By Sharon Robb
Jennifer Rodriguez needed a break from swimming.
The South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer took time off from October, 2015 to March, 2016.
Rodriguez, 16, a sophomore at Hialeah Gardens High School, stayed in shape running the two-mile distance race and 4×200-yard relay for her high school track team.
“I was a little burned out on swimming,” Rodriguez said. “I thought I should take a little break to see if I wanted to continue swimming. I needed to recharge my batteries.
“In the beginning it was nice to have the break but then I started missing it after a while and I came back. I missed my friends and coaches and training and competing at swim meets.”
Rodriguez wasted no time getting back into swim shape. She trained with the senior development group for two weeks before resuming training with Gold Group and Coach Travis Lockie.
“It didn’t take me that long to get back into shape,” Rodriguez said. “I felt a little lazy without swimming. I ran track. I didn’t stop exercising.”
That was obvious at the Florida Gold Coast Senior Long Course Championships in July in Coral Springs. She first won the 15-16 50-meter breaststroke in 35.76, just 0.16 off her best time. She also won the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:46.28. She was the lone SOFLO champion, boy or girl, at the meet.
Rodriguez finished her most successful meet with a third-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke in a best time 1:16.52. She also led off SOFLO’s 800-meter freestyle relay that finished fifth in 9:21.71 with teammates Abby Oyetunji, Isabella DiSalvo and Emiliana Pelaez.
“I was happiest with senior champs,” Rodriguez said. “I was motivated. I saw I was ranked first on the psych sheet and thought oh my God, I can actually win and I won.”
Rodriguez comes from a swimming family. Her older brother, Alex, and sister, Jessica are swimmers and compete for SOFLO. Her dad was a swimmer and her mother a gymnast.
“When I was 4-years-old I watched my brother practice,” Rodriguez said. “He started swimming before me and my sister. It looked like fun.”
Rodriguez, whose idol is now-retired Olympic breaststroker Rebecca Soni, is working toward qualifying for her first state high school meet.
“I am happy with my swimming now,” she said. “The break was good. Now I am more into it and doing a lot better.”
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Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com