WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
CORAL SPRINGS—The future looks bright for Kelley Heron and Ricardo Roche.
The bubbly 10-year-olds turned in some outstanding performances Saturday on the third day of the Florida Gold Coast Short Course Junior Olympics at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.
Heron and Roche braved the chilly weather after qualifying for finals in several events. They qualified in six of the Comets 18 finals swims.
Heron took home three third places. She was third in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:36.40; third in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:12.47 and third in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:53.98, her favorite event. They were all career-best times.
Heron has been swimming for three years and loving every minute of it, she said. She tried only one other sport before deciding to focus on swimming.
“When I was little my dad (Patrick) motivated me because he was a runner so my parents started trying to get me into sports.
“I tried tennis but I wasn’t very good at it,” Heron said. “Then I tried the swim team and I was good at it. Then we moved and I got on the Comets.
“Even though the coaches told me not to expect much because it was my first meet, I made my first sub-JO and ended up getting my first record.”
Heron, a fourth grader at Charter School Central, competes in both short and long distance events but admitted she likes the longer ones “because I get to stay in the pool longer,” she said.
“I have fun in the pool,” Heron said. “Sometimes I’m relaxed depending on what I feel like. Sometimes I’m sick and I don’t feel good but I tell myself I still have to try my best. This weekend I have been in a great mood.”
Heron made most of her AAA times and qualified in all of her events for the FGC All-Star team.
“I am going to stick with swimming,” Heron said. “I want to aim for the Olympics.”
Roche, also dreaming about the Olympics, enjoyed one of his busiest nights of swimming.
After placing ninth in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:40.96 and fifth in the 100-yard backstroke in a career-best 1:17.31, Roche finished the night with a second place finish in the 500-yard freestyle in a career-best 5:58.55.
“I am happy because I like to do good and it’s fun,” Roche said. “I enjoy it. I like the longer events. I had the most fun in the 500.”
Roche, also a fourth grader, got involved in swimming when his cousin introduced him to the sport.
“That’s when I picked swimming over different sports,” said Roche, who used to play soccer. “I am excited I am good. I want to stay in swimming. I want to get faster and break some pool records.”
Roche has two events remaining on Sunday, the 100 individual medley and 100 freestyle.
“I’m lucky I am young and getting all this experience. I am really happy with all this stuff I am learning,” Roche said.
“I want to go to the Olympics some day.”
Two other good swims were Maria Lopez, 14, second in the 50-yard butterfly in 26.78, bettering her 27.70 previous best and Diego Rodriguez, 12, sixth in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:47.78.
Heron and Roche are among 10 Comets who have qualified for the Florida Gold Coast All-Star team for the April 10-11 FGC vs. Florida Swimming meet at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce.
The other Comets who have qualified after three days are: Zoey Chilcote, 10; Jorge Depassier, 10; Carly Swanson, 12; Leonie Davies, 13; Maria Lopez, 14; Amber Hunter, 14; Javier Menchaca, 14; and Blake Kelley, 14.
The FGC meet concludes today with a full schedule of preliminary and final events.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org