SOFLO Has Four Swimmers Selected For Southern Zone Age Group LSC Championships

By Sharon Robb

June 15, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club will be well-represented at the Southern Zone Age Group LSC Championships set for August 4-8 in Tupelo, Mississippi.

The team was announced and swimmers were contacted on Monday by head coach John Shipman of St. Andrew’s Swimming.

SOFLO swimmers selected are Paige Lane, 11-12; Jie Hoon Lee, 11-12; Rafael Rodriguez, 13-14; and CJ Kopecki, 15-18.

USA Swimming’s Zone Championships feature top regional swimmers at the age group level who qualify. There are four zones: southern, western, central and eastern.

The Shockwave Swim Club is hosting the meet, which is expected to be webcast at the Tupelo Aquatic Center.

The girls and boys rosters are:

Girls 11-12: Claudia Acosta Hialeah; Iliza Aguiar, FLA; Gabrianna Banks Heritage Aquatics; Mattie Barfield, FLA; Madelyn Hebert, East Coast Aquatics; Paige Lane, SOFLO; Paige Lane, SOFLO; Paige MacEachern, St. Andrew’s Swimming; Jocelyn Ruiz, Blue Marlins.

Girls 13-14: Emily Cordovi, Gulliver Swimming; Madison Cummings, East Coast Aquatics; Hailey Jerew, AquaKids Sharks; Alexandra Meszaros, Pine Crest Swimming; Andrea Santander, Gulliver Swimming; Jennifer Secrest, North Palm Beach; Mary Smutny, AquaKids Sharks; Eriana Temperino, East Coast Aquatics.

Girls 15-18: Marissa Brannan, Heritage Aquatics; Tiffany Korb, St. Andrew’s Swimming; Sara Lacusky, Martin County; Victoria Miyamoto, Pompano Beach Piranhas; Sloan Sizemore, Pompano Beach Piranhas.

Boys 11-12: Victor Valdes, Hialeah; Lance Lesage, Plantation Swim Team; Kevin Fanjul, Blue Marlins; Joshua Zuchowski, East Coast Aquatics; Jie Hoon Lee, SOFLO; Alexander Meyer, Coral Springs Swim Club; Varis Monroe III, North Palm Beach.

Boys 13-14: Rafael Rodriguez, SOFLO; Matthew Petreski, Pine Crest Swimming; Bryan Rivero, Hialeah; Adrian Aguilar, Metro Aquatics; Diego Machado, Azura Florida Aquatics; Izaak Bastian, St. Andrew’s Swimming; Aaron Rodriguez, Hialeah Swim Club; Elvis Kotikovski, Azura Florida Aquatics.

Boys 15-18: CJ Kopecki, SOFLO; Sebastian Vargas, Coral Springs Swim Club; Adrian Moya, Metro Aquatics; Brandon Vives, Metro Aquatics; Marcelo Lavzurique, Big Gator; Cameron Anderson, Martin County; Tyler Zuyus, Pompano Beach Piranhas; Diego Faucher, Metro Aquatics.

In addition to Shipman, the coaching staff features assistant coach Norman Abril of Metro Aquatics; girls 11-12 coach Jackson Leonard of Gulliver Swimming; girls 13-14 coach Ewa Dorante of Pine Crest Swimming; girls 15-18 coach Cathy Silveira of Metro Aquatics; boys 11-12 coach Marcello Gatti of FLA; boys 13-14 coach Jonathan Zuchowski of East Coast Aquatics; and boys 15-18 coach Lingard Miller of YMCA BST.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Mateus Leads SOFLO Swimmers, Finishes Fifth At Open Water Southern Zones

By Sharon Robb

June 7, 2015—Leonardo Mateus of South Florida Aquatic Club was among top finishers at the Southern Zones Open Water Championships in Lake Echo at Seven Lakes, North Carolina.

Mateus finished fifth in the 5K 13-14 age group in 1 hour, 6 minutes and 19 seconds for 3.1 miles. He finished 3:11 minutes behind age group champion Nicholas Hernandez-Tome who finished in 1:04:18.

SOFLO teammate Kevin Porto was 20th in 1:08:29 in the 15-16 age group in the 5K.

