SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Among Field At FINA/Mastbank World Cup

SOFLO’s Atkinson, Trinidad’s Bovell Among Field At FINA/Mastbank World Cup

By Sharon Robb

August 26, 2014—South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson, coming off the Commonwealth Games, will resume her international schedule Wednesday at the FINA/Mastbank Swimming World Cup at the Hamad Aquatic Centre in Doha, Qatar.

The three-time Jamaican Olympian will compete in the 50-meter breaststroke on Day One and 100-meter breaststroke and 100-meter individual medley on Day Two.

Atkinson will be joined by her longtime SOFLO coach Chris Anderson. The pair have been training at Academic Village Pool in Pembroke Pines since she brought home a silver and bronze medal in her third Commonwealth Games appearance in Scotland.

Doha is the first stop in the 2014 calendar with the competition moving to Dubai for Cluster One, Hong Kong and Moscow for Cluster Two and Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore for Cluster Three over two months from August to early November.

The field has 150 swimmers from 30 countries including two of the top three men’s finishers and all three women’s finishers on the 2013 World Cup circuit. The competition pool is 25 meters.

Atkinson finished second in the standings behind three-time Hungarian Olympian Katinka Hosszu, reigning World Cup series champion. Hosszu set six world records and won 32 events to total 537 points. Atkinson took home her biggest paycheck in swimming.

Eight Americans, coming off senior nationals and Pan Pacific Championships, are also entered. They are Breeja Larson, Josh Schneider, Mike Alexandrov, Eugene Godsoe, Laura Sogar, Cody Miller and Caitlin Leverenz.

Atkinson and Larson, a former and current Texas A&M swimmer, will go head-to-head in the 50-meter breaststroke and 100-meter individual medley.

Other top international swimmers entered are reigning World Cup champion Chad le Clos, Steffen Deibler, Roland Schoeman, Inge Dekker, Mireia Belmonte, Daniel Gyurta, Ous Mellouli, Robert Hurley, Marieke D’Cruz, Daryna Zevina and Bolles alum George Bovell of Trinidad and Tobago.

Mellouli, representing Tunisia, was unable to compete at Pan Pacs because his visa arrived late.

Nearly $2 million in prize money will be distributed during the seven-meet series. First place finishers win $1,500, runner-up earns $1,000 and third place gets $500.

The first cluster that includes Doha and Dubai later this week, will award $300,000 in overall prize money. The money will be distributed among the six highest scoring men and women in each cluster, depending on whether they compete in each meet in that particular cluster.

Each world record swims earns 20 bonus points.

Qatar is pulling out all stops to make sure the meet is successful.

“We have so many fantastic swimmers here,” said Khaleel al-Jabir, president of the Qatar Swimming Association.

“As the first stop in the series we know that swimmers are looking to put their training to the test at our world-class swimming facility. It’s also a great chance for fans around the world to celebrate the sport of swimming and all the hard work these athletes put in.”

FINA officials are using Atkinson’s image in his promotional material for the series including huge posters at the host hotel and pool. She is also featured on the cover of the Team Leaders guide.

The FINA website is live-streaming the meet.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK: FGC Official Jay Thomas Represents U.S. At FINA World Championships

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK: FGC Official Jay Thomas Represents U.S. At FINA World Championships


July 20, 2013

Longtime and well-respected USA Swimming and Florida Gold Coast official Jay Thomas of Plantation was selected to represent USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body, in Barcelona.

The retired airline pilot will officiate at the FINA World Aquatic Championships that began Saturday in Barcelona, Spain.

Thomas is among 36 individuals representing 20 countries chosen to officiate. Spain, because it’s the host country, has the largest number of officials.

Thomas is one of two U.S. officials. He will serve as a stroke judge.

Thomas, whose daughter Barbara was a top age group and high school swimmer, has been involved with swimming for more than two decades.

