Natasha Moodie Enjoying Role As SOFLO College Advisor; Seven SOFLO Seniors Headed To College This Fall

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, April 30, 2020–With the college application process and recruiting rules frequently changing, South Florida Aquatic Club CEO and head coach Chris Anderson was looking to help SOFLO parents and swimmers.

Twenty years ago, when the club was in its beginning stages, there were fewer swimmers and college guidelines to contend with.

Now, with ever-changing rules and regulations and to educate swimmers and parents on the various NCAA Division I, II and III and NAIA colleges, Anderson hired his former swimmer Natasha Moodie as a full-time college advisor. Moodie is believed to be the first full-time college advisor at a USA Swimming club in the Florida Gold Coast.

Moodie, 29, a 2008 Olympian and three-time national record holder for Jamaica and alum of University of Michigan, where she was an NCAA All-American, is sharing her vast knowledge with SOFLO swimmers and parents.

Moodie, who has a strong background in education, develops college prep programs as program director for public schools in Miami-Dade. She is currently on a leave of absence and devoting her time to assisting SOFLO swimmers and parents through the maze of college research and preparation.

A day before College Signing Day (May 1), seven SOFLO seniors have committed to college. They are: Leonardo Mateus, Yale; Gabby Banks and David Diaz, Florida State; Sophia Bedoya, New York University; Rafael Rodriguez, Purdue; Roby Garrido, Rochester Institute of Technology; and Nick Chaimowicz, Broward College.

While most of the seniors already had a good idea of what college they would be attending when Moodie started last fall, she was there to answer any and all questions. She is currently working with SOFLO high school freshmen, sophomores and seniors.

“The team is much bigger now than when I was there in the early 2000s,” Moodie said. “Only three of us at the time wanted to swim in college. I am really thankful for Chris’ help with the college process. All my knowledge from recruiting came from Chris. No one in my family swam Division I. I was exposed to a lot of colleges at the U.S. Open, Junior Nationals and international meets.

“The club is so much larger now. There was definitely a need for my job. Today students need more guidance because the rules and college process has changed quite a bit just in the last five years when it comes to college application and recruiting.”

Moodie had been visiting with swimmers and parents before the COVID-19 pandemic but now communicates on the ZOOM platform.

Several swimmers would like to swim in college but may not have had the exposure to college coaches that Moodie had on the U.S. and international scene. She discusses the student’s goals in high school in terms of courses and activities and talks about the various collegiate programs that would be a good fit with their interests.

“It’s all centered around college,” Moodie said. “All the students who said they wanted to swim we look for a good fit. Some of them are not seen by college coaches on the national or international level, sectionals or Futures. My primary focus is serving the student-athletes who don’t get that exposure or had face-to-face meetings with college coaches. We want them to know there are colleges out there for them.

“I am a resource for families and kids to come to me for what they need,” Moodie said. “I am working with the junior class now. Quite a few students and parents have put together a college list. We talk about their priorities, what’s important, tuition, expenses, whether they want to stay in Broward, the state of Florida or outside the state.”

Unlike college football and basketball that dominate the headlines, collegiate swimming does not get a lot of exposure.

“There’s not a lot of national recognition,” Moodie said. “I’m not surprised that these students may not know about Division II schools. And NAIA is still quite young. The whole college system changes so much every year. I want to help them with their research.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, there are expected to be changes in the fall at colleges across the country. There is also talk of student-athletes taking a gap year. But SOFLO’s college-bound athletes are still planning on starting college in the fall whether it’s on campus or online.

Many colleges are supporting students by deferring deadlines, waiving fees and making standardized tests such as ACT and SAT optional. Still, no one knows what the fall semester will look like just yet.

“I am telling them everyone is in the same boat across the world, which is a position of waiting,” Moodie said. “I trust whatever decision the NCAA, USA Swimming, Florida Gold Coast and colleges make. I trust they will make the right decisions to protect the students and universities. It’s in the best interest of everyone. When things do resume we will all re-start wherever we are.”

Despite the challenging times, Moodie is enjoying her new role with SOFLO.

