FHSAA Advisory Committees Presented With Three Proposals For High School Sports Seasons; Swimming, Diving May Move To Spring

By Sharon Robb

GAINESVILLE, July 29, 2020—-The Florida High School Athletic Association went back to the drawing board to try and find a solution when to begin high school sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to sources, three proposals have been emailed to the Advisory Committees for each sport and are being discussed today and Thursday.

Two deal strictly with fall sports including a proposal to eliminate all state championships, and the third moves fall, winter and spring sports that would change the entire sports calendar for 2020-21.

The statewide start for fall sports was pushed back to Aug. 24 after backlash from South Florida school officials, coaches and parents. As of now, no high school sports team in the state is allowed to practice or try out until Aug. 24.

PROPOSAL ONE: Practice would begin statewide on Aug. 24 with regular seasons starting on Sept. 11 and lasting about nine weeks through Nov. 6.

PROPOSAL TWO: The start of practice and seasons would start after August on a date still to be determined with the regular seasons extended until Nov. 28.

PROPOSAL THREE: The fall sports season starts on Nov. 30 with the regular seasons to be condensed to five or six weeks opening Dec. 14. The regular season would end around Jan. 23. Winter and spring sports season would also be delayed. Winter sports practices begin Feb. 15 with the season starting March 1 and ending April 3. Spring sports would begin practices on April 26 with regular seasons at May 10 and ending June 12. The sports calendar would finish on June 26. Tennis would move to the winter season and golf, swimming and diving would move to the spring season.

The proposals were emailed to members of the FHSAA Advisory Committees for each sport including swimming, diving and water polo on Tuesday. They were expected to review the plans today and Thursday.

The FHSAA will then take recommendations and present its plan for 2020-21 to the Board of Directors, expected to meet between Aug. 10 and Aug. 17. The Advisory Committees are not allowed to institute the plans on their own. They must be approved and voted upon by the FHSAA Board of Governors.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Michael Phelps, Other Olympians Share Mental Health Struggles Wednesday On HBO’s “The Weight Of Gold”

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, July 28, 2020—In one of the most riveting HBO sports documentaries, Michael Phelps talks candidly about his mental health struggles before, during and after his four Olympic appearances.

The legendary swimmer narrates and executive produces the one-hour documentary “The Weight of Gold” that premiers tonight on HBO at 9 p.m.

The gut-wrenching film shows another side of Olympic fame seldom talked about by Olympians and coaches.

Phelps, 35, the most-decorated Olympian of all time, looks at the mental health effects on Olympic athletes and their relentless training, intense pressure of competing and the aftermath when the Olympic spotlight no longer burns bright.

“None of us had normal childhoods,” Phelps said. “Now there are good sides to that and bad sides to that.”

Phelps has intimately discussed his depression before. He went on record in 2018 and announced that he suffered from depression, revealing that he contemplated suicide following the 2012 Olympics.

“A good 80 percent, maybe more, go through some kind of post-Olympic depression,” Phelps said in the film. “There was one question that hit me like a ton of bricks. Who was I outside of a swimming pool?”

Phelps talks candidly again along with other athletes Sean White, Lolo Jones, Bode Miller, Gracie Gold, Sasha Cohen, Apolo Anton Ono, Katie Uhlaender and the late Steven Holcomb. The champion bobsledder was found dead in 2017 in his room at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. with alcohol and prescription sleeping pills in his system.

“I believe I have experienced a state of depression after every Olympics I competed in,” said Phelps. “For a long time, I only saw myself as a swimmer, not a person. When I walked off the podium in Rio, I knew many of my teammates and competitors were not aware of or prepared for the post-Olympic transition.

“In sharing our stories, it is my hope that we can encourage others to open up, let them know they are not alone and that it’s ok to not be ok. For me, the opportunity to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and potentially save a life is way more meaningful than any Olympic medal.”

