Olympic Gold Medalist Claire Donahue Leads SOFLO Contingent At Minneapolis Arena Pro Swim Series

By Sharon Robb

November 11, 2015—A Who’s Who in swimming will compete at the 2015-16 Arena Pro Swim Series opener Thursday at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.

U.S. Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue of South Florida Aquatic Club will be joined by Elizabeth Beisel, Hilda Luthersdottir, Dan Wallace and Arkady Vyatchanin of Gator Swim Club, Ryan Lochte of Daytona Beach, St. Augustine’s Vien Nguyen, Melanie Margalis of St. Petersburg, Pavel Sankovich of Club Seminole and Bolles alum George Bovell as part of a strong Florida contingent.

Olympic champions Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky and Nathan Adrian, among 50 national team swimmers, make the three-day meet one of the most attended by top name swimmers.

An added bonus for international swimmers training for the Rio Summer Olympics is that the meet is a FINA-approved competition where swimmers can achieve qualifying times for the 2016 Olympic Games including SOFLO’s Lisa Blackburn, a national record holder for Bermuda. At 43, Blackburn is the oldest swimmers in the field. Erika Erndl, 37, of T2 Aquatics is also entered.

Blackburn will compete in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter breaststroke and 200-meter individual medley.

Donahue, who has been training well at her new training base in South Florida, will swim the 50-meter freestyle and 100- and 200-meter butterfly events.

Also entered in the 100 butterfly is 2012 Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder Dana Vollmer, who has returned to the pool after giving birth to her first child.

SOFLO swimmer Kile Aukerman, 22, will compete in four events: 50-meter freestyle, 100- and 200-meter breaststroke races and 200-meter individual medley.

Phelps is scheduled to compete in six events over three days. He is entered in the 100- and 200-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley, 100- and 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter backstroke.

Among his events, Lochte, 31, is entered in the 400-meter freestyle, an off-event for the SwimMAC swimmer.

Thursday’s events are the 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter breaststroke, 100-meter butterfly and 400-meter individual medley.

Prelims are 10 a.m. and finals 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The meet will be live streamed at usaswimming.org.

The Arena Pro Swim Series is the first of seven stops. The circuit will award a record $350,000 in total prize money. The top three finishers in each event win $1,000, $600 and $200. The overall point series winners will earn an additional $10,000 in bonus money and one-year lease for a BMW.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com


SOFLO Breaks Team Record For Most Swimmers At High School State Meets In Team History

By Sharon Robb

November 11, 2015—After sending sixteen swimmers to last weekend’s small school state meets and 33 swimmers for this weekend’s large school meets, South Florida Aquatic Club set a team record for most qualified swimmers at the Pinch-A-Penny FHSAA State Swimming and Diving Meets.

SOFLO qualified 49 swimmers from Broward and Dade high schools for four state meets over two weekends.

This weekend, 33 SOFLO swimmers will compete in the State 3A and 4A meets at Sailfish Splashpark in Stuart.

The contingent is led my medal hopefuls Kathleen Golding, a freshman at Cooper City, making her state meet debut; Pembroke Pines Charter sophomore Kelley Heron and senior teammate Ryan Capote, and Hialeah Gardens junior Jessica Rodriguez.

Golding is seeded first in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:04.52, an All-American consideration time. She is also seeded fourth in the 100-yard butterfly in 56.45.

Rodriguez is seeded fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:06.73 and 20th in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:11.55.

Heron is seeded fourth in the 100-yard backstroke in 58.31 and sixth in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:09.06

Capote is seeded fifth in the 100-yard freestyle in 47.12 and seventh in the 50-yard freestyle in 21.66.

Other SOFLO qualifiers for this weekend’s meets are:


DORAL: Adrian Aguilar, freshman

HIALEAH MIAMI LAKES: Bryan Moran, junior

MATER ACADEMY: Vanessa Mesa, eighth, Liz Travieso, junior

PEMBROKE PINES CHARTER: Bruno Berti, junior, Tyler Bland, freshman, Lilli Calero, senior, Ryan Capote, senior, Katherine DeBarros, sophomore, Tyler Gibson, sophomore, Kelley Heron, sophomore, Maya Hirian, junior, Andres Lares, sophomore, Juan Lucas, junior, Matthew Menocal, junior, Sebastian Seville, freshman, Lily Sines, eighth, Julinna Villarta, freshman, Justrina Villarta, junior.


COOPER CITY: Kathleen Golding, freshman, Natasha Testa, sophomore

CYPRESS BAY: Raquel Lugo, sophomore, Carly Swanson, senior, Jonathan Strod, senior, Mathew Delvalle, senior

FLANAGAN: Gustavo Valery, senior

HIALEAH GARDENS: Jessica Rodriguez, junior, Gabriel Segui, freshman

WEST BROWARD: Zariya Harris, sophomore; Brendan Cassie, senior; Ethan Hew, freshman; Stephanie Mlujeak, junior; Kellie Wilcox, freshman.

At last week’s Region 4-3A meet at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex, Heron was a double winner in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:09.06 and 100-yard backstroke in 58.31.

At the Region 4-4A meet, Cypress Bay girls with several SOFLO swimmers including Carly Swanson, won the girls team title.

Golding won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:04.52, an All-American consideration time and 100-yard butterfly in 56.45. She also led off the winning 200-yard medley relay. It was the only All-American time in the girls field.

Rodriguez won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:06.73.

In the Region 1-3A meet, defending state champions Chiles and Creekside knocked off each other. Creekside boys, defending 3A champs, were beaten by Chiles while Chiles, state champs in 2014, were fifth behind Creekside.

In the Region 1-4A meet, favorite Gainesville Buchholz broke the state 200-yard freestyle relay record in 1:33.58, breaking Bolles 2009 record, with Kirschtine Balbuena, Julia Rodriguez, Kaitlyn Cronin and Talia Bates. Three of the four relay members are freshmen and Balbuena is a sophomore. Buchholz swept the boys and girls team titles.


What: Pinch-A-Penny FHSAA State 3A Swimming and Diving Meet

When: Friday, 9 a.m. prelims, 5:30 p.m. finals

Where: Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center, 931 S.E. Ruhnke St., Stuart.

Admission: $9 per session, parking $5.

What: Pinch-A-Penny FHSAA State 4A Swimming and Diving Meet.

When: Saturday, 9 a.m., 5:30 p.m. finals

Where: Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center, 931 S.E. Ruhnke St., Stuart.

Admission: $9 per session, parking $5.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com