SOFLO’s Alana Acevedo was 27th in 1:25:32 in the girls 13-14 age group 5K.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Erika Pelaez Sweeps Events At Azura Sizzler

By Sharon Robb
June 6, 2015—-Erika Pelaez of South Florida Aquatic Club swept all four of her individual events Friday at the Florida Gold Coast Broward Sizzler Azura at Caporella Aquatic Center.

Pelaez, 8, the top seed in all four events, won the 25-meter butterfly, 25-meter backstroke, 25-meter breaststroke and 25-meter freestyle.

SOFLO teammate Joseph-Blake Natino, 6, won the 25-meter breaststroke and was second in two events and third in another.

Pompano Beach Piranhas teammates Riley Andres and Lucia Blanco each won two events. Teammate Becket Menacho won two boys events.

Luke Weingard of YBC Barracudas was a triple winner in the 25-meter backstroke, 25-meter freestyle and 25-meter butterfly. He was also second in the 25-meter breaststroke.


25-meter butterfly:
6-and-under, 1. Riley Andres, Pompano Beach 32.09, best time, 2. Hayden Anton, Azura 37.99, 3. Lucia Blanco, Pompano Beach 51.32; 7-8, 1. Erika Pelaez, SOFLO 15.88, 2. Sidney Anton, Azura 17.71, best time, 3. Sophia Echeumuna, Azura 19.03, best time.
25-meter backstroke:
6-and-under, 1. Lucia Blanco, Pompano Beach 28.37, 2. Riley Andres, Pompano Beach 28.97, 3. Hayden Anton, Azura 38.47; 7-8, 1. Erika Pelaez, SOFLO 17.50, 2. Lillia Blanco, Pompano Beach 21.50, 3 Sophia Echeumuna, Azura 21.65.
25-meter breaststroke:
6-and-under, 1. Lucia Blanco, Pompano Beach 32.03, 2. Riley Andres, Pompano Beach 37.28, 3. Hayden Anton, Azura 40.66, best time; 7-8, 1. Erika Pelaez, SOFLO 20.66, 2. Lillia Blanco, Pompano Beach 20.90, 3. Sophia Echeumuna, Azura 21.09, best time.
25-meter freestyle:
6-and-under, 1. Riley Andres, Pompano Beach 24.94, 2. Lucia Blanco, Pompano Beach 26.18, 3. Hayden Anton, Azura 27.40; 7-8, 1. Erika Pelaez, SOFLO 15.35, 2. Sophia Echeumuna, Azura 16.47, 3. Lillia Blanco, Pompano Beach 17.00.
100-meter freestyle relay:
1.Azura 1:14.63 (Echeumuna, Anton, Kamar, Guerrero), 2. SOFLO 1:25.07, 3. Coral Springs Swim Club 1:25.93.

25-meter butterfly:
6-and-under, 1. Becket Menacho, Pompano Beach 33.08, best time, 2. Joseph-Blake Natino, SOFLO 34.47, best time; 7-8, 1. Luke Weingard, YBC Barracudas 21.97, 2. Gabriel Tortola, Azura 22.39, best time, 3. Sebastian Guio, YBC Barracudas 22.91, best time.
25-meter backstroke:
6-and-under, 1. Charlie Russo, YBC Barracudas 27.12, best time, 2. Joseph-Blake Natino, SOFLO 30.31, best time, 3. Becket Menacho, Pompano Beach 31.06, best time; 7-8, 1. Luke Weingard, YBC Barracudas 22.66, best time, 2. Sebastian Guio, YBC Barracudas 22.88, best time, 3. Gabriel Tortola, Azura 25.21, best time.
25-meter breaststroke:
6-and-under, 1. Joseph-Blake Natino, SOFLO 35.00, best time, 2. Becket Menacho, Pompano Beach 35.88, best time; 7-8, 1. Paul Pokatragool, Coral Springs Swim Club 24.69, 2. Luke Weingard, YBC Barracudas 24.90, best time, 3. Tyler Fortson, YBC Barracudas 26.41.
25-meter freestyle:
6-and-under, 1. Becket Menacho, Pompano Beach 25.06, best time, 2. Charlie Russo, YBC Barracudas 27.13, best time, 3. Joseph-Blake Natino, SOFLO 27.15, best time; 7-8, 1. Luke Weingard, YBC Barracudas 19.15, best time, 2. Gabriel Tortola, Azura 19.22, 3. Tyler Fortson, YBC Barracudas 19.41.
100-meter freestyle relay:
1.YBC Barracudas 1:23.71 (Weingard, Guio, Livsey, Castro), 2. SOFLO 1:42.16.
Sharon Robb can be reached at

