LIFE FITNESS CORNER: Comets Swim School Offers Free Swim Lesson This Summer

LIFE FITNESS CORNER: Comets Swim School Offers Free Swim Lesson This Summer


May 28, 2012

With the last day of school right around the corner, kids are getting ready for summer and some well-deserved fun.

Many kids will head to the pool or beach with parents or friends this summer.

Many are already water-safe and know how to swim. But others, particularly children ages one to four, do not know how to swim while others need a refresher course.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, drowning is the leading cause of injury or death among children ages one to four.

Males make up approximately 80 percent of drowning victims. Researchers say they often overestimate their swimming ability.

According to the USA Swimming Foundation, 70 percent of African-American and 60 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim.

Also in the CDC report, black children between the ages of 5-14 are three times more likely to drown than white children. There is an ongoing effort to increase education in communities populated with African-American and Hispanic children.

CDC officials strongly urge everyone should learn swimming basics and CPR. Early formal swimming lessons are recommended for kids as well as basic water survival skills.

To get kids started off on the right foot this summer, the Comets Swim School is offering one free swim lesson at the Academic Village Pool in Pembroke Pines, site of the South Florida Aquatic Club, one of the most successful teams in the Florida Gold Coast.

Also available are lessons at reasonable prices for infants, adults, beginners to competitive swimmers and those who want triathlon-specific training.

The dates which the free lesson is being offered are June 9, 16, 23, 30 and July 7.

Those interested in signing up for this summer’s free lesson can call the swim office at 954-538-3724 or go to

Sharon Robb can be reached at

TRIATHLON ROUNDUP: SOFLO’s Rich Nixon Helps Fallen Triathlete, May Have Cost Him Hawaii Ironman Slot

TRIATHLON ROUNDUP: SOFLO’s Rich Nixon Helps Fallen Triathlete, May Have Cost Him Hawaii Ironman Slot


May 1, 2011

The selfless act of Rich Nixon going to the aid of a fallen pro woman triathlete in Sunday’s 70.3 St. Croix Half Ironman in the U.S. Virgin Islands may have cost him.

Nixon, 47, of Coconut Creek, trains at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex. His daughter Morgan is a member of the South Florida Aquatic Club swim team.

Nixon was in contention with three other riders during the bike leg for one of the two available Hawaii Ironman slots in his age group.

The top four age group riders were within a minute of each other when Nixon pulled up on the course to help a pro woman triathlete who crashed during the bike leg and was unable to return to the race.

“I would rather be a good human being than win a race,” Nixon said. “You still have to be a human being and gentleman. I can’t swerve by somebody like they are road kill.

“I helped her to side of the road,” Nixon said. “She went down hard. She didn’t hit her head but she was full of road rash. I would do that over and over again and not get a slot to Kona.”

Nixon finished fourth in his age group (45-49) and 36th overall among a field of more than 500 in 4 hours, 55 minutes and 51 seconds. He had moved from ninth in his age group after his 32:25 1.2-mile split to fifth after his 3:17:38 56-mile bike split.

Nixon lost about two minutes and maybe even two places by stopping. He may have been able to make it up on the run but encountered stomach problems early in the run.

“The real issue I had was nutritional,” Nixon said. “The first six miles of the run I hadn’t digested what I ate and I felt nine months pregnant. I may have eaten too much for breakfast or took in too many calories during the bike. It was all sitting in my stomach and I was absolutely miserable. I drank nothing but water. I finally found my mojo the last six miles but it was too late.”

By midway through the run, Nixon knew his shot at a Kona slot was gone.

“Mentally, it was absolutely good because at that point it would have been easy to quit,” Nixon said. “I just thought suck it up Buttercup and go as hard as you can. It was good learning to deal with adversity.”

It was Nixon’s first race in St. Croix and proved more challenging than he expected.

“This is a big boy race, it is tough,” Nixon said. “There is not a flat part to the race. The only flat part was the swim and that wasn’t that flat, it was choppy, too.