Peter Nelson, Executive Vice President of HBO Sports, added: “As we all cope during this time of anxiety, Michael Phelps and the Olympic athletes of this film are courageously leading a movement for greater mental health awareness, giving a vulnerable look into the emotional costs of exceptional athleticism. When Podium Pictures and Octagon brought us this project, we quickly recognized its power along with the relatability of its theme for so many.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO College Prep Advisor Natasha Moodie Unveils New 2020-21 College Prep Guide

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, July 28, 2020—The enthusiasm in her voice spoke volumes how excited Natasha Moodie was about the first SOFLO College Prep Guide for 2020-21.

The South Florida Aquatic Club College Prep Advisor unveiled the new program for SOFLO swimmers and parents during a recent zoom presentation.

“I am very excited about this,” Moodie said. “Hopefully, it is helpful to you all. Of course, I will be asking for feedback since it is our first time doing this.”

The 2008 Olympian, University of Michigan alum and former SOFLO swimmer put together an impressive 30-page resource to help guide high school swimmers and parents through the daunting task of selecting a college and what it entails leading up to signing.

“In my work in education and this past year with SOFLO, I have noticed that access to information about this college process is really hard to get to,” Moodie said. “You have to know where to look and there are ten places to look. All the divisions have their own websites. There are websites for the SAT and ACT, how to get recruited for swimming and for scholarships.

“I wanted to put together a resource that provides all the information in one place for our membership, ninth grade through 12th grade. It is a large document. I did not create this for you to be overwhelmed. The goal is to alleviate stress and increase planning. It’s not meant to sit down one evening and read all 30 pages at one time and to complete all the tasks.”

For this upcoming year everything is going to be virtual regarding SOFLO student college preparation, according to Moodie.

“Last year I was on the pool deck a lot but because of the pandemic we will be virtual,” she said. “I will still provide the same services and more but all through zoom for the foreseeable future.”

Moodie will provide monthly zoom sessions for all grade levels from incoming freshmen to rising seniors on various topics throughout the year. She also plans to send out a monthly newsletter to the high school student-athletes and parents that will include information for college preparation. She is also available for individual sessions.

Moodie suggested student-athletes should only work with the section that they need at the time and work at their own pace.

Moodie emphasized the guide is only for SOFLO clientele. There will be no distribution outside the SOFLO family. Moodie will send out a PDF copy to SOFLO membership. It will be available for its first distribution on July 30th.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO Swimmers Have Fun Racing Each Other In Intrasquad Training Meet Opener; Juan Mora Triple Winner

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, July 28, 2020—After more than four months of not racing, South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers got in some much-needed competition in a unique format.

Observing stringent COVID-19 guidelines, SOFLO hosted its first intrasquad training meet Saturday at Academic Village Pool after ten weeks of training with some good results, bettering several seed times.

In a safe environment, thirty 15-and-over athletes in the Gold and National/Pro groups competed with ten in each heat, another ten warming up or warming down and ten in the bullpen area. The same seeded heats were maintained to avoid any cross contamination between heats. Every swim was about thirty minutes apart.

“We are excited about hosting our first meet,” SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson said. “We are doing these meets within our training sessions. The great thing is we can test them in a few events and see where they are at as far as our training goals moving into the future.

“I also wanted them to understand the meet flow to see how this works,” Anderson said. “We do feel this will be a model going into the fall. It’s important that we take these swims very seriously.

“There are things we can control right in front of us,” Anderson said. “One of them is their conduct, the way they are focused and basically what they are doing in the pool right now as far as training and improving themselves. I want them to pick that one thing they need to do better and focus on that.

“And, if we can keep focusing on what we are doing and improving ourselves, whenever the time is going to come for high school swimming, Nationals, Futures, Juniors, Winter Champs and all the other icon meets we may go to and compete at, we will be ready. The only thing right now is improving ourselves.

“Coach Lou and the rest of the coaching staff are very proud of where we are at. I really do feel our coaching staff and officials have worked very hard of trying to set up a template for us to at least get in some checks down during this pandemic in a safe manor to see where they are at.”

Juan Mora, 16, was impressive as a triple winner in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:46.18 (1:46.19 seed time); 200-yard individual medley in 2:01.16, (2:04.68 seed time); and 50-yard breaststroke in 27.78 (27.82 seed time).

