NIKE AUGUST SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Isabella Di Salvo

NIKE AUGUST SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Isabella Di Salvo


Isabella Di Salvo of South Florida Aquatic Club is the Nike Swimmer of the Month for August.

DiSalvo, 12, a seventh grader at Somerset Academy, is known for her work ethic in and out of the pool.

“Isabella trains incredibly hard,” said SOFLO Bronze Group coach Rose Lockie. “She is very dedicated to practice. If she has to leave practice early for whatever reason, she will usually come to the pool early in order to get her workout done.

“She just does what she is supposed to do,” Lockie said. “She is one of the top female swimmers in Bronze. She never gives up a set, no matter how hard the set is.”

The Florida Gold Coast and team record holder learned to swim when she was five and started competing at age 7. She was also involved in dance including ballet and flamenco but has since focused on swimming as her main sport.

“I started lessons because I wanted to be safer in the water,” Di Salvo said. “I really liked it so I started swimming competitively two years later.”

Di Salvo has been a member of the SOFLO family for four years.

“I have improved in swimming since I have been here,” Di Salvo said. “My parents encourage me and I really like the sport. I push myself, too.”

Di Salvo is one of the team’s most versatile athletes swimming nearly every event. Her favorites are the 100- and 200 butterfly and 200 backstroke.

“I like setting goals for myself and I like seeing myself accomplish them,” Di Salvo said.

Di Salvo was ecstatic about her swims at the Florida Gold Coast Junior Olympics at Plantation Aquatic Complex. She medaled in all her favorite events.

“I came first in the 200 backstroke which I was really happy about; third in the 200 butterfly, one of my favorite events; and third in the 100 butterfly.”

Di Salvo is dedicated whether it’s in school or in the pool and manages her time well. After school lets out in the afternoon, she heads to the pool. She does some of her homework in the car while waiting for her sister to finish her swim practice.

“I really like swimming because it keeps me in shape,” Di Salvo said. “I have made a lot of friends at the pool because of swimming. It also helps me be strong which I really like.”

She said her swim heroes are Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin and SOFLO teammate Alia Atkinson and is motivated to follow in their footsteps.

“I want to improve my times and make myself a better swimmer and be No. 1,” Di Salvo said.

DiSalvo joins other SOFLO Swimmers of the Month sisters Kathleen and Molly Golding for January, Sebastian Sierra for February, Jessica Rodriguez for March, Leonardo Mateus for April, Rafael Rodriguez for May, Valentina Carrion for June and Erika Pelaez for July.

The Nike Swimmer of the Month award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, is awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at both swim meets and practice sessions.—Sharon Robb

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com
http://www.swim4soflo.com

NIKE JULY SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Erika Pelaez

NIKE JULY SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Erika Pelaez


Erika Pelaez of South Florida Aquatic Club is the Nike Swimmer of the Month for July.

Pelaez, 8, turned in an outstanding performance at the Florida Gold Coast 14-and-Under Junior Olympics Swimming Championships in mid-July at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

Pelaez, one of the youngest swimmers in the meet, competed in seven events and swam lifetime-best times in every event against a competitive girls’ field.

Pelaez won her favorite event, the 50-meter backstroke in 38.19, lowering her previous best of 38.85. She had three other Top 10 finishes and three Top 15 finishes and has more medals to add to the shelf her father Juan built for her swimming trophies and medals.

“I was really happy about JOs,” said Pelaez, who swims with the Asteroids Group. “I did make a goal before I went into the water and that was my goal for juniors. I had in my mind I wanted to win a gold medal.”

She was also fifth in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:21.03, dropping from 1:34.79; sixth in the 400-meter freestyle in 5:26.36, dropping from 5:35.19 and seventh in the 100-meter backstroke in 1:25.92, dropping from 1:28.16.

Pelaez was 13th in the 200-meter freestyle in 2:39.13 with a huge time drop from her previous best of 2:52.00. She was 12th in the 50-meter butterfly in 37.76, dropping from 38.10 and 14th in the 200-meter individual medley in 3:01.57, dropping from 3:11.25.

“I think because I trained a little bit more and put more effort in my training is why I had a good meet,” Pelaez said. “I love to train.”

Pelaez’s mom Eugenia started her daughter in learn-to-swim classes at age 2 to help her become water safe. Pelaez took to water like a fish. She started competing in races at age 4.

“I really like to swim and I stayed with it,” Pelaez said. She took piano, dance and gymnastics but swimming is her passion.

