Chris Anderson Updates SOFLO Parents On Fall Season During Members Meeting

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, September 19, 2020—-South Florida Aquatic Club CEO and head coach Chris Anderson held an informative zoom session for parents on Saturday morning.

Between practice sessions Saturday morning at Academic Village Pool, Anderson outlined the fall plan for swimmers including home and away meets, re-capped the summer season and addressed other club business.

The following is Anderson’s detailed 51-minute discussion:

“I haven’t seen too many people during the summer, so basically this is our summer re-cap.

“Obviously, it was a very stressful and busy summer for a lot of us. But the one thing our membership all had in common was we got to come together and we got to do some training.

“We really are proud about some of the things that we did with our creativity, especially the consistency that we had throughout the summer and the things that we have done at South Florida Aquatic Club.

“We also this summer got to really spend some time with our Class of 2020. With all the different things and all the different schools were going through, we had a wonderful, wonderful dinner on our pool deck. It was a very nice environment. I think those kids are having a great time at their different universities wherever they are from.

“The other thing we are quite proud of is that we got to run some swim meets. We had four of them. The really cool thing was our staff was very creative in finding different ways to reach out to all of our membership, whether it was our 8-and-unders or our people who had their senior national cuts. We found a way to have a bunch of meets with 30 athletes in their training groups. We’re quite proud of the fact that we were able to reach out to our membership as well as, of course, get some competition in. Most of the kids swam probably three races in different times over a period of two weeks. I think it was pretty good that we started the meets sometime in July, I think it was July 31st and ran them throughout the month of August leading into what we are trying to do this fall.

“Another thing that we’ve done I know our coaches as well as our membership has looked into. Coach Lou and I have been doing a coaching search for a long time to try and find the right fit. We finally have hired a coach, if you haven’t heard already from our Blog, we hired Jack Davies. He is a former swimmer of ours, he swam in our program for four years. He got a Mathematics and education degree at McKendree University. He has been coaching at the age group level for the CSP Tideriders, a club in Illinois, it’s quite a good club as well, just like ours. It’s going to be a really nice transition to have him come in starting on Sept. 28th. The significance of that is he will basically be coming in at the very beginning of the season where he will really be focusing on the 13-14 group, he will be assisting with some of the age group workouts as well as really concentrating and improving our senior development, our senior fit group that has been doing quite wonderful throughout the summer. We will be welcoming him again on Sept. 28th and welcoming him to our coaching family and hopefully the environment of the Silver group. Again Silver, Gold, National, all of our training groups’ ability and training environment is looking really positive, so he will be a really nice addition to our staff moving forward.

“The other things that we have been doing quite recently, ten of our coaches from our staff have been attending ASCA clinics, different meetings throughout the entire week. We have been on it a few times and discussed different philosophies, whether it was age group swimming, senior swimming or even just swimming in general as far as some things we would like to either improve as a philosophy as a program or tweak or even change for that matter. We will be having some more staff meetings, of course, our coaches have been meeting by Zoom, which has actually been kind of an improvement from what we have been doing in the past. We have really been able to do a great job of communicating especially with the two sites, one south and one north, are really trying to get things done so we are kind of rolling with that.

“As far as our team training, just a quick review, what we have really tried to do over the summer is we were really trying to improve our legs. We knew we had a little time constraint and of course, another constraint of maybe not having doubles on a daily basis because we were trying to get all our athletes in the water. But one of the things that we did was to try to improve our legs and our kicking. It really kind of worked in to what the ASCA Clinic and other coaches were talking about in their philosophy. We really found after 14, 15 weeks that not only the senior group or age group program, we really did a great job over the summer of really improving those legs. As you probably know, all of our kids, all of our members and all of our athletes have grown so much because they are resting a little bit more. It hasn’t gone unnoticed four our coaching staff and our training groups. The improvement of the kick and really committing to the first five or six weeks of building up and then five or six weeks of really improving our legs. We are really looking for that to be a weapon coming up into the fall. It’s probably really going to help. The other thing I did say is because we have all of our groups broken up in such a manner, in such a way on our pool deck, spread out among the 23 lanes that we have, whether it’s one per lane or two per lane on opposite sides, we really found both at the AK site as well as here that the atmosphere of all our training groups is really quite canny, they are really healthy. If you look at it, the kids are really supporting one another, they are really motivating each other and they are really, really good solid training groups. It’s really the first time in the club after 20 years that we really have on all-cylinders, whether it’s age group, pre-age group, pre-teen, swim lessons, senior program that we have had this healthy a membership. I think a lot of that has to, of course, be the parent-leadership at home. But the kids really missed the swimming over the summer. I think they missed some of that interaction they had and it’s really come out. One of the things we talked about as a coaching staff is another benefit from the summer was the fact of our attendance. We had people not miss any workouts for 15 weeks. We’re not talking about a few athletes, we are talking 60 to 80 percent. Those that did miss only missed one or two. That consistency coupled with working on the legs on a daily basis, we are really at a place we really can say that we really moved forward and improved, not only the base level training but overall program as far as our legs and what we can do hopefully coming into this fall season.

“The atmosphere again is 100 percent, looking great. We are very excited that we started and again we had to have an ending point to start for the new season. We picked Monday, August 31st, it really worked with some of the different things that we’re doing as training. So we started with Week One, previous with that what we did spend a lot on before we started our new season the whole month of August you might have seen a change in the kids’ energy levels. We did a lot of technique and kind of talking and discussing. As you probably know, some of the kids had small, quick Zoom meetings for 15 minutes on some days where we really went over the stroke. And as you probably know in some of the lineups we have outside the pool where the kids are socially distanced, we tried to do some of extensive talks and we hit all the strokes as well as IM. We went through IM transitions, distance free training, talked about freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. We tried to refine that. And again, I think because it was right before or during the kids were kind of in school, the kids really got a lot at the beginning of August, the first couple of weeks as far as their stroke improvement. Coupling that with the legs and training environment, it’s really been a pleasure to work with the athletes, doing what we are doing and moving forward.

“The other thing we did because we have only had four meets, actually six meets, over the summer, what we tried to do at the end of August and we are trying to do it now with some different types of test sets that are trickling down from senior to age group, we tried to make some things a little bit more challenging. We tried to do a couple things without so much using blocks, but trying to create more like meet atmosphere during practice where there were meet warm-ups, then there were sets where we just basically go up and get up and go fast with a lot of rest in between or smooth swimming going back and forth. So we introduced some of those and again that competitiveness, we really tried to call out times and talking to the athletes, ‘these are your goals, this is what we want you to do,’ but we try to find how to accomplish that within a practice, having more rest. I think some of that has really kind of matured our entire group. It seems to me they are getting a little more confident when it comes to practice and moreso, getting confident in doing something very fast, taking six minutes of doing easy swimming and then coming back and repeating that, much like they would do in a swim meet if they had 15 to 20 minutes between races. As far as that, training those sets and trying to keep the kids a little bit more engaged and understand we are going to have competition again. It’s going to be the goal of our staff, after we talked a little bit about the fall meet schedule of 2020, we are going to find different ways to try and motivate those athletes throughout the entire week so when we do race on a Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday that they are ready to go and they really take advantage of the opportunity in the meets that they have as far as competition is concerned.