In the mixed 15-and-over 50-yard breaststroke National/Pro competition, Julio Horrego finished first in 26.94 just ahead of Alia Atkinson in 26.99. Horrego was a double winner. He also won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:44.22 (1:55.01 seed time).

Rafael Rodriguez was also a double winner in the 200-yard individual medley in 1:57.12 and 50-yard backstroke in 24.48.

Mora finished first in the men’s point standings for Gold in the pentathlon with 1,837 ahead of Juan Colmenares, 16, with 1,475.

JennaMarie Brames, 16, finished first in the women’s point standings for Gold with 1,222. Daniela Curbelo, 17, is second with 1,094.

Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson, 31, was first in the women’s National/Pro point standings with 2,712 followed by Gabby Banks with 1,877 and Molly Golding, 17, with 1,795.

Rafael Rodriguez, 18, was first in the men’s National point standings with 2,022. Julio Horrego, 21, was second with 2,016.

The second SOFLO Training Intrasquad meet for the same 15-and-over groups is set for Aug. 1, 6-10:45 a.m. The 15-and-under groups including Silver and younger 13-14 age groups will have the opportunity to do the same format Aug. 15 and Aug. 22. Some events will be scaled down.

“We are very, very lucky and very fortunate that we are still able to train in a healthy atmosphere,” Anderson said.

Intrasquad Meet One Results

Mixed 15-and-over
200-yard Freestyle:
1. Juan Mora 1:46.18, 2. Juan Colmenares 1:50.53, 3. Zackary Harris 1:54.45.

200-yard individual medley:
1. Juan Mora 2:01.16, 2. Juan Colmenares 2:07.42, 3. Manuel Melendez 2:08.72.

50-yard butterfly:
1. Juancamilo Rivero 25.13, 2. Alejandro Mateus 26.05, 3. Ryan Alfonso 27.46.

50-yard backstroke:
1. Juan Colmenares 26.54, 2. Nathaniel Garrick 28.20, 3. Matthew Kim 30.45.

50-yard breaststroke:
1. Juan Mora 27.78, 2. Manuel Melendez 29.05, 3. Anthony Robaina 30.16.

200-yard freestyle:
1. Julio Horrego 1:44.22, 2. Rafael Rodriguez 1:44.48, 3. Sebastian Lares 1:45.36.

200-yard individual medley:
1. Rafael Rodriguez 1:57.12, 2. Julio Horrego 1:58.40, 3. Philopatier Ibrahim 1:59.44.

50-yard butterfly:
1. Miguel Sierra 23.38, 2. Philopatier Ibrahim 24.82, 3. Matthew Tarafa 25.04.

50-yard backstroke:
1. Rafael Rodriguez 24.48, 2. Sebastian Lares 25.85, 3. Dominic Bono 26.94.

50-yard breaststroke:
1. Julio Horrego 26.94, 2. Alia Atkinson 26.99, 3. Joseph Lee 28.66.

Combined Events Open Points

Women 15-and-over Pentathlon (Gold)
1. JennaMarie Brames 1,222, 2. Daniela Curbelo 1,094, 3. Sabrina Osorio 972.

Women 15-and-over Pentathlon (National)
1. Alia Atkinson 2,712, 2. Gabby Banks 1,877, 3. Molly Golding 1,795.

Men 15-and-over Pentathlon (Gold)
1. Juan Mora 1,837, 2. Juan Colmenares 1,475, 3. Manuel Melendez 1,323.

Men 15-and-over Pentathlon (National)
1. Rafael Rodriguez 2,022, 2. Julio Horrego 2,016, 3. Miguel Sierra 1,871.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

All Florida High School Sports Pushed Back To Aug. 24 After Second FHSAA Emergency Meeting

By Sharon Robb

GAINESVILLE, July 23, 2020—After two days of controversial opposition, threat of Miami-Dade high schools leaving the association and negative publicity, the Florida High School Athletic Association held another emergency meeting Thursday night.

In an about-face, the FHSAA Board of Directors voted 11-4 to delay the start of fall high school sports across the state.

