Happy New Year: South Florida Aquatic Club Celebrates “Team Effort” In 2018, Looks Ahead To Raising The Bar In 2019

By Sharon Robb

January 1, 2019—While there were several outstanding individual performances on every level, it was always the “team effort” that set South Florida Aquatic Club apart from others in 2018.

Coaches, swimmers, parents, booster club, office staff, officials, sponsors, school support, media, fans and the facility all played integral roles in the “team effort.”

The Florida Gold Coast’s largest team never lost sight of the importance of the “team” concept which has become its trademark throughout the years.

The goals, hard work, dedication, motivation and sacrifice of all of SOFLO’s swimmers paid off in the end and led to more success. It wasn’t only about winning or losing, it was about life goals and lessons learned.

Year in and year out, SOFLO swimmers have learned their lessons well and continued their successful climb in 2018 mainly through a tremendous “team effort.” Every swimmer contributed. Every point earned by a SOFLO swimmer at various meets counted.

As everyone celebrates the New Year, it’s always fun to look back to see what SOFLO accomplished over twelve months. From world-class international meets to sizzlers and masters meets, tireless work ethic, commitment and passion were always front and center.

Success is never taken for granted. After outstanding past seasons, SOFLO improved across the board enjoying more success at every level during 2018 and raised the bar even higher for 2019.

“We have a winning culture,” said SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson. “SOFLO has created an infrastructure with its coaches and staff that cultivates a high level of continuing excellence. Our kids challenge themselves and push themselves past their comfort zone and it does show.”

Now entering its 19th year, the first ten as Comets Swim Team and ninth year as SOFLO, the team is looking forward to even more success at the local, state, regional, national and international levels in 2019.

As the New Year gets under way with new dreams, goals and resolutions, let’s reflect on some of last year’s highlights and accomplishments.

SOFLO’s Top 10 Moments in 2018 were:

1. SOFLO makes team history by capturing its eighth consecutive team title and ninth overall at the Florida Gold Coast 14&Under Short Course Junior Olympics. SOFLO also won its ninth consecutive JO long course and tenth overall in club history. It was the sixth consecutive year that the club won back-to-back JO short and long course titles in the same year.

2. SOFLO swimmers raised the bar at the national level. The girls’ team finished 15th among 70 teams at the Speedo Winter Junior Nationals East Championship in Greensboro, N.C…At the USA Swimming Phillips 66 U.S. National Championships in Irvine, Calif., Kathleen Golding had three lifetime-bests in the five events she qualified in and made two “C” finals…SOFLO finished among the Top 20 in the USA Swimming Futures Championships in Cary, N.C…SOFLO finished among the Top 10 at the Bolles TYR Summer Classic.

3. SOFLO captures combined and boys team titles at the 28th FGC Speedo Winter Championships for the first time since 2014.

4. SOFLO earned the coveted USA Swimming Bronze Medal Club Excellence Award for the eighth time in nine years (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019).

5. SOFLO sent more than four dozen swimmers to the BCAA and FHSAA High School State Meets including swimmers from Cooper City, Cypress Bay, NSU University School, Hialeah Gardens, Archbishop McCarthy, Pembroke Pines Charter, American Heritage Plantation, St. Thomas Aquinas and Somerset Academy.

6. SOFLO masters swimmer, former Comets Swim Team coach and City of Pembroke Pines police sergeant Jennifer Martin won nine gold medals and broke three meet records at the June United States Police & Fire Championships. In less than three hours, Martin captured nine gold medals and broke three USPFC meet records including an 18-year-old record. She competed in three races in less than seven minutes which included two meet-record swims.

7. At the FINA World Short Course Championships, four-time Jamaican Olympic Alia Atkinson, at age 30, won two gold medals and one bronze medal at the FINA World Short Course Championships in December. SOFLO teammate Abby Oyetunji, a Somerset Academy alum, made her FINA World Short Course Championship debut. Two months earlier at the National Honors and Awards ceremony, Atkinson was awarded the Order of Distinction Rank of Commander for her representation of Jamaica in swimming.

8. Mallory Schleicher, one of the state’s top open water and distance swimmers, made her debut at the USA Swimming Open Water Junior Nationals in Tempe, Ariz. placing 11th among a national-caliber field.

9. SOFLO became one of the first swim clubs in the nation to launch a website tab for Safe Sport featuring educational resources for the safety of swimmers and parents.

10. SOFLO gets a new team mascot, a shark named SOAK. It is the Team ID USA Swimming created to combine SOFLO and AquaKids Sharks.

Pat yourselves on the back. Happy New Year and here’s to a safe, happy and healthy 2019!!!

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com