Back To School Monday For Dade Students; Broward Emergency Meeting Thursday To Decide Again

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, September 30, 2020–With pressure from Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Miami-Dade public schools will begin their staggered openings on Monday, more than two weeks ahead of what they had planned.

Miami-Dade schools will begin staggered openings on Monday with all students who want to be back in class by Friday, Oct. 9.

Miami-Dade’s School Board had voted to open in late October (Oct. 21) citing concerns about COVID-19 safeguards in schools. However, Corcoran sent a letter asking them to return to the original opening plan date of Oct. 5 or be faced with a huge budget shortfall between $54 and $85 million.

On Tuesday night, the School Board voted unanimously to follow the suggestions of Corcoran, who approved the idea of staggered openings.

For families who opted for in-person learning in a July survey, students in pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, first grade and special needs on a modified curriculum will return to the classroom on Monday, Oct. 5.

All other elementary school students, plus students in sixth, ninth and tenth will start Wednesday, Oct. 7. All other students will return on Friday, Oct. 9. A non-opt teacher planning day is Friday, Oct. 2.

The Broward County Public School Board received an identical letter from Corcoran and will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday morning at the K.C. Wright administrative building in Fort Lauderdale to discuss whether they will follow Miami-Dade’s lead or stay with its plans of Oct. 14 and Oct 20 for re-opening staggered dates.

Corcoran stressed in his letter that re-opening delays hurt students academically, including those with special needs and others struggling academically.

The Broward School District, which is getting paid for its projected enrollment, receives $7,900 per student and Florida Virtual receives $5,300 per student. According to district officials, 122,000 students out of a total student population of 255,000 in district schools, have chosen to stay virtual with My School Online.

Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County, a judge ruled against seven teachers who sued the Palm Beach County school district saying schools were unsafe to open because of COVID-19.

Palm Beach Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley ruled it was the responsibility of elected officials to decide whether schools were safe enough to open. The district re-opened public schools on Sept. 22. All other Florida district schools have already opened for in-person learning.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

South Florida HEAT Sweep Tri-Meet; SOFLO’s Enrique Rodriguez, Diego Nazario-Vazquez Win

By Sharon Robb

FORT LAUDERDALE, September 30, 2020–South Florida HEAT, led by double winners Erika Pelaez and Nikita Efimov, swept Somerset and host Westminster Academy in a tri-meet on Tuesday afternoon.

South Florida HEAT girls’ team defeated Westminster Academy, 55.5-43.5, and Somerset, 59-17. In the other match-up, Westminster Academy topped Somerset, 59-39.

In the boys’ competition, South Florida HEAT defeated Westminster Academy 64-34 and Somerset, 55-37. In the other match-up, Somerset edged Westminster Academy, 51-46.

COVID-19 guidelines were observed. Private and parochial schools were allowed to compete earlier than public schools which are still in the midst of conditioning in swimming and diving.

Pelaez won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:55.32 and 100-yard butterfly in 57.25.

Efimov won the 50-yard freestyle in 22.72 and 500-yard freestyle in 5:15.91.

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Enrique Rodriguez and Diego Nazario-Vazquez were winners for Somerset’s boys’ team.

Rodriguez won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:57.49, the only swimmer under 2 minutes in the event. Farouk Musa of South Florida HEAT was second in 2:05.15. Rodriguez was also second in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:20.66.

Nazario-Vazquez won the 100-yard backstroke in 1:02.16 and was second in the 100-yard butterfly in 58.27.

SOFLO girls also finished among the top four places for Somerset.

Fiorella DiSalvo was second in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:25.98. In the same event, Sabrina Osorio-Gomez was third in 2:27.22 and Sofia Osorio-Gomez was fourth in 2:30.17.

DiSalvo was also second in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:15.17, just ahead of Natalia Sibug in 1:15.58.

Sofia Osorio-Gomez was also second in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:08.85 ahead of Sibug in 1:14.88.

Sabrina Osorio-Gomez was second in the 100-yard freestyle in 1:03.15.

Kaitlyn Barrios was fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:23.21 and fifth in the 50-yard freestyle in 28.77.

Westminster Academy swept the 1-meter springboard diving events with Abigail Farrar and Blakeman Shaw, who was also second in the 50-yard freestyle in 23.41.

South Florida Heat 55.5, Westminster Academy 43.5
South Florida Heat 59, Somerset 17
Westminster Academy 59, Somerset 39

200-yard medley relay: 1. Heat 2:00.29, 2. Somerset 2:08.72, 3. Westminster Academy A 2:10.12.

200-yard freestyle: 1. Erika Pelaez, Heat 1:55.32, 2. Victoria Barbar, WA 2:33.32, 3. Pilar LaCaria, WA 2:40.61.

200-yard individual medley: 1. Micaela Sierra, Heat 2:19.88, 2. Fiorella DiSalvo, Heat 2:25.98, 3. Sabrina Osorio-Gomez, SOM 2:27.22, 4. Sofia Osorio-Gomez, SOM 2:30.17.

50-yard freestyle: 1. Faith Suther, Heat 26.23, 2. JoJo Richter, WA 26.91, 3. tie, Mia Patton, Heat and Sydney Gordon, WA 27.23, 5. Kaitlyn Barrios, SOM 28.77.

100-yard butterfly: 1. Erika Pelaez, Heat 57.25, 2. Sofia Osorio-Gomez, SOM 1:08.85, 3. Natalia Sibug, SOM 1:14.88.

100-yard freestyle: 1. Faith Suther, Heat 58.05, 2. Sabrina Osorio-Gomez, SOM 1:03.15, 3. Hope Suther, Heat 1:05.35.

500-yard freestyle: 1. Victoria Barbar, WA 6:55.63, 2. Lynn-Rose Ruiz, WA 7:09.97.