In a sense of fair play, the statewide start for fall sports was pushed back four weeks, from Monday, July 27th to Aug. 24. Some areas around the state not as hard hit by COVID-19 as others were going to open practice on July 27th.

Many high school administrators and coaches argued about the lack of equity and fairness after the Board voted to stay with the original FHSAA sports calendar date of July 27th. They were also stunned the Board did not even consider the recommendations of its own Sports Medicine Advisory Committee voting down unanimously not to delay the start of the season, as suggested. There was even talk about Miami-Dade schools leaving the FHSAA.

“We have heard from the FHSAA loud and clear,” said Miami-Dade County Public Schools board vice chairman Dr. Steve Gallon II before Thursday’s emergency session. “They now need to hear from us.”

This decision will allow for summer conditioning to take place for Florida student-athletes. It also allows the executive director to work with the sports medicine advisory committee to create recommendations it will present to the board between Aug. 10 and 17.

According to the FHSAA board’s decision, no high school sports teams would be able to practice or try out until Aug. 24.

The goal is to allow for another three weeks worth of data to be gathered for review before fall sports would begin.

On Aug. 17, FHSAA would decide whether to start the season as scheduled or push back the season even further.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

BCAA Delays Fall Practice; Pine Crest Cancels Fall Sports, Woodson Invitational

By Sharon Robb

FORT LAUDERDALE, July 22, 2020—The Broward County Athletic Association will not follow the Florida High School Athletic Association’s mandate to open fall sports practice on Monday, July 27th.

The BCAA announced it will delay fall practice for all fall sports including revenue-maker football because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s increased cases in South Florida.

On Monday, the BCAA Sports office tweeted: “Despite FHSAA’s announcement that practices start this Monday, July 27th for Fall Sports, the BCAA membership remains united to stay home, safe and healthy until further notice. We will always put all of our student-athletes, coaches, volunteers and school personnel’s safety first.”

Non-BCAA members American Heritage Plantation, Chaminade-Madonna and NSU University School are also delaying the start of their fall practices.

Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale has gone a step further by cancelling all fall sports including swimming and diving.

Student-athletes at several high schools will continue to condition in groups of 10 or fewer athletes at staggered times while wearing facemasks and social distancing.

Osceola County, Orange County, Seminole County and Hillsborough County are also all pushing back their fall practice start dates.

During the FHSAA’s Board of Directors meeting Monday, officials decided to not adhere to the findings by its’ own medical advisory board, SMAC (Sports Medicine Advisory Committee) which outlined safety precautions and recommended that the start of football and girls volleyball seasons be delayed because they are considered “high risk” sports.


FORT LAUDERDALE, July 22, 2020—Pine Crest has decided to cancel its fall sports including swimming and diving.

“Like many independent school and collegiate teams, Pine Crest will not participate in Middle and Upper School competitive sports in the fall,” school officials announced in a school release sent to parents.

“Physical education, swim, and tennis will be offered for Lower, Middle and Upper School students when it is safe and prudent to do so. For Middle and Upper School students, coaches will continue to provide individual, specialized, and small group training before, during, and after school.”

The Panthers are defending Class 2A boys and girls state champions in swimming and diving. The Florida Gold Coast club program is expected to train on a limited basis but has yet to return to the campus school pool where it trains.

The Woodson Invitational, the state’s oldest high school swim meet, has also been cancelled for the first time in more than five decades.

Pine Crest will welcome students back to campus on August 19 with several safety protocols in place to help maintain a healthy environment, school officials said. Students will have the option to complete school online or in the classroom.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

FHSAA Votes To Start Fall Sports On Schedule With Several Districts In COVID-19 Holding Pattern

By Sharon Robb

GAINESVILLE, July 21, 2020—While heated discussions continue over how to re-start school this fall, the state decided to keep high school sports on schedule except for the “hot spots” in Florida including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Tampa Bay, Greater Orlando and Jacksonville.

In nearly a five-hour emergency meeting Monday on a zoom platform, the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Board of Directors voted to start the high school fall season on schedule, but only in a few counties around the state because of the rising COVID-19 case numbers.