“It has been great being around swim families again, the parents have been so welcoming,” Moodie said. “I feel a close connection with them. Swimming and education are two things I love. I am excited for the future and excited to see what the future holds for these kids.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Nutrition Webinar Gives SOFLO Parents, Swimmers Food For Thought: Good Nutrition = Good Training = Good Results

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, April 26, 2020—South Florida Aquatic Club parents and swimmers were treated to an informative and educational nutritional talk Saturday morning.

For more than an hour, University of Miami adjunct professor Adrienne Brown of the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences addressed the nutritional needs for both 12-and-under and 13-and-over swimmers.

Like almost everything else in society, SOFLO has been shut down from swimming in its newly-renovated pool and competing in meets for 44 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, South Florida Aquatic Club CEO and head coach Chris Anderson, his coaching staff and guest speakers have been using the Zoom platform to hold not only remote dryland workouts during the stoppage, but informative webinars such as the nutrition presentation.

“Right now you’re not at the pool six days a week, not doing doubles and unfortunately, not doing competitions on weekends so your diet changes a little,” Brown said. “But you do have control over wise choices, whether it’s cardio, keeping up with dryland or nutrition, which you definitely have control over.”

Staying home around the clock during the pandemic can be stressful and tempting when the refrigerator and cupboards are well-stocked.

“What you are putting in your body is something you have control over now,” Brown said. “Nutrition is 24/7. You can think about your nutrition and how it is going to prepare you for what’s coming in the future.”

Brown stressed how swimmers have more time now so it’s important to be mindful and focus on what they can control. Poor training and poor diet cannot be made up in a few days or day of competition, she said.

“Sound human nutrition equals sound athlete nutrition,” Brown said.

Brown presented a well-planned outline chocked full of up-to-date information for swimmers and parents and covered each topic fully.

The outline featured:
Purpose of food.
Components of proper diet (carbs, proteins and fats).
Food for general health, training and performance.
What to eat, when to eat and how much to eat.
Food choices.

Brown also pointed out that inadequate fueling, in other words poor diet, before and after training, leads to fatigue and poor performance.

She also said if swimmers are eating a balanced diet with lots of variety including a rainbow of colors (fruits and vegetables), supplements are not necessary.

There were also questions about energy drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade which contain stimulants. Swimmers should think about whether they are necessary and if you need them, she said. If so, try to dilute them by packing your water bottle with ice. Cold beverages are absorbed faster. Diluting morning orange juice and other juices was also suggested. Chocolate milk is good for recovery, she added.

Brown said when reading the nutrition labels on food and drinks, common sense should dictate. The fewer ingredients in a product the more natural it’s going to be. The simpler is by far the better. “Look at a nutrition label, it is eye-opening,” Brown said.

“There are no quick fixes or magic pills out there,” Brown said. “Supplements are not going to make you go faster or get bigger. Mindful eating, nutrient density and what is this food going to do for me, are important. Good nutrition equals good training equals good results. The key is establishing lifelong healthy patterns.

“I know you guys are stressed, we are all stressed,” Brown said. “Reach out to your coaches, parents and friends.”

A PDF of the full presentation will be available to parents and swimmers this week, Anderson and Brown said.


Dryland training continues to be a success for swimmers who are working out in their garages, living rooms, laundry rooms, bedrooms, front yards and back yards.

Ethan McPeek of Silver Group continues to win the ingenuity award. For his tubing sessions, McPeek was looking for a sturdy base for his stretching drills and got the idea to tie his tubing to a fire hydrant near his home. In Friday’s session, McPeek found himself at his grandmother’s house without weights so decided to borrow her 3-pound weight which Anderson called “Granny’s weight.” It still got the job done.

Anderson had some fun with Silver Group suggesting they use their siblings if they didn’t have weights. One swimmer did ask if he could use his little brother. Another wanted to use his dog, but then added the dog was 43 pounds so it probably wouldn’t work. It started to rain during the workout but that didn’t deter the swimmers. Anderson just moved indoors to finish out the session.

“We are implementing things because we are home now and obviously your lives have changed,” Anderson said.

The Silver Group did a similar workout to the seniors which was held an hour before. Both groups did drills from jumping rope, planks and chest presses to overhead extensions, arm swings and palm walk-ups. The focus was working on core, cardio, building speed and athleticism.

“This is going to burn guys, you are going to feel it eventually,” Anderson said.