“They talk about ‘the beast’ and how grueling it is to get up that hill and it is, that is no joke. It is just hill after hill after hill and we had pretty relentless winds as well.”

Nixon will make another attempt to qualify for Hawaii at the June 12 Subaru Ironman 70.3 Eagleman in Oxford, Maryland.

In the St. Croix men’s pro race only sixteen seconds separated first and second place. Ukrainian Maksym Kriat, who lives and trains in Clermont, won the men’s race in 4:11:43 and Aussie Luke Bell was second in 4:11.59.

Great Britain’s Catriona Morrison, coming off her Ironman 70.3 Texas win, won the women’s race in 4:29:28, more than a 4-minute margin of victory.

Tampa Triathlete Comes To The Rescue

Tampa nurse Teresa McCoy, who was competing in Saturday’s St. Anthony’s Meek and Mighty Triathlon in St. Petersburg, saved the life of a fellow triathlete during the race.

McCoy stopped during her race to help a man who had collapsed on the course. She recognized the man, whose family asked that he not be identified. She had talked with him briefly before the race.

McCoy checked for a pulse and couldn’t feel one. The police thought he may have had a seizure. McCoy started CPR and asked for a defribillator. The man came to as soon as they used the defribillator. Paramedics rushed him to the local hospital where he is being treated.

McCoy returned to the race and finished in 50:37. Her splits were 5:10, 31:09 and 9:59. Later she told local reporters that “God put her where she was supposed to be Saturday.”

Ospaly, Haskins Wins St. Anthony’s Triathlon

2008 Olympian Filip Ospaly won the men’s title and Sarah Haskins won the women’s title Sunday in the 28th annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Petersburg.

Ospaly, 35, of the Czech Republic, won in 1:41:22, just 14 seconds ahead of two-time St. Anthony’s champion Matt Reed in 1:41:36 and 19 seconds ahead of defending champion Cameron Dye in 1:41:41.

“This is a big win for me,” said Ospaly, who was second in last year’s 70.3 Clearwater event. His 10K run split was 30:54. “I knew my finish was strong.”

U.S. Olympian Haskins, 30, the defending women’s champion, had a little more breathing room winning in 1:52:28 ahead of Liz Blatchford (1:53:07) and Sarah Groff (1:53:34).

The course was a 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run. The swim leg had to be re-located and shortened by 500 meters because of high winds.

Jacobs Wins First Ironman Title

Pete Jacobs, who ran a 2:53:37 final marathon leg, won Ironman Australia Sunday in 8 hours and 29 minutes to take home his first title.

Jacobs had a 46:29 split for the 2.4-mile swim, nearly a 3-minute lead. He finished the 112-mile bike leg in 4:41:04.

Defending champion Peter Vernay, going after his fifth title, was second in 8:35:14.

Caroline Steffen of New South Wales won the women’s title in 9:29:54. She was second after her swim split of 50:35. She took the lead early in the bike and despite two flats completed her split in 5:12:39. Her run split was 3:22:10.

About 1,100 athletes competed in the New South Wales event.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

ISHOF Adds New Safety Device For Jan. 8 Rough Water Swim

ISHOF Adds New Safety Device For Jan. 8 Rough Water Swim


December 28, 2010

With a solid safety plan already in place for years, an additional safety device will be offered to swimmers in the January 8 International Swimming Hall of Fame’s 41st annual Fort Lauderdale Rough Water Swim off Fort Lauderdale beach.

Since the tragic death of 26-year-old U.S. national team member Fran Crippen at an October open water swim in the United Arab Emirates, open water swimming has come under scrutiny.

While the investigation into Crippen’s death is ongoing, local open water race officials are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of every swimmer and for the race to maintain its perfect safety record.

“This is about safety and lives of swimmers,” said ISHOF CEO and president Bruce Wigo, who has been an open water swimmer since age 10.

ISHOF ordered three hundred open water safety balls that will be made available to any swimmer wishing to use one during the swim.

Wigo first saw a photo of the unique product, that ties around the swimmer’s waist, used at the Pearl River Swim, featuring 15,000 swimmers in China, is not only a flotation safety device but also has a compartment that can hold towels, clothes and valuables when swimming alone in open water.