Orlando-area public schools have already postponed fall sports “until further notice.” Also on Monday, the Georgia High School Association voted to push back fall sports by two weeks, Massachusetts, North and South Carolina are not starting until mid- or late September and California Interscholastic Federation voted to realign its sports calendar, moving fall sports into spring with a start to competition expected in December 2020 or January 2021.

FHSAA Board members and athletic directors Mark Schusterman of Riviera Prep and Carlos Ochoa of Hialeah Gardens were the most vocal during the marathon meeting that featured more than 4,000 listeners/viewers from around the state.

Practices for all fall sports is scheduled to get under way Monday, July 27th, only if district, county and local government rules allow it. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach public schools will not be able to begin practice since they are considered a “hot spot.” Schusterman talked about moving the practice date to Aug. 10 which would have delayed the sports calendar.

“This is a very critical topic right now,” said chairwoman Lauren Otero, athletic director at Tampa Plant. “We have been thrown into the fire with the pandemic.

“This is tied into the mental health and well-being of all students and student- athletes as well as physical health and well being,” Otero said. “We never had a blanket announcement to cancel sports. It never was a topic of discussion.”

With that in mind, the Board voted to keep the full fall calendar in tact including post-season events, state meets and tournaments. Some schools will be allowed flexibility to be allowed to play a full or half season on time or delayed a month or two.

Schools that are unable to start on time will be unable to qualify for the post-season events but will be allowed to continue competing during the regular season or exhibition games during the FHSAA playoffs and post-season meets and tournaments.

One of the most informative presentations was by Dr. Jennifer Maynard of the Mayo Clinic, chairwoman for the FHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. She outlined guidelines approved by a SMAC task forced last Thursday that mirror the guidelines of the National High School Federation. The recommendations were distributed to the Board Monday morning.

“It is important to take into account the scientific risks, health of coaches, officials, athletic staff and parents,” Maynard said during her 30-minute presentation.

The recommendations were:

1. Delay the start of football and girls’ volleyball until further notice because of the sports’ high risk for transmission with collision impact and indoor facility as a venue for girls volleyball. SMAC will re-evaluate the Covid data two to three weeks after the start of school year. Student-athletes are students first and foremost, she said. “We need to have at least two weeks of practice to acclimate and avoid injuries before those sports re-start.” The remainder of fall sports are considered “low risk” including golf, cross country (a staggered start will be needed because of contact), bowling, swimming and diving.

2. All FHSAA-member schools need to have Covid screening in place where temperatures are taken daily.

3. Before any participation, athletes must sign a certificate of risk and waiver that is signed by the student-athletes, parent or guardian. Schools should have protocols in place for Covid-positive cases where they should be removed and evaluated followed by a 14-day quarantine. A medicial clearance is needed to return to play much like the concussion clearance.

4. Universal masking and social distancing is a must. Fan attendance should not be allowed at this time, though it is a local district’s decision. No fans in stands is suggested.

“We have a moral and ethical duty to make sound and fair recommendations based on medical facts,” she said. “Football and girls’ volleyball are not medically safe.”

While all the recommendations were approved with unanimous 10-0 votes by the SMAC task force, the FHSAA Board did not vote for the proposals. They voted to re-convene of Aug. 3 at 5 p.m. to consider the recommendations.

Bobby Johns, athletic director at Wewahitchka said if the Governor is supporting school openings and has a fall plan, why shouldn’t the FHSAA stay with its original schedule. His football program would lose $16,000 if it did not compete in its Fall Classic, he said.

If the committee had moved the date, Johns said, “We need to be prepared today to address the dominoes that are going to fall.”

The challenges facing the plans to re-start include equitable conditions for teams to financial stresses for athletic departments particuarly football programs, a major revenue maker to support other sports. There is also a chance athletes would transfer from a “hot spot” county to another county that is able to have a complete schedule.

Miami-Dade has been hardest hit, reaching 22.6 percent positivity in the Florida Department of Health’s according to a Monday report. Schusterman added that golf courses will be limited for high school teams and few pools are open or prepared to host more than two teams on a pool deck for practices and meets.

