SOFLO Ready For Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships In Plantation

SOFLO Ready For Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships At Plantation


March 20, 2013

Three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson heads South Florida Aquatic Club’s 49-swimmer contingent for the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

The three-day meet begins Friday with prelims at 8:30 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m.

SOFLO is riding a wave of success after winning the Junior Olympics combined team title in Coral Springs and turning in some outstanding swims two of the four days at the Speedo Champion Series Sectionals in Fort Lauderdale.

Atkinson, 24, is training for this summer’s world championships in Barcelona, Spain and continues to look great in the water. The team leader is entered in six events, 50-, 100- and 200-yard breaststroke, 100- and 200-yard backstroke and 200-yard freestyle. She is seeded first in all six events.

Atkinson will be joined by three-time Olympian Arlene Semeco of Venezuela in the women’s field

SOFLO’s Maria Lopez, 17, is seeded first in the 200-yard butterfly in 2:05.88. She is also seeded second in the 100-yard butterfly.

Melissa Marinheiro, 15, is top seed in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:51.88 and 200-yard freestyle in 1:50.71. She is seeded second in the 1,650-yard freestyle in 17:05.30.

Marcella Marinheiro, 18, is seeded first in the 50-yard backstroke in 27.11 and 50-yard butterfly in 26.57.

Other SOFLO senior champs qualifiers are: Kaitlin Armstrong, 16; Kylie Herman, 15; Kelley Heron, 13; Amber Hunter, 17; Daniela Jimenez, 17; Evelin Jimenez, 17; Whitney Johnson, 16; Bianca Monti, 13; Astrid Rigau, 16; Jessica Rodriguez, 14; Natasha Testa, 14; Haley Wright, 16; Endi Babi, 24; Xavier Brown, 18; Roger Capote, 17; Ryan Capote, 15; Jordan Colon, 15; Esteban Diaz-Velasco, 13; Edward Kon, 16; CJ Kopecki, 13; Juan Lucas, 14; Alex Monti, 14; Ivan Parada, 18; Kevin Porto, 13; Fernando Quintero, 16; Cristian Rossi, 14; Jonathan Strod, 14; Bowie Suen, 16; Nikolas Ujueta, 15; Gustavo Valery, 14; and Jacob Walters, 17.

In the Area 1, 2, 3, Senior Championships, several SOFLO swimmers are among the top three seeds in their events.

Jessie Cordero, 15, and Rigau are seed second and third in the 200-yard backstroke. Rigau is seeded second in the 200-yard freestyle, second in the 100-yard backstroke and fourth in the 50-yard backstroke. Cordero is seeded third in the 50-yard butterfly, fourth in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:12.39 and fourth in the 100-yard backstroke.

Ujueta is seeded second in the 100-yard freestyle and third in the 200-yard butterfly.

Karina Medina, 15, is seeded third in the 50-yard breaststroke and Rigau is seeded fourth. Medina is seeded fourth in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Juan Saldana, 16, is seeded second in the 200-yard individual medley and fourth in the 50-yard breaststroke.

Genesis Pabon, 16, is seeded second in the 50-yard backstroke.

Simon Ortiz, 15, is seeded first in the 400-yard individual medley in 4:46.68, second in the 1,650-yard freestyle and third in the 50-yard backstroke.

Josemiguel Fernandez, 16, is seeded second in the 400 IM.

Daniel Lee, 17, is seeded fourth in the 50-yard butterfly in 29.01.

Other SOFLO swimmers competing in the Area 1, 2, 3, senior champs are Andrea Iglesia, 15, Emely Nunen, 15, Mathew Delvalle, 15, Jie Won Lee, 17, Federico Molina, 15, and Henry Perillo, 16.

The meet is the last major short course event for FGC swimmers.


What: Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships & Area 1, 2, 3, Senior Championships

When: Friday-Sunday

Schedule: Seniors: Friday, prelims 8:30 a.m., finals 5 p.m.; Saturday, prelims, 8:30 a.m., finals 5 p.m.; Sunday, prelims 8:30 a.m., finals 5 p.m.; Area 1, 2, 3 Seniors: Friday, prelims 11:30 a.m., finals 5 p.m.; Saturday, prelims noon, finals 5 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m., finals 5 p.m.

Where: Plantation Aquatic Complex, 9151 NW Second Street

Admission: $3 per session, heat sheets per session. For information call 954-452-2526.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Coral Springs Swim Club Hosts FGC Senior Championships This Weekend

Coral Springs Swim Club Hosts FGC Senior Championships This Weekend


July 25, 2012

With the excitement of the London Olympics in the air, the Florida Gold Coast Senior Long Course Championships will have a little extra kick to it.

The three-day meet begins Friday and will be hosted by the Coral Springs Swim Club at Coral Springs Aquatic Complex, training site for SOFLO three-time Olympians Arlene Semeco and Vlad Polyakov who will be competing in London.

The field features some of South Florida’s top age group swimmers.

SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski and Melissa Marinheiro head SOFLO’s 58-swimmer contingent.

Marinheiro, 15, is the top seed in the 15-16 200-meter freestyle (2:07.51). Marinheiro recently qualified for next month’s Speedo Junior Nationals in Indianapolis.

Kuczynski, 21, is the top seed in the open 100-meter butterfly (59.65) and seeded second in the 50 butterfly (27.45). Kuczynski, who is entered in seven events, is coming off a gold medal performance at last weekend’s Summer Nationals in Canada.

Among other top SOFLO swimmers entered are:

Marcella Marinheiro, 17, seeded second in the 200 backstroke (2:19.66).

Emma Lincoln, 16, seeded second in the 100-meter freestyle (59.03).

Brandon Goldman, 17, seeded second in the 50-meter backstroke (28.35). Goldman is also preparing for the upcoming junior nationals.

Zuhayr Pigot, 15, of Metro Aquatics and Doral Academy will compete while his sister, Chinyere, 19, and brother Diguan, 18, will swim in London for Suriname. Chinyere was voted to carry the country’s flag in Friday night’s Opening Ceremonies. The family, since moving to South Florida six years ago, trains with Kirk Peppas at Metro Aquatics.

Other SOFLO swimmers qualified for the meet are:

The girls are Kaitlin Armstrong, 16; Kristina Brennan, 16; Leysha Caraballo, 15; Danielle Ginzburg, 14; Kylie Herman, 15; Amber Hunter, 16; Daniela Jimenez, 17; Evelin Jimenez, 17; Emily Jurich, 15; Kelly Kealty, 15; Anne Kuczynski, 17; Rachel Ling, 17; Maria Lopez, 16; Bianca Muniz, 20; Astrid Rigau, 16; Kennedy Sanes, 16; Lindsey Sauer, 15; Selina Voelkel, 16; Rebecca Wilkerson, 15; and Haley Wright, 15.

The boys are Brian Arnaud, 18; Xavier Brown, 17; Roger Capote, 16; Ryan Capote, 14; August Charni, 15; Jordan Colon, 15; Joshua Coote, 16; Joshua Cutter, 16; Kyle Desrosiers, 16; Ilya Evdokimov, 16; Ben Fruitman, 17; Matthew Gonzalez, 17; Mauricio Hidalgo, 18; Edward Kon, 16; Derek Maguire, 18; Carlo Morante, 19; Ivan Parada, 17; William Perry, 16; Bryce Pierce, 16; Austin Pillado, 17; Fernando Quintero, 15; Jonathan Rivas, 15; Marc Rojas, 18; Juan Saldana, 15; Diego Sanguinetti, 21; Julio Simon, 20; David Stoddard, 15; Jonathan Strod, 13; Bowie Suen, 16; Brendan Teeters, 15; and Jacob Walters, 16. 

Other top teams competing are St. Andrew’s Swimming, Pine Crest, Metro Aquatics and Davie Nadadores.


What: Florida Gold Coast Senior Long Course Championships

When: Friday-Sunday

Where: Coral Springs Aquatic Complex, 12441 Royal Palm Blvd.

Schedule: Friday, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. prelims, 5-7:47 p.m. finals; Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-noon prelims, 5-8:14 p.m. finals; Sunday, 8:30 a.m.-1:49 p.m. prelims, 5-7:49 p.m. finals.

Admission: $3 per session, $3 heat sheets. For information call 954-345-2121.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 3: Let The Games Begin, SOFLO’s Three-Time Olympian Polyakov Swims Saturday

OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 3: Let The Games Begin, SOFLO’s Three-Time Olympian Polyakov Swims Saturday


July 25, 2012

Surrounded by the grandeur of historic buildings and pageantry that can only happen every four years at the Summer Olympic Games, Vlad Polyakov, who grew up training at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex with some of the best swimmers in the world, will be the first South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer to compete in London.

The 28-year-old St. Thomas Aquinas High School alum will make his third Olympic appearance for Kazakhstan at the Games. He also competed in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.

Polyakov will compete in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke prelims and semifinals on Saturday, the opening day of swimming, one of the most popular events along with track and field, soccer and gymnastics. While he is not a medal favorite, he is favored to make the championship final on Sunday night.

SOFLO teammates Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and Arlene Semeco of Venezuela will also compete over eight days of pool swimming in multi events. The open water 10K events are Aug. 9-10.

Several swimmers including Polyakov and Michael Phelps will not march in Friday night’s Opening Ceremonies to rest for Saturday events. Phelps will compete in the 400-meter individual medley.

The Opening Ceremonies are expected to be one of the best in the history of the Games. Former Beatle Paul McCartney has been heard practicing on-stage this past week by several athletes and coaches. Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) is organizing the Opening Ceremonies entitled The Isles of Wonder. The production is expected to be very British, of course, featuring James Bond movie star Daniel Craig and soccer hottie David Beckham. Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali is also expected to have some involvement as well. Ali is in London for the Beyond Sport Ambassadors award ceremony.