200-yard freestyle relay: 1. Heat 1:49.45, 2. Westminster Academy 1:53.90, 3. Somerset 1:59.73.

100-yard backstroke: 1. JoJo Richter, WA 1:05.14, 2. Mia Patton, Heat 1:09.58, 3. Hope Suther, Heat 1:13.24.

100-yard breaststroke: 1. Micaela Sierra, Heat 1:10.54, 2. Fiorella DiSalvo, Heat 1:15.17, 3. Natalia Sibug, SOM 1:15.58, 4. Kaitlyn Barrios, SOM 1:23.21.

400-yard freestyle relay: 1. Heat 3:50.43, 2. Westminster Academy A 4:51.42, 3. Westminster Academy B 5:09.27.

1-meter diving: 1. Abigail Farrar, WA 270.20, 2. Blake Mckenzie, WA 237.15, 3. Ella Clements, WA 132.40.

South Florida Heat 64, Westminster Academy 34
South Florida Heat 55, Somerset 37
Somerset 51, Westminster Academy 46

200-yard medley relay: 1. Heat 1:51.09, 2. Westminster Academy 1:56.27, 3. Somerset 2:02.12.

200-yard freestyle: 1. Enrique Rodriguez, SOM 1:57.49, 2. Farouk Musa, Heat 2:05.15, 3. Sebastian Fernandez, SOM 2:11.98.

200-yard individual medley: 1. Felix Gonzalez, SOM 2:18.72, 2. Juan Samiento, Heat 2:22.79, 3. Max Flores, WA 2:34.49.

50-yard freestyle: 1. Nikita Efimov, Heat 22.72, 2. Blakeman Shaw, WA 23.41, 3. Jesse Lobo, SOM 26.82.

100-yard butterfly: 1. Dario Martin, Heat 53.21, 2. Diego Nazario-Vazquez, SOM 58.27, 3. Joshua Barretto, Heat 1:06.23.

100-yard freestyle: 1. Christian Clark, WA 53.49, 2. Jesse Lobo, SOM 58.37, 3. Juan Samiento, Heat 59.00.

500-yard freestyle: 1. Nikita Efimov, Heat 5:15.91, 2. Enrique Rodriguez, SOM 5:20.66, 3. Farouk Musa, Heat 5:27.12.

200-yard freestyle relay: 1. Westminster Academy 1:49.01, 2. Heat 1:49.59, 3. Somerset 2:08.40.

100-yard backstroke: 1. Diego Nazario-Vazquez, SOM 1:02.16, 2. Stefano Mazzi, Heat 1:14.69, 3. Alessio Mazzi, Heat 1:18.41.

100-yard breaststroke: 1. Dario Martin, Heat 1:01.58, 2. Joshua Barretto, Heat 1:14.10, 3. Sebastian Fernandez, SOM 1:16.01.

400-yard freestyle relay: 1. Heat 3:42.16, 2. Somerset 3:56.22, 3. Westminster Academy 4:10.57.

1-meter diving: 1. Blakeman Shaw, WA 238.35.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Gulliver Prep Sweeps Season-Opener Against Miami Belen Jesuit, Carrollton School; SOFLO’s Izzy Wilson Wins 500

By Sharon Robb

MIAMI, September, 28, 2020—Gulliver Prep won its season-opener Saturday in the first high school meet of the season in Dade County.

Under COVID-19 guidelines, Gulliver Prep defeated Carrollton, 176-93, in a girls’ meet and Miami Belen Jesuit, 154-122, in a boys’ meet.

Private and parochial schools were allowed to compete earlier than public schools which are still in the midst of conditioning in swimming and diving. Gulliver Prep will be eligible to compete in the state series.

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Izzy Wilson, 13, of Carrollton School won the 500-yard freestyle in 5:26.14, ahead of Gulliver Prep runner-up Aria Torretta in 5:40.37. Wilson was also second in the 200-yard freestyle in 2:05.75.

Wilson, the only Carrollton winner, prevented a Gulliver Prep sweep in the girls’ competition. Gulliver won all three relays and seven individual events.

Gulliver Prep’s Chloe Hernandez and Cassandra Kraft were double winners in individual events. Both were members of two winning relays.

Hernandez, a senior, won the 200-yard freestyle in 2:04.78, bettering her seed time of 2:07.47, and won the 100-yard butterfly in 1:02.16.

Kraft, a sophomore, won the 50-yard freestyle in 25.13 and 100-yard freestyle in 56.83, bettering her seed time of 57.19.

The boys were led by double winners Hector Paz and Bruno Rebessi. Rebessi was also a member of the winning 200-yard medley relay.

Paz, a senior, won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:49.81 and 500-yard freestyle in 4:53.35.

Rebessi, a junior, won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:06.57 and 100-yard breaststrok in 1:02.59, just off his seed time of 1:02.08.

Gulliver Prep 176, Carrollton School 93

200-yard medley relay: 1. Gulliver Prep A 1:30.69 (Giovana Musiello, Reese Rosenthal, Aria Torretta, Cassandra Kraft), 2. Gulliver Prep B 1:51.42, 3. Carrollton 1:53.03.

200-yard freestyle: 1. Chloe Hernandez, GP 2:04.78, 2. Izzy Wilson, CS 2:05.75, 3. Katia Alonso, CS 2:16.57.

200-yard individual medley: 1. Elyse Wood, GP 2:26.30, 2. Camila Saporta, GP 2:28.20, 3. Reese Rosenthal, GP 2:33.38.

50-yard freestyle: 1. Cassandra Kraft, GP 25.13, 2. Maria Wolfington, CS 27.72, 3. Gioria Pascual, GP 29.56.