South Florida Aquatic Club Well-Represented At Southern Zones Open Water Championship

By Sharon Robb

June 5, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers are among the Florida Gold Coast 23-swimmer all-star contingent that will compete at this weekend’s Southern Zones Open Water Championship in Lake Echo at Seven Lakes, N.C.

Alana Acevedo, 13, Leonardo Mateus, 13, and Kevin Porto, 15, will represent SOFLO on the FGC All-Star team.

Ten FGC girls will compete in the 1,000 freestyle. They are Marissa Brannan, 15; Autumn Leigh, 18; Alicia Mancilla, 15; Mia Marquez, 14; Victoria Miyamoto, 15; Brianna Prindle, 17; Sloan Sizemore, 15; Isabella Taylor, 12, and Nicole Urquidi, 17.

Thirteen boys are entered in the 1,000 freestyle. They are Cameron Anderson, 16; Diego Avellaneda, 14; Alejandro Basalo, 14; Cassidy Blackwin, 17; Nick Carter, 25; Blake Manganiello, 19; Pierce Rotman, 14; Nicholas Sharp, 16; Samuel Smiddy, 21; Shawn Warner, 20; and Noah Zylberberg, 16.

Isabella Taylor, 12, will represent the FGC in the 11-12 2,000.

In the 5,000, Acevedo and Marquez will compete in the 13-14 and Marissa Brannan, 15, Alicia Mancilla, 15; Victoria Miyamoto, 15; and Sloan Sizemore, 15, will swim.

In the 13-14 boys 5,000 event, Diego Avellaneda, 14; Alejandro Bsalo, 14; Mateus; and Pierce Rotman, 14 while in the 15-16, Cameron Anderson, 16; Porto; Nicholas Sharp, 16; and Noah Zylberberg, 16, will race.

In the women 5,000 open, Autumn Leigh, 18, Brianna Prindle, 17; and Nicole Urquidi, 17, will race while in the men’s open, Cassidy Blackwin, 17; Nick Carter, 25; Blake Manganiello, 19; Samuel Smiddy, 21; and Shawn Warner, 20 are expected to dominate.

The Sandhills Sandsharks Swim Team and North Carolina Swimming are hosting the two-day event.

The course for all zone races is a 1K loop in Lake Echo.

A welcome clinic and 1K orientation swim was scheduled for Friday.

Four races will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, the 11-12 2K and 13-14, 15-16 and senior open 5K will be held.

On the final day, the 14-and-under girls and boys 3K team pursuit and open women and men 3K team pursuit are scheduled.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Claire Donahue Joins South Florida Aquatic Club

By Sharon Robb

June 5, 2015—U.S. Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue has joined South Florida Aquatic Club to train full-time for the 2016 Olympic trials and hopefully her second Olympic team.

Donahue, 26, a U.S. national team member, will begin training with SOFLO’s pro group in August after the July 24-Aug. 9 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia and FINA World Cup Series.

Donahue joins SOFLO’s pro team of three-time Jamaican Olympian and world record holder Alia Atkinson; two-time Colombian Olympian and national record holder Carolina Colorado; Jorge Murillo of Colombia and Timothy Wynter of Jamaica, both national record holders.

Donahue will be coached by SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson at the world championships and first two legs of the FINA World Cup, Aug. 11-12 in Moscow and Aug. 15-16 in Paris.

Her longtime coach Bruce Marchionda, whose last day at Western Kentucky is June 30th after ten seasons, will join Donahue at SOFLO in late August.

Marchionda will continue coaching Donahue and will also help coach at SOFLO.