On Wednesday, U.S. fencer Mariel Zagunis, a two-time gold medalist in sabre, was named the U.S. flagbearer for Friday night. She was chosen by her peers at the Games and is the first fencer to carry the flag since 1968. In 2004, she was the first American fencer to win an Olympic gold in 100 years. Her parents were 1976 Olympians.

London is the first city to host the modern Olympics there times. In 1908, the Games were reassigned to London from Rome after Mount Vesuvious erupted. After 12 years of Olympic moratorium because of the war, the 1948 Games were held in London.

The Games will feature 10,500 athletes and coaches from 204 nations in 32 sports competing for 302 medals. In addition to Atkinson, Polyakov and Semeco, SOFLO coaches Chris Anderson and Bruno Darzi will be on the pool deck. Former Douglas and Coral Springs Swim Club swimmer Nick Schwab will make his Olympic debut for the Dominican Republic.

China, which surpassed the U.S. in gold medals four years ago in Beijing, will again challenge the U.S. for Olympic supremacy, only not in swimming where the U.S. is favored to maintain its longstanding tradition of dominating the sport. Australia and Brazil will win their share of swimming medals.

Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals in 2008, is entered in seven events. If he wins three medals of any color, he will surpass Russian gymnast Larissa Latynina, who won a record 18 medals in 1956-1964 as the most decorated Olympian. Phelps mom, Debbie and two sisters will be cheering him from the stands in what he insists will be his final Olympic Games even though his mom keeps saying she wants to go to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Teenager Missy Franklin is expected to be women swimming’s breakout star of the Olympics. She is already being called the female version of Phelps, only with more of a bubbly personality.

Swimmers have been practicing at Olympic Park Eton Manor, a sports and leisure venue in Leyton, London that features five indoor swimming pools side-by-side-by-side-by-side-by-side, three 50-meter pools and two 30-meter pools.

“Unbelievable pool, warm up was mind blowing…damn, the Olympics is awesome,” tweeted Schwab.

There will be around-the-clock coverage on NBC, NBCSN, NBCSP, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo and live streaming every sport and social media including Twitter. It will be the most media exposure the Olympics has ever had, more than 3,500 hours.  


July 28, Saturday: Morning session, MEN: 100-meter breaststroke, 400-meter freestyle, 400-meter individual medley heats; WOMEN: 100-meter butterfly, 400-meter individual medley, 4×100-meter freestyle relay, heats; Evening session, MEN: 100-meter breaststroke semifinals, 400-meter freestyle final, 400-meter individual medley final; WOMEN: 100-meter butterfly semifinals, 400-meter individual medley final, 4×100-meter freestyle relay final.

July 29, Sunday: Morning session, MEN: 100-meter backstroke, 200-meter freestyle, 4×100-meter freestyle relay heats; WOMEN: 100-meter backstroke, 100-meter breaststroke, 400-meter freestyle heats; Evening session, MEN: 100-meter backstroke semifinals, 200-meter freestyle semifinals, 100-meter breaststroke final, 4×100-meter freestyle relay final; WOMEN: 100-meter backstroke semifinals, 100-meter breaststroke semifinals, 100-meter butterfly final, 400-meter freestyle final.

July 30, Monday: Morning session, MEN: 200-meter butterfly heat; WOMEN: 200-meter freestyle, 200-meter individual medley heats; Evening session, MEN: 200-meter butterfly semifinals, 100-meter backstroke final, 200-meter freestyle final; WOMEN: 200-meter freestyle semifinals, 200-meter individual medley semifinals, 100-meter backstroke final, 100-meter breaststroke final.

July 31, Tuesday: Morning session, MEN: 100-meter freestyle, 200-meter breaststroke, 4×200-meter freestyle relay heats; WOMEN: 200-meter butterfly heats; Evening session: MEN: 100-meter freestyle semifinals, 200-meter breaststroke semifinals, 200-meter butterfly final, 4×200-meter freestyle relay final; WOMEN: 200-meter butterfly semifinals, 200-meter freestyle final, 200-meter individual medley final.

August 1, Wednesday: Morning session, MEN: 200-meter backstroke, 200-meter individual medley heats; WOMEN: 100-meter freestyle, 200-meter breaststroke, 4×200-meter freestyle relay heats; Evening session, MEN: 200-meter backstroke semifinals, 200-meter individual medley semifinals, 100-meter freestyle final, 200-meter breaststroke final; WOMEN: 100-meter freestyle semifinals, 200-meter breaststroke semifinals, 200-meter butterfly final, 4×200-meter freestyle relay final.

August 2, Thursday: Morning session, MEN: 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly heats; WOMEN: 200-meter backstroke, 800-meter freestyle heats; Evening session, MEN: 50-meter freestyle semifinals, 100-meter butterfly semifinals, 200-meter backstroke final, 200-meter individual medley final; WOMEN: 200-meter backstroke semifinals, 100-meter freestyle final, 200-meter breaststroke final.