100-yard butterfly: 1. Chloe Hernandez, GP 1:02.16, 2. Giovana Musiello, GP 1:03.28, 3. Alex DeAngulo, CS 1:04.13.

100-yard freestyle: 1. Cassandra Kraft, GP 56.83, 2. Mariah Milano, GP 1:00.08, 3. Giorgia Pascual, GP 1:03.90.

500-yard freestyle: 1. Izzy Wilson, CS 5:26.14, 2. Aria Torretta, GP 5:40.37, 3. Camila Saporta, GP 5:52.17.

200-yard freestyle relay: 1. Gulliver Prep A 1:45.95 (Chloe Hernandez, Cassandra Kraft, Giorgia Pascual, Elyse Wood), 2. Gulliver Prep B 1:59.44, 3. Carrollton School 1:59.75.

100-yard backstroke: 1. Giovana Musiello, GP 1:04.38, 2. Mariah Milano, GP 1:10.44, 3. Natalia Solano, CS 1:20.57.

100-yard breaststroke: 1. Aria Torretta, GP 1:12.71, 2. Reese Rosenthal, GP 1:12.76, 3. Antonia Truis, GP 1:31.12.

400-yard freestyle relay: 1. Gulliver Prep A 3:29.52 (Chloe Hernandez, Camila Saporta, Aria Torretta, Gabriella Montalvo), 2. Gulliver Prep B 3:58.51.

Gulliver Prep 154, Belen Jesuit 122

200-yard medley relay: 1. Gulliver Prep A 1:45.34 (Isaiah Jimenez, Benjamin Carey, Bruno Rebessi, Matias Jaramillo), 2. Belen Jesuit 1:48.66, 3. Gulliver Prep B 1:50.81.

200-yard freestyle: 1. Hector Paz, BEL 1:49.81, 2. Nelson de Leon, BEL 1:56.72, 3. Ernesto Cabrera, BEL 1:57.25.

200-yard individual medley: 1. Bruno Rebessi, GP 2:06.57, 2. Benjamin Casey, GP 2:12.93, 3. Juanfra Gudino, GP 2:17.39.

50-yard freestyle: 1. Thomas Mojena, BEL 24.00, 2. Jeronimo Dacharry, GP 24.40, 3. Juan Pompa, GP 24.97.

100-yard butterfly: 1. Isaiah Jimenez, GP 54.35, 2. John Fanjul, BEL 57.22, 3. Daniel Fasanella, BEL 1:00.47.

100-yard freestyle: 1. Evan Abril, GP 53.56, 2. Eduardo Francia, BEL 54.69, 3. Marias Jaramillo, GP 54.88.

500-yard freestyle: 1. Hector Paz, BEL 4:53.35, 2. Isaiah Jimenez, GP 4:54.44, 3. Ernesto Cabrera, BEL 5:15.41.

200-yard freestyle relay: 1. Belen Jesuit B 1:19.77 (Felipe Arenas, Daniel Fasanella, Thomas Fanjul, Manuel Dominguez), 2. Gulliver Prep B 1:26.75, 3. Gulliver Prep A 1:27.35.

100-yard backstroke: 1. Joao Pedro Lenz-Cesar, GP 1:01.16, 2. John Fanjul, BEL 1:01.79, 3. Lorenzo Jaime-Luna, GP 1:05.82.

100-yard breaststroke: 1. Bruno Rebessi, GP 1:02.59, 2. Benjamin Carey, GP 1:03.54, 3. Parker Rosenthal, GP 1:03.80.

400-yard freestyle relay: 1. Gulliver Prep B 3:20.67 (Daniel Preston, Eduardo Kingston, Lorenzo Jaime-Luna, Benjamin Carey), 2. Belen Jesuit C 3:29.54, 3. Gulliver Prep A 3:33.45.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Despite Announced Dates, Debates To Re-Open Broward, Miami-Dade Schools Rage On

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, September 24, 2020—-A day after Broward and Miami-Dade public school administrators announced the re-opening of schools next month, there is still great concern among teachers, parents and students.

Broward and Miami-Dade are the only Florida school districts not up and running throughout the state.

During Tuesday’s 11-hour school board meeting in Broward, Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, made an impassioned plea to delay the re-opening.

“When people start dying, then start getting ready for the repercussions,” Fusco said. “Let’s do it right instead of saying ‘Let’s fix it when we get in there.’ People are still contracting the virus. People are still dying. We want to make sure our schools are opening safe.”

The nine school board members said they were against Superintendent Robert Runcie’s proposal to re-open Oct. 5 for elementary, K-8 and special needs and Oct. 12 for middle and high school students.

“We can’t let perfect stand in the way of good,” Runcie said. “There is no way to guarantee we will have a 100 percent COVID-free environment. Issues will emerge and we will correct them.”

The Board told Runcie he needed to re-work the Oct. 5 re-opening plans. Later in the evening, the board settled on the timelines of Oct. 9 and 12 for teacher planning half-days and Oct. 13 full-day teacher planning; and pre-K, kindergarten, first, second, sixth and ninth graders as well as special needs students would return Oct. 14-16. The remaining middle and high school students would return Oct. 20, the first day of the second quarter.

However, the Board did not vote on the new dates.

The Board also supported new deadlines for the surveys sent to employees and parents asking whether they would like to return to school or stay home. Runcie said the deadline to fill them out is Sept. 29. As of Wednesday, 32 percent of 5,000 teachers surveyed said they plan to take a leave of absence instead of returning to school. About 10,000 have yet to respond.

The Board is set to vote on an official re-opening plan and specific dates either in a workshop or at the next board meeting on Oct. 6.

Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of United Teachers of Dade, said she is not confident yet that teachers and students will be safe in Miami-Dade.