Thomas is a Glen S. Hummer Award recipient and has international, national and local experience on the pool deck. He has officiated at FINA World Swimming Championships, national and local open water events and pool meets at all levels.

Thomas has served on the USA Swimming Rules Committee and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Board. He also trains and certifies swimming officials, many in South Florida. He also oversees the Florida Gold Coast website.


While the pool swimming competition is still a week away, open water swimming and synchronized diving kicked off the FINA World Aquatic Championships Saturday in Barcelona.

American Haley Anderson of the Trojan Swim Club won the first gold medal at the world championships in the competitive 5K open water race in the city’s Moll de la Fusta Harbor.

Anderson won the exciting women’s race in 56:34.2 ahead of Brazil’s Poliana Okimoto in 56:34.4.

“I learned from the past to stay calm and confident,” Anderson said. “After Poliana took the lead I was drafting behind her until the finish. I decided to stay on her feet until the last 300 meters and then sprint to the finish.”

Brazilian Ana Marcela Cunha, who trains with Davie Nadadores and has won several Fort Lauderdale open water events, was third in 56:44.7. The next eight places were separated by only four seconds.

Clearwater’s Becca Mann was eighth in 58:46.4.

In the men’s race, Tunisia’s Olympic gold medalist Ous Mellouli, also of the Trojan Swim Club, held off Canadian newcomer Eric Hedlin to win the gold medal. It was his second consecutive victory in a major open water race.

Mellouli surged in the final 100 meters to win in 53:30.4 and Hedlin finished in 53:31.6. Germany’s Thomas Lurz was third in 53:32.2.

“I didn’t expect to win the 5K, I am really happy with the results,” Mellouli said. “I did take six months off and got back into training not too long ago. To be on top of the world is quite exciting for me.”


Eight masters swimmers will be inducted into the Fort Lauderdale-based International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame as the Class of 2013.

The induction ceremony, that features four swimmers, one diver, one synchro swimmer, one water polo player and one contributor from the U.S., Japan, Australia and Canada, will be held Sept. 13 at the Hyatt Regency in Anaheim, Calif., in conjunction with the U.S. Aquatic Sports Convention.

The inductees are swimmers Judie Oliver of Canada, Jenny Whiteley of Australia, Edward Cazalet of the U.S. and Hiromu Yoshimoto of Japan; U.S. diver Felix Grossman, U.S. synchro swimmers Holly Kyle, U.S. water polo player Mike Haley and U.S. contributor Ted Haartz.


Swimmers Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin were honored at the recent ESPY Awards.

Phelps won two ESPYs for best record-breaking performance by breaking the record for most all-time Olympic medals with 22 and best male Olympic athlete.

During his acceptance speech, Phelps thanked retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis for helping him end his career the way he wanted.

Franklin, who was at the U.S. training camp in Balbao prepping for worlds, was named the best female Olympic athlete. Franklin won five medals including four golds, in London.

Phelps brought Golf Channel’s Win McMurry to the awards ceremony. Phelps caddied for the blond at the PGA Tour Wives Classic at The Players Championship in May.

The award ceremony, held Wednesday at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, had its moments when actor and host Jon Hamm said during his skit that “Ryan Lochte proved he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer…he’s adorable. Lochte won five medals in London, and only two of them were damaged when he tried to find out if there was chocolate inside.”

Speaking of Phelps, he will be in Barcelona but only as a spokesperson for Speedo, one of his major sponsors. The 28-year-old continues to hone his golf game while playing pro-am tournaments. Phelps has dropped 30 strokes, from 110 to the consistent mid-80s, by working with The Golf Channel’s Hank Haney. His handicap is now 18. Phelps made his American Century Championship debut in Lake Tahoe which will be televised on NBC Sports Network on Saturday and Sunday.