Donahue, a Western Kentucky alum, has been a post-grad swimmer in Bowling Green since qualifying for the 2012 Olympic team in the 100-meter butterfly. She earned a gold medal as a member of the 400-meter medley relay team. She is WKU’s first Olympian to win a gold medal.

Anderson and Marchionda are longtime friends. It will be a smooth transition for both Donahue and Marchionda after training at SOFLO during holiday breaks and camps for several years.

“SOFLO was at the top of the list, we are familiar with the pool, and Bruce and I know Chris pretty well,” Donahue said.

“We had all the schools and teams listed where we wanted to go and we really felt SOFLO was a great fit more than any other team.”

Donahue, while sad about leaving Kentucky after eight years, is excited about the future.

“My first consideration was the coaching,” Donahue said. “I am going to have two Olympic-level coaches which is huge. Not a lot of people can get that. I am really excited about having both of them.

“The training atmosphere is what I was looking for. It is a pro group. I am 26 and being able to train with pros is another thing that is going to help me improve in the next year.”

Donahue trained with the pro group including Atkinson and Colorado in March.

“It was so much fun, the atmosphere was great,” Donahue said. “It’s not just about having the high level of training partners to train and push you but their goal is the same as mine. I really enjoyed the practices. I really am looking forward to it. I want to go. There are no doubts in my mind.”

Atkinson and other future teammates are already joking to Donahue, “I hope you’re ready to get a tan.”

“I am excited about the weather,” Donahue said. “I have always wanted to live in Florida. It is far away from home, but it’s also 30 minutes away from the beach and you can’t beat that. I am glad it all worked out.”

Donahue wanted to stay with her consistent training routine with Marchionda in Bowling Green until she left for worlds.

“Then when we get back we will pretty much pack up everything and head down there,” Donahue said. “I am very, very excited about the move.

“The Olympic trials are getting closer and closer,” she said. “I remember two years ago saying, ‘Claire, it’s time to get back to work, the next Olympics are coming pretty quickly.’ Every practice is important.”

It will also be the opportunity of a lifetime for SOFLO swimmers and coaching staff.

In addition to the SOFLO pros, top age group swimmers who have made their Grand Prix cuts including Melissa Marinheiro, Julien Pinon, Kathleen Golding and Jessica Rodriguez will also be training with Donahue.

“It’s going to be a great experience for SOFLO, taking our coaching staff and athletes to an even higher level,” Anderson said. “It brings us up another notch to have someone who is ranked among the top swimmers in three events.”

Anderson, a three-time Jamaican Olympic coach, just returned from his head coaching stint at the USA Swimming Zone Select Camp in Arizona. Anderson is also coaching five athletes at the July 14-18 Pan American Games in Toronto.

“Claire and Bruce bring that professionalism and competitiveness on a daily basis,” Anderson said. “There’s no transition needed, it’s full speed ahead.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Pelaez Leads SOFLO Contingent For Friday Sizzler

By Sharon Robb

June 4, 2015—-Erika Pelaez of South Florida Aquatic Club is among three SOFLO top seeds entered in Friday’s Florida Gold Coast Broward Sizzler hosted by Azura in Tamarac.

Pelaez, 8, is seeded first in the 25-meter butterfly, 25-meter backstroke, 25-meter breaststroke and 25-meter freestyle.

Other top seeds are:

Joseph-Blake Natino, 6, 25-meter butterfly, 25-meter breaststroke and 25-meter freestyle.

Jake Roman, 7, 25-meter backstroke.

Other SOFLO swimmers entered are: Matthew Escudero, 8; Benjamin Kim, 7; Armando Rafael Morillo, 8; Abigail Pangilinan Natino, 8; Giada Porven, 7; Owen Smith, 8; and Sarah Vasquez, 7.

The events are divided into two age groups, 6-and-under and 7-8.

The boys and girls races are 25-meter butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. There is also an 8-and-under 100-meter freestyle relay.

Swimmers are allowed to enter in all four individual events and relay.


What: Azura 8&Under June Sizzler

When: Friday, warm-up 5 p.m., meet starts 5:30 p.m.

Where: Caporella Aquatic Center, 9300 NW 58th Street, Tamarac

Admission: $2, heat sheets $2. For more information call 954-696-8457 or email

Sharon Robb can be reached at