“Moving on to the fall schedule and I know we kind of have a schedule up there, but as you probably know things are still kind of different facilities not being open, different organizations, different municipalities and different counties all having separate rules, we kind of have a skeleton schedule. We will get the schedule out probably in the next couple of days. My staff has it. But we basically have kind of looked at it and there are a couple of small changes that we are having to do.

“To kind of go into the fall schedule, we started off the summer, of course, with our in-house virtual meets. We now will be moving on and doing a couple of meets, one on Oct. 2-3. It will be a virtual dual meet against Sarasota Y. I am trying to find some good competition throughout the state, throughout the country on the East coast who we can do this with. This virtual meet will consist of us having a competition, kind of a college format, a two-day format. It’s as close as we can get without being totally official and getting in all the events. For our 13-and-overs on a Friday evening and Saturday. You might have already seen it on Team Unify and I know some of our coaches are starting to do the entries for the athletes now. The middle school kids or the 12-and-under kids will be going on a Saturday morning and we’re going to run through the high school order format. 12-and-unders will be able to do four races for the meet and 13-and-overs will be able to do three races per session. This will be the first time, too, we will be doing some relays. There will be an “A” and “B” with our fastest athletes. They will be socially separated as far as the blocks and lanes that we are doing. We are definitely looking forward to that Oct. 2-3.

“We will be following that up with another virtual dual meet (Oct. 23-24) with the Mason Manta Rays, they are from Ohio. It’s a very, very, very good competitive club. We will be doing the same format, we may have some tweaks in there. I actually feel that our athletes have the familiarity of the format will actually help us a little bit in October. So the kids will kind of go into it with open eyes, will compete against another club and we will put all the points together. We basically are scoring Top 10 and then they will have an idea. I think we will do even a little stronger on the 23rd and 24th. They can do different events still but they will still be swimming up to six races for the 13-and-overs and four races in the one session for the 12-and-unders.

“Then in November, we are looking at the 20-24 for an age group specific dual meet. This is where we are going to invite some clubs to our pool, being that hopefully things kind of keep continuing with numbers going down with COVID and nothing changes as far as Broward County, city or even organizational-wise. If we feel it’s safe, what we would like to do is a couple of dual meets where we bring in a bunch of 10-and-unders for a set of races. They will get up and perform together with another club. Then we are going to do the 11-12 age group in another session, then we will do the 13-14 in another single session and then we will finish it off with a 15-and-over. As of right now, we have Plantation committed in 13-14 and 15-and-over. We are trying to keep it pretty much small.

“So that will be the first two meets in October will be virtual meets, then the one in November we will start bringing in some local competition to swim against age group-wise. We are still trying to keep the numbers on our pool deck about 120 to 140 including officials and timers as well as the different age groups.

“The meets in October and November will not be capped for our club. It’s not like the last meet where we had 30 athletes in and that was it. These meets will be open so you don’t have to stress out about entries. I know it’s locked right now as far as Team Unify. Like I said, our coaches are working on the entries, but it will be for our entire membership. We are going to be running heats. It will be a little different from the first round. We will have heats but we will have kids separated on the pool deck with social distancing marks. That’s how we will be doing that session. We probably will have old school meet marshals, too. We had a couple of coaches, Coach George was out there for the other meets, influencing and making sure the kids’ masks were on and that sort of thing. We’ll go over different protocols a little bit later on for the meets.

“Furthering on, we are still going to Winter Champs, Dec. 10-13, right now and Holiday Champs at Sunrise, Dec. 18-20. As discussed to our athletes and kids, we are very firm on peaking our club somewhere in the beginning part of December, whether it’s Dec. 10th or 18th, we will be peaking all of our athletes. It will be like the 16th or 17th week of training in the fall season. We are really looking for us to get up and perform, whether it’s our tech suits for our 13-and-overs or basically getting ready. We will be peaking for that part of the year. Both of those meets we don’t know what the caps are going to be, but we have been in communication with the meet hosts. We have reserved spots there.

“There’s also another meet that we have been working on. One of the Southern Zone committees are putting together a Florida State Championship, basically four sites set up in the state of Florida. There will be sectional level cuts. One of those level meets will be hosted at our facility, four a couple of counties on the west coast as well as all of Broward County and us. Another pool will be Sailfish Aquatic Park. They are looking somewhere in the Sarasota-Clearwater area and another one in Gainesville. They will be run similar at the same time and all the results will come together at the very end. We are very lucky and fortunate enough that we will be able to have one of those meets. Some of the safety precautions for the meets which we know now is a women’s prelim session and men’s prelims session and then a combined final session on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There will be more details about that meet, but that’s in a nutshell our fall 2020 meet schedule. And again there are some different safety precautions we’ll probably have to have and they will be in the meet information.

“Looking over the summer and what some of our officials had to do and our volunteers and looking toward the future, we do have a huge commitment from our officials, a huge commitment from our Booster Club as far as creating these situations, creating these meets. And, of course a huge commitment from our staff. Coming in I know some of the meets start at 6 a.m. for warm-up and 6:50 a.m. start which is kind of early. The October, November and December meets will be a little bit closer to what you guys are used to.

“As far as spectators for any of these meets we are going to try and improve our ability to film and stream these meets and put them on different types of social media. At this point as far as Broward County and I am pretty sure it’s going to stay that way, there has to be different types of permits to set up for special events. I don’t have spectators. We are keeping the meets safe. It’s worked really well and again we are going to try and improve our skills as far as commentating and trying to get a little more video technique out there so we can have people at least virtually watching some of these meets when they are going on.

“The other aspect is we are opening up for 12 timers for a lo of these meets. As things if keep improving we will be able to open up to more volunteers so that’s a real good way of getting those hours.

“Something we will talk about a little bit later as far as our Booster Club. We are starting a new year as of Sept. 1 which I will explain a little bit later after we over the meets. So again we will get these meets out next week. There’s just a couple more dates that need to be cleaned up so they can be finalized and set in stone, so you guys can all plan. The October meets, again, we are starting meet entries already currently.

“With that being said, and again I’ll be brief and I will get this out to you guys on email. Basically, our 2021 home schedule has been approved by the Florida Gold Coast. We are basically hosting eight meets ranging from our January meet to a BB Championship in February. Again some of the meets may have to change as far as meet information but we are quite confident that we will be able to host these championship meets at our facility.

“Also, we have basically March 19-21 we will have Senior Champs again. We are very fortunate and lucky again where we have Senior Champs for not only March of 2021 but we’ll have it in 2022 in short course season as well. We have kind of moved on and done some planning in that aspect. Moving on from there, we will have a dual meet again where we will bring in other athletes. We will keep you abreast of that.We will have a Developmental Meet in August 2021, moving on to our Distance Challenge in October and then we have our Last Chance Prelim-Final meet that we have in November. We did pick up another meet, too, the first week of July, the BC Championships for Broward County. I just put that out there so just so you guys know but it also ties in a little bit also with the Booster Club as far as the meets are concerned that there will be hours available in the future which again we will talk about that a little more. We will get the 2021 home meet schedule skeleton out to you guys.

