without hurting my knees and shins,” he explained. “I decided to do a sport I didn’t have to run in and started swimming. I wasn’t athletic or fit at all when I started.”

Between pool and dryland work, Kopecki ended up dropping 15 pounds and getting fitter.

“I always liked being in the water,” Kopecki said. “I liked going out in the ocean with my grandma.”

Kopecki, a freshman at American Heritage School, competed in his first state high school meet this past fall and is a member of the Patriots’ boys state champion team. His club highlight swims were at sectionals and senior championships.

“I was happiest with my 200 fly at sectionals,” Kopecki said. “It was the first time I made “A” finals at sectionals. I was happy with my mile at senior championships. My time drops were pretty good after I was injured (back). I didn’t have the endurance before and that mile showed me I was back and could do it.”

Kopecki hopes to get even stronger and faster over the next three years and earn a college scholarship.

“Coach Chris has been telling me if I keep working and progressing I can get there,” Kopecki said. “That’s a big goal of mine.”

Kopecki, coming off a bout of the flu, is working his way back into shape.

“I am just going to eat, sleep and swim and try to get my junior national cut,” Kopecki said.

He even plans on training while he is in Raleigh, N.C., site of the weeklong national competition where he will compete on a nine-member mock trial team for American Heritage Plantation. Kopecki is in his first year of the school’s law program. “It’s interesting and fun,” he said.

Kopecki joins February Swimmer of the Month Zackary Harris and January Swimmer of the Month Madison Johnson.

The Nike Swimmer of the Month award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, is awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at both swim meets and practice sessions.—Sharon Robb

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Chris Anderson Named Western Zone Select Camp Head Coach

By Sharon Robb

April 3, 2015—Three-time Olympic coach Chris Anderson of South Florida Aquatic Club was named head coach of USA Swimming’s Western Zone Select Camp.

The camp will be held May 28-31 at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz.

John Fedena of SwimMAC will serve as head manager and Heather Thomas of Redmond Aquatic Club is assistant manager.

Anderson’s coaching staff includes David Berkoff of Missoula Aquatic Club, Cortney Martellucci of Davis Arden Racing Team, James Richey of Boulder Swimming and Mike Werner of Park City Swimming.

Berkoff is an Olympic champion and former world record holder in the backstroke best known for his powerful underwater start.

Anderson is coach of three-time Jamaican Olympian and world record holder Alia Atkinson. South Florida Aquatic Club is currently the most successful and largest team in the Florida Gold Coast.

The former Clemson All-American and team captain has coached three swimmers at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and has served as Jamaican Olympic coach for three Olympics. He has coached at every major international meet including World Championships, Pan American Games and Commonwealth Games.

Recently, SOFLO swept all three titles at the Senior Championships—combined, women’s and men’s—for the first time in the club’s 15-year history. SOFLO also won both the Florida Gold Coast Junior Olympics and Senior Championships in the short course season for the third year in a row.

It is the first time Anderson will serve as a head coach of a Zone Select team. In 2007 he was an assistant coach of the Southern Zone Select Camp. He was also Florida Gold Coast Chairman from 2008 to 2013.

USA Swimming sponsors four Zone Select Camps in an effort to identify the emerging young athletes in each Zone and offer them a unique motivational and educational experience.

The Zone Select Camps are viewed as an integral step for athletes to move from the local and Zone level on to the national scene.

Camps include five long course workouts, four educational sessions and recreational activities. USA Swimming provides each athlete and staff member with appropriate gear, equipment and educational materials.

There are three other zone select camps in the U.S. The Central Zone, May 21-24 at University of Cincinnati; Southern Zone, May 21-24 at Florida Gulf Coast and Eastern Zone, June 4-7, at University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Twenty eight boys and twenty eight girls are selected in each of the four zones. Selected girls must be age 12-13 at the time of performance and selected boys must be 13-14 at the time of performance.

Fifteen athletes of each sex are selected based on the 2014 Long Course Meters IMX point scores. Then the fastest swimmers in each zone in each long course meters Olympic event are invited for a total of 13 girls and 13 boys.

Sharon Robb can be reached at