By Sharon Robb
May 10, 2016—Alejandro Mateus loves to swim.
Mateus, 11, a fifth grader at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, is having remarkable success working with South Florida Aquatic Club age group coach Rose Lockie and Bronze Group.
“It is really fun,” Mateus said. “I am improving a lot. Coach Rose tells me not to give up no matter what.”
That was never more evident during the SOFLO Holiday Classic before the Christmas holidays at Academic Village Pool.
“I was really proud of the Christmas meet,” Mateus said. “Before the 100-yard freestyle I didn’t hear the starter say ‘take your mark.’ I heard the buzzer and I didn’t know what to do.
“I looked at the officials and my dad and the swimmers were already in the pool swimming. I jumped in and sprinted all the way, trying to catch up. I didn’t know where I was, if I was near them or anything.
“After I touched the wall with everything I had, I saw a 1:05. I didn’t look at the place, but then I saw first. Everybody was stunned. I gained time but I was happy I caught up and didn’t give up.”
Mateus, following in the footsteps of his older brother Leonardo, started competing when he was five years old. He used to play soccer but gave it up to focus solely on swimming.
“My brother and I push each other,” Mateus said. “He tells me what times to go, what to do and how I can work on stuff to improve.”
Mateus said he fell in love with swimming at an early age.
“In swiming, there are so many different things you can do,” he said. “There are different strokes and different yardage. There are people to compete against and there’s always challenges.”
Mateus has his sights set on breaking Florida Gold Coast records. “I am really close in the 100 fly, that’s my favorite event,” Mateus said.
“I am training hard and trying to improve.”
Mateus trains six days a week. After school he goes straight to the pool, works on his homework and waits for practice to begin.
“I feel different emotions in the pool at different times,” Mateus said. “If I am really feeling confident my strokes feel faster. I feel lighter and it feels like I am pulling more water.
“If I practice harder, my strokes are a little stronger. I try to kick a little more and push myself to the limit.”
Mateus was selected by the SOFLO coaching staff for his 10-and-under performances at the April 2-3 Florida-Florida Gold Coast All-Star Meet and April 29-May 1 SOFLO IMX-IMR Challenge.
The TYR 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.
Each TYR Swimmer of the Month receives a free TYR mini backpack.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org