“We want to make sure there’s social distancing, that there are hand washing stations, that there’s proper ventilation, and that children are wearing their masks,” she said.

After a 29-hour long meeting that started on Monday, Miami-Dade board members approved a later start date than originally proposed.

The Board voted to push back the gradual start of in-person classes to Oct. 14, more than a week later than first proposed. Schools would fully open for all students on Oct. 21.

The Board is following the staggered re-opening plans of Superintendent Alberto Carvalho recommended only with later dates.

Pre-K, Kindergarten and first grade and students with special needs will have a soft opening on Oct. 14.

On Oct. 15, all elementary school students plus sixth, ninth and tenth graders can return to school. On that day, all high school students, whether learning online or in-person, would return to starting school at 7:20 a.m. Schools would be fully open to all students who opt to return to the classroom on Oct. 21.

A no-opt teacher planning day is set for Oct. 13.

However, before re-opening, the school district must have a “verified provision for all PPE (personal protective equipment) and related resources and full compliance with all required and represented procedures and protocols. A formal recommendation from medical experts must be provided to the School Board before re-opening.

Based on parental surveys, 51 percent of students will return to school.

Both unions are keeping track of the COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County, the school district was scrambling to find substitute teachers after a large number of teachers chose to stay home as students returned to schools for the first time since March.

The Palm Beach County district said 944 teachers did not show up for work on Monday morning when students opted to return to classrooms. On Wednesday, teachers also staged a rally in the streets to protest with signs and bullhorns in front of the School Board building.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Mallory Schleicher Named Scholastic All-American; One Of Nine FGC Swimmers Selected

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, September 22, 2020–South Florida Aquatic Club’s Mallory Schleicher has been named USA Swimming Scholastic All-American.

The Cooper City High School junior and state meet qualifier as a freshman and sophomore, was the only SOFLO swimmer to earn All-American honors.

The distance swimmer, who recently verbally committed to University of Florida, is a Summer and Winter Junior Nationals qualifier. In March, she was second in both the 400 individual medley and 1500 freestyle and third in the 400 freestyle at sectionals.

Last summer, she had five Top 20 finishes at the Gainesville Sectionals before placing fifth in the 400 IM and ninth in the 400 freestyle at the Greensboro Futures. She has her Futures cuts in the 200 and 800 freestyle and 200 and 1,650 freestyle.

Her long course meters best times are: 400 IM, 4:53.96; 200 IM, 2:22.53; 1,500 free, 17:18.67; 800 free, 9:08.38; 400 free, 4:21.95; and 200 free, 2:05.41.

And, her short course yards best times are 1,650 free, 17:11.62; 1,000 free, 10:23.53; 500 free, 4:55.86; 200 free, 1:52.55 and 400 IM, 4:26.04.

Schleicher is also an outstanding open water swimmer. At the 2019 USA Swimming Open Water Junior National Championships she was seventh in the 5K against the nation’s top swimmers.

Other Florida Gold Coast swimmers named USA Swimming Scholastic All-American are Anna Auld of East Coast Aquatics, Megan Murphy of East Coast Aquatics, Josh Zuchowski of Flood Aquatics, Heidi Smithwick of Jupiter Dragons, Paige Maceachern of Pine Crest, Julia Podkoscielny of Pine Crest, Ella Martinez of St. Andrew’s and Philip Moldovan of Wellington Wahoos.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

No Fall High School State Series For Public Schools In Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, September 22, 2020—It’s official. Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County public schools have opted out of post-season tournaments and meets.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced student-athletes including swimmers and divers, to put their dream of district, region and state titles on hold for a year.

The counties athletic departments have opted out of the Florida High School Athletic Association state series. The deadline to opt in or out was Friday. The counties are opting out of fall sports only.

Five public schools in Miami-Dade opted in to the state series for football only: Miami Central, Miami Northwestern, Miami Palmetto, Homestead and Miami Edison.

Several private schools also opted in to the state series including American Heritage Plantation, Cardinal Gibbons, Chaminade-Madonna and St. Thomas Aquinas.

That means six of the eight state champions in football will have a chance to defend their titles. Two other state champion teams–Miami Columbus and Miami Booker T. Washington–opted out. The minimum-game requirement to qualify for the FHSAA postseason has been waived this fall.

Broward County athletic director Shawn Cerra told the media that Broward County has every intention of competing in the winter and spring state series particularly if the COVID-19 positivity percentage trends continue to drop.

On Monday, student-athletes started outdoor fall conditioning per FHSAA guidelines.

Football games are scheduled to begin the final week of October, one week before the FHSAA state playoffs are scheduled.

For swimming, under FHSAA guidelines, dryland conditioning is Sept. 21-26; practice at pool, Sept. 29-Oct. 10; regular season meet period (five total, one per week), Oct. 13-Nov. 14; and post-season championship, Nov. 16-21. The season ends before the Thanksgiving break week.

Cross country meets begin Oct. 5, bowling begins Oct. 13 and volleyball games will start Oct. 26.

According to Palm Beach County officials, the public school football season may conclude with bowl games between teams from Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. No such plan for a tri-county meet in swimming has been announced.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Sources Are Available For SOFLO Parents If Children Return To In-Person School Learning

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, September 20, 2020—With Broward County Public Schools targeting an Oct. 5 date for schools opening in-person learning, parents will be able to find out what’s happening at their child’s school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is an online dashboard that tracks COVID-19 cases reported at individual schools, including children, teachers and staff. The Broward County Public Schools system already has a real-time dashboard on its website, listing by school how many students, teachers and staff members have contracted COVID-19.

The Miami-Dade Public Schools system have said it will have its dashboard ready when in-person learning begins at a still to be determined date. The dashboard will note new cases by school.