“Coach, it actually feels like a Friday,” said one swimmer. “That’s a good thing, it’s getting to feel normal,” Anderson said.

“Excellent work guys, excellent work,” Anderson said at the end of the session.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Florida Gold Coast Awards South Florida Aquatic Club With COVID-19 Grant Relief Funding

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, April 22, 2020–South Florida Aquatic Club, the largest USA Swimming club in South Florida, has received a much-needed relief grant from the Florida Gold Coast.

The Florida Gold Coast, the nation’s 29th largest LSC, is the first to launch a grant program to help its member clubs while they are shut down during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

SOFLO, awarded the USA Swimming Club Excellence Silver Medal for the first time in club history this year, is one of 63 year-round USA Swimming clubs with a total of more than 5,000 members.

The entire grant will be used to pay SOFLO’s coaching staff, according to SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson.

“It is the Florida Gold Coast Committee and Board supporting a common vision that is extremely important to all of us,” Anderson said. “It’s nice they are helping out the clubs in a time of need and doing it in the fairest way they can. I am extremely appreciative and thankful.”

The LSC is awarding up to a total of $85,000 (budgeted reserve money) to member teams. The one-time grant program is designed to help clubs stay solvent while club income is drastically reduced until they are able to return to normal day-to-day operations.

The Florida Gold Coast has teams in Miami-Dade, Broward, Martin County, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.

SOFLO was one of the hardest hit. The club was forced to shut down its swimming on March 14th just before the FGC Junior Olympics. SOFLO was set to host the March 20-22 FGC Senior Championships, one of the club’s biggest annual revenue makers.

SOFLO was also unable to compete in the Junior Olympics, FGC-Florida Swimming All-Star Championship, Shark Developmental Meet, TYR Elite Age Group Invitational in Sarasota, TYR Pro Series in Richmond, TYR/SOFLO Developmental Meet, Jon Olsen Invite, TYR Pro Series in Indianapolis, Atlanta Invite and Summer Invite at Gulliver Prep.

SOFLO and its Booster Club was also forced to postpone its 20th annual Awards Banquet on May 2.

“I definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Anderson said. “We lost so many swim meets, not only home, but away meets. Now we will be able to compensate our staff for the lost revenue at the end of March and April.”

Anderson and his staff have been conducting a variety of dryland workouts and educational workshops on various topics from college recruiting to nutrition on Zoom Video.

“The Zoom workouts are nice, it’s keeping the club together, but we miss the actual water work,” Anderson said. “Our entire staff has had to evolve and become better at something else. We do have a plan in place for June and July when we get back into the water.”

When the coaches and swimmers do return to swimming, a gorgeous, refurbished Olympic-size pool with state-of-the art equipment and design, will be waiting for them.

“We totally revamped the entire infrastructure of the actual pool,” Anderson said. “It’s twice as efficient as the old pool.”

Among the renovations: the entire pool liner was replaced; there are 23 racing target lanes; non-slip wall targets on each lane; the yard course and long course are easily distinguishable with the color blue for the yard course and black for the long course; ten state-of-the-art starting blocks that feature the backstroke starting wedge; 2,100 square feet of shade for coaches and in-the-water athletes; and functioning pool deck with state-of-the-art drainage.

“The kids have something to look forward to,” Anderson said.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

NCAA Waives Standardized Test Scores For Incoming Freshmen

By Sharon Robb

INDIANAPOLIS, April 20, 2020—The NCAA Eligibility Center is waiving the standardized test score requirement for Division I and Division II incoming freshman student-athletes for the 2020-21 academic year.

The governing body’s decision was because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors still needing the SAT and ACT test scores to qualify were unable to take the tests in March and April because schools across the nation were forced to close.

Student-athletes now can qualify to compete in Division I by having a 2.3 cumulative grade-point average in 10 core courses that are approved by the NCAA. For Division II, student-athletes must have at least a 2.2 GPA.

The same GPA requirements will apply to international students and they must complete at least 10 core courses prior to the start of their senior year.

“The Eligibility Center is navigating the complexity of COVID-19 and its negative impact on our membership, high schools and student-athletes,” Felicia Martin, vice president of the NCAA Eligibility Center, said in a statement. “We understand this is an unprecedented situation and a difficult time for students and their parents, and the Eligibility Center is working diligently to ensure the best possible outcome for college-bound student-athletes and our member schools.”