“Moving on from there, as far as safety protocols, we are still in Phase One of our swimming safety protocols, the one that we put out as far as the directions being in the parking lot, trying to do the best we can with social distancing with masks, limited bathrooms and sanitizing coming in and out. We are not stopping any of that as of this point in time. We’re still for the most part in there at that time, trying to keep everything safe at our facility and we’re working with the City and having them approve what some of the things we are doing as well as Coach Lou with the safety protocols at AK Sharks.

“If it wasn’t for you guys, the parents, keeping your kids entertained at home and all the different things that we’ve had and also at the pool. Again I feel so lucky and fortunate that we are all taking care of our membership, taking care of our kids, both here at practice but also at home. We have been very fortunate and lucky throughout this pandemic as far as the program. I want to continue that so we are going to take slow steps forward to really try and keep everything safe here at the pool.

“As you probably know in Broward County and some different things in Dade, they will be making some more announcements. Private schools are in session, whether it’s at school or at home. As of Oct. 5th, there is a plan out there and you will be able to opt to go to school or stay home. Again there are so many different schools, there are so many different things going on, even at our own Charter School. So Oct. 5th there may be some safety protocols that we will be doing as far as dropping off and picking up, depending on times when school is in session and where everything is going on. We won’t be changing any of the practice times. About a week and a half to two weeks around Oct. 19th, there could possibly be some changes but keep in mind we will remind you there may be some different protocols when it comes to dropping off and picking up. But once again we have been very fortunate with it working very well, even during the rain delays for the most part pretty good as far as the social distancing when it comes to as many athletes and coaches as we have with cars picking up. We have been very fortunate with a large parking lot that we have been able to manage that. Countless hours of Maria going out and sanitizing and managing, and George and people who have coordinated all the different things.

“There will be updates, again Oct. 5th kids go back to school so you may have some drop-off and pick up changes. Of course, we have already looked into Daylight Savings. We are starting to think about that as well.

“Real quick, some of the resources we have and I really do want people to take advantage of some of these things. Whether you know it or not, Sharon Robb, she is in charge of our Sports Information. She writes a blog and does stories, she has interviewed our kids, she keeps a handle on things. She really keeps me and other staff members abreast when it comes to the high school meetings, school meetings, USA Swimming and convention meetings, all the different things that are going on, whether it’s our staff meetings, team meetings, our zoom classes, what we did with drylands back in April and May. But please if you don’t already have the RSS feed and not getting those stories, it really is a way to kind of keep you engaged of what our club is doing. So that’s Sharon Robb and we will get that out on Remind if you don’t already have the RSS feed. If you are not getting information or not somehow seeing the stories, it’s on our website homepage, Facebook…we try to get it out as many places as possible but you can get it directly on your phone. And again it’s really a great tool to understand when we are having these meetings, different changes in the schedule or different things that are going on with the high school season which is still kind of crazy with the different things that are going on but I know there are different committees working hard to try to have some type of season.

“Also, we have Natasha Moodie, she is our college prep specialist. She has a whole list of facts plus the newsletter that goes out. It is mandatory for anybody that is a freshman, even eighth grade, but freshmen for sure to be a part of that. We want to keep our student-athletes informed, we want to keep them informed about academic scholarships, about different changes in the recruiting world that’s changing on a daily basis. We want to make sure they are informed about the different colleges and universities that have different programs that are coming up soon. The process of getting to that next level of swimming has been a goal of my entire program. It’s about getting the age group swimmer to the senior program and then it’s about getting our senior athletes prepared to go to Division I, II or III or junior college. That is the program’s philosophy. Natasha and the rest of our staff have done some great, wonderful things through our newsletter and education. We’re not only successful but we are improving upon that success and getting more and more relationships on that second level after age group swimming and senior swimming to get to that third tier, collegiate swimming, which we are doing very well in.”

Anderson also talked about raising club fees for the first time since 2016 and will have more details in the coming weeks. He then opened the zoom up for any questions from the parents.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Former SOFLO Swimmer Jack Davies Returns To Join Coaching Staff

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, September 16, 2020—Jack Davies has come full circle with South Florida Aquatic Club.

Davies swam for SOFLO for four years (100 and 200 backstroke) before his family moved to The Woodlands in Texas. From 9 to 13-years-old, Davies was mentored by Coach George, Coach Luis and Coach Rose.

Davies will reunite with his former coaches on September 28, his first day as SOFLO’s new Silver and Senior Developmental coach at Academic Village Pool.

“I am extremely excited to be back,” Davies said. “It’s an awesome opportunity and one I can’t pass up. The coaches I was swimming for years I now am going to have the opportunity to coach with them. It is bittersweet leaving my old job, but there is a ridiculous amount of excitement to offset the sadness.”

Davies is currently wrapping up his coaching duties with the CSP Tideriders in St. Louis, Mo., where he coached all age groups and masters, from ages 4 to 60. He was also a private swim instructor at McKendree MetroRec Plex.

Davies graduated from McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill., where he swam Division II until getting injured. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a background in data analytics, projections, basic administration and business environment theoretical techniques.

Davies graduated from The Woodlands College Park High School where he was captain of his swim team. He also competed for The Woodlands club team for five years and was a junior national team member from 2014-2016.

The Bishop Auckland, England-born Davies started swimming when he was 4 years old and has been in love with the sport ever since. His passion for swimming and coaching is a win-win for SOFLO.

“When I swam at SOFLO it was a good atmosphere,” said Davies, whose sister Leonie swam for SOFLO and parents were USA Swimming officials. “I had such an all-around good experience with good coaching, good assistants and good staff. It’s such an appealing program. It’s a set-up I know and am familiar with. Any job is going to be hard work. It might as well be hard work you enjoy.”

Midway through his sophomore year at McKendree, Davies injured his back and took four months off. The injury forced him to quit competitive swimming and started doing private lessons.

“Then I made the jump to coaching and never looked back,” Davies said.

The transition from competing to coaching took time. “It was very different, I took it in steps,” Davies said. “I started with private lessons and at one stage I was running the private lessons facility, doing the scheduling and using all the instructors in addition to teaching. Stepping into a coaching role felt natural and I enjoyed it.

“Swimming is something I have done my entire life. It’s something I understand. My desire to coach goes back to being injured. I feel like I have unfinished business. Coaching allows me to stay in the sport. I definitely want more to my swimming story than what I accomplished in the water.”

Davies loves the idea of working alongside CEO and head coach Chris Anderson and his former mentors.

“I hope to stick around as long as possible,” Davies said. “They all have such great experiences in swimming and coaching. I want to have as many good experiences as possible and I know I have a good network around me during the bad experiences. Swimming provides such a great environment because it’s not just about swimming but also about growing in life.”

Davies said he has followed the success of SOFLO, the Florida Gold Coast’s largest USA Swimming Club and one of the most successful in the state.

“It’s good to see what they have accomplished, these coaches are great coaches,” Davies said. “I’m not surprised how well they have done. They have good athletes and get the most out of them.”

