By Sharon Robb
PEMBROKE PINES, May 25, 2021–How many swimmers can say their first disqualification in swimming was from their dad?

Sarah Acevedo can make that claim to fame.

It was her second or third meet with South Florida Aquatic Club. She was 9 years old competing in an age group meet in a backstroke event and missed the turn.

“He deeked me,” she said with a laugh. “For a while every time I swam the backstroke I got deeked, but my dad was the first.

“Back then I was a little bit upset with him but now I laugh about it and tell all my friends. I think it’s the funniest thing ever. In the last four years when I got disqualified, he always reminds me he was my first disqualification.”

Eight years later, Acevedo, 17, is one of SOFLO’s top seniors headed this fall to University of Tampa where she plans to major in communications and for the first semester plans to walk on the swim team.

And her dad, Hector Acevedo, is the first USA Swimming official from SOFLO selected to work next month’s U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha, Neb.

“He’s missing my graduation for it, but I told him to go,” Acevedo said. “My graduation will probably be live streamed anyway. I think he’s really excited, but he’s holding it in. Everything my parents have done in officiating is definitely not because of me. They do it because they really like it.”

Acevedo played peewee soccer when she was 3. “But my dad said it wasn’t my sport so after that I was in swimming,” she said. “I love being in the water, I can’t do any land sports, I’m not very coordinated.”

She enjoyed horseback riding when she was young and still does junior lifeguard surf rescue contests but swimming is her sport.

Acevedo started swimming with the Cooper City Cyclones where she learned how to swim at age 5. She moved to SOFLO when she was 8.

“Everyone at SOFLO has always been so welcoming throughout the whole eight years that I’ve been there,” Acevedo said. “After the first year when I got to meet everyone and got comfortable, I was super happy. I love SOFLO. It’s like my second home.”

Acevedo said the biggest turning point in her swimming career was “when I moved to SOFLO. It was a lot more competitive, even for 8 and 9-year-olds. Everyone was so focused in all the groups. The coaches gave you goals. My goal was to get a JO cut when I was 10 and I got it. I knew then I could be competitive and keep with the sport for a while.”

Among her best races was the 2019 spring sectionals where she unexpectedly made finals in the 200 butterfly and then dropped four seconds off her best time. At the 2019 Cayman Islands open water event, she was second woman in the mile and second overall in the 3K. “That was my peak, I was like I’m never getting better than this,” she said.

One of her favorite SOFLO memories was her last short course Senior Championships in 2018, when she won the 800 freestyle relay with Molly, Mallory and Kayla. “I don’t think anyone really expected us to,” she said. “It was a super fun environment. Relays are always fun. You always want to do good for your team. It was just a nice memory I had.”

She also enjoyed pushing SOFLO coach Chris Anderson into the pool with her teammates after Senior Championships. “We always managed to get him in,” she said with a laugh.

Acevedo said she will miss “a lot of things” when she leaves SOFLO.

“My friends, Coach Chris and all our coaches, just the environment that we had. We’re all so close, we’re like our own little family.”

Swimming has helped Acevedo with time management outside the pool. “Especially in high school,” she said. “It helped me get my life together, do my homework and go to bed early to wake up at 5 a.m. for practice.”

Acevedo can’t imagine her life without swimming. She was out of the water during the COVID-19 lockdown and also nursed a knee injury in March, 2020.

“I had a little taste of life without swimming and it was really awful,” Acevedo said. “I don’t know where I would be if I wasn’t swimming.”

Acevedo was one of 23 graduating seniors honored last Sunday during Seniors Night in an intimate setting at Academic Village Pool.

“When we all started our freshman year of high school we all thought ahead “wow, we’re all going to stay together and graduate and do the high school experience together. It was really cool. Looking back on it, we all grew up with each other.”

Acevedo will graduate Everglades High School on June 7th.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Author: South Florida Aquatic Club - SOFLO Swimming

Welcome to the South Florida Aquatic club, a premier community swim team dedicated to providing opportunity and encouragement to all team members, from the beginner to the seasoned Olympic athlete in their pursuit of excellence. The year-round development program for competitive swimming features life-enhancing qualities including integrity, discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship and health and fitness. We invite you to navigate the club’s portal for information about the team.

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