Podkoscielny, Pelaez, Stoneburg, Zuchowski Named To 2021-22 U.S. National Junior Team

By Sharon Robb
COLORADO SPRINGS, October 19, 2021—Four South Florida swimmers were named to the 2021-22 U.S. National Junior Team, USA Swimming announced.

They are Julia Podkoscielny, Blair Stoneburg, Erika Pelaez and Josh Zuchowski. It is the first time in more than 10 years, four South Florida swimmers earned the honor.

Podkoscielny represents Pine Crest Panthers Swimming and Pine Crest School; Stoneburg of Treasure Coast Aquatics and Jensen Beach High School; Zuchowski of FAST and King’s Academy; and Pelaez of Eagle Aquatics and South Florida Heat.

Podskoscielny is a University of Florida commit; Stoneburg has verbally committed to University of Wisconsin-Madison and Zuchowski is headed to Stanford.

Pelaez was selected for her 100 freestyle swim at the Piranhas Senior Invitational (55.51).

Stoneburg was selected for the 1500 freestyle (16:37.08) at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis.

Podkoscielny was chosen for the 400 individual medley (4:44.83) at the Piranhas Senior Invitational.

Zuchowski was selected for the 200 backstroke (2:00.22) at the U.S. Olympic trials in a time trial.

To be eligible for selection, athletes had to be 18 years or younger and eligible to represent the U.S. in international competition on September 1, 2021.

The performance criteria to select the National Junior Team include the top two athletes in each individual Olympic event, as well as additional female athletes who have a World Ranking within, and including, the top 75 in an individual Olympic event and additional male athletes who have a World Ranking within, and including, the top 100 in an individual Olympic event that have also achieved a time faster or equal to the established time standards.

The 72 pool swimmers and seven open water swimmers selected are from 26 states and 61 clubs.

With four athletes apiece, Nation’s Capital Swim Club and TAC Titans had the most swimmers on the team. Sandpipers of Nevada and SwimMAC each had three selections. North Carolina is the highest-represented state with 10 athletes, followed by California with eight.

Athletes will remain named to the National Junior Team until August 31, 2022.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

South Florida Aquatic Club Awarded USA Swimming National Club Excellence Silver Medal Third Year In A Row

By Sharon Robb
PEMBROKE PINES, October 19, 2021—For the third consecutive year, South Florida Aquatic Club, the largest and one of the most diverse clubs in the Florida Gold Coast, was awarded USA Swimming’s Silver Medal National Club Excellence Award for 2022.

Until two years ago, SOFLO had been a Bronze Medal club eight years (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019), but had never earned a silver medal.

SOFLO’s first year of existence was 2011 after starting out as the Comets. The club is currently celebrating 21 years of existence.

The club excellence award program, now in its 22nd year, is divided into gold, silver and bronze divisions. The rankings only include 18-and-under swimmers eliminating most pro and college swimmers.

The Top-20 clubs earn Gold level ranking and those rated 21-100 are designated as Silver honorees. The next 100 clubs are recognized at the Bronze level.

The rankings give points scores based on a power point rating system that gives swim points based on how fast it is relative to a swimmer’s age.

The focus of the USA Swimming voluntary program is to identify and reward up to 200 USA Swimming-sanctioned clubs that have attained a high level of athlete performance.

The program strives to meet the following initiatives:

Promote the development of strong, well-rounded age group and senior swimming programs that produce elite 18-and-under athletes.

Provide recognition and resources to motivate and assist member clubs to strive for the highest ideals of athlete performances.

Florida Swimming led all LSCs with 14 clubs recognized.

SOFLO earned 8,273 rating points and is one of three Florida Gold Coast clubs (St. Andrew’s Aquatics, Eagle Aquatics and Pine Crest are the others) and one of six Florida teams (Tampa Bay Aquatic Club, T2 Aquatics, Highlander Aquatic Club, Sarasota Tsunami, Tampa Elite and Gator Swim Club).

Among Bronze Medal Florida clubs are Area Tallahassee, St. Petersburg Aquatics, Swim Florida, Flood Aquatics Swim Team, Planet Swim, Loggerhead Aquatics and Treasure Coast Swimming.

Only gold and silver level clubs are provided grant funding.

For the first time TAC Titans earned the top spot in the rankings dethroning Nation’s Capital Swim Club of the Washington, D.C. area that had won seven consecutive Club Excellence titles. TAC Titans had 69,591 points, 9,215 ahead of Nation’s Capital (60,376). SwimMAC, Dynamo and Carmel Swim Club rounded out the top five.

Only two Florida teams made the Top 20, Sarasota Sharks with 45,915 points to rank seventh. Bolles School Sharks is ranked 18th with 25,216.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com