With SOFLO’s program back in full swing while weathering the COVID-19 pandemic for seven months, Anderson is looking forward to having another coach on staff.

“Jack is a nice addition to the program,” Anderson said. “He has a lot of passion and energy. He interviewed well with Coach Lou, Coach Rose and myself. He is extremely excited to be here. He knows the area and parents. We are very excited about it.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Swimmers Have Another Good Day Of Racing In Fourth Intrasquad Meet

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, August 29, 2020—South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers turned in another good day of racing Saturday in SOFLO’s Fourth Intrasquad Meet.

In a controlled atmosphere at Academic Village Pool, swimmers turned in 133 best times in five events during three sessions.

Pilar Duranti, 12, won two events in the 13-and-under 200-yard freestyle in a best time 2:14.75 and 200-yard individual medley in 2:29.32. She was also second in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:12.61, another best time.

Duranti also earned women pentathlon honors with 863 points for three events. Elise Dinehart, 12, was runner-up with 678 points.

In the 12-16 girls races, Gabriella DeLuna, 14, was a triple winner in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:02.88; 200-yard freestyle in 2:05.70 and 200-yard individual medley in 2:18.57.

Nahomi Porras-Aguilar, 10, was also a triple winner in the 9-10 races. She won the 50-yard breaststroke in 57.45; 50-yard backstroke in 44.53 and 50-yard freestyle in 37.04.

In the 13-and-under competition, Alexander Miller, 13, had another good week of racing. He won three events with three best times. Over two weeks, he won six events and posted five best times.

Miller also earned pentathlon honors with 954 points ahead of Juan Vallmitjana with 323 points.

Miller won the 100-yard butterfly in 1:01.36, 200-yard freestyle in 1:59.40 and 200-yard individual medley in 2:15.21.

Javier Colmenares, 14, was a triple winner in the 12-16 competition with three best times. He won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:02.01, 200-yard freestyle in 1:53.45 and 200-yard individual medley in 2:02.67.

Zachary Snigur, 8, won two events in the 8-and-unders in the 50-yard breaststroke in a best time 51.88 and 50-yard backstroke in 55.65. He also had a best time in the 50-yard freestyle in 45.44.

Preston Christensen, 10, and Lance Bergeron-Menard, 9, each won two events in the 9-10 competition. Christensen won the 50-yard backstroke in 43.33 and 50-yard freestyle in a best time 34.72. Bergeron-Menard won the 50-yard butterfly in 41.13 and 50-yard breaststroke in 49.74.

Host SOFLO observed stringent local, state and federal public health COVID-19 guidelines in a unique competitive format.

In a safe environment, swimmers competed with no more than ten in each heat, another ten warming up or warming down and ten in the bullpen area. The same seeded heats were maintained to avoid any cross contamination between heats.

The USA Swimming-sanctioned meet was run without volunteers (other than the minimum number of officials required). No spectators were permitted on deck.


13-and-under 100-yard butterfly: 1. Lydia Smutny 1:11.27, 2. Pilar Duranti 1:12.61, time drop, 3. Sarah Vasquez 1:15.00, time drop.

13-and-under 100-yard backstroke: 1. Sofia Lugo 1:11.51, time drop, 2. Amanda Grubbs 1:12.96, time drop, 3. Alexandra Strong 1:16.08, time drop.

13-and-under 100-yard breaststroke: 1. Elise Dinehart 1:19.86, time drop, 2. Cali Harries 1:23.02, 3. Anjana Andapally 1:29.62, time drop.

13-and-under 200-yard freestyle: 1. Pilar Duranti 2:14.75, time drop, 2. Genesis Escobar 2:15.71, 3. Sarah Vasquez 2:18.08.

13-and-under 200-yard individual medley: 1. Pilar Duranti 2:29.32, 2. Sarah Vasquez 2:36.05, 3. Sofia Lugo 2:41.08.

12-16 100-yard butterfly: 1. Manuela Gonzalez 1:04.56, 2. Gabriela Avila 1:05.46, 3. Izzy Wilson 1:09.53.

12-16 100-yard backstroke: 1. Gabriella DeLuna 1:02.88, 2. Amelie Bicerne 1:09.38, 3. Mariana Pinto 1:12.70.

12-16 100-yard breaststroke: 1. Fiorella DiSalvo 1:15.53, time drop, 2. Mariann Catalasan 1:15.67, time drop, 3. Dahlia Hirsh 1:20.50.

12-16 200-yard freestyle: 1. Gabriella DeLuna 2:05.70, 2. Izzy Wilson 2:07.96, 3. Gabriela Avila 2:08.76, time drop.

12-16 200-yard individual medley: 1. Gabriella DeLuna 2:18.57, 2. Fiorella DiSalvo 2:23.07, 3. Izzy Wilson 2:26.87.

13-and-under 100-yard butterfly: 1. Alexander Miller 1:01.36, time drop, 2. Juan Vallmitjana 1:08.80, time drop, 3. Abraham Penaloza 1:10.98, time drop.

13-and-under 100-yard backstroke: 1. Ethan Hall 1:17.50, time drop, 2. Matthew Jimenez 1:20.71.

13-and-under 100-yard breaststroke: 1. Ryan Harries 1:21.44, 2. Joshua Menezes 1:22.57, 3. Matt McVeigh 1:22.66, time drop.

13-and-under 200-yard freestyle: 1. Alexander Miller 1:59.40, time drop, 2. Juan Vallmitjana 2:10.62, time drop, 3. Felipe Rodriguez 2:14.12, time drop.

13-and-under 200-yard individual medley: 1. Alexander Miller 2:15.21, time drop, 2. Juan Vallmitjana 2:32.21, 3. Abraham Penaloza 2:34.60, time drop.

12-16 100-yard butterfly: 1. Andres Tejada 59.34, time drop, 2. Adrian Hernandez 59.42, time drop, 3. Luca Hincapie 59.54, time drop.

12-16 100-yard backstroke: 1. Jaden Amores 1:02.29, time drop, 2. Ethan McPeek 1:04.42, 3. Nicholas Pelaez 1:04.94, time drop.

12-16 100-yard breaststroke: 1. Javier Colmenares 1:02.01, time drop, 2. Derek Hau 1:07.55, time drop, 3. Felix Gonzalez 1:14.75, time drop.

12-16 200-yard freestyle: 1. Javier Colmenares 1:53.45, time drop, 2. Adrian Hernandez 1:54.77, time drop, 3. Hashan Ekanayake 1:56.50, time drop.

12-16 200-yard individual medley: 1. Javier Colmenares 2:02.67, time drop, 2. Adrian Hernandez 2:10.09, 3. Andres Tejada 2:14.68.

1. Pilar Duranti 863, 2. Elise Dinehart 678, 3. Sarah Vasquez 651, 4. Sofia Lugo 641, 5. Lydia Smutny 582.

1. Alexander Miller 954, 2. Juan Vallmitjana 323, 3. Abraham Penaloza 205, 4. Felipe Rodriguez 170, 5. Connor Jimenez 117.

GIRLS 8-and-under, 9-10:
50-yard freestyle: 9-10, 1. Nahomi Porras-Aguilar 37.04, 2. Gabriella Ordonez 37.72, time drop, 3. Devy Otero 43.66, time drop.