A global study from Speedo found 73 percent of people who already swim or want to start swimming believe that it is the only sport that can be done for life. If they swim for fitness, they will live a healthier life than those who take part in other forms of fitness, including land-based exercise. In addition, 86 percent believe swimming provides a better workout and 71 percent feel physically fitter as a result of swimming compared to any other form of exercise. It’s not only the health benefits that make swimming the best fitness choice, but also its physical attractiveness. According to 76 percent surveyed, they believe regular swimming results in a better body than any other form of exercise. They also believe that swimming is more fun than other forms of exercise with more than 90 percent saying that swimming is a stress reliever.


Florida Gulf Coast coach Neal Studd continues to attract world-class swimmers to his women’s program. The former FAU coach signed Dutch national backstroke record holder Kira Toussaint. In short course meters she is the fastest Dutch backstroker in history. Toussaint, 19, will join the program’s first-ever NCAA qualifier and backstroker Emma Svensson of Sweden, freshman Nina Schiffer of Germany and Brazil’s Marcella Marinheiro of SOFLO, a West Broward High School alum. Lake Lytal swimmer Victoria Ho transferred from Florida in January.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Wins “C” Final, Lowers Jamaican National Record At AT&T Winter Nationals

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Wins “C” Final, Lowers Jamaican National Record At AT&T Winter Nationals

December 2, 2011


SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson broke her own national record Friday night at the AT&T Winter National Championships at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

The two-time Olympian for Jamaica bettered her lifetime best and won the “C” final of the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:08.86.

It was the first time the 22-year-old cracked the 1:09 barrier.

Since June, she has now bettered her national record four times. In June, she swam 1:09.91 in Italy and at the Pan American Games in October she swam back-to-back best times of 1:09.28 and 1:09.11 in Mexico.

Swimming in Lane 6, Atkinson went out fast and turned first in 32.54 for the first 50 meters. She continued to pull away from the field with a confidence-building swim. Her time would have put her in the “A” final and placed her eighth.

 “Yes, but even better, she is gaining confidence and will soon realize that she has to be mentally confident 24/7,” said her SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson, who said a resounding ‘yesssss’ after she touched.

Atkinson was top qualifier for the “C” final in 1:11.30, just 2/100ths short of the “B” final. Her splits were 33.38 and 37.92.

Earlier in the morning prelims, Atkinson warmed up in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:04.93.

SOFLO’s Vlad Polyakov, 28, qualified for the “B” final as top seed in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02.19 and finished third in 1:02.07.

Atkinson and Polyakov will swim the 200-meter breaststroke on Saturday and teammate Jessie Alcaide will swim the 100-meter freestyle on the third and final day of the long course meet.

In other championship finals:

Women’s 400-meter individual medley: University of California’s Caitlin Leverenz, 20, won by more than a body length in 4:37.68. Julia Smit was second in 4:40.47 and Katie Hoff was third in 4:41.46. Leverenz was the early leader on the 100-meter butterfly leg going out in 29.50 and finishing in 1:02.94. She led for most of the backstroke (2:15.60) until Smit briefly flirted with the lead for 15 meters of the breaststroke but Leverenz made up nearly two seconds and retook the lead on the breaststroke leg and controlled the remainder of the race. Leverenz also won the 200 IM Thursday night.

Men’s 400-meter individual medley: Swimming in Lane 7, Tyler Clary, 22, of Fast Swim Team, took control of the race, led from wire-to-wire to pull away from the field to win in 4:15.15. Clary went out in 26.72 in the first 50 meters of the butterfly and turned first at the 100 in 56.53 with Lochte second. Clary picked up steam on the backstroke leg and pulled away from the field in the freestyle for the win. Robert Margalis was second in 4:18.39 and Joshua Prenot third in 4:19.19. Ryan Lochte, in the midst of heavy training and not wearing a racing suit, faded to fifth in 4:20.05.

Women’s 100-meter butterfly: World champion and American record holder Dana Vollmer, 24, despite battling a case of the flu, won a close race in 58.04 out-touching Alexandra Forrester (58.50) and Kathleen Hersey (58.59). Naples’ Erika Erndl was eighth in 59.58. Forrester went out fast to lead after the first 50 in 26.92 but Vollmer stormed back in the final 50. “I am very proud of myself for putting this morning behind me and defending my national title despite being ill,” Vollmer said.