There are no mandatory statewide COVID-19 dashboards at the school level for all K-12 public schools. However, of the districts that do have dashboards and already opened for in-person learning, primarily at central and north Florida schools, more than 800 students and close to 500 teachers and staff members became infected.

There will be mandates if children come in contact with an infected person at school that they must remain home in quarantine for 14 days.

Children experiencing symptoms at school will be immediately isolated and sent home.

Parents will be contacted by an automated phone call or email if a child is exposed to another person with COVID-19.

Broward County health officials said they have 538 contact tracers and will assist schools as needed.

The School Board is expected to discuss on Tuesday a two-stage plan with some students returning Oct. 5 and others one week later on Oct. 12. The additional week would help staff figure out how to space students to observe social distancing.

Students at the elementary and K-8 schools would return Oct. 5, if the plan is finalized. Middle and high school students would return Oct. 12. Online learning is still expected to be the norm since parents have the choice to keep their kids at home or send them to school.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Chris Anderson Updates SOFLO Parents On Fall Season During Members Meeting

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, September 19, 2020—-South Florida Aquatic Club CEO and head coach Chris Anderson held an informative zoom session for parents on Saturday morning.

Between practice sessions Saturday morning at Academic Village Pool, Anderson outlined the fall plan for swimmers including home and away meets, re-capped the summer season and addressed other club business.

The following is Anderson’s detailed 51-minute discussion:

“I haven’t seen too many people during the summer, so basically this is our summer re-cap.

“Obviously, it was a very stressful and busy summer for a lot of us. But the one thing our membership all had in common was we got to come together and we got to do some training.

“We really are proud about some of the things that we did with our creativity, especially the consistency that we had throughout the summer and the things that we have done at South Florida Aquatic Club.

“We also this summer got to really spend some time with our Class of 2020. With all the different things and all the different schools were going through, we had a wonderful, wonderful dinner on our pool deck. It was a very nice environment. I think those kids are having a great time at their different universities wherever they are from.

“The other thing we are quite proud of is that we got to run some swim meets. We had four of them. The really cool thing was our staff was very creative in finding different ways to reach out to all of our membership, whether it was our 8-and-unders or our people who had their senior national cuts. We found a way to have a bunch of meets with 30 athletes in their training groups. We’re quite proud of the fact that we were able to reach out to our membership as well as, of course, get some competition in. Most of the kids swam probably three races in different times over a period of two weeks. I think it was pretty good that we started the meets sometime in July, I think it was July 31st and ran them throughout the month of August leading into what we are trying to do this fall.

“Another thing that we’ve done I know our coaches as well as our membership has looked into. Coach Lou and I have been doing a coaching search for a long time to try and find the right fit. We finally have hired a coach, if you haven’t heard already from our Blog, we hired Jack Davies. He is a former swimmer of ours, he swam in our program for four years. He got a Mathematics and education degree at McKendree University. He has been coaching at the age group level for the CSP Tideriders, a club in Illinois, it’s quite a good club as well, just like ours. It’s going to be a really nice transition to have him come in starting on Sept. 28th. The significance of that is he will basically be coming in at the very beginning of the season where he will really be focusing on the 13-14 group, he will be assisting with some of the age group workouts as well as really concentrating and improving our senior development, our senior fit group that has been doing quite wonderful throughout the summer. We will be welcoming him again on Sept. 28th and welcoming him to our coaching family and hopefully the environment of the Silver group. Again Silver, Gold, National, all of our training groups’ ability and training environment is looking really positive, so he will be a really nice addition to our staff moving forward.

“The other things that we have been doing quite recently, ten of our coaches from our staff have been attending ASCA clinics, different meetings throughout the entire week. We have been on it a few times and discussed different philosophies, whether it was age group swimming, senior swimming or even just swimming in general as far as some things we would like to either improve as a philosophy as a program or tweak or even change for that matter. We will be having some more staff meetings, of course, our coaches have been meeting by Zoom, which has actually been kind of an improvement from what we have been doing in the past. We have really been able to do a great job of communicating especially with the two sites, one south and one north, are really trying to get things done so we are kind of rolling with that.

“As far as our team training, just a quick review, what we have really tried to do over the summer is we were really trying to improve our legs. We knew we had a little time constraint and of course, another constraint of maybe not having doubles on a daily basis because we were trying to get all our athletes in the water. But one of the things that we did was to try to improve our legs and our kicking. It really kind of worked in to what the ASCA Clinic and other coaches were talking about in their philosophy. We really found after 14, 15 weeks that not only the senior group or age group program, we really did a great job over the summer of really improving those legs. As you probably know, all of our kids, all of our members and all of our athletes have grown so much because they are resting a little bit more. It hasn’t gone unnoticed four our coaching staff and our training groups. The improvement of the kick and really committing to the first five or six weeks of building up and then five or six weeks of really improving our legs. We are really looking for that to be a weapon coming up into the fall. It’s probably really going to help. The other thing I did say is because we have all of our groups broken up in such a manner, in such a way on our pool deck, spread out among the 23 lanes that we have, whether it’s one per lane or two per lane on opposite sides, we really found both at the AK site as well as here that the atmosphere of all our training groups is really quite canny, they are really healthy. If you look at it, the kids are really supporting one another, they are really motivating each other and they are really, really good solid training groups. It’s really the first time in the club after 20 years that we really have on all-cylinders, whether it’s age group, pre-age group, pre-teen, swim lessons, senior program that we have had this healthy a membership. I think a lot of that has to, of course, be the parent-leadership at home. But the kids really missed the swimming over the summer. I think they missed some of that interaction they had and it’s really come out. One of the things we talked about as a coaching staff is another benefit from the summer was the fact of our attendance. We had people not miss any workouts for 15 weeks. We’re not talking about a few athletes, we are talking 60 to 80 percent. Those that did miss only missed one or two. That consistency coupled with working on the legs on a daily basis, we are really at a place we really can say that we really moved forward and improved, not only the base level training but overall program as far as our legs and what we can do hopefully coming into this fall season.