August 3, Friday: Morning session, MEN: 1500-meter freestyle, 4×100-meter medley relay heats; WOMEN: 50-meter freestyle, 4×100-medley relay heats; Evening session, MEN: 50-meter freestyle final, 100-meter butterfly final; WOMEN: 50-meter freestyle semifinals, 200-meter backstroke final, 800-meter freestyle final.

August 4, Saturday: No morning session; Evening session, MEN: 1500-meter freestyle final, 4×100-meter medley relay final; WOMEN: 50-meter freestyle final, 4×100-meter medley relay final.

August 9, Thursday: Women’s Marathon Swimming 10K.

August 10, Friday: Men’s Marathon Swimming 10K.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 2: South Florida Stepping Stone For SOFLO’s Atkinson, Polyakov, Semeco To London Olympics

OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 2: South Florida Stepping Stone For SOFLO’s Atkinson, Polyakov, Semeco To London Olympics


July 24, 2012

South Florida is a hidden jewel for athletes of all ages and ability levels, but particularly for those competing at the London Olympics that begin on Friday.

A record 67 athletes and nine coaches with South Florida ties have qualified to compete over 17 days on the world’s greatest stage for amateur sports.

South Florida Aquatic Club will be well-represented by three-time Olympians Alia Atkinson of Jamaica, Arlene Semeco of Venezuela and Vlad Polyakov of Kazakhstan and coaches Bruno Darzi and Chris Anderson.

The large local contingent that calls South Florida home has helped to solidify its reputation as a training playground for future Olympic hopefuls.

Glistening 50-meter Olympic pools at Coral Springs Aquatic Complex, training home for Semeco and Polyakov and Academic Village Pool in Pembroke Pines, where Atkinson grew up, are two venues producing age group, national and international-quality swimmers.

From the pristine show rings at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington and beach volleyball courts on Fort Lauderdale Beach to the Brian Piccolo Park Velodrome in Cooper City, South Florida has become the ideal training ground for athletes from the U.S. and around the world, particularly South and Central America and the Caribbean, all working feverishly for their moment of glory.

Why are we home to so many Olympians?

Coaches and athletes agree it’s a combination of great weather and ability to train year-round at sea level; facilities, coaching, history and sheer numbers of athletes to train and compete against for a shot at Olympic stardom every four years.

“This is paradise for an athlete,” said Polyakov, who started training at Coral Springs at age 15 while attending St. Thomas Aquinas. “The atmosphere is perfect. This is where you want to be if you want to train.”

“We have everything we need here,” Semeco said. “Good coaching, good athletes to train with and world-class venue, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Coral Springs sent a record eight swimmers to the 2008 Beijing Olympics during six-time Olympic coach Michael Lohberg’s legendary coaching tenure. Lohberg passed away in April 2011 but the tradition remains.

Coral Springs Swim Club head coach Bruno Darzi, mentored by Lohberg as both a swimmer and coach, will coach Semeco and Polyakov in London.

Andrea Di Nino, another Lohberg protégé, will be in London as a national team coach for the Russian Swimming Federation. The 39-year-old Italian founder and head coach of the ADN Swim Project spent three years with the Coral Springs Swim Team, learning from Lohberg and his swimmers.

The popularity of swimming has grown in South Florida in the last four decades. Many say that swimming from the 1970s on was the catalyst for other sports in South Florida. 1976 Olympic women’s coach Jack Nelson of the now-defunct Fort Lauderdale Swim Team started bringing in post-college graduates from the U.S. and foreign countries to the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex.

Nelson trained 40 Olympians from various countries in more than 50 years as a coach.

“It was word of mouth mostly,” said the Hall of Famer, recently honored at Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex. “They came from everywhere.”

SOFLO CEO and coach Chris Anderson, who will coach Jamaica’s one-swimmer team in Atkinson, remembers training as a swimmer in Fort Lauderdale when he was a 12-year-old age group swimmer for Bernal’s Gators.

“A lot has to do with the atmosphere that draws the athletes,” said Anderson, Florida Gold Coast General Chairman. “This is the ideal training area. We have 50-meter pools within 20 minutes of each other. We have some very good coaches in a small area that have wonderful training environments.”

Added Atkinson, “Some of our countries are so small that we don’t have enough training or competition so the majority come to South Florida for sure because of the pools, coaches and swimmers and because it’s close to these countries.”

The $5 million dollar Mission Bay Aquatic Training Center in west Boca Raton gained attention when it opened in 1985. Millionaire developer James Brady hired Olympic coaches Mark Schubert and Ron O’Brien.

The idea of an all-inclusive training site for swimmers and divers, including Greg Louganis, caught on and became a hotbed for producing national champions and Olympians for the U.S. and various countries. Before the privately-funded epicenter went bankrupt and closed in 1991, it raised the bar for the sport in the Florida Gold Coast.