“I always wanted to try this product, something like this is inevitable,” Wigo said. “It doesn’t impede or slow down the swimmer. It goes around the waist. It’s an inflatable float that rides the back flow of the swimmer, it doesn’t pull, it just rides through the water. There is no drag at all.”

Wigo remembers his early days as an open water swimmer when he put himself at risk unknowingly. “When I look back at it now…” Wigo said.

“We would like as many people possible to use them as an experiment,” Wigo said. “I am convinced if Fran had been wearing this it would have been easy to note that his identification marker wasn’t moving. I think it’s perfect. We want to try to get people to use it.”

Crippen, in Fort Lauderdale last year for an open water clinic for local swimmers and coaches, won the Rough Water Swim in 19 minutes and 25.4 seconds.

ISHOF is working closely with Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue to ensure all standards established by the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) for open water swimming are in place including safety buoys.

The swim is parallel to the beach and swimmers will be observed from both the beach and ocean side of the course.

The open water swim was started in 1969 by the legendary Buck Dawson, founder of the International Swimming Hall of Fame Museum and one of the early open water swimming pioneers.

Wigo is hoping for a good turnout of swimmers of all ages from local clubs, high school and masters teams to the popular event. Numbers were low last year, he said.

Even before Crippen died, some college athletic directors would not allow their teams that were pool training in South Florida during the holidays, to participate in any open water swim because of the risk. College swimmers always looked forward to the change of scenery swimming in the ocean.

Numbers have been low for the College Swim Forum in Fort Lauderdale as well mainly because of the economy and travel problems.

Awards will be presented for the one mile swim in age group, college and masters divisions as well as the top 10 male and female finishers.

Registration is underway online at or at the ISHOF Gift and Pro Shop. There is also race day registration with an additional $10 fee. The race begins at 9:30 a.m. on Fort Lauderdale Beach at Vistamar Street. The race finishes in front of the ISHOF facility on the beach at SE Fifth Street.

Another open water swim is scheduled for Sunday, January 2 at 9:30 a.m.

The Delray Beach Ocean Rescue Ocean Mile Swim will be held on Anchor Park Municipal Beach right off South Ocean Blvd. The well-organized event, open to all ages, benefits the Delray Beach Ocean Rescue Lifeguard Competition Team. There is free parking at Sandoway Park. Lifeguards will be on paddleboards and all lifeguard towers will be open. For more information call 561-243-7352 or email

Another fun event this weekend is the largest paddle boarding event hosted by Miami.

The World Paddle Association’s Orange Bowl Paddle Championship will take place at 11 a.m. on Sunday, January 2 at the Bayside Marketplace Marina, 401 Biscayne Blvd. The event includes a five-mile race from Biscayne Bay to the Miami River for competition and amateur paddle boarders.

There will also be live music, charity raffle and demonstrations. The race is open to anyone. All proceeds benefit Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Great Miami. The event fee is $10. Admission includes credit for a burger and refreshment. For more information go to

Sharon Robb can be reached at





July 4, 2010, Issue Two

Boxing workouts are becoming more popular among swimmers including Michael Phelps.

And, it’s easy to see why!

“The first day our boxing trainer broke us down,” said Clive Lowe, 25, of Coral Springs, a former Douglas and Montana State football player, now pro boxer and personal trainer.

“They put us on punching bags for three-minute rounds,” Lowe said. “After the first forty-five seconds we were dead tired. The first thing you realize is how long three minutes is. Three minutes is forever.”

Phelps, the 14-time Olympic gold medalist, is mixing up his dryland training this time around in his lead-up to the 2012 London Olympics.

He has added more Olympic-style weightlifting exercises including free weight squats and power cleans, more running and boxing exercises.

Phelps said he is doing a few boxing exercises to improve his core strength and replicate movements he does in the pool.

Boxing has helped improve his form, tempo and muscle memory. He is forced to use his hips and entire body more when he works the heavy bag.