High school spring sports, including water polo, were cancelled by the Florida High School Activities Association.

Following Governor Ron DeSantis’ announcement mandating schools continue distance learning for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, the FHSAA decided to cancel all FHSAA-affiliated events, including the state series and all championship events, for spring sports.

In a statement issued Monday, the organization said, “The safety of our student-athletes, coaches, officials, and fans is our top priority. With the evolving threat of the CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19), we must ensure that we do not contribute to the spread of this illness. We are deeply saddened for our student-athletes who have seen their seasons and/or high school careers end so abruptly.

“Our Association knows the impact and role high school athletics play in the lives of so many and will continue to work towards the betterment of high school sports. We know this is a trying time, but the health and safety of all is of utmost importance to this Association.”

Also, the FHSAA said that under the guidance of the Florida Department of Education regarding grade level retention, and upon review of the Florida Statutes and FHSAA Bylaws, no additional eligibility will be granted for spring sport athletes.

Anyone requiring more information on student-athlete eligibility is being encouraged to go to the FHSAA website.

Added the FHSAA, “To all our senior student-athletes, we thank you for dedicating your time and efforts to your school, your coaches, and your teammates. Cherish the memories you have made and embrace all that the future holds for you. While we are saddened that you are unable to compete this season, we could not be prouder to have been represented by such hard-working individuals.

“Our Association is eager to reconvene all sports in the 2020-21 school year. In the meantime, we strongly encourage everyone to continue adhering to the recommendations of the CDC and your local health departments during this hiatus. Please remember to practice social distancing, frequently wash your hands and avoid touching your face.”

Water polo was also canceled as one of the events of the 2020 Sunshine State Games because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The June 26-28 event set for Coral Springs Aquatic Complex will not be rescheduled. The Sunshine State Games are held annually.


St. Thomas Aquinas incoming senior Lance Lesage, the No. 1 ranked backstroker in Broward County this past season, recently committed to Purdue. Lesage will swim for Dan Ross, a three-time NCAA Division I Big 10 Coach of the Year, who completed his 34th season as head coach of the Boilermakers. The former SOFLO swimmer just missed a state 3A title in the 100-yard backstroke but was still the county’s top finisher. Lesage was the top seed in the 100-yard backstroke after morning prelims in a best time 49.16, dropping 1.38 seconds. He finished second at night in 49.55 behind Chiles junior Hayden Kwan in 49.01. Lesage was also ranked second in the county in the 100-yard freestyle.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

South Florida Aquatic Club Goes Virtual With Training During COVID-19 Lockdown

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, April 6, 2020—After a dress rehearsal on Friday, South Florida Aquatic Club age group swimmers went virtual on Monday to maintain their health and fitness during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The brainchild of veteran age group coach Rose Lockie, the dryland sessions for Groups A and B were fun, challenging and educational. Lockie’s sessions are scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until the lockdown is lifted.

Coach Andrea Golding will hold sessions for the Dippers and Meteorites on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Lockie used an I.M. FIT sprint workout from U.S. Olympian and nine-time world champion Katie Hoff of CG Sports Network while incorporating her own ideas to conform to her swimmers.

Lockie watches Hoff’s daily online workout broadcasts, takes notes and researches before devising her own lesson plans. She first tries the ideas out on her son Travis, who joined her on Monday’s virtual broadcast, to see if they work or not.

By the looks of Monday’s two virtual classes, the swimmers seem to be enjoying the virtual training.

There were a variety of exercises and drills, from jumping jacks, burpees and squats to planks, starts, stretching and streamlining. To start each segment, Lockie, who coached from her home, started out clapping her hands to start a drill but could not be heard by her swimmers so whistled instead.

“Are you out of your mind,” joked Travis, who was sitting beside when she started whistling. “The whistling is better, isn’t it? Lockie asked her swimmers. Despite a brief hearing loss, Travis helped his mom demonstrate a few of the more intricate drills.

The swimmers, working out in their homes and backyards, also seemed to enjoy Lockie’s feedback and critiques. Even some of the swimmers’ dogs and cats were getting into the act.