“You always have champions inspiring potential champions,” Schubert said. “It opens their horizons.”

South Florida’s Olympic influence may now extend beyond the pool, but there is no denying that South Florida is a swimming haven for all ages, from beginners, age group and high school swimmers, to collegians and past, present and future Olympians.

Florida Gold Coast coaches including Darzi and Anderson and their coaching staffs are hoping the excitement surrounding swimming including teenager Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Cullen Jones will attract more young kids into the sport.

There always seems to be an increase in age group swimmers after the Olympics. The sport is well-publicized like mainstream sports football, basketball and baseball and it comes across as a very clean, competitive sport.

“The Olympics is like the Super Bowl or World Series for swimming,” said University of Miami All-American swimmer Kirk Peppas, now head aquatics director and coach at Metro Aquatics Club of Miami.

“I had an aunt tell my mother, ‘Priscilla, drop your son off at the pool for an hour. They come back home and they are dead tired. They don’t want to do anything after swim practice. That’s how I got involved and I enjoyed it.”

Coaches emphasize that swimming isn’t just about winning medals or earning a college scholarship. Swimming is a healthy sport for kids. It helps discipline them, it’s a team sport and great social environment. It introduces them to time management, balancing school, practice and family life. “You will notice swimmers are the ones with the best grades in school,” said one coach.

According to the U.S. Olympic Committee, the odds of a child becoming an Olympic athlete are 1 in 28,500. Not bad odds, especially if the Olympic hopeful grows up and trains in South Florida.

2012 South Florida Olympic Athletes


LeBron James, U.S., Miami Heat.


Sylvia Fowles, Miami-born, went to Miami Edison, transferred to Gulliver Prep, second straight Olympic appearance.


Steve Grotowski, Great Britain, Boynton Beach resident, graduated from Oakland Park Northeast.


Kelci Bryant, former University of Miami

Reuben Ross, Canada, University of Miami alum, synchro diving.

Brittany Viola, University of Miami alum, platform

Randy Ableman, UM coach

Greg Louganis, former UM, Mission Bay, Fort Lauderdale Diving, now is USA Diving athlete mentor


Tina Konyot, Palm City, dressage

McLain Ward, Wellington, show jumping.


Danell Leyva, Miami, U.S.

Jessica Gil Ortiz, Miami, Colombia


Jhonny Prada, U.S., Coral Springs, member of coaching staff, head coach and founder of Ki-Itsu-Sai Judo Club in Coral Springs.


Robin Prendes, U.S., Miami, lightweight men’s four.


Brian Faith, Miami, keel boat

Sarah Lihan, Fort Lauderdale, St. Thomas Aquinas alum.

Mark Mendelblatt, Miami, keel boat

Anna Tunnicliffe, U.S., Plantation.


Ifeoma Dleke, Great Britain, FIU alum

Melissa Ortiz, Colombia, Cardinal Newman, Lynn University alum.


Yousef Alaskari, Kuwait, Davie Nadadores, American Heritage.

Rafael Alfaro, El Salvador, Davie Nadadores       

Bradley Ally, Barbados, St. Thomas Aquinas and University of Florida alum.

Alia Atkinson, Jamaica, Flanagan alum, South Florida Aquatic Club, will be third Olympic appearance.

Chris Anderson, Jamaica, South Florida Aquatic Club, Jamaica coach.

Pamela Benitez, El Salvador, Davie Nadadores, alum

Lani Cabrera, Barbados, Davie Nadadores

Carolina Colorado, Colombia, Davie Nadadores

Hollie Bonewit-Cron, Nova Southeastern head swimming coach, Grenada coach.

Bruno Darzi, SOFLO/Coral Springs Swim Club head coach, will be coaching Vlad Polyakov and Arlene Semeco.

Joao de Lucca, Brazil, Davie Nadadores, alum

Andrea Di Nino, Russia, national team coach for Russia, former Coral Springs Swim Club coach.

Sofyan El Gidi, Libya, Davie Nadadores

Esteban Enderica, Ecuador, Davie Nadadores

Ivan Enderica, Ecuador, open water, Davie Nadadores alum

Johanna Eyglo Gustafsdottir, Florida International University freshman, competes for Iceland, Sun Belt Women’s Swimmer of the Year.

Mauricio Fiol, Peru, Davie Nadadores

Jemal Le Grand, Aruba, Davie Nadadores

Felipe Lima, Brazil, Davie Nadadores, breaststroker

Raul Martinez, Puerto Rico, Davie Nadadores

Chinyere Pigot, Doral Academy, Suriname, country’s flagbearer for opening ceremonies

Diguan Pigot, Doral Academy, Suriname.

Vlad Polyakov, Kazakhstan, St. Thomas Aquinas alum, SOFLO, Coral Springs, third trip to the Olympics.

Alex Pussieldi, Kuwait coach, Davie Nadadores

Arlene Semeco, Venezuela, SOFLO, Coral Springs, third trip to the Olympics.