“I like the whole part of swimming–being healthy and always being ready to be competitive,” Pelaez said. “I always like to be ready for everything. I don’t want to miss any meets. I always like to be there.”

Being young has been an advantage for Pelaez, getting an early start in a sport she loves so much.

“I like swimming against the older girls, it helps give me more power because I push myself,” Pelaez said. “I like to see if I can beat them. I like to compete with them. It helps me go faster. I like to train against boys. I try to be on their feet.”

Her heroes in the sport are the Big Three: Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

“My goal is to be an Olympian,” Pelaez said. “I think I have a good advantage because I started so young and I am getting fast. Sometimes I have bad days and I don’t feel like training. Some days I’m not competitive in practice or meets, but mostly I have good days.”

The third-grader is home-schooled and knows how to manage her time outside the pool. She is a straight A student and knows if her grades falter she is out of the pool. She gets all her school and home work done before her nightly practice workouts.

Pelaez started with the Hialeah Blue Marlins and swam there for a year before joining the Comets/SOFLO program.

“After the first year we realized how much she liked swimming,” Eugenia Pelaez said. “It was difficult to find a team that takes kids seriously. The Comets/SOFLO team did appreciate every single swimmer, no matter what their age or ability. We loved that part. They say every single kid has the potential. They make every single kid feel comfortable and important. Every single day they learn something. We love SOFLO.”

Pelaez joins other SOFLO Swimmers of the Month sisters Kathleen and Molly Golding for January, Sebastian Sierra for February, Jessica Rodriguez for March, Leonardo Mateus for April, Rafael Rodriguez for May and Valentina Carrion for June.

The Nike Swimmer of the Month award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, is awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at both swim meets and practice sessions.—Sharon Robb

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com
http://www.swim4soflo.com

NIKE SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Valentina Carrion

NIKE SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Valentina Carrion


Valentina Carrion of South Florida Aquatic Club is the Nike Swimmer of the Month for June.

Carrion, 12, has made remarkable progress since she started swimming two years ago with SOFLO much to the delight of the coaches and her teammates.

Carrion was happy with her best time in the 100-meter freestyle she swam at the recent Fort Myers travel meet.

“I felt really good about that,” Carrion said. “It was really exciting. It wasn’t one of my best meets but I finished off with my best time.

“It was really exciting and my teammates were there. I was just happy that I swam fast and had fun.”

Carrion swims in Coach Rose’s Bronze Group.

“I really like going to practice,” Carrion said. “I like Coach Rose. She pushes me hard to do my best in practice. When I come home I feel like I really tried my best.”

SOFLO veteran age group coach Rose Lockie has been impressed with Carrion’s progress and work ethic.

“She swam a great 100 free but it is more than just her performance at the meets,” Lockie said.

“It is also how she is training. She has come such a long way and in the last couple of meets she has just blossomed. It was not that long ago that she was in my slowest lane swimming at the back of the lane. She is now bordering on my “A” lane and is leading her lane in practice.

“Her improvement has been amazing,” Lockie said.

Carrion had other interests including dancing and tennis, but it was swimming that captured her heart.

“My mom used to swim and had always tried to get me into it but I never really wanted to,” Carrion said. “Then during the summer I decided to give it a try and I ended up really liking it. My friend told me about SOFLO so I tried out there and got into the pre-team. I really liked it and now I moved up in the Bronze Group.

“It is really fun having my friends there with me,” Carrion said. “I really like the competition and going to the meets. It’s just not just the winning part. I really like competing.”

Carrion is well-disciplined when it comes to balancing her studies with swimming. She is a seventh grader at Montessori Academy where she is an honor student and also in the Duke University program.

“I know how to manage my time with homework, studying and swimming,” Carrion said. “It is really hard because after school I go to advance math class and then straight to swimming.”

Carrion and her teammates are training for the upcoming Junior Olympics where she hopes to make it into the finals and qualify for the all-star team. “I have been wanting that for a while and that’s what I am working for,” she said.

Carrion joins other SOFLO Swimmers of the Month sisters Kathleen and Molly Golding for January, Sebastian Sierra for February, Jessica Rodriguez for March, Leonardo Mateus for April and Rafael Rodriguez for May.

The Nike Swimmer of the Month award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, is awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at both swim meets and practice sessions.—Sharon Robb
http://www.swim4soflo.com

NIKE MAY SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Rafael Rodriguez

NIKE MAY SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Rafael Rodriguez


Rafael Rodriguez of South Florida Aquatic Club is the Nike Swimmer of the Month for May.

Rodriguez, 12, was in the spotlight during the four-day Florida Gold Coast Gulliver Long Course Invitational in Miami.

