WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
No one is more pleasantly surprised about their swimmers performances than the Coral Springs Swim Club coaching staff.
Since the opening day of the Florida Gold Coast Short Course Junior Olympics on Wednesday, the age group swimmers have continued to impress in both short and distance events.
“I think this has been a surprising meet for us,” said Coral Springs head coach Michael Lohberg.
“In the build-up meets the kids were not that great. There were a lot of lessons to be learned, but here they swim really well. I am happy with the way they swim. The kids are dropping times and doing very well.
“Our kids always come through when it matters the most,” Lohberg said.
Coral Springs qualified for 33 finals swims on a chilly Saturday night. Every swimmer had his or her own success story, whether it was winning, dropping times or improving enough to stay focused and motivated in one of the toughest sports in athletics.
Stephanie Campo, 12, a seventh grader at Coral Springs Charter, turned in an impressive swim in the 500-yard freestyle winning the event in a career-best 5:17.25. She was also second in the 50-yard freestyle in 26.38 bettering her previous best of 26.89 and second in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:03.29. She has one event left to swim on Sunday.
“I love to race,” Campo said. “I felt so smooth in the 500. I wanted to get ahead of everyone by a lot early in the race. That was my goal. I worked on all my race details–my stroke, my breathing, it was all going through my mind.
“This was my best meet of the season so far,” Campo said. “I am so excited and motivated for zones now,” Campo said. “It’s my time to kick butt.”
No one seemed more happier than Jillian Alexander, 12, also a seventh grader at Coral Springs Charter, who is seeing her hard work pay off in dividends.
Alexander took third in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:37.28, bettering her prelim time of 2:39.27 and sixth in the 200-yard individual medley in a career-best three-second drop of 2:22.46, faster than her prelim time of 2:25.13 and previous best of 2:25.02.
It was a great way to end the meet, Alexander said. With her events out of the way, she returns to the pool today for swim practice and cheer on her teammates before taking Monday off.
“I was really excited about my race,” a beaming Alexander said. “I dropped three seconds and that is really good. It motivates me to keep working hard.”
Her favorite stroke is the breaststroke and it shows. She continues to fine tune her stroke and pullout.
“I think because I try hard in training the work is beginning to pay off,” said Alexander, a former soccer and softball player. “I am glad I did good tonight. I am happy I am progressing. It is kind of upsetting when you put the work in and don’t do good. It takes a lot of hard work but I am definitely glad I stayed with it.”
St. Andrew’s student Tyla Martin, 12, of Trinidad and Tobago and training for next months CARIFTA Games in Jamaica, looked impressive in her first events of the meet.
Martin, who has her sights set on the 2012 London Olympics, won the 200-yard individual medley in a career-best 2:09.64, bettering her prelim time of 2:12.83 and previous best of 2:14.01 and second in the 50-yard butterfly just getting out-touched in 26.46.
“I dropped time in my IM and that felt good even though my backstroke could have been a little faster and I went best time in my fly, so I am happy,” said Martin, who swims the 100 freestyle and 100 individual medley on Sunday.
Growing up, Martin was athletic. She played basketball and soccer and enrolled in gymnastics and dance classes. But it was swimming that caught her fancy.
“I liked it and I stuck with it throughout the year,” she said. “It’s a lot of work but I am glad I swim. Tonight I wanted to get my best times and I accomplished that. I feel pumped to do good on Sunday.”
At 10, Eden Cooke is getting a head start on her swimming career. Cooke turned in another consistent performance on Saturday. She was third in the 50-yard freestyle, in a career-best 28.63, bettering her previous best of 28.68. She was also fourth in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:12.67.
“My Coach Bruno is a very good coach,” Cooke said. “He trains us well for our specific strokes and prepares us to do good. He tells us that we are going to do good if we work hard.
“I had a feeling I was going to do good in this meet,” Cooke said with a smile. “I wanted to drop time because I am going to be swimming in a national meet in a few weeks.”
Cooke is following in her big sister Danielle’s footsteps, who is also a swimmer.
“I am glad I got in swimming,” Cooke said. “It keeps me fit and active. I am very motivated. I definitely want to go to the Olympics.”
Talented Keegan Boisson-Yates, 14, of Trinidad and Tobago turned in another impressive night. He won his second event of the meet in the 200-yard individual medley, bettering his career-best of 2:05.85 with a winning time of 2:03.39. He was also runner-up in the 100-yard backstroke in 54.51 and third in the 50-yard freestyle in 22.28 bettering his previous best of 23.89.
Teammate Marco Hosfeld, 13, was second with a huge time drop in 2:04.76 in the 200 IM, bettering his previous best of 2:08.59
Emma Lincoln, 14, was third in the 200 individual medley in 2:14.93 and third in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:10.23.
The four-day meet concludes today with a full schedule of prelim and finals events.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com