“The atmosphere again is 100 percent, looking great. We are very excited that we started and again we had to have an ending point to start for the new season. We picked Monday, August 31st, it really worked with some of the different things that we’re doing as training. So we started with Week One, previous with that what we did spend a lot on before we started our new season the whole month of August you might have seen a change in the kids’ energy levels. We did a lot of technique and kind of talking and discussing. As you probably know, some of the kids had small, quick Zoom meetings for 15 minutes on some days where we really went over the stroke. And as you probably know in some of the lineups we have outside the pool where the kids are socially distanced, we tried to do some of extensive talks and we hit all the strokes as well as IM. We went through IM transitions, distance free training, talked about freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. We tried to refine that. And again, I think because it was right before or during the kids were kind of in school, the kids really got a lot at the beginning of August, the first couple of weeks as far as their stroke improvement. Coupling that with the legs and training environment, it’s really been a pleasure to work with the athletes, doing what we are doing and moving forward.

“The other thing we did because we have only had four meets, actually six meets, over the summer, what we tried to do at the end of August and we are trying to do it now with some different types of test sets that are trickling down from senior to age group, we tried to make some things a little bit more challenging. We tried to do a couple things without so much using blocks, but trying to create more like meet atmosphere during practice where there were meet warm-ups, then there were sets where we just basically go up and get up and go fast with a lot of rest in between or smooth swimming going back and forth. So we introduced some of those and again that competitiveness, we really tried to call out times and talking to the athletes, ‘these are your goals, this is what we want you to do,’ but we try to find how to accomplish that within a practice, having more rest. I think some of that has really kind of matured our entire group. It seems to me they are getting a little more confident when it comes to practice and moreso, getting confident in doing something very fast, taking six minutes of doing easy swimming and then coming back and repeating that, much like they would do in a swim meet if they had 15 to 20 minutes between races. As far as that, training those sets and trying to keep the kids a little bit more engaged and understand we are going to have competition again. It’s going to be the goal of our staff, after we talked a little bit about the fall meet schedule of 2020, we are going to find different ways to try and motivate those athletes throughout the entire week so when we do race on a Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday that they are ready to go and they really take advantage of the opportunity in the meets that they have as far as competition is concerned.

“Moving on to the fall schedule and I know we kind of have a schedule up there, but as you probably know things are still kind of different facilities not being open, different organizations, different municipalities and different counties all having separate rules, we kind of have a skeleton schedule. We will get the schedule out probably in the next couple of days. My staff has it. But we basically have kind of looked at it and there are a couple of small changes that we are having to do.

“To kind of go into the fall schedule, we started off the summer, of course, with our in-house virtual meets. We now will be moving on and doing a couple of meets, one on Oct. 2-3. It will be a virtual dual meet against Sarasota Y. I am trying to find some good competition throughout the state, throughout the country on the East coast who we can do this with. This virtual meet will consist of us having a competition, kind of a college format, a two-day format. It’s as close as we can get without being totally official and getting in all the events. For our 13-and-overs on a Friday evening and Saturday. You might have already seen it on Team Unify and I know some of our coaches are starting to do the entries for the athletes now. The middle school kids or the 12-and-under kids will be going on a Saturday morning and we’re going to run through the high school order format. 12-and-unders will be able to do four races for the meet and 13-and-overs will be able to do three races per session. This will be the first time, too, we will be doing some relays. There will be an “A” and “B” with our fastest athletes. They will be socially separated as far as the blocks and lanes that we are doing. We are definitely looking forward to that Oct. 2-3.

“We will be following that up with another virtual dual meet (Oct. 23-24) with the Mason Manta Rays, they are from Ohio. It’s a very, very, very good competitive club. We will be doing the same format, we may have some tweaks in there. I actually feel that our athletes have the familiarity of the format will actually help us a little bit in October. So the kids will kind of go into it with open eyes, will compete against another club and we will put all the points together. We basically are scoring Top 10 and then they will have an idea. I think we will do even a little stronger on the 23rd and 24th. They can do different events still but they will still be swimming up to six races for the 13-and-overs and four races in the one session for the 12-and-unders.

“Then in November, we are looking at the 20-24 for an age group specific dual meet. This is where we are going to invite some clubs to our pool, being that hopefully things kind of keep continuing with numbers going down with COVID and nothing changes as far as Broward County, city or even organizational-wise. If we feel it’s safe, what we would like to do is a couple of dual meets where we bring in a bunch of 10-and-unders for a set of races. They will get up and perform together with another club. Then we are going to do the 11-12 age group in another session, then we will do the 13-14 in another single session and then we will finish it off with a 15-and-over. As of right now, we have Plantation committed in 13-14 and 15-and-over. We are trying to keep it pretty much small.

“So that will be the first two meets in October will be virtual meets, then the one in November we will start bringing in some local competition to swim against age group-wise. We are still trying to keep the numbers on our pool deck about 120 to 140 including officials and timers as well as the different age groups.

“The meets in October and November will not be capped for our club. It’s not like the last meet where we had 30 athletes in and that was it. These meets will be open so you don’t have to stress out about entries. I know it’s locked right now as far as Team Unify. Like I said, our coaches are working on the entries, but it will be for our entire membership. We are going to be running heats. It will be a little different from the first round. We will have heats but we will have kids separated on the pool deck with social distancing marks. That’s how we will be doing that session. We probably will have old school meet marshals, too. We had a couple of coaches, Coach George was out there for the other meets, influencing and making sure the kids’ masks were on and that sort of thing. We’ll go over different protocols a little bit later on for the meets.

