By Sharon Robb

March 9, 2016—The Speedo Southern Zone Sectional Championships begin Thursday in Plantation with a star-studded lineup headed by four-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Missy Franklin.

South Florida Aquatic Club’s large contingent, including its ProFlo team, will be among a field of 750 swimmers and 80 teams at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

Franklin is coming off last weekend’s Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Orlando, where she swam her best in-season meet times in the 50-meter backstroke and 400-meter freestyle since 2013. This weekend she is entered in the 50 backstroke and 50, 100 and 400 freestyles.

Franklin, 20, is seeded first in the 400-meter freestyle in 4:14.33; first in the 100-meter freestyle in 53.43; and second in the 50 backstroke in 28.77.

SOFLO’s Megan Romano will race Franklin in the 50-meter backstroke where she is seeded fourth in 29.18 and 50-meter freestyle.

Romano, 25, competing in her first high profile meet since joining SOFLO, is entered in five events. She withdrew from the Orlando meet, opting instead to train with SOFLO coach Chris Anderson.

Romano, a former world champion, is seeded first in the 200-meter freestyle (1:58.99) among 131 swimmers. She will also swim the 50 and 100 freestyles and 100-meter backstroke.

SOFLO’s three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson, 27, is entered in six events. She is seeded first in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:05.93), 50-meter breaststroke in 30.11 and 200-meter breaststroke in 2:25.48.

U.S. Olympic relay gold medalist Claire Donahue, 27 is entered in four events. She is seeded first in the 100-meter butterfly in 58.03 and 50-meter butterfly in 26.09.

Alina Schulhofer is entered in the 50 butterfly and freestyle and 200 freestyle.

Colombian two-time Olympian Carolina Colorado, 28, is swimming five events. She is seeded second in the 100-meter backstroke in 1:01.06; third in the 200-meter backstroke; third in the 50-meter backstroke in 29.00 and fourth in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:00.48

Kile Aukerman, 23, is entered in three events and seeded third in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:22.57 and fourth in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:04.20.

Teenager Michael Andrew, a pro and national age group record holder in several events, heads the men’s field after a poor Orlando meet. He is entered in eight events.

SOFLO is top seed in the women’s 200-meter medley relay. Franklin’s club team Colorado Stars and SOFLO are seeded first and second in the 200-meter freestyle relay.

Other ProFlo swimmers competing are newcomer Monica Alvarez, three events; Bermuda national record holder Lisa Blackburn, three events; Ksen Golovkina, three events; Catalina Mendieta, five events; and Santago Rivera, four events

Canadian sprinters Chantal van Landeghem and Sandrine Mainville, who train at Pine Crest, are also entered.

Other top SOFLO swimmers competing are:

Kathleen Golding, 15, entered in six events, is seeded second in the 200-meter individual medley and second in the 400-meter individual medley in 4:55.80.

Jessica Rodriguez, 17, entered in three events, is seeded third in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:36.88 and fifth in the 50 breaststroke in 35.02.

Marc Rojas, 22, returns to competing for SOFLO unattached in the 100-meter breaststroke. He is seeded eighth in 1:04.86.

Rounding out the contingent are Max Asnis, six events; Sam Asnis, five events; Tyler Bland, four events; Ryan Capote, six events; Isabella Di Salvo, four events; Juan Diaz, six events; Esteban Diaz-Velasco, five events; Tyler Gibson, three events; Kelley Heron, six events; Elise Larin, four events; Luke Lezotte, two events; Ervin Marin, three events; Marcella Marinheiro, two events; Leonardo Mateus, five events; Matthew Menocal, three events; Stephanie Mlujeak, four events; Abby Oyetunji, four events; Emiliana Pelaez, six events; Kevin Porto, three events; Samuel Quintero, six events; Ricardo Roche, six events; Rafael Rodriguez, five events; Juan Serna, three events; Carly Swanson, six events; and Alejandro Zambrano, three events.

Rodriguez, 14, one of the youngest swimmers in the meet, is seeded third in the 800-meter freestyle in 8:44.12. Rodriguez is one of six SOFLO swimmers seeded among the Top 10. The others are Max Asnis, Sam Asnis, Ricardo Roche, Juan Diaz and Leonardo Mateus.

SOFLO also has 24 relays entered, the most ever for a high profile meet.

IF YOU GO

What: Speedo Southern Zone Sectional Championships

When: Thursday-Sunday

Schedule: Thursday, 5 p.m. timed finals; Friday-Sunday, prelims 9 a.m., finals 5 p.m.

Where: Plantation Aquatic Complex, 9151 NW Second St.

Admission: $5 per session, heat sheets $3. For information call 954-452-2526.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

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