Men’s 100-meter butterfly: Kenya’s Jason Dunford, 25, swimming unattached, led from start to finish to win in 52.13. Dunford went out in 24.05 and held off a charging field in the final few meters to win. Tyler McGill of Auburn Aquatics was second in 52.41. Alex Coci of the University of Alabama third in 52.96.

Women’s 200-meter freestyle: Teenage phenom Missy Franklin, 16, ranked No. 1 in the event, and swimming next to top-seed Camille Muffat, 22, of France, put on a late spurt but fell short by 1/10th of a second to Muffat, who out-touched her in 1:56.61. Franklin was second in 1:56.71. Brittany MacLean was third in 1:59.45. Muffat led for the entire race, going out in 27.78 and 57.29 at the 100.

Men’s 200-meter freestyle: Swimming on the outside in Lane 1, Yannick Agnel, 19, of France took it out fast and went on to win in 1:46.36. Ricky Berens was second in 1:47.12. Top seed Darian Townsend of South Africa was third in 1:47.64. Agnel led at the 100 in 1:18.59. Berens came on strong in the end and Townsend, who had faded to fourth came back for a close third. Agnel also won the 400 freestyle on Thursday night. 

Women’s 100-meter breaststroke: Top-seed Rebecca Soni, 24, trailed Jessica Hardy by 3/10ths of a second at the turn, but Soni, arguably the best breaststroker in history, pulled away with 25 meters left in the race for the win in 1:05.83. Hardy was second in 1:06.55 and Yuliya Efimova was third in 1:07.64. USA Swimming and Florida Gold Coast official Jay Thomas handed out the medals and flowers to the top three finishers of the event.

Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: Against a star-studded field, top qualifier Brendan Hansen, 30, continued his successful comeback trail winning in 1:00.31. Hansen took it out in 28.27. Marcus Titus was second in 1:00.66 and Mihail Alexandrov was third in 1:00.88. Japan’s Olympic gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima was fifth in 1:10.18. It was Hansen’s first head-to-head meeting with Kitajima since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Davie Nadadores’ Felipe Lima was eighth in 1:01.74.

Women’s 100-meter backstroke: Missy Franklin came back with a late charge in the final meters to break open a close race and win in 1:00.10. Olivia Smoliga was second in 1:00.53. Liz Pelton, the early leader after the first 50 meters (29.56), was third in 1:00.55. Canadian Sinead Russell was fifth in 1:00.82.

Men’s 100-meter backstroke: Matt Grevers, 26, of Tucson Ford Dealers, led from wire-to-wire to win in 53.26. He went out in 25.80  and with 30 meters to go slightly pulled away from Nick Thoman, who finished second in 53.64. David Plummer was third in 54.56.

Other SOFLO swimmer finishes on Friday:

University of Miami senior Dana Hatic , 21, was 52nd in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:13.55.

Seton Hall’s Ryan O’Shaughnessy, 20, was disqualified in the 100-meter breaststroke. His splits were 31.87 and 36.47.

Marinheiro Takes Bronze  

SOFLO’s Marcella Marinheiro, 17, finished third in the 200-yard backstroke in 2:29.60 at the Brazilian 17-18 Age Group Championships in Pessoa, Paraiba-Brazil. Her splits were 35.04, 1:15.07, 1:52.77 and 2:29.60. Her next event is the 200-yard freestyle prelims. “I can do better than that,” Marinheiro told her coach Chris Anderson.

Rojas Makes Finals

SOFLO’s Marc Rojas made the 100-yard breaststroke championship finals Friday at the Gator Swim Club Holiday Classic in Gainesville.

Rojas 17, was the sixth fastest qualifier for finals in 59.46. He went out in 27.91.