“Furthering on, we are still going to Winter Champs, Dec. 10-13, right now and Holiday Champs at Sunrise, Dec. 18-20. As discussed to our athletes and kids, we are very firm on peaking our club somewhere in the beginning part of December, whether it’s Dec. 10th or 18th, we will be peaking all of our athletes. It will be like the 16th or 17th week of training in the fall season. We are really looking for us to get up and perform, whether it’s our tech suits for our 13-and-overs or basically getting ready. We will be peaking for that part of the year. Both of those meets we don’t know what the caps are going to be, but we have been in communication with the meet hosts. We have reserved spots there.

“There’s also another meet that we have been working on. One of the Southern Zone committees are putting together a Florida State Championship, basically four sites set up in the state of Florida. There will be sectional level cuts. One of those level meets will be hosted at our facility, four a couple of counties on the west coast as well as all of Broward County and us. Another pool will be Sailfish Aquatic Park. They are looking somewhere in the Sarasota-Clearwater area and another one in Gainesville. They will be run similar at the same time and all the results will come together at the very end. We are very lucky and fortunate enough that we will be able to have one of those meets. Some of the safety precautions for the meets which we know now is a women’s prelim session and men’s prelims session and then a combined final session on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There will be more details about that meet, but that’s in a nutshell our fall 2020 meet schedule. And again there are some different safety precautions we’ll probably have to have and they will be in the meet information.

“Looking over the summer and what some of our officials had to do and our volunteers and looking toward the future, we do have a huge commitment from our officials, a huge commitment from our Booster Club as far as creating these situations, creating these meets. And, of course a huge commitment from our staff. Coming in I know some of the meets start at 6 a.m. for warm-up and 6:50 a.m. start which is kind of early. The October, November and December meets will be a little bit closer to what you guys are used to.

“As far as spectators for any of these meets we are going to try and improve our ability to film and stream these meets and put them on different types of social media. At this point as far as Broward County and I am pretty sure it’s going to stay that way, there has to be different types of permits to set up for special events. I don’t have spectators. We are keeping the meets safe. It’s worked really well and again we are going to try and improve our skills as far as commentating and trying to get a little more video technique out there so we can have people at least virtually watching some of these meets when they are going on.

“The other aspect is we are opening up for 12 timers for a lo of these meets. As things if keep improving we will be able to open up to more volunteers so that’s a real good way of getting those hours.

“Something we will talk about a little bit later as far as our Booster Club. We are starting a new year as of Sept. 1 which I will explain a little bit later after we over the meets. So again we will get these meets out next week. There’s just a couple more dates that need to be cleaned up so they can be finalized and set in stone, so you guys can all plan. The October meets, again, we are starting meet entries already currently.

“With that being said, and again I’ll be brief and I will get this out to you guys on email. Basically, our 2021 home schedule has been approved by the Florida Gold Coast. We are basically hosting eight meets ranging from our January meet to a BB Championship in February. Again some of the meets may have to change as far as meet information but we are quite confident that we will be able to host these championship meets at our facility.

“Also, we have basically March 19-21 we will have Senior Champs again. We are very fortunate and lucky again where we have Senior Champs for not only March of 2021 but we’ll have it in 2022 in short course season as well. We have kind of moved on and done some planning in that aspect. Moving on from there, we will have a dual meet again where we will bring in other athletes. We will keep you abreast of that.We will have a Developmental Meet in August 2021, moving on to our Distance Challenge in October and then we have our Last Chance Prelim-Final meet that we have in November. We did pick up another meet, too, the first week of July, the BC Championships for Broward County. I just put that out there so just so you guys know but it also ties in a little bit also with the Booster Club as far as the meets are concerned that there will be hours available in the future which again we will talk about that a little more. We will get the 2021 home meet schedule skeleton out to you guys.

“Moving on from there, as far as safety protocols, we are still in Phase One of our swimming safety protocols, the one that we put out as far as the directions being in the parking lot, trying to do the best we can with social distancing with masks, limited bathrooms and sanitizing coming in and out. We are not stopping any of that as of this point in time. We’re still for the most part in there at that time, trying to keep everything safe at our facility and we’re working with the City and having them approve what some of the things we are doing as well as Coach Lou with the safety protocols at AK Sharks.

“If it wasn’t for you guys, the parents, keeping your kids entertained at home and all the different things that we’ve had and also at the pool. Again I feel so lucky and fortunate that we are all taking care of our membership, taking care of our kids, both here at practice but also at home. We have been very fortunate and lucky throughout this pandemic as far as the program. I want to continue that so we are going to take slow steps forward to really try and keep everything safe here at the pool.

“As you probably know in Broward County and some different things in Dade, they will be making some more announcements. Private schools are in session, whether it’s at school or at home. As of Oct. 5th, there is a plan out there and you will be able to opt to go to school or stay home. Again there are so many different schools, there are so many different things going on, even at our own Charter School. So Oct. 5th there may be some safety protocols that we will be doing as far as dropping off and picking up, depending on times when school is in session and where everything is going on. We won’t be changing any of the practice times. About a week and a half to two weeks around Oct. 19th, there could possibly be some changes but keep in mind we will remind you there may be some different protocols when it comes to dropping off and picking up. But once again we have been very fortunate with it working very well, even during the rain delays for the most part pretty good as far as the social distancing when it comes to as many athletes and coaches as we have with cars picking up. We have been very fortunate with a large parking lot that we have been able to manage that. Countless hours of Maria going out and sanitizing and managing, and George and people who have coordinated all the different things.