Esau Simpson, Grenada, Nova Southeastern.

Daniele Tirabassi, Venezuela, Davie Nadadores.

Dalias Torrez, Nicaragua, Davie Nadadores alum

Karen Torrez, Bolivia, Davie Nadadores

Daniela Vandenberg, Aruba, Davie Nadadores

Karen Vilorio, Honduras, Davie Nadadores alum

Branden Whitehurst, Miami, Virgin Islands


Terrence Jennings, Miami

Paige McPherson, Miami.


Andy Roddick, Boca Raton, Boca Prep International School alum.

Serena and Venus Williams, Palm Beach Gardens


Murielle Ahoure, University of Miami, Ivory Coast

Eric Alejandro, Flanagan, Puerto Rico

T’erea Brown, U.S., University of Miami

Amy Deem, U.S. women’s head track coach

Debbie Ferguson, Bahamas, UM alum

Ronald Forbes, Florida International, Cayman Islands

Michael Frater, Boyd Anderson alum, Jamaica, men’s team captain.

Tabarie Henry, Hallandale, Virgin Islands, country’s flagbearer for opening ceremonies.

Moise Joseph, Haiti, Miami Central alum.

Tony McQuay, U.S., Riviera Beach Suncoast, Florida alum

Kirsten Nieuwendam, St. Thomas Aquinas, Surinam

Sanya Richards, U.S., St. Thomas Aquinas and Texas alum, born in Jamaica, grew up in Pembroke Pines.

Lauryn Williams, U.S., University of Miami alum.


Laura Reback Bennett, U.S., Cardinal Newman alum, grew up in North Palm Beach.

Manny Huerta, Miami, ran cross country at Florida Atlantic University.


Foluke Akinradewo, U.S., Plantation, St. Thomas Aquinas alum.

Ciara Michel, Great Britain, Miami hometown, University of Miami and Miami Palmer Trinity Prep alum.

Savannah Leaf, Great Britain, University of Miami.

Olympic Torch Carrier:

Jillian Roberts, 19, Miami. She founded the Just Shoe It, which has collected more than 8,600 pairs of donated shoes. The organization’s partner, One World Running, cleans the shows and ships them to more than three dozen countries worldwide. She is one of 10 teenagers from the U.S. chosen by Coca-Cola to carry the Olympic Flame in Oxford, England. They were chosen for helping make a difference in the world.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Arlene Semeco Older, Wiser And Ready For Third Olympic Appearance

SOFLO’s Arlene Semeco Older, Wiser And Ready For Third Olympic Appearance


July 19, 2012

No matter how many Olympics a swimmer competes in, the emotions never change.

Arlene Semeco will make her third Olympic appearance for Venezuela when the swimming competition begins July 28th in London. She has qualified in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events.

The 28-year-old South American and Venezuelan national record holder may be older and wiser, but she is just as excited as she was when she made her first Olympic team in 2004.

“The first Olympics I can tell you nothing about it,” said Semeco, who trains at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex with the South Florida Aquatic Club.

“I can remember nothing. I was so freaked out. The second time I held back because I was coming off a shoulder injury.

“Now this time around I have more experience. I know what to expect. I know what to prepare for once I am there. That is an advantage. I have two Olympics under my sleeve. I have the experience.

“The fact that I have qualified for three Olympics shows how much pride I take in my swimming and how hard I worked.”

Semeco is in the best shape she’s been in since she started swimming at age 9 in Valencia, Venezuela dreaming about the Olympics. She has been injury-free and training well with Coral Springs Swim Club head coach Bruno Darzi for the past two years.

“I think I am in the best shape of my life,” Semeco said. “I really don’t feel sluggish in any way in any area. Thank God this time I have no injury and it’s been possible for me to get myself in prime shape. The last time I had shoulder surgery in January before the Olympics. This time there is no injuries. I have been training for two straight years. Now I can show what I can do.”

Semeco was injured during her training for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She needed reconstructive surgery eight months before the Games. She rehabbed and was able to return to the pool sooner than expected.

Semeco is funded by her swim federation which allows her to train full-time and work on her master’s degree in food and nutrition at Florida International University. She has two bachelor degrees from Alabama in human environment sciences and food and nutrition.

“Venezuela is super supportive,” Semeco said. “I have been fortunate to get their support. I am able to swim and train and take this as a job. I am doing my best athletically and academically.”

A University of Alabama graduate, Semeco represented Venezuela at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece and 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. She has won gold medals at the Pan American Games, South American Championships and National Championships  and various other meets.

She was an All-American and school record holder at University of Alabama, where she was the fastest swimmer in the 50 freestyle. She competed in the 50 and 100 freestyles at the NCAA Championships. She has also been the Venezuela Female Swimmer of the Year several times.

This year Semeco has done well internationally, nationally and locally. On Tuesday, she had her last double workout at Coral Springs. She is going into her third Olympics mentally relaxed, she said.

