By Sharon Robb
PEMBROKE PINES, May 30, 2020—Roberto (Robby) Garrido has spent ten years growing up with South Florida Aquatic Club, his second family.
The lessons he learned from coaches, teammates and friends will last a lifetime, he said.
Now headed off to Rochester Institute of Technology where he will major in computer science this fall, Garrido spoke with SOFLO’s Silver Group recently on Zoom.
The 18-year-old shared some of his experiences he learned along the way with an emphasis on strong work ethic and consistency in swimming and academics.
“All my coaches and peers impacted my life,” Garrido said.
Garrido attended Everglades High School as a freshman and sophomore and College Academy at Broward College where he earned high school and Associate of Arts degrees.
“I also made it a priority to join the varsity swim team at Everglades,” Garrido said. “I knew it would benefit me in the long term. I learned early on to prioritize my school and training.
“What really helped me succeed was the organization and support around me. There were times I thought about quitting. I’m glad I didn’t. It showed me how much I could accomplish if I set my mind to it.”
Garrido shared four ideas that helped him along the way.
1. In order to stand out to a college, the most important is to focus on getting good grades and high GPA.
2. Take AP classes, have dual enrollment, take college courses which are free. I propose you challenge yourself.
3. Try to complete as many community service hours as you can during the summer. It will give you more free time when you’re in school.
4. Start taking the SAT and ACT as early as possible. Take these exams in tenth grade so you have multiple chances to take the tests to improve your scores.
“I wanted to get everything out of the way, it helped to be less stressful,” Garrido said. “I finished my core requirements by the end of my junior year. I knew if I started working at it early, I could have it all done my junior year. Being so young taking college courses all goes back to middle school when I was taking high school courses, it helped a lot. Being in a college environment helped prepare me for the future. All the work I did was worth it.
“My mom knows everything and she told me to believe in myself and what I can do,” Garrido said. “Moving forward when you go to high school, familiarize yourself with the system and courses that are open. It’s possible there may be something you want to do for a career.”
Garrido also used an inspiring saying that was printed on an old SOFLO t-shirt: “Push back the pain, find the glory.”
“I found it really motivational,” Garrido said. “I would ask myself ‘why am I waking up at 5 a.m. for practice’ before school. The more I focused on what I really wanted, it helped me push through and get to where I am now.
“It wasn’t easy and this is where the support came in. I talked to my siblings and surrounded myself by friends who also wanted to go to college. My mom helped, too. Don’t let anyone get in the way of what you want to accomplish.”
It was his mother who introduced Garrido to swimming at an early age.
“I dedicated myself to going to the pool. When I was 12 I got my first JO cut. I cried when I got out of the water and ran up to Coach Rose. I felt so accomplished.
“That feeling I had that first time I worked on each day to have that feeling again. And I did. I wanted to make it to regionals. My goal I wanted all four years and I did it. I never wanted to stop at one level. I realized I could go more. I wanted to be better than what I was yesterday.”
Garrido credits SOFLO with much of his success in and out of the water.
“As a member of SOFLO I was able to make new friends,” Garrido said. “They helped me to swim. SOFLO is a family. I found myself growing. It taught me the meaning of commitment, teamwork and respect. Some of those friends I know I will have the rest of my life.”
Garrido also credited former SOFLO coach Travis Lockie for encouraging him.
“Coach Travis helped me dream big, he changed my life,” Garrido said. “I had him in Silver and Gold. He just found a way to motivate me, to always do better and stay true to myself. He told me to have people around me all the time to support me. And he told me that I was always smiling and not to stop smiling.”
Garrido enjoyed giving his presentation and hoped it helped the swimmers prepare for their future.
“All you guys are very talented,” Garrido told them. “You may not have met me or seen me, but I believe in this future generation. In the end you will reap the benefits of what you’re doing right now. Keep working hard. It’s worth it in the end.”
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org