50-yard breaststroke: 9-10, 1. Nahomi Porras-Aguilar 57.45, 2. Gabriella Ordonez 59.56, 3. Devy Otero 1:02.10.

50-yard backstroke: 8-and-under, 1. Gabriela Ekht 54.06, time drop; 9-10, 1. Nahomi Porras-Aguilar 44.53, 2. Gabriella Ordonez 47.66, time drop, 3. Devy Otero 54.93.

50-yard butterfly: 8-and-under, 1. Gabriela Ekht 1:01.52; 9-10, 1. Gabriella Ordonez 53.25, 2. Devy Otero 1:04.96, 3. Sofia Duranti 1:10.86.

BOYS 8-and-under, 9-10

50-yard freestyle: 8-and-under, 1. Alessandro Suarez Cabrera 40.00, time drop, 2. Michael Barber 43.57, time drop, 3. Luis Escobar 45.00, time drop, 4. Zachary Snigur 45.44, time drop; 9-10, 1. Preson Christensen 34.72, time drop, 2. Lance Bergeron-Menard 34.95, 3. Matteo Castelli 39.20, time drop.

50-yard breaststroke: 8-and-under, 1. Zachary Snigur 51.88, time drop, 2. Alessandro Suarez Cabrera 52.85, 3. Luis Escobar 58.79, 4. Michael Barber 1:00.94, time drop; 9-10, 1. Lance Bergeron-Menard 49.74, 2. Preston Christensen 49.86, 3. Matteo Castelli 50.41, time drop.

50-yard backstroke: 8-and-under, 1. Zachary Snigur 55.65, 2. Michael Barber 56.86, 3. Alessandro Suarez Cabrera 57.54, 4. Luis Escobar 57.57, time drop; 9-10, 1. Preston Christensen 43.33, 2. Lance Bergeron-Menard 44.41, 3. Matteo Castelli 49.75, 4. Samuel Rico 53.20, time drop.

50-yard butterfly: 8-and-under, 1. Luis Escobar 57.40, time drop, 2. Alessandro Suarez Cabrera 59.26, 3. Michael Barber 1:04.88, time drop; 9-10, 1. Lance Bergeron-Menard 41.13, 2. Preston Christensen 49.39, 3. Matteo Castelli 52.97, Kyle Wehn 57.28.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Swimmers Ready For Fourth Intrasquad Meet On Saturday

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, August 28, 2020—If last weekend’s intrasquad meet is any indication, there will be more time drops and competitive racing at South Florida Aquatic Club’s fourth intrasquad meet.

Bronze, Silver, Meteorites and Asteroids swimmers will get another chance to race in a controlled atmosphere at Academic Village Pool.

After more than four months of not racing, South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers are not only training well but getting in some much-needed racing and fun competition in a unique format to gauge training and fitness levels.

Observing stringent local, state and federal public health COVID-19 guidelines, SOFLO is hosting its fourth intrasquad training meet with a 6:45 a.m. start. It will be live streamed on SOFLO’s Facebook page.

Last weekend 153 girl and boy swimmers had time drops in the five events’ mixed 13-and-under, 12-16 and 12-and-under sessions.

Session 1 will feature Bronze swimmers at 6:45 a.m. followed by Session 2 for Silver and Senior Fit at 8:45 a.m. and Session 3 Dippers at 10:30 a.m.

In a safe environment, swimmers will compete with no more than ten in each heat, another ten warming up or warming down and ten in the bullpen area. The same seeded heats will be maintained to avoid any cross contamination between heats. Every race will be about 25 to 30 minutes apart.

The USA Swimming-sanctioned meet will be run without volunteers (other than the minimum number of officials required). No spectators are permitted on deck.

Top-seeded swimmers and events are:

Alexander Miller, 13, 13-and-under 100-yard butterfly, 1:07.10; 200-yard freesttyle 2:07.76; 200-yard individual medley, 2:16.47.

Sofia Lugo, 11, 13-and-under 100-yard backstroke, 1:12.25.

Ryan Harries, 11, 13-and-under 100-yard breaststroke 1:20.26.

Andres Tejada, 13, 12-16 100-yard butterfly, 1:00.22.

Gabriella Deluna, 14, 12-16 100-yard backstroke, 1:02.28.

Javier Colmenares, 14, 12-16 100-yard breaststroke, 1:04.49; 200-yard individual medley 2:05.53.

Adrian Hernandez, 14, 12-16 200-yard freestyle, 1:56.40.

Preston Christensen, 10, 12-and-under 50-yard freestyle, 36.78; 50-yard breaststroke, 48.92; 50-yard backstroke, 41.07; 50-yard butterfly, 48.20.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Swimmers Shine In SOFLO’s Third Intrasquad Meet; Alexander Miller, Noah Mejias Triple Winners

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, August 22, 2020–To say that South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers were chomping at the bit to race on Saturday is an understatement.

For the first time in more than four months because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Silver, Bronze, Meteorites and Asteroids swimmers got to race in SOFLO’s third Intrasquad Meet and it showed.

A total of 153 girl and boy swimmers posted time drops in the five events’ mixed 13-and-under, 12-16 and 12-and-under sessions. The smiles on their faces as they climbed out of Academic Village Pool said it all.

Pilar Duranti, 12, was a double girls’ winner in the 13-and-under session. Duranti won the 100-yard freestyle in a best time 1:01.55 and 50-yard backstroke in 32.34, also a best time.

Elise Dinehart, 12, was also a double girls’ winner in the 13-and-under session. She won the 100-yard individual medley in a best time 1:11.80 and 50-yard breaststroke in a best time 36.40.

Duranti edged Dinehart in the 13-and-under pentathlon, 924-905, for three events.

In the boy’s 13-and-under competition, Alexander Miller, 13, came up big winning three events and posting two time drops. He won the 100-yard freestyle in a best time 54.99; 100-yard individual medley in a best time 1:01.11 and 50-yard butterfly in 29.59.

Miller also won the boys’ 13-and-under pentathlon big with 871 points for three events. Juan Vallmitjana, 12, was second with 242 points.

In the girls’ 12-16 session, Gabriela Avila, 14, Fiorella Di Salvo, 12, and Manuela Gonzalez, 14, each won an individual event with best times. Gonzalez won the 12-16 pentathlon with 1,405 points.

Javier Colmenares, 14, and Adrian Hernandez, 14, were double winners in the boys’ 12-16 session. Colmenares won the 100-yard freestyle in a best time 53.11 and 50-yard breaststroke in 30.02, also a best time. Hernandez won the 100-yard individual medley in a best time 59.36 and 50-yard butterfly in a best time 26.65. Colmenares won the 12-16 pentathlon with 1,260 points.

Amanda Grubbs, 11, was a double winner in the girls’ 12-and-under session. Grubbs won the 100-yard freestyle in a best time 1:04.34 and 100-yard individual medley in a best time 1:14.38. Grubbs won the 12-and-under pentathlon with 433 points.

Noah Mejias, 9, was a triple winner in the boys’ 12-and-under session and won the pentathlon. Mejias won the 100-yard freestyle in 1:11.69, 100-yard individual medley in 1:20.87 and 50-yard butterfly in 34.80.