“I actually want to take it as another meet,” Semeco said. “I don’t want to freak out. I am sure it will hit me once I get there, after I see the facility and all the people. I am just trying to relax and take it easy like any other meet. I have to remember I know everybody who is going there. I know everyone has prepared as much as I have.

“I want to enjoy the moment. It is definitely a different experience moreso than any other meet. It’s one to remember. I don’t want to get there with many expectations. I don’t want to be disappointed if I don’t do what I want to do.”

Experience will be her biggest ally when she steps on the blocks.

“I have definitely gotten smarter with each Olympics,” Semeco said. “It’s definitely been learn as you go. I know everyone has been working hard for the Olympics but so have I.”

Semeco will think about her future after the Olympics. She would like to finish her masters work and internship.

“I am definitely in love with swimming, I can never fall out of love with swimming,” Semeco said. “It’s definitely not in stone what I am going to do in the future. I would definitely like to plan my life. I will decide after the Olympics whether to keep going or shift my attention.

“I am proud of not only what I accomplished but the way I took every single meet. The last two years I had little setbacks with times and it took a toll on me mentally. After I got out of that stage of not improving I trained as much as I could, beating my body up. I know I did everything possible these last two years. I have no regrets.”

Before heading to London on July 25th, Semeco will join her Venezuelan teammates for a five-day training camp in Barcelona, Spain.

Once in London, Semeco will share the pool deck with SOFLO teammates Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and Vlad Polyakov of Kazakhstan, both three-time Olympians, and former Coral Springs Swim Club swimmer Nick Schwab making his Olympic debut for the Dominican Republic. Atkinson had a training camp in London while Polyakov went to Belarus for a pre-Olympic camp.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Pittinger, Boisson-Yates Swim Best Times, Win To Lead SOFLO At Michael Lohberg Invitational

Pittinger, Boisson-Yates Swim Best Times, Win To Lead SOFLO At Michael Lohberg Invitational


June 22, 2012

Isabella Pittinger and Keegan Boisson-Yates led South Florida Aquatic Club Friday on Day Two of the Michael Lohberg Invitational at Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.

Pittinger, 12, won the 100-meter backstroke in 1:14.11, bettering her previous best time of 1:14.63.

Pittinger also swam a best time in the 50-meter freestyle in 30.71, improving her previous best time of 30.78 during morning prelims. She was third in finals in 30.81.

After swimming his best time in the 50-meter freestyle during morning prelims in 24.99, Boisson-Yates, 17, came back to win the sprint event in 25.23 ahead of teammate Luke Torres, 18, second in 25.47.

Boisson-Yates’ previous best 50-meter freestyle time was 25.21.

Other individual SOFLO champions were:

Venezuela’s three-time Olympian Arlene Semeco, 28, won the 50-meter freestyle in 26.38 after swimming 26.09 in prelims.

Jillian Alexander, 15, won the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:55.54, after going 3:00.47 prelims.

Steph Campo, 14, won the 100-meter backstroke in 1:12.50 after 1:14.77 in prelims.

Brandon Goldman, 17, was a double winner capturing the 200-meter individual medley in 2:13.97 after 2:16.03 in prelims and 100-meter backstroke in 1:00.34 after 1:02.54 in prelims.

Brian Arnaud, 18, won the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:42.78 after 2:39.34 in prelims.

In the 15-and-over 200-meter individual medley final, Lindsey Sauer, 15, finished second in a best time of 2:40.37.

Connor Marks, 10, swam back-to-back times in the 100-meter backstroke and finished third. He swam 1:27.71 in prelims and 1:26.90 in finals dropping from his previous best of 1:32.09. He also swam a best time 35.20 in the 50-meter freestyle to finish tenth. His previous best was 35.68.

In morning prelims SOFLO swam several career-best times.

In the girls 13-14 200-meter individual medley, Rebecca Wilkerson went a best time of 2:48.76 bettering her previous best of 2:50.49.

In the 13-14 200-meter individual medley, Veronica Postolski, 14, dropped from 2:51.55 to 2:50.18; in the 50-meter freestyle from 30.43 to 30.15 and again in finals in 29.94 to finish third; and in the 100-meter backstroke dropped from 1:18.59 to 1:17.25.

In the girls 13-14 50-meter freestyle, Daniela Ginzburg dropped time from 31.88 to 31.70; Adrianna Cuevas, 14, dropped from 32.63 to 32.27; and Kristin Sauer, 13, dropped from 33.62 to 33.10.

In the girls 13-14 100-meter backstroke, Adrianna Cuevas, 14, dropped from 1:20.77 to 1:19.24.

In the girls’ 11-12 200-meter individual medley, Catharine Cooper, 12, lowered her best time from 2:50.37 to 2:48.05 and lowered it again in finals in 2:45.33 to finish second.

In the 50-meter freestyle, Hannah Virgin, 11, lowered her time from 32.15 to 31.78.