He will swim the 200-yard individual medley on Saturday and 200-yard breaststroke on Sunday at the three-day holiday meet that features several Florida Gold Coast swimmers.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK: Issue 30, Olympic Tickets Go On Sale, Organizers Celebrate 500-Day Countdown

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK: Issue 30, Olympic Tickets Go On Sale, Organizers Celebrate 500-Day Countdown



March 25, 2011

As London organizers started the 500-day countdown to the 2012 Olympics, 6.6 million tickets went on sale Tuesday.

London Organizing Committee chairman Sebastian Coe, a former middle distance running great for Great Britain, was among dignitaries including Olympic greats, five-time gymnastics champion Nadia Comeneci and nine-time gold medalist track star Carl Lewis, watched as the clock in central Trafalgar Square began counting down the 500 days before the Olympic torch is lit.

“It’s happening,” said Lewis, who competed in four Olympic Games. “It’s wonderful to get the bid. It’s wonderful to know it’s coming. But today you can actually start your opportunity to be a part of it.”

The Opening Ceremony is July 27, 2012. Great Britain is working with a $15 billion budget.

Olympic fans in Britain and Europe have a 42-day period to check out the official ticket website ( and plan out their itinerary from the 645 sessions for the 26 Olympic sports.

“Members of the public have until April 26 to apply,” Coe told reporters. “Tickets will not be sold on a first-come, first serve basis. There is no need to panic-buying on the first day.”

According to early reports, there were 2.5 million people trying to purchase tickets on the first day. Tickets for many sports start at $32 while the choice seats for the men’s 100-meter final, which hopefully will feature Coral Springs’ own Walter Dix, will go for $1200. Opening ceremony tickets top seats are going for $3,215.

One million tickets are also available to overseas fans through their national Olympic associations.

Co-Sport is the authorized ticket reseller and official hospitality package provider of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Ticket sales are under way in the U.S. and pre-registration is currently open for U.S. residents at

The first phase of ticket sales will be handled exclusively through an online request process which began on Tuesday and will run through April 22.

During the request phase all applicants will have an equal chance of being awarded their requested tickets.

CoSport will begin to fulfill ticket requests from available inventory once this initial request phase has concluded. In the case that ticket requests exceed available inventory for any session, a lottery process will be conducted by CoSport at the end of April.

For the initial U.S. ticket launch, more than 58,000 tickets will be available for purchase. More than 56 percent of tickets offered during this phase will be priced under $150.

CoSport currently plans to have a second phase of sales in June 2011 which will be first-come, first-serve for any tickets unsold during the first phase of sales, and will also include any additional tickets that CoSport acquires from the London Organizing Committee in the future.

The hospitality packages combine hotel rooms with Olympic tickets.

Because Visa is the Olympic Games sponsor, the USOC is only accepting Visa credit cards for London 2012 Olympic Games ticket purchases.

“The London 2012 Olympic Games promises to be one of the most compelling, exciting sporting events of the decade, and we are thrilled that fans will be able to watch the action live and in person by getting tickets through CoSport,” said USOC Chief Communications Officer Patrick Sandusky.

“Early interest in tickets for these Games tells us that America’s athletes will be well-supported in London as they strive to realize their Olympic dreams and represent the U.S. with pride.”

Of course, what would opening day be without a few glitches.

A few hours after tickets went on sale, fans with Visa cards that expire before the end of August were not able to process their orders. Organizers said it was an issue with Visa rather than the ticket website or systems.

The OMEGA countdown clock also suffered a technical issue that had it stopping for several hours less than a day after it went on display. It got stuck on 500 days, 7 hours, 6 minutes and 56 seconds before Omega engineers repaired it.

“It’s one of those windups set to test is, but it’s working again,” Coe said.

Coe said the clock would serve as a “daily reminder to everyone who visits Trafalgar Square that the countdown to the start of London 2012 has well and truly begun and that the greatest show on earth is soon coming to our country.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com