Like every SOFLO intrasquad meet, swimmers, coaches and USA Swimming officials followed stringent local, state and federal public health COVID-19 guidelines. This sanctioned meet was run without volunteers (other than the minimum number of officials required). No spectators were permitted on deck.

This meet had three sessions with a maximum of 30 swimmers each. During each session, the 30 swimmers were divided into three “heats” of 10. The heats were determined by the seeding for the stroke events (3-5 and 8-10 and 13-15). The heats stayed together as a group throughout the meet and rotated around the deck.

There was a heat racing or preparing to race, a heat in the warm-down lanes (one lane per athlete), and a heat “on deck” who were waiting in their chairs.

The “on deck” waiting area had three groups of 10 chairs separated by the designated social distance of 6 feet. Each athlete will had a designated chair for their equipment and sat in their chair when not racing or warming down.

There was about 8 minutes between racing heats. With nine heats per session, each session was about 75 minutes in length and athletes raced every twenty-four minutes.

The fourth intrasquad meet is Saturday, Aug. 29, 6-11:30 a.m. Bronze, Silver, Senior Fit and Dippers will compete.

MIXED 13-and-under

100-yard freestyle: 1. Pilar Duranti 1:01.55, time drop, 2. Genesis Escobar 1:01.62, time drop, 3. Sofia Lugo 1:02.59, time drop.

100-yard individual medley: 1. Elise Dinehart 1:11.80, time drop, 2. Pilar Duranti 1:12.54, 3. Sarah Vasquez 1:13.53.

50-yard butterfly: 1. Sofia Lugo 33.33, 2. Lydia Smutny 33.61, 3. Sarah Vasquez 33.77.

50-yard backstroke: 1. Pilar Duranti, 32.34, time drop, 2. Alexandra Strong 37.43, 3. Sofia Gomez 37.56, time drop.

50-yard breaststroke: 1. Elise Dinehart 36.40, time drop, 2. Cali Harries 39.59, 3. Anjana Andapally 41.25, time drop.


100-yard freestyle: 1. Alexander Miller 54.99, time drop, 2. Juan Vallmitjana 1:00.54, time drop, 3. Abraham Penaloza 1:02.04, time drop.

100-yard individual medley: 1. Alexander Miller 1:01.11, time drop, 2. Leo Shee 1:11.25, time drop, 3. Juan Vallmitjana 1:11.81.

50-yard butterfly: 1. Alexander Miller 29.59, 2. Leo Shee 33.81, time drop, 3. Joshua Menezes 34.34.

50-yard backstroke: 1. Matt McVeigh 33.39, time drop, 2. Matthew Jimenez 36.47, 3. Ethan Hall 37.96.

50-yard breaststroke: 1. Abraham Penaloza 35.60, time drop, 2. Juan Vallmitjana 36.40, time drop, 3. Ryan Harries 37.23.

MIXED 12-16

100-yard freestyle: 1. Gabriela Avila 57.54, time drop, 2. tie, Gabriella DeLuna 58.04 and Manuela Gonzalez, 58.04, time drop.

100-yard individual medley: 1. Fiorella DiSalvo 1:06.70, time drop, 2. Gabriella DeLuna 1:06.86, 3. Manuela Gonzalez 1:07.29, time drop.

50-yard butterfly: 1. Manuela Gonzalez 28.61, time drop, 2. Gabriela Avila 29.34, time drop, 3. Izzy Wilson 32.03.

50-yard backstroke: 1. Gabriella DeLuna 30.70, 2. Mariann Catalasan 31.51 time drop, 3. Fiorella DiSalvo 31.78, time drop.

50-yard breaststroke: 1. Dahlia Hirsh 37.47, 2. Sofia Hernandez 38.82, time drop, 3. Melanie Palmira 41.14.


100-yard freestyle: 1. Javier Colmenares 53.11, time drop, 2. Kevin Moya 53.76, time drop, 3. Hashan Ekanayake 54.12, time drop.

100-yard individual medley: 1. Adrian Hernandez 59.36, time drop, 2. Javier Colmenares 59.61, 3. Kevin Moya 1:00.78.

50-yard butterfly: 1. Adrian Hernandez 26.65, time drop, 2. Andres Tejada 27.70, time drop, 3. Hashan Ekanayake 28.21, time drop.

50-yard backstroke: 1. Kevin Moya 28.19, time drop, 2. Ethan McPeek 30.01, time drop, 3. Felix Gonzalez 31.36, time drop.

50-yard breaststroke: 1. Javier Colmenares 30.02, time drop, 2. Derek Hau 31.15, time drop, 3. Luca Hincapie 33.46, time drop.

MIXED 12-and-under

100-yard freestyle: 1. Amanda Grubbs 1:04.34, time drop, 2. Olivia Wilson 1:10.66, time drop, 3. Sofia Rodriguez 1:12.81, time drop.

100-yard individual medley: 1. Amanda Grubbs 1:14.38, time drop, 2. Olivia Wilson 1:24.45, time drop, 3. Gabriela Marin 1:26.26, time drop.

50-yard butterfly: 1. Olivia Wilson 41.13, time drop, 2. Gabriela Marin 42.64.

50-yard backstroke: 1. Sofia Rodriguez 40.28, time drop, 2. Jiana Connor 45.24, 3. Marlena Groves 51.18, time drop.

50-yard breaststroke: 1. Gianna Martin 41.14, time drop, 2. Ainsley Miller 44.99, 3. Christie Ann Lumsden 46.65, time drop.


100-yard freestyle: 1. Noah Mejias 1:11.69, 2. Atharv Agashe 1:16.06, time drop, 3. Martin Petkov 1:17.77.

100-yard individual medley: 1. Noah Mejias 1:20.87, 2. Mikhel Martin 1:25.43, time drop, 3. Martin Petkov 1:28.87.

50-yard butterfly: 1. Noah Mejias 34.80, 2. Adrian Sowma 45.26, 3. Matthew Ortiz 48.22.

50-yard backstroke: 1. Mikhel Martin 40.48, 2. Eric Ferrer 41.38, 3. Atharv Agashe 43.10, time drop.

50-yard breaststroke: 1. Noah Lee 42.75, 2. Martin Petkov 46.52, time drop, 3. Maximiliano Remmele 47.06.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Mateus, Rodriguez Pave The Way For SOFLO Swimmers

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, June 7, 2020—Leonardo Mateus and Rafael Rodriguez took turns talking about academic excellence and extra curricular activities in high school during a recent zoom presentation for SOFLO’s Bronze Group and AK Sharks Group.

The swimmers were a perfect age (11, 12, 13) to learn how to handle high school classes and plan for the future in college. Rodriguez is headed to Purdue and Mateus is off to Yale this fall.

After it was determined that both Mateus and Rodriguez are Coach Rose’s favorites (pause for laughter), the talented student-athletes got down to business sharing what they learned when they got to high school and what worked and what didn’t while highlighting important tasks to get ready for college.

“Knowledge is power,” said Mateus, who outlined several key points and illustrated how swimming helps in the classroom.