“We’re basically still at ground zero, and we’re at July 20 right now,” Ochoa said. “We have yet to see a field or building since March.”

High school sports have been in a holding pattern since March when the spring season was cut short because of COVID-19 lockdowns.

“It’s incomprehensible to look at July 27th for official practice,” Ochoa said. “We are stuck in same rut we are in right now. The situation has not improved in the last month.

“We don’t even have a clue what our brick and mortar option of opening schools is,” Ochoa said. “Not until we are in Phase 2 will we do anything. It is students first, athletes second. This is an unknown we have never dealt with.”

Added Schusterman, “There are a lot of challenges. We need to look at a plan to get all three seasons in and look at what’s best for the entire state and base our decision on what is best for the majority.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO Sends Seniors Off In Style At Academic Village Pool Celebration; Thanks For The Memories

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, July 20, 2020–In a charming, intimate setting at Academic Village Pool Friday night, South Florida Aquatic Club hosted a send-off for its high school graduates headed off to college this fall.

Observing every COVID-19 safety precaution including masks, social distancing and limiting it to the graduates and SOFLO coaches, nine graduates were honored in lieu of the standard banquet.

There was a fun drive-by parade of SOFLO teammates and parents in decorated cars with balloons, streamers and handmade signs to bid farewell to the seniors and celebrate the 2019-2020 team accomplishments, highlighted by the 2020 USA Swimming Silver Medal National Club Excellence award.

There was a well-done senior highlight video with senior interviews, action shots and photos of the swimmers when they were growing up around the pool. During the video, the seniors also thanked the SOFLO coaches who made an impact in their lives in and out of the pool.

There was a celebration of the club’s 20th anniversary with another emotional video segment of several SOFLO former collegiate swimmers including Olympians Natasha Moodie and Alia Atkinson, Alex Estrada and Jonathan Strod.

There was a catered meal served by coaches on personalized place mats and gifts for the seniors.

“It was a one-of-a-kind celebration,” SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson said.

“To the Class of 2020, I will tell you it’s a very, very special class,” Anderson said during the final minute of the seniors video. “I have seen you guys grow up and progress. And for real, you guys have come together.

“Some of the things that you did with the Booster Club and setting yourselves up to do talks with the younger kids. Even though they are not here, they really are still talking about it, even the Dippers. It was really inspirational.

“The special thing about our class this year is that you guys are going in such diverse directions to some great universities, great schools and great opportunities. We are all really proud of you. Your parents are proud.

“Sad to see you go…jump in the water…we’re done,” Anderson said, choking back the tears.

Congratulations SOFLO Class of 2020:

Gabrianna Banks, Florida State

Sophia Bedoya, New York University

Nicholas Chaimowitz, Broward College

David Diaz, Florida State

Roberto (Robby) Garrido, Rochester Institute of Technology

Ruth Kaufman, Lycoming College

Leonardo Mateus, Yale

Juan Pablo Pineda, Florida International

Rafael Rodriguez, Purdue

Thanks for the memories and good luck in the next chapter of your academic and athletic careers.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SWIMMING NOTEBOOK: “In Deep With Ryan Lochte” Docuseries Debuts Wednesday

By Sharon Robb

Ryan Lochte is back in the spotlight again on a docu-series that debuts today.

The 12-time Olympic medalist talks about his 2016 scandal in Rio de Janeiro and one last attempt to make Team USA for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The “In Deep With Ryan Lochte” sports documentary shows the lengths a swimmer goes to achieve greatness, and for Lochte a chance at redemption. The docu-series debuts on NBC Universal’s Peacock platform.

“It was a wake-up call,” Lochte said of the 2016 scandal.

The docu-series, part of NBC Sports Films, relives the fallout of the 2016 Rio Olympics, during which Lochte alleged he and three American swimmers were robbed at gunpoint. The claims proved to be fabricated. He was suspended by USA Swimming from competition for ten months and dropped by a number of major sponsors.

“Because of what happened in Rio and everything, I was in a hole and I was climbing my way out, me and my family,” Lochte said. “And we’re still doing that. We’re still battling some things, but we are doing it together. And you’re definitely going to see that.”

