WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
Kelly Kealty is beginning to see all her hard work pay off.
Like many of her Coral Springs Swim Club teammates, the 12-year-old gauged her progress during the four-day Florida Gold Coast Short Course Junior Olympics that ended Sunday at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.
Kealty was happy with her training that resulted in career-best times and her first All-Star team selection.
On Sunday, in her sixth and final event of the meet, Kealty, 12, finished sixth in the 50-yard breaststroke in a career-best 33.69 seconds. She bettered her prelim time of 35.41 and seed time of 35.34.
“I wanted to do good in all my breaststroke events, it’s my favorite and I did,” Kealty said. “I am definitely motivated to work even harder. This was my best meet of the season for me in the breaststroke.
“I definitely want to keep improving, I am really trying hard,” Kealty said. “All my close friends and my parents help me especially when you have that one bad day. Then the good days follow.”
Kealty, a seventh grader, watched her older sister swim and decided to give it a try. “I really liked it,” she said. “It definitely took a while to improve. When I turned 10, I started getting my JOs.”
Before swimming, she also tried diving, tennis and racewalking. Her mother, Carolyn, is a national-caliber racewalker currently training for the world trials.
“She is definitely an inspiration to me,” Kealty said. “She went to the Olympic trials. I look at her and say, wow, if my mom can do that, I can do this.”
CARIFTA HERE WE COME
Keegan Boisson-Yates, 14, and Tyla Martin, 12, tuned up for the April 3-6 CARIFTA Aquatics Championships at the National Stadium Pool in Kingston, Jamaica. The Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) event is the annual age group championships for the Caribbean.
It will be Boisson-Yates’ fourth appearance.
For Martin, it will be her international meet debut. They will both represent Trinidad and Tobago.
“I am very excited about CARIFTA,” said Martin, who plans to swim 10 events. “I want to do good in all of them. I definitely will have some butterflies. I will be nervous but excited at the same time. I am using it as a learning experience. Based on JOs, I think I am ready.”
In his final event of the JO meet, Boisson-Yates won the 100-yard freestyle in a career-best 47.33.
Martin closed out the meet with a victory in the 100-yard freestyle in a career-best 54.41, breaking 55 for the first time. She was also second in the 100-yard individual medley in 1:00.91.
“Tyla was just awesome in the freestyle,” praised Coral Springs coach Michael Lohberg. “She has a shot at CARIFTA. Keegan is just sensational. The guy can swim. He is so elegant and smooth in the water.”
Lohberg loves the idea that two of his swimmers are getting international experience at such an young age.
“The thing is that we always encourage when foreigners have a chance to go on a national team they need to go,” Lohberg said. “Because that is what it is about–to make friends internationally, to compete, to see the world.
“It is one of the big advantages that this sport gives you. You have to earn it and then you go. Every time the kids swim for national teams they take a big step forward. They get more self-confidence and feel they are really part of this sport. It is fun to watch.”
CAMPO, COOKE GO HOME HAPPY
Stephanie Campo and Eden Cooke both agreed they were “going home pretty happy.”
Campo, 12, a seventh grader at Coral Springs Charter, finished second in the 100-yard freestyle in a career-best 56.75. Her seed time was 57.08.
“I am happy with all my swims and times,” Campo said. “I know what I need to work on. This was my big meet. Now I go back to training and get ready for zones.”
Cooke, 10, was fourth in the 100-yard freestyle in 1:02.50 and seventh in the 100-yard individual medley in 1:14.13, both career-best times.
“I did pretty much everything I wanted to do in this meet,” Cooke said. “This is my best meet. I finally broke 1:03 in the 100 free. It was something I really wanted to do.”
“I was just happy I remembered the IM. A couple years ago I got disqualified because I did freestyle instead of butterfly. That was embarrassing. I haven’t done that again.”
Other top Coral Springs finishers:
Marco Hosfeld, 13, third, 50 breaststroke, 30.29 and third in the 100 freestyle, 50.34.
Emma Lincoln, 14, third, 100 freestyle, 54.83 and seventh 400 yard individual medley, 4:49.86
Jenna Moodie, 14, fourth, 100 freestyle, 54.92
Bogdan Cioanta, 14, fifth, 50 breaststroke, 31.25 and seventh in the 100 freestyle, 52.63.
Philomena Fiorenzi, 14, sixth, 50 breaststroke, 33.07
Jenna Diaz, 12, 12th, 400 yard individual medley, 5:25.81
Lohberg was happy with the swimmers’ final day performances.
“Today everybody was at the upper level, it was pretty good,” said the veteran Olympic coach. “Every time we had someone in the final they did really well.”
Age group coach Bruno Darzi was also pleased with the team’s effort despite its slow start early in the season because of poor weather and sickness.
“I am really happy with the results,” said the former elite swimmer. “Before the meet started it was hard to know what to expect because the first two weeks of the season our kids had a hard time. The weather was definitely a factor and several kids got sick during the season.
“It was a challenge for me as a coach to prepare them. There was a lot of work to be done. I had no idea how they were going to perform or know how this meet would turn out. I came to the meet without any expectations, with a ‘whatever happens, happens’ attitude. I was hoping I planned them properly and I think I did because I was really happy with our results.”
Coral Springs had six swimmers finish among the Top 10 high point leaders. They were:
10-and-under girls: Eden Cooke, 10, seventh, 42 points.
11-12 girls: Stephanie Campo, 12, second, 66 points.
11-12 girls: Tyla Martin, 12, tenth, 40 points.
13-14 girls: Emma Lincoln, 14, third, 48 points.
13-14 boys: Keegan Boisson-Yates, 14, third, 68 points.
13-14 boys: Marco Hosfeld, 13, fourth, 45 points.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org