1. Discipline comes from training.

2. Leadership is built from teamwork. Think about the relays you do. “I’ve seen you get organized for relays, that is teamwork,” Mateus said.

3. Proactivity comes from persistence. Be proactive. Give your best from the beginning.

“You will do well in what you enjoy in high school,” Rodriguez said. “Whether it’s the sciences, math, challege yourself by taking AICE/AP and IB courses.”

AICE or Advanced International Certificate of Education offers the value of broad and balanced study in four groups (math and sciences, language, arts and humanities and interdisciplinary.

AP or Advanced Placement Program offers college-level curriculum and examinations to high school students. American colleges and universities may grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high schools on the exams.

IB or International Baccalaureate is often compared with the AP program. The IB program allows students to take college-level courses while in high school.

Rodriguez said “the most important thing is don’t choose classes because your friends are taking them. Choose something that you actually enjoy and that will translate into you doing better. When choosing classes focus on yourself.”

Mateus discussed GPA (grade point average, a measure of individual ability), class ranking (academic ability compared to everyone else), and how grading works in quarters and semesters, unweighted (4.0) and weighted (6.0), depending on honors classes.

“It’s important your first year in high school that you don’t slack off,” Mateus said. “It’s easy to bring your GPA down if you do slack off and once it is down it’s hard to get your average back up. Focus on the things you can do easily that first year and wait a year maybe to take the harder classes.”

Mateus also talked about PSAT, SAT and ACT tests and suggested taking each exam once to see how you do and take it more than once to feel more comfortable while taking it.

There are resources and online educational tools such as Khan Academy, Naviance and YouTube to use to study for classes and standardized tests.

Rodriguez and Mateus also emphasized the importance of extracurricular activities such as swimming.

“Swimming is your most important extra curricular, it looks amazing on your resume,” Rodriguez said.

“Community service is difficult because of the number of service hours you have to do, but important to integrate on your resume. It expands your horizons. It’s unpaid work and looks good on your resume. Jobs, internships and paid work also looks good on your resume and shows that you have experience.”

Clubs and organizations, memberships in honor societies and leadership positions in clubs are also important, they said.

“You don’t have to do all these things to be successful,” Mateus said. “It just helps to combine academics and activities.

“Find the learning connection,” Mateus said. “It teaches you discipline, leadership and productivity and that’s what you take away from swimming. You learn to balance academics and swimming.

“You learn all about making time with time management skills. You break time into sections dedicated to swimming, service, clubs and getting straight A’s.”

Added Rodriguez, “If you’re not good at managing your time it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s important to find the perfect balance of what you are capable of handling.

“Make sure you have time for yourself, too. It shouldn’t be all about swimming, classes, work and clubs. Hang out with your friends. It’s important, it helps you mentally.”

The pair suggested to ask teachers and coaches to write recommendation letters. It helps colleges form an image of you through those letters, they said.

“There’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it,” Rodriguez said.

The final topic outlined information about applying for scholarships.

1. Money is important for your future education.

2. Applying for scholarships is easy. It is a quick and easy source of money to pay for tuition and expenses.

3. There are scholarships available at the local, regional, collegiate and national level.

“It’s important to write down everything you have to do,” Mateus said. Whether it’s homework, practice or meetings, it’s easy to forget if you don’t have an agenda.”

Rodriguez added, “you don’t have to be a straight A student to have opportunities for college. You just have to work hard.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at


By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, June 3, 2020–Nick Chaimowitz always liked to swim, but it wasn’t until he joined South Florida Aquatic Club two years ago that he realized how much he loved it.

“I have always liked the sport, but coming to SOFLO took it to a new level,” he said. “It always just resonated with me in a different way like no other sport has.”

Chaimowitz, 18, a Pembroke Pines Charter graduate who is headed to Broward College this fall, switched swim clubs before his junior year at Charter.

“A lot of my friends from school were on SOFLO,” Chaimowitz said. “A lot of it goes to team dynamics. I had friends I could train with, keeping me positive when I was feeling down. I would cheer them on at practice and meets. It was a good environment and the coaching was great.”

Chaimowitz learned to swim at an early age.

“My mom put me in the sport when I was 5,” Chaimowitz said. “She threw me in the pool and hoped I would swim. I loved it. It’s in my blood. Everyone in my family swims except for my Dad.”

Chaimowitz gave up 5-on-5 soccer and taekwondo to focus on swimming. However, there was a time Chaimowitz lost his focus and wondered whether he was going to keep swimming.

“I was in middle school when I didn’t want to swim anymore,” Chaimowitz said. “It was hard for me. It was the same thing every day. But I stayed positive and talked to my mom. She said she could see me swimming for the rest of my life. That cemented into my head.”

Chaimowitz, whose favorite event is the individual medley, has several fond memories of SOFLO.

“But there is one thing that does stick out,” he said. “At practice I was told to swim the 400 IM. I died terribly. I said great. It gave me a new perspective of what practice was going to be like at SOFLO. I knew I would raise my level.”

With every meet Chaimowitz saw himself improve and had several milestones while at SOFLO.

“When I first broke the minute in the 100 freestyle at an Area 2 meet I was so excited and pumped up,” Chaimowitz said. “It really helped my self-confidence and gave me a lot of energy to put in more of an effort than I ever had before in training.”

While Broward College does not have a collegiate swimming program, he would like to continue competitive swimming at SOFLO as well as recreationally. He plans to major in physical therapy and exercise science and also has an interest in flying since his uncle is a pilot.

“At this point I cannot imagine life without swimming, I get to socialize with my friends,” Chaimowitz said. “When I’m stressed or upset at something or myself, I go back to the pool and swim laps. It puts me at peace and relieves my problems and stress. For me, it will be a lifelong sport.”

Chaimowitz handled the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown well. In addition to his SOFLO Zoom workouts, he finished school two weeks ago after “an excessive amount of homework.” He socialized with neighbors and friends at a safe distance. He played football, kickball and basketball.

Chaimowitz and his senior class were also part of a special graduation ceremony Charter school officials arranged with social distancing.

“They did something special,” Chaimowitz said. “We would drive through the bus loop and wait in a line six feet apart. When your name was called we went up to the fountain for pictures in our cap and gown. Then we did our school tradition taking our uniform shirts and throwing them up in a tree. It was great. Channel 6 was there. The school taped it so our parents could watch it since they weren’t allowed to attend.”

As far as the future, Chaimowitz said “my goal right now is to get through college and get my degree.” And now, he is just happy to be back in the pool working on getting his Futures cut in the 200 freestyle.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

FSU-Bound Swimmers Diaz, Banks Make It Fun For Dippers, AKS Swimmers

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, May 28, 2020–SOFLO’s David Diaz and Gabby Banks took turns talking about swimming for fun and importance of education with the help of moderator and SOFLO coach Andrea Golding during a Zoom presentation this past week.

Diaz and Banks are among nine high school seniors sharing their advice and experiences to younger SOFLO swimmers before they head off to college in the fall.

Diaz opened the presentation by asking swimmers what they did for fun. Archery, fishing and computer games were a few of their answers.