On opening night, Rodriguez broke the Florida Gold Coast and Open records in the 1500-meter freestyle in a career-best time of 17:17, shaving 48.28 seconds off his previous time.

Rodriguez broke two more FGC records during the meet. He broke the 14-year-old record in the 400-meter individual medley in a best time 5:00.84, dropping 2.85 seconds and just missing the Open record and summer sectional cut.

Rodriguez also broke the 400-meter freestyle in a best time 4:24.64, lowering his previous best time of 4:28.42.

“I had a good meet,” said the sixth grader. “I was really excited. I was a little bit tired after the mile.”

Rodriguez got his second wind quickly and went on to break two more records in best times.

“Coach Rose (Lockie) and my friends have gotten me to train harder,” Rodriguez said. “They encourage me to go faster. I am glad they did.

“My next goal is breaking the 200 free record. I would like to get all the records.”

During the 400 IM race, SOFLO teammate Ervin Marin pushed Rodriguez for most of the exciting race. In the mile, Rodriguez had Nick Carter challenging him.

“I like being pushed, it makes me go faster,” Rodriguez said.

The week before the Gulliver meet at the Coral Springs Invitational, Rodriguez dropped 12.5 seconds while winning the 400-meter individual medley and also won the 50 and 200 freestyles and 50 backstroke, achieving best times in all three.

Rodriguez has been swimming competitively for four years. Before he started to swim he played soccer but quit to devote full-time to swimming. He has been motivated to do well ever since he made his first All-Star team at age 9.

“Since then I have been really determined,” said Rodriguez, whose father swam at an early age.

Rodriguez has all sorts of goals for the future. He would like to earn a college scholarship and would also like to compete internationally in the world championships and other major meets for his native Mexico.

Rodriguez joins other SOFLO Swimmers of the Month sisters Kathleen and Molly Golding for January, Sebastian Sierra for February, Jessica Rodriguez for March and Leonardo Mateus for April.

The Nike Swimmer of the Month award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, is awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at both swim meets and practice sessions.—Sharon Robb

http://www.swim4soflo.com

NIKE APRIL SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Leonardo Mateus

NIKE APRIL SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Leonardo Mateus


Leonardo Mateus of South Florida Aquatic Club is the Nike Swimmer of the Month for April.

Mateus, 12, turned in some amazing swims this past month at three competitions. When he wasn’t competing, he was training hard with his teammates at Academic Village Pool.

At the 2014 Florida Gold Coast-Florida Swimming All-Star Championship Meet at Florida Gulf Coast, Mateus equaled his 100 freestyle time in 57.44 and swam career-best times in the 100 backstroke in 1:03.56 and 100 butterfly in 1:05.08.

During the Swim Miami presented by Nike open water event, Mateus defended his age group title winning the 11-12 age group division in 21:36. He was also third overall among men, sharing the awards podium with winner and U.S. national open water team member Joey Pedraza.

At this past weekend’s IMX Challenge in his home pool, he swam lifetime-best times in all five of his events. He swam 4:47.29 in the 400 freestyle, 2:37.18 in the 200 individual medley, 1:13.52 in the 100 backstroke, 1:32.28 in the 100 breaststroke and 1:15.53 in the 100 butterfly.

For the two-day IMX event, Mateus totaled 3,103 for his Herculean effort and is currently ranked seventh nationally and second in both the LSC and SOFLO.

“He has been training hard in practice,” SOFLO coach Chris Anderson said.

Mateus joins other SOFLO Swimmers of the Month sisters Kathleen and Molly Golding for January, Sebastian Sierra for February and Jessica Rodriguez for April.

The Nike Swimmer of the Month award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, is awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at both swim meets and practice sessions.—Sharon Robb

http://www.swim4soflo.com

NIKE MARCH SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Jessica Rodriguez

NIKE MARCH SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Jessica Rodriguez


Jessica Rodriguez is the Nike Swimmer of the Month for March.

The 15-year-old South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer had an outstanding month of training with her teammates and coaches that translated into an outstanding month of excelling in two major meets and swimming best times.

At the Speedo Championships Series Southern Zone Sectional Championships at Plantation Aquatic Complex, Rodriguez swam a best time in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:17.24, bettering her previous best of 1:19.11.

She also made the “B” final in the 400-meter individual medley in a best time 5:14.62, dropping from 5:16.66.

On the second day of the FGC Senior Championships in her home pool, Rodriguez was second in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:20.37 after going a best time 2:19 in prelims.