Different cross-training ideas help make it more interesting and fun for swimmers, boosting endurance and cardiovascular fitness level as well as helping to reduce mental staleness and fatigue.

So if Phelps packs more of a punch in the pool around 2012, you will know why.


Dara Torres, who competed in her fifth Olympic Games in 2008 at age 41 and added three more silver medals to her collection, is plugging her new book, “Gold Medal Fitness” around the country. The book, priced at $25.99, is a health, exercise, stretching and nutrition book with tips about how she got so fit. There is a five-week workout and food plan. Said Torres, “Five weeks is sort of the do-or-don’t or hit-or-miss mark when you know if you will stay with it.” The book is a follow-up to her memoir, “Age Is Just A Number.” The exercises in her book can be done by people at any level of fitness. One of her six-pack secrets is to tone on an unstable surface like a BOSU. It forces you to engage your core to balance.


A study by the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle has found a way to help people when they feel overwhelmed. Sit or lie down and listen to instrumental music or nature sounds for an hour while breathing deeply. Try this every week and you will lower your anxiety level as much as people who get regular massages. Wear loose clothing, dim the lights and close your eyes to help calm down faster.


Walking on sand can burn up to 80 percent more calories per mile. Researchers also said that walking on uneven surfaces makes your legs and butt muscles work harder. It may also improve your balance, decreasing the chance of injury.


Visualizing success at the gym makes you more likely to stick with your routine, according to a research study at the University of Bath in England. When exercisers pictured a flattering version of themselves making progress, 91 percent were more motivated to keep moving. Keeping a log of your achievements can also help your attitude, researchers said.

Sharon Robb can be reached at




July 4, 2010, Issue One

Got milk?

For years, elite athletes including five-time Olympian Dara Torres and Olympic triathlon champion Simon Whitfield have been drinking milk or chocolate milk after workouts.

It turns out that studies have shown drinking milk actually benefits an athlete’s recovery.

According to results published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, replenishing your carbohydrate stores and supplementing with protein after a workout is the best way you can recover for the next workout.

Drinking chocolate milk helps the body rehydrate and rebuild muscle that has been sapped of energy during rigorous exercise.

A recent study at McMaster University in Hamilton printed in the June issue of Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise found women who drink two large glasses of milk a day after their weightlifting sessions gained more muscle and lost more fat compared to women who drink sugar-based energy drinks.

Researchers found similar results in men but the scientists were most surprised by the fat-fighting properties of milk.

Milk really does a body good!


Here’s an inexpensive tip for swimmers trying to defog their goggles. Coat each lens inside and out with non-gel toothpaste and rinse. The paste helps prevent haziness.


Zen meditation may ease acute and chronic aches, according to a study from the University of Montreal. Experts say the practice appears to thicken areas of the brain cortex, reducing sensitivity to pain.


According to experts, you may want to think twice about “detoxing” for long periods of time in a spa sauna or sweat lodge. Perspiration is mostly water and not toxins. The detoxing for long periods of time can cause heat stroke and other health problems. Experts say if you like to steam up, stay hydrated and limit yourself to fifteen minutes.


By taking a 30-minute mid-afternoon snooze, researchers at Harvard Medical School said you will be more energized and think more clearly. Find a spot that is dark, quiet and cool so you will fall asleep faster.


If you don’t have money to hire a personal trainer and nutritionist, go to the Internet and log in to For just $10 per week the site will set you up with a virtual personal trainer who will create a total fitness plan geared toward your goals and interests including daily meals and workouts.


Unexplained aches and pains in kids’ bones or muscles are common according to experts. Most youngsters outgrow them within five years or by age thirteen. Until then, ease discomfort with massage and over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).


To keep your body running like an engine and concentration high, eat or graze about every three hours. Energizing between-meal snacks include a handful of almonds or walnuts or dried fruits


Having friends not only make you happy but can also have an effect on your health. People with lots of friends live longer than those who don’t have many, according to a recent Australian study. Friends are also stress busters, according to a UCLA study. In tough times, friends bond which helps to reduce blood pressure and heart rate.

Sharon Robb can be reached at