“You want to have fun with swimming, too,” Diaz said. “You don’t want to do something that you don’t want to do or forced to do.”

One way to make workouts fun is to challenge another swimmer in the next lane during a set, Diaz suggested.

“Racing each other is the greatest thing you can do to push yourself. It helps you get to the next level and it’s a friendly rivalry you develop. I got a lot of entertainment trying to race my friends.”

Diaz, Banks and Golding agreed the sport becomes a lot easier if you have fun with it. That you need it to be fun or you wouldn’t be good at it.

“Fun is so vital in the sport,” Diaz said. “At practice you may not be feeling it, but having a teammate support you makes the sport more fun and the competition with a friend is entertaining.

“Right now you should be enjoying the fun in swimming,” Diaz said. “Keep trying and don’t give up. Have fun with your teammates and support each other.”

Banks, who represents Jamaica internationally, stressed the importance of education.

“It’s important to stay in school and focus on your studies,” Banks said. “No matter how good you get in swimming, it is very important. Swimming is second to your education, that’s what’s going to help you in your career.”

Banks said it’s important to manage your time wisely. Set goals and keep up with schoolwork.

“You need to be so disciplined about going to practice, organizing your time and doing homework. You have to create a mental mindset. When in school you need to focus on your schoolwork and at swim practice you need to focus on swimming.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Senior Nick Chaimowitz Talks With Asteroids & Meteorites About Staying Positive And Consistent

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, May 26, 2020–Nick Chaimowitz is one of several South Florida Aquatic Club seniors giving back.

Chaimowitz and other seniors realize the importance of paving the way for their younger teammates with advice on various topics and sharing their experiences before heading off to college in the fall.

On Tuesday, Chaimowitz, 18, a Pembroke Pines Charter graduate, kicked off a series of SOFLO Senior Zoom presentations this week. His topic was “Staying Positive and Consistency.”

In front of a fun group of swimmers ages 7-11, Chaimowitz emphasized the importance of staying positive no matter what.

“If you stay positive in swimming, you are going to have a positive outcome,” Chaimowitz said. “If you have a negative outlook in life or swimming, it will turn out badly.

“You need to have a positive mindset at meets,” he said. “If you are striving for a certain time be confident. Don’t knock yourself down if you don’t get it. In practice, be positive whether you are trying to accomplish a goal or cheering on your teammates. And most importantly, stay positive in school. Being positive is the best way to live a healthy life.”

Chaimowitz also shared his ideas about goal-setting.

“Set easy goals that you can achieve quickly so you can be happy and build up your confidence,” he said. “Set a goal and prepare for it. If you see that you did it, you should feel accomplished with yourself. You could set goals, accomplish them and build on those goals to a higher goal.”

Using Swim Swam’s website as a source, Chaimowitz talked about consistency.

“It’s about taking the power back by setting motivational times. You are going to have those days where you don’t want to train and don’t feel like doing anything. But you still should put in the best effort you can.

“Avoid going for all or nothing,” Chaimowitz said. “If you set your goals too high and push for it you are wasting all this time. I’m not saying don’t go for it, but you need to be realistic. Build on smaller goals.

“When you fall, get back up quickly. Victories are just like defeats. They set a tone and momentum which is hard to describe. It’s okay if you lose to a rival, tell yourself you will get him in the next race.”

Chaimowitz said strive for consistency when setting goals.

“Don’t be afraid to strive for greatness. Obviously, do it in small parts. It’s too enormous for you guys to set a huge goal. Try to build on it and eventually you guys will accomplish it.

“I set a small goal since the quarantine. I wanted to work out every day, even Sunday, my usual day off. After my workout I feel great about myself and I feel successful. If you hold yourself accountable to your goals, you will be successful.”

SOFLO coaches Rose Lockie, Luis Soler and Andrea Golding had fun interacting with Chaimowitz and swimmers.

Soler echoed Chaimowitz advice about setting too lofty goals.

“If you have this goal that is unattainable and fail, you may just not want to do the sport anymore and that’s not what it’s all about,” Soler said. “Having these smaller goals builds into an ultimate goal. If you do get that goal, it’s a bonus.”

Chaimowitz encouraged the young swimmers to focus on core work including push-ups, sit-ups and crunches and emphasized eating healthy.

“You can’t work out and be healthy without eating right,” Chaimowitz said. “I know that first hand.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Shares Her Journey With SOFLO, FGC Swimmers On Zoom

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, May 4, 2020–In front of a captive audience of nearly 300 Florida Gold Coast swimmers including several South Florida Aquatic Club teammates, Alia Atkinson shared her trials and tribulations in swimming.

The four-time Jamaican Olympian and world short course record holder made a special appearance recently on the Zoom platform for the Florida Gold Coast.

Atkinson, 31, is focusing on her fifth appearance at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, an historic feat for a Jamaican swimmer. She made her first Olympic team at age 15 under the watchful eye of SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson who has coached her for most of her career.

Atkinson spoke for 30 minutes and then opened it up for a question-and-answer session with Jennifer Gibson of Swim Fort Lauderdale as moderator. She talked about her early years as an age group swimmer and college career at Texas A&M. She started swimming at age 4. She said she liked the feel of the water and “hearing that swish.”

“I know you guys are busy doing something even though you are home and not training with your team,” Atkinson said, referring to the quarantine.

Atkinson stressed the importance of learning something from every swim.

“No matter whether you win or lose, you can find something to learn from that swim,” she said. “I have a lot of failures, and I am still learning. I turned those failures into a learning experience.

“The road is going to be rough but your journey is your journey. You can find little things to get better with every race.

“Swimming is very fickle, you have to be patient. Your body will get stronger. It’s really about being patient and persevering.”

Atkinson admits she came to a crossroads after just missing a medal in the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. She was eighth at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“From 23rd to fourth put that fire back,” Atkinson said. “I realized I wasn’t finished now. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I now realize I need to swim for another reason.”

Atkinson also touched about signing with her first major sponsor, Speedo, her first world record and competing on the pro circuit around the world.

While swimmers are at home, she suggested they use YouTube as a source to check out elite swimmers and their strokes.

“I have started to understand more about other strokes,” she said. “Break down your strokes and fine tune. Use YouTube as a reference, watch the swimmers and their strokes and then compare your strokes to theirs.”

Atkinson talked about the mental aspects of swimming and how it can be a roller coaster.

“I believe in positive reinforcement,” she said. “Do the little things to change your outlook to positive.

“Have small goals during quarantine,” she told swimmers. “Help yourself so you get excited, help yourself physically and mentally. For me, I focus on the small things, things I can control.”

The Olympics being moved to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic threw everyone for a loop including Atkinson but she is adjusting.

“You cannot change your circumstances, but you can change your mindset,” Atkinson said. “It’s about how mentally tough can you get no matter what the world throws at you.

“I am looking forward to 2021,” Atkinson said. “I’m not sure what the future holds. You guys are all in the same boat as me. Just stay connected to your teammates and coaches.

“Start working on things that you lacked before, be a little ahead of the curve. Even though circumstances may hinder your mental state, there is always a chance to get back up and get tougher. Make your weakness into your strength. This is a great time to do it.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at