“She is young and emerging onto the national scene,” SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson said. “I thought she had the race of the night.”

The following night, when SOFLO clinched the team title, Rodriguez came back and won the 100-yard breaststroke in a best time 1:04.93, bettering her previous best of 1:07.67. She was also fourth in the 200 IM in 2:10.74.

“Overall, she did a heck of a job,” Anderson said.

Rodriguez joins other SOFLO Swimmers of the Month sisters Kathleen and Molly Golding for January and Sebastian Sierra for February.

The Nike Swimmer of the Month award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, is awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at swim meets and practice sessions.—Sharon Robb
http://www.swim4soflo.com

NIKE SPOTLIGHT ATHLETE OF THE MONTH: Amber Hunter

NIKE SPOTLIGHT ATHLETE OF THE MONTH: Amber Hunter


 SOFLO Swimmer Posts Six Best Times At FSU Spring Meet

WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB

May 25, 2012

Amber Hunter knows all about work ethic.

The West Broward High School sophomore has been putting the work in and out of the pool and it’s beginning to pay off.

Hunter, 16, turned in six lifetime bests in long course meters during the Florida State Spring Meet earlier this month at the Morcom Aquatics Center in Tallahassee.

“I have been training really hard lately and it’s starting to pay off,” Hunter said. “All the hours and work I am putting in is turning into my times improving. It makes all the hard work worth it.”

Hunter lowered her times in the 200-meter freestyle (2:16.52), 100-meter butterfly (1:07.98), 200-meter butterfly (2:31.46), 50-meter freestyle (29.48), 200-meter individual medley (2:37.74) and 100-meter freestyle (1:03.02).

“It was a good environment and nice atmosphere for a swim meet, I was able to swim pretty relaxed,” Hunter said.

“I was happy being able to compete that well at the beginning of the season being a little out of my comfort zone swimming against older college athletes. It was an encouraging start of the season.”

Of course, it didn’t hurt having teammate and two-time Olympian Alia Atkinson helping her warm-up and warm-down and giving her advice before prelims and finals. They would also watch each other’s races.

 “I was happy to do that well since I was in the middle of hard training,” Hunter said. “I was surprised I went all best times. I had some specific goals in mind for some of them. The other ones I just went with it. I was hoping to do better in a few of them but not all of them.

“At the end of the weekend I was getting pretty tired physically,” Hunter said. “In the middle of it I felt really good but I think the last day we were all getting a little tired.”

A few weeks ago, Hunter started weight training twice a week at the gym in addition to her regular dryland training.

“It’s been more physically hard,” Hunter said. “I always did different drylands but this was the first time I am doing heavy weights. Leading up to the end of the summer I think I am going to see a difference in the pool but it’s still too soon to tell. It’s really tough training.”

Hunter has been swimming for 12 years. She followed her big sister’s footsteps and started with swimming lessons in Pennsylvania. When she and her family moved to South Florida she joined the Comets in 2000 and started competing with the club.

When she was younger she was involved with soccer, softball and dance but decided to focus on swimming when she got to middle school.

Hunter knew it was only a matter of time before her hard work investment started paying off dividends.

“I went through the different stages,” Hunter said. “I would do very well and then not so well. I realized after trial-and-error when I train hard, it pays off. It’s just always been my goal to train hard and get better. I just never had an idea of how far I wanted to go with it.”

Hunter is hoping to put in a good summer of training to prepare for the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships along with the 2012 high school season. Last year she qualified for states on a relay. This season as a junior she would like to go in an individual event in addition to the relay.

“I am excited about the high school season,” said Hunter, who is also sad she is losing one of her relay teammates and friend, Leonie Davies, who is moving to Texas with her family in June. “High school swimming is always a lot of fun. You spend time with your friends and socialize. It takes away from the stress of club swimming.

“Swimming in college is definitely what I am looking for, I would love to get a scholarship,” Hunter said. “I am focusing on academics and swimming because I want to swim in college.”

Also at the FSU Spring Invite, SOFLO teammate Tiffany Oliver, who will be a junior in the fall at FSU, bettered her best times in the 200-meter freestyle (2:04.96), 50-meter freestyle (25.90), 100-meter backstroke (1:09.10) and 100-meter freestyle (56.95). Oliver, 19, is currently training for next month’s U.S. Olympic trials in Tallahassee.

Atkinson was able to lower her best time in the 100-meter backstroke (1:06.81) and 200-meter individual medley (2:17.53) and is now preparing to compete in next week’s Santa Clara Invitational.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

 http://www.swim4soflo.com