2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games Two-Year Countdown Kicked Off Tuesday

By Sharon Robb
PARIS, France, July 26, 2022—Let the countdown begin for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Because of the year’s delay to Tokyo 2020 caused by the pandemic, it seems like only yesterday when Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky were tearing it up in the pool. Now the spectacle returns in only two years when the best athletes in the world, including several from South Florida, compete on one of the world’s biggest sports stages beginning July 26.

A hundred years after last hosting the Olympics, the French capital will again host the Olympics and Paralympic Games. Many events will take place in iconic locations in the heart of the city including the Opening Ceremony along the River Seine when athletes will be paraded on boats down the river as an expected 600,000 spectators witness the event.

“The DNA of Paris 2024 is about sport, it is athlete-centered,” said Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet. “We want to offer the best sporting conditions to our community of athletes.”

Thirty-two sports, featuring 329 events, will be held over 18 days of competition through August 11th.

Olympic officials announced the official Paris 2024 slogan which they said reflects a new era of the Olympic Games. The official slogan is “Games Wide Open.”

Estanguet released the slogan on Monday as part of the kickoff.

“Games Wide Open” is the shared slogan for both the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games,” he said. “Above all, since the beginning of this adventure, it is the ambition that drives us and inspires each of our actions.

“It is an invitation to the world to come and experience new emotions together. Our Games are the commitments of new experiences and big thrills. New disciplines, outdoor competitions in the heart of Paris, a unique Opening Ceremony on the Seine, the Marathon for all so that everyone can run this iconic Olympic event like the athletes.

“It’s a power. The power to open our hearts and minds, to stop seeing differences as obstacles. The power to write the greatest collective story of a whole generation, through everyone’s contribution, by giving room for everyone: all the territories, the expertise, and all those who wish to join us.

“To deliver inspiring Games that will help take the Olympic and Paralympic Movement into a new era. Bold and creative Games that dare to take a step outside the box, to challenge the current models, our ways of seeing things, our paradigms; to give us the opportunity to come together, to be proud together, to experience together. Quite simply a Games wide open.”

The official launch of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games ticketing, including the full price list, will take place in December 2022.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Five South Florida, Florida Gold Coast Swimmers Will Compete At Commonwealth Games

By Sharon Robb
BIRMINGHAM, England, July 26, 2022–Five swimmers with South Florida and Florida Gold Coast connections will compete in the XXII Commonwealth Games at Sandwell Aquatic Center.

The meet begins Friday and ends Wednesday, August 3.

Azura Florida Aquatics is sending three swimmers: St. Andrew’s School alum Sidrell Williams of Jamaica, Kito Campbell of Jamaica and Jayhan Odlum-Smith of St. Lucia.

Two-time Olympian Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago and Plantation American Heritage alum and St. Andrew’s School alum and Florida State’s Izaak Bastian of the Bahamas will also compete.

Seven reigning world champions will compete including Ben Proud, Elijah Winnington, Zac Stubblety-Cook, Mollie O’Callaghan, Kylie Masse, Kaylee McKeown and Summer McIntosh.

Other notables competing are Adam Peaty, Ariarne Titmus, Emma McKeon, Tatjana Schoenmaker, Duncan Scott and Maggie MacNeil.

The Opening Ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games will take place at Alexander Stadium on Thursday with all 72 countries within the Commonwealth. While the Closing Ceremony is scheduled to take place on 8 August 2022, with all 72 countries returning to Alexander Stadium.

Commonwealth Games Federation’s Executive Board has included 3 new sports namely Women’s T20 cricket, beach volleyball, and Para table tennis for the 2022 edition of the Commonwealth Games.

ESPN, BBC and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will live stream the events on their platforms. Prelims are 10:30 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. EST) and finals 7 p.m. (2 p.m. EST).

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO Swimmers Begin Competing Wednesday At USA Swimming Futures Championship

By Sharon Robb
CARY, N.C., July 26, 2022—South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers will be among a talented field when the USA Swimming Futures Championship begins Wednesday at Triangle Aquatic Center.

The Futures Championship is designed as an intermediate step between Sectional Championships and Junior Nationals or National Championships, and open to swimmers of all ages who have time standards.

SOFLO’s talented contingent includes Javier Colmenares, 16; Elena Dinehart, 17; Olivia Dinehart, 17; Natalie Gembicki, 17; Alex Golding, 18; Sophia Grubbs, 17; Austin Nelson, 16; Wisthon Rendon, 18; Ricardo Roche, 22; Rafael Rodriguez, 20; Mallory Schleicher, 18; Maddie Smutny, 17; and Izzy Wilson, 15.

SOFLO swimmers (seven girls and six boys) will compete in 48 individual events and one relay.

Other notable swimmers competing are: Julia Podkoscielny of Pine Crest Swimming; Kaii Winkler of Eagle Aquatics; Heidi Smithwick, Jupiter Dragons; Addison Sauickie and Gracie Weyant of Sarasota Sharks; Jillian Crooks of TS Aquatics; Hannah Bellard of Club Wolverine; Davidson Vincent of Azura; and Lismar Lyon of Midtown Weston

Podkoscielny, 17, seeded first in the 400 IM (4:43.57) and 200 backstroke (2:12.42) is prepping for Junior Pan Pacs.