“There will be updates, again Oct. 5th kids go back to school so you may have some drop-off and pick up changes. Of course, we have already looked into Daylight Savings. We are starting to think about that as well.

“Real quick, some of the resources we have and I really do want people to take advantage of some of these things. Whether you know it or not, Sharon Robb, she is in charge of our Sports Information. She writes a blog and does stories, she has interviewed our kids, she keeps a handle on things. She really keeps me and other staff members abreast when it comes to the high school meetings, school meetings, USA Swimming and convention meetings, all the different things that are going on, whether it’s our staff meetings, team meetings, our zoom classes, what we did with drylands back in April and May. But please if you don’t already have the RSS feed and not getting those stories, it really is a way to kind of keep you engaged of what our club is doing. So that’s Sharon Robb and we will get that out on Remind if you don’t already have the RSS feed. If you are not getting information or not somehow seeing the stories, it’s on our website homepage, Facebook…we try to get it out as many places as possible but you can get it directly on your phone. And again it’s really a great tool to understand when we are having these meetings, different changes in the schedule or different things that are going on with the high school season which is still kind of crazy with the different things that are going on but I know there are different committees working hard to try to have some type of season.

“Also, we have Natasha Moodie, she is our college prep specialist. She has a whole list of facts plus the newsletter that goes out. It is mandatory for anybody that is a freshman, even eighth grade, but freshmen for sure to be a part of that. We want to keep our student-athletes informed, we want to keep them informed about academic scholarships, about different changes in the recruiting world that’s changing on a daily basis. We want to make sure they are informed about the different colleges and universities that have different programs that are coming up soon. The process of getting to that next level of swimming has been a goal of my entire program. It’s about getting the age group swimmer to the senior program and then it’s about getting our senior athletes prepared to go to Division I, II or III or junior college. That is the program’s philosophy. Natasha and the rest of our staff have done some great, wonderful things through our newsletter and education. We’re not only successful but we are improving upon that success and getting more and more relationships on that second level after age group swimming and senior swimming to get to that third tier, collegiate swimming, which we are doing very well in.”

Anderson also talked about raising club fees for the first time since 2016 and will have more details in the coming weeks. He then opened the zoom up for any questions from the parents.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Sunshine State Conference, Nova Southeastern, Lynn Universities Delay Swimming Season

By Sharon Robb

FORT LAUDERDALE, September 18, 2020–The Sunshine State Conference athletic directors and Presidents Council unanimously voted to postpone all competition in collegiate swimming and basketball through December 31, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference will determine and communicate conference schedules and conference championship information for swimming at a later date.

Among the NCAA Division II eleven-member conference are local colleges Nova Southeastern University, Lynn University, Barry College and Palm Beach Atlantic.

Only NSU and Lynn have men’s and women’s swimming programs.

NSU men’s team features Colombian Brandon Moran, a Florida Gold Coast senior championship winner in the 200 breaststroke and women’s team features Solana Capalbo, a Cooper City High alum and winner of the 100 freestyle at the FGC senior championships and BCAA Championships. Both are sophomores.

Fall sports had previously been postponed in mid-July. Teams are hoping to return in January. Student-athletes are already attending classes on-campus.

“Unfortunately, this very difficult decision needed to be made at this time,” NSU athletic director Michael Mominey told the media. “However, the optimistic way to look at the news is that this decision does give us the opportunity to properly and safely plan for the return of competition in all our sports in early 2021.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Will Host Membership Meeting Saturday To Announce Fall Schedule

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, September 16, 2020—It’s full speed ahead for South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers.

CEO and head coach Chris Anderson will host a SOFLO membership meeting Saturday morning at 9 a.m. on a Zoom platform to announce the 2020 fall schedule including exciting and innovative home and away meets for all ages.

An email invite will be distributed to all SOFLO parents and members with the Zoom link before the scheduled meeting.

The fall schedule features sanctioned virtual meets, on-site meets at Academic Village Pool and away meets in Plantation and Sunrise.

“We have made the adjustments during this pandemic and we have kids in the water every day,” Anderson said. “We are trying to address every training group. We have a plan for the fall season and on paper it looks great.

“I don’t think anyone could ask for anything more. I think we are doing a great job. There are not many clubs around the state able to do what we have been able to do.”

Two virtual meets will kick off the schedule. On Oct. 2-3, a dual meet against the Sarasota Y Sharks and Oct. 23-24 against the Mason Manta Rays will be held for 12-and-under and 13-and-over swimmers following high school and college formats.

SOFLO will host a Last Chance Meet, Nov. 20-21, single age group dual meets format for 10-and-unders, 11-12, 13-14 and 15-16. The four dual meets will be staggered. A handful of Florida Gold Coast teams including Plantation Swim Team, will be invited to compete at Academic Village Pool.

The 30th annual FGC Speedo Winter Championships, hosted by Plantation Swim Team and City of Plantation, is set for Dec. 10-13 with a cap of 400 swimmers and Holiday Championships are tentatively scheduled for Dec. 18-20 at Sunrise, if the pool is available.

The sectional Florida State Championships featuring six events will be a virtual meet held Dec. 18-19 at four sites including Academic Village Pool with a prelims and finals format. Sailfish Waterpark in Stuart is another definite site. The remaining two sites will be Jacksonville or Gainesville and Clearwater or Sarasota.

Anderson and members of his staff will also talk about dryland training and what the swimmers should be doing, practice schedules and direction the team is going as far as training.

SOFLO will continue to observe stringent local, state and federal public health COVID-19 guidelines in the unique competitive formats. As always, adjustments will be made depending on the percentage rate of COVID-19.

The larger USA Swimming-sanctioned home meets will mostly be run with volunteers and full capacity of USA Swimming officials. No spectators or fans will be permitted on deck.

Sharon Robb can be reached at