“Let’s go Mariana….Juan, what are you doing, you’ve just been disqualified…that’s it, keep going….keep going Sophia…keep going Sarah…come on guys, this is something we have done a 1,000 times…good job Pilar, she’s got the balance…did everyone understand that…this squat position is for ankle flexibility which is what you need for swimming….it’s a stretch, not a big deal…get those knees all the way up, please…Sophia, if you keep going around in circles you’re going to get dizzy…please remember your hips do not touch the ground…Benji, that’s it, you got it….keep going, keep going, keep going…guys it’s only 40 seconds…very nice job guys.”

There was also a “who could hold the longest plank challenge” at the end of each session. Sarah Vasquez won Group A in 4:38 and Matthew Jimenez won Group B in 4:30.

Lockie also made sure to ask her swimmers about their home schooling and how they were doing with their homework stressing the importance of education during the lockdown.

“I was looking for different stuff I thought would be fun and beneficial for the kids that was all related to swimming,” Lockie said. “CG Sports Network runs something every day. I adjust them slightly for the kids. It’s been fun doing it actually.”

Lockie uses Zoom video conferencing to enable her to see each swimmer working out while the swimmers can also see Lockie and interact with her.

There is an eight swimmer-to-one coach ratio, adhering to USA Swimming guidelines. For the opening session, Lockie had 16 swimmers and another coach and for the second session seven swimmers with Lockie.

“I think the kids are enjoying it,” Lockie said. “They all know it’s not mandatory, it’s optional. All but two of my swimmers signed up. The dryland training is really beneficial. The coaches need to stay connected with the kids. We’re all working together.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Michael Phelps Shares Advice About Mental Health Of Athletes During COVID-19 Lockdown

By Sharon Robb

April 3, 2020—Michael Phelps, one of the greatest athletes of all-time, has great insight and first-hand experience when it comes to athletes’ mental health.

The world record holder and Olympic gold medalist has been a public advocate for mental health and has talked openly about his own struggles.

Phelps said the coronavirus lockdown is hard for anyone, but for athletes including swimmers, there is an extra mental strain to go from a highly active lifestyle of training and competing to isolation and boredom.

The most decorated athlete in Olympic history had a mentally tough time after the 2012 London Olympics Games. He was arrested for drunk driving and ended up battling depression and anxiety. He was suspended by USA Swimming and he spent nearly two months in rehab.

Phelps, 34, married with two sons, is now involved with several business ventures and swimwear company.

“Your whole life is based on the play and then you get an unexpected turn of events,” Phelps said. “Mental health is of the utmost importance.

“As athletes, we’re so regimented,” Phelps said. “At this point, all the work is done. We’re just fine-tuning the small things to get to this point. Now it’s like, ‘Oh … we’re not competing.’ All these emotions start flaring up. I really think mental health is so important right now.”

Phelps said the key is keeping things as simple as possible.

“Just control what you can control,” he said. “We’re in such uncharted waters. We’re getting all these big questions thrown at us: What if? What if? What if? It’s so hard to understand. We’re having a hard time just wrapping our head around it.”

While stay-at-home orders in effect across the country can take their toll on swimmers and other athletes of all ages, experts recommend athletes stick to routines, focus on what can be controlled and use their extra time for a hobby or online virtual training with their coaches and trainers to maintain their mental health.

Phelps also feels for Olympians and Olympic hopefuls who had their dream of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics put on hold and now rescheduled for 2021.

“There’s such a wave of emotions,” Phelps said. “Honestly, my first thought was I was relieved (about the postponement). Now, there’s more of a chance that we can beat this thing and do what we need to do to save as many lives as possible.”

Phelps is also among some of the world’s greatest athletes that have joined together to create “Athletes For Relief” raising money for COVID-19 response efforts.

Phelps has joined Steph Curry, Simone Biles, Jack Nicklaus, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Hawk and more than 100 athletes for disaster philanthropy to support those impacted by the pandemic.

The athletes and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy have launched The athletes have donated signed memorabilia for fans to bid on through May 1.

Unlike a typical auction, all fans who donate a minimum of $25 for an item will be entered into a raffle at the end of the campaign. All proceeds will go to Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which is supporting frontline healthcare workers and clinics, food security, and distribution of needed products, with a focus on assistance to vulnerable communities.

Sharon Robb can be reached at