The seventh edition of Futures is one of five around the nation. In previous years, there were four hosting sites for four designated regions. The Board of Directors added another site and adjusted the boundary map to accommodate the fifth region.

Swimmers from the following LSCs are eligible to compete including Florida Gold Coast, Florida Swimming, Southeastern, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Indiana.

The other Futures sites are Geneva, Ohio; Minneapolis; College Station, Tex. and Santa Clara, Calif. The meets are capped at 800 swimmers.

Wednesday events are men’s and women’s 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter breaststroke, 200-meter butterfly, 800-meter freestyle and 1500-meter freestyle. The 800, 1500 and all relays are timed final events. Prelims are 9 a.m. and finals at 5:30 p.m.

Stanford-bound Josh Zuchowski of FAST is competing in this week’s U.S. Summer Nationals in Irvine, Calif. The meet, which began Tuesday, is a lead-up to the Junior Pac Pacific Championships in Hawaii in August for him. He is entered in the 100 and 200 backstrokes, 100 butterfly and 200 IM. He is coming off last week’s FGC Senior Championships. In Tuesday morning’s prelims, Erika Pelaez, 16, of Eagle Aquatics turned in a 54.65 lifetime best in the 100-meter freestyle prelims of U.S. Nationals to move from No. 38 to seventh in the 15-16 year-old rankings.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com


By Sharon Robb
MIAMI, July 25, 2022–Niccolo Miccolis is seeing his hard work and dedication pay off.

At 9, Miccolis was one of the youngest swimmers to make his Junior Olympics cut in the 50-meter freestyle during the BB Championships.

Miccolis, who trains with SOFLO age group coach Chloe Hampson, recently moved up from the Bull Sharks to Blue Sharks.

“He is a very hard worker,” Hampson said. “Basically, he is ready for practice early, he shows up to practices and he is always there and very focused.

“I give him a workout, I write the set and I decide the focus and he goes and does it. He will ask questions at practice. He is very focused for a 9-year-old and I have worked with a lot of 9-year-olds. I was one myself.”

Three weeks ago Miccolis got his JO cut at BB Championships and competed the next week at JOs.

“He was so excited at his first JOs,” Hampson said. “He came in, had a new JOs shirt and walked in all confident.”

At JOs, Miccolis finished 21st in the 10-and-under 50-meter freestyle in 36.29. His best time is 34.87. He also swam anchor leg on the second place 200-meter medley relay with teammates Michael Barber, Toma Petkov and Ethan Phan and swam anchor on the 200-meter freestyle relay with Barber, Luis Escobar and Gabriel Ferrer.

Miccolis, 9, is a fourth grader in the Magnet Program at George Washington Carver Elementary School in international studies. His older sister Didia, 11, swims with the Makos and his little brother Leone is taking lessons.

“I am more competitive at practice than my sister but in races she does a little better,” said Miccolis, who has been swimming since he was 2 and started competitive swimming at 8.

“I like competitive swimming and I’m really good at it,” he said. “I like being in the water. I have to keep on training so I can be good. It’s fun. Coach Chloe makes me improve.”

His mom Laura said he loves to stay busy. Swimming has helped him with time management.

“Swimming gives me something to do instead of just sitting on the couch,” Miccolis said. “I like to be organized. I like to have a good schedule. I don’t think I have too much free time with swimming and school.”

His favorite stroke is freestyle.

“I like it a lot,” he said. “I got my first JO in the freestyle. I liked being at JOs because I was one of the youngest swimmers. It was a good experience for me. It was my biggest meet. This has been my best season so far.”

Miccolis played soccer during the winter season and loves skateboarding. He is training to be a certified scuba diver when he turns 10 so he can dive with his sister who is already certified. He likes to collect foreign money. He loves school and his favorite subjects are math and social studies. His favorite swimmer is Caeleb Dressel. He trains close to home at Westminster Christian School’s pool.

“It’s perfect for us because they are all swimming at different times and my husband (Fabio) and I are going back and forth from school and practice,” Laura Miccolis said.

“I am so happy all my kids are swimming,” she said. “I started them early when they were little because I wanted them to be ready in case they fell in a pool. We started them with AquaKids and kept going. We like this environment. We never thought we could start competitive swimming. It keeps them busy and focused. It helps them to be organized and manage their time.

“Niccolo and Didia put a lot of effort into it. Working hard in swimming makes them realize they get results. They put in the effort and it helps them to succeed and improve. We know they are working hard on the little things and these are the little steps that make them realize it is worth it to keep going and working hard to make new goals.”

Each TYR Swimmer of the Month receives a free TYR backpack. Miccolis joins SOFLO swimmers Alex Golding (April), Guillermo Mantilla (March), Tristan Dons (February) and Hashan Ekanayake (January) as 2022 TYR Swimmers of the Month.

SOFLO sponsor TYR is a USA manufacturer of recreational and competitive swimwear, caps, goggles, triathlon gear and accessories and one of the nation’s top companies. TYR, created by athletes, is named for the Norse god of warriors in Germanic mythology.

Among its male-sponsored athletes are 2020 Olympians Michael Andrew, Tom Shields, Nic Fink, Townley Haas and Jordan Wilimovsky and other elite swimmers Matt Grevers, Maxime Rooney, Jacob Pebley and Ryan Lochte.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com