18th FINA World Aquatics Championships Opens Friday; Swimming Begins July 21

By Sharon Robb

GWANGJU, South Korea, July 10, 2019—The 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships will make its debut in Korea on Friday.

The biggest FINA event, held over 17 days, will feature competitions in all six aquatic disciplines–swimming, diving, high diving, open water swimming, synchronized swimming and water polo competing for 76 gold medals.

With the slogan of “Dive Into Peace” the world championships will offer a sneak preview of what’s to come at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Several international athletes are competing for Olympic berths.

The 18th edition of the FINA World Championships has attracted the largest number of athletes in event history with 2,639 from 194 countries.

With 82 athletes, host South Korea will have the largest contingent of athletes including 29 in swimming. South Korea will make its debut in open water swimming and water polo at worlds.

Swimming, the most popular event, will not begin until July 21, at the Nambu University Memorial Aquatics Center. The U.S. team leads in medals with 208 gold medals in 17 world championships.

China is expected to dominate the diving, that begins Friday. Divers will compete for 13 gold medals.

High diving, made from heights over 20 meters, made its debut at the 2013 world championships in Barcelona and is attracting a strong fan base around the world. Male divers will jump from a 27-meter platform and women will dive from 20-meters. Only two gold medals are available. In 2017, Steve LoBue of Pembroke Pines won gold. High diving will be held July 22-24 at the Chosun University High Diving competition venue.

More than 1,097 athletes from 47 countries will compete in synchronized swimming. Ten gold medals are up for grabs. Russia is expected to dominate.

Nearly 400 swimmers from 60 countries will compete in open water swimming held at the Yeosu EXPO Ocean Park Open Water swimming venue. The July 13-19 events featuring 5K, 10K and 25K distances will award seven gold medals.

Water polo is the only competitive team sport at worlds. Hungary, Italy and the U.S. will be playing for gold in the men’s and women’s tournaments, July 14-27.

PREVIEW COMING UP NEXT WEEK: South Florida will be well-represented in pool swimming at worlds with South Florida Aquatic Club’s Olympic veterans Nguyen Vien of Vietnam and Alia Atkinson of Jamaica along with several other swimmers from around the Florida Gold Coast.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO Swimmers Ready For This Week’s Southern Zone South Sectional Championships

By Sharon Robb

GAINESVILLE, July 10, 2018—The championship season continues Thursday for the South Florida Aquatic Club Sharks.

After months of training and competing in local meets, SOFLO’s talented swimmers have a packed schedule of top meets in July and August.

First up is the Speedo Championship Series Southern Zone South Sectional Championships that begin Thursday at University of Florida’s O’Connell Center Pool.

After this week’s four-day meet there is the July 18-21 FGC Junior Olympics, July 26-28 FGC Senior Championships and Aug. 1-4 USA Swimming Futures Championships.

Mary Smutny, Kathleen Golding, Lance Lesage and Rafael Rodriguez lead SOFLO’s 23-swimmer contingent at sectionals. SOFLO will also field 24 relay teams.

Smutny, 18, will swim five events: 50-meter butterfly, 50-meter freestyle, 400-meter freestyle, 200-meter butterfly and 100-meter freestyle.

Golding, 18, will swim five events: 50-meter backstroke, 400-meter individual medley, 50-meter freestyle, 400- and 800-meter freestyle.

Lesage, 16, will swim six events: 200-meter freestyle, 50-meter backstroke, 100-meter backstroke, 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle and 200-meter backstroke.

Rodriguez, 17, will swim six events: 800-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 400-meter individual medley, 200-meter individual medley, 400-meter freestyle and 200-meter butterfly.

Other SOFLO qualifiers are: Sarah Acevedo, 15, Dominic Bono, 16, Marco Cabrera Duarte, 18, Juan Colmenares, 15, Molly Golding, 16, Sally Golding, 15, Kelley Heron, 19, Philopatier Ibrahim, 16, Paige Lane, 16, Sebastian Lares, 15, Jacqueline Lugo, 17, Leonardo Mateus, 17, Juan Pablo Pineda, 17, Sara Quintero, 15, Mallory Schleicher, 15, Miguel Sierra, 16, and Robert Wilson, 16.

Alex Golding, 15, and Alejandro Mateus, 14, will swim relays only.

In addition to SOFLO, other top teams entered are host and defending champion Gator Swim Club, Bolles, Sarasota YMCA, Azura, Gulliver Swim Club, Club Seminole, Westminster Academy, Trinity Prep, Metro Aquatics, Swim Florida, Highlander and Hurricane Aquatics.

Among top elite swimmers entered are Santiago Corredor, Andrea D’Arrigo, Marco Guarente, Evita Leter and Corey Main.

At last year’s event, SOFLO finished fifth (1,050 points) among combined teams behind host Gator Swim Club (3,007), Bolles (1,453), East Coast Aquatic Club (1,169) and Swim Florida (1,061) among 60 teams. SOFLO men finished fourth (481) and women (491) were fifth.

The Speedo Sectionals Series showcases some of the top swimming talent across the U.S. The series has several stops in various zones.


What: 2019 Speedo Championship Series: Southern Zone South Sectional Championships, LCM

When: Thursday-Sunday

Schedule: Thursday, timed finals 5 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, prelims 9 a.m., finals 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. prelims, finals 4 p.m.

Where: University of Florida, Stephen O’Connell Center Pool, 250 Gale Lemerand Drive, Gainesville.

Of note: Gator Swim Club is hosting the four-day meet. The tournament was capped at 650 swimmers. Admission is $5. For more information call 352-338-9300.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com