The New York native was a standout as an age grouper all the way through college at University of Florida, where he broke records and took home medals. At the Olympics, he won six golds, three silvers and three bronze in Games in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Now 35, Lochte sees the scandal in Rio as eye-opening. “I never have any regrets in life,” he said. “I definitely am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and it was someone basically slapping me and being like, ‘Wake up.’ Like, ‘Grow up.'”

Lochte says his life really turned around when he and his wife, Kayla Rae Reid, welcomed their first son, Caiden, the next year. “It was, like, no longer am I just watching out for me.” A daughter, Liv, followed in 2019. Lochte since has appeared on TV competing on Dancing With the Stars and Celebrity Big Brother.

“There’s a lot of people out there that have a different perception of who I really am,” Lochte said. “I want to set the record straight. I want people to see how I’ve grown up, how I’ve matured and the person I am today.”

Lochte is the second-most decorated swimmer in Olympic Games’ history, a which has been overshadowed by controversy. If he makes the team for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, rescheduled for July 23-Aug. 8, Lochte said he will have the chance to prove himself as an athlete again.

“People thought I got to where I was in swimming because of talent, but that’s not it. I busted my ass every day,” he said. “I am 110 percent committed when I step on that pool deck.”

Lochte talks about his chances of making Team USA. He is living and training in Gainesville and is being coached by the legendary Gregg Troy who molded him into the swimmer he is today.

“So good,” Lochte said. “My coach tells me almost every other day, he’s like, ‘What are you doing differently? Times that you’re doing in practice are faster than when you were at your greatest in 2012.’ I’m like, ‘I’m just ready to rock and roll. Let’s do it.’ I’m in a better mindset, a better mood, and I have more determination and fire burning inside of me than I did before.”

Peacock, NBC Universal’s new free streaming proprietary platform, is available on Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices including Android, Android TV devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices; Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; and VIZIO SmartCast TVs and LG Smart TVs. Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, as well as eligible Cox Contour customers.

Peacock is a free, ad-supported option that provides fans with more than 20,000 hours of programming. It includes next-day access to current seasons of freshman broadcast series, complete classic series, popular movies, curated daily news and sports programming including the Olympics, Spanish-language content, select episodes of marquee Peacock originals and tent-pole series, as well as curated Peacock streaming genre channels.

While the platform’s base plan is free, Peacock also offers a premium ad-supported version with more content for $4.99 per month, and an ad-free tier for $9.99 per month.

Sharon Robb can be contacted at sha11cats@aol.com

FHSAA Sets Emergency Board Meeting To Discuss Fall High School Sports Plan

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, July 14, 2020—The fate of the 2020 high school swimming season and other fall sports seasons may be determined next week.

The Florida High School Activities Association has scheduled an emergency board meeting for Monday, July 20th to talk about plans for high school fall sports as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The Board of Directors has the power to put in motion policy changes. The board was not originally scheduled to meet until Sept. 27th.

Fall season practices are set to open Monday, July 27th, throughout the state.

The meeting, which will be held on the Zoom platform and is not open to the public, may change or condense plans for the season in some or all fall sports, including swimming, diving, football, volleyball, bowling, cross country and golf. There are two members from Miami-Dade on the Board (Carlos Ochoa of Hialeah Gardens and Mark Schusterman of Riviera Prep) and none from Broward or Palm Beach.

Leon County Schools, one of the state’s major school districts in the Tallahassee area, cancelled all athletic programs and practices for the remainder of summer.

The FHSAA’s fall sports task force has met three times during the past month discussing all aspects of high school sports including officials safety to having alternative postseason schedules and contingency plans in case of positive tests among high school sports.

Several states have already revised plans for the fall including Arizona, Hawaii, New Jersey, Washington and West Virginia with delayed starts. New Mexico has moved its football and soccer seasons to the spring.

Two weeks ago, the FHSAA task force voted to explore a preliminary plan that would push back the start to at least Aug. 10 and would allow schools to begin on various dates, allowing different fall sports to start at different times.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com