In the 50-meter freestyle, Megan Schimansky, 12, dropped from 32.19 to 31.96; in the 100-meter backstroke dropped from 1:19.98 to 1:14.64 and earned the No. 1 seed for finals where she finished second in 1:14.99.

In the 50-meter freestyle, Lauren Noyola, 11, dropped from 35.03 to 34.76. Also in the 50-meter freestyle, Daniela Gomez, 12, dropped from 36.24 to 34.96; and in the 100-meter backstroke dropped from 1:28.88 to 1:28.15.

In the girls’ 10-and-under 200-meter individual medley, Delaney Biro, 10, lowered her best time from 3:04.95 to 3:03.01; 50-meter freestyle from 33.03 to 32.53 and again in the final in 33.38 to finish sixth; and 100-meter backstroke dropped from 1:28.12 to 1:27.25.

Also in the 200 IM, Gabby Beltrano, 10, bettered her time from 3:19.80 to 3:17.77; 50-meter freestyle from 38.87 to 36.88; and 100-meter backstroke from 1:26.83 to 1:25.73.

Also in the 200 IM, Sarah Schimansky, 9, dropped from 3:33.12 to 3:30.05 and 50-meter freestyle from 37.41 to 36.27. Lydia Szakacs, 10, dropped from 3:36.86 to 3:32.08 in the 200 IM and 50-meter freestyle from 39.25 to 38.75.

In the girls’ 15-and-over, 50-meter freestyle, Bar Bogoslavsky, 16, lowered her time from 32.51 to 32.28.

In the girls’ 15-and-over 50-meter butterfly, Emily Greenwood, 17, lowered her time from 36.30 to 34.50; Lindsey Sauer, 15, lowered her best time twice in prelims in 34.95 and finals in 33.11 to finish third.

In the girls’ 13-14 50-meter butterfly, Charlene Forti, 13, lowered her time from 36.18 to 35.67.

In the boys’ 15-and-over 50-meter freestyle Justin Torres, 16, lowered his time from 31.10 to 29.18; Dylan Allen, 15, dropped from 29.87 to 29.31; and Jacob Brookins, 15, dropped from 31.17 to 30.02.

In the boys’ 13-14 50-meter freestyle, Collin Burt, 13, lowered his best time from 31.30 to 30.80; and in the 50-meter butterfly from 34.65 to 34.35. 

In the boys 15-and-over, 200-meter individual medley, Bryce Pierce, 15, lowered his time from 2:33.30 to 2:31.91.

In the boys 15-and-over, 50-meter butterfly, Kyle Desrosiers, 16, lowered his time from 32.93 to 30.38; Brendan Teeters, 15, lowered his time from 32.95 to 30.72; Dylan Allen, 15, dropped from 32.55 to 31.48; and Di Sanguinetti, 21, dropped from 1:14.09 to 1:12.41. 

In the boys 13-14 200-meter individual medley, Sebastian Vargas, 13, lowered his best time from 2:41.19 to 2:38.78.

In the boys’ 11-12 200-meter individual medley, Christian Carlson, 12, lowered his time from 3:03.10 to 2:58.86 and in the 50-meter freestyle from 32.84 to 32.04.

In the boys’ 50-meter freestyle, Guy Bogoslavsky, 12, lowered his best time from 34.51 to 34.06.

In the boys’ 11-12 100-meter backstroke, Ricardo Roche, 12, dropped from 1:17.85 to 1:15.92.

In the boys’ 10-and-under 200-meter individual medley, Carter Carlson, 10, lowered his best time from 3:11.19 to 3:08.66 and Joshua Hanks, 8, dropped from 3:37.11 to 3:35.46

In the boys’ 10-and-under 50-meter freestyle, Alexander Meyer, 9, lowered his best time from 40.00 to 34.47; Andres McKeon, 10, bettered his best time from 38.14 to 34.51 and Andre McDade dropped from 37.58 to 37.01



200-meter breaststroke:

13-14, 1. Kelly Fertel, Rockway 2:45.49; SOFLO: 2. Audrey Mason 2:55.01, 4. Rebecca Wilkerson 3:08.66; 15-and-over, 1. Jillian Alexander, SOFLO 2:55.54; SOFLO: 3. Gina Gautieri 2:55.81, 8. Emma Lincoln 3:09.87, 13. Selina Voelkel 3:15.87.

200-meter individual medley:

10-and-under, 1. Andrea Santander, MBS 2:41.92; SOFLO: 5. Delaney Biro 3:01.02, 7. Gabby Beltrano 3:17.04, 14. Sarah Schimansky 3:30;05, 15. Lydia Szakacs 3:32.08; 11-12, 1. Melannie Vargas, Miami-Dade 2:41.57; SOFLO: 2. Catharine Cooper 2:54.33, 11. Maya Ginzburg 3:05.83; 13-14, 1. Kelly Fertel, Rockway 2:30.13; SOFLO: 4. Rebecca Wilkerson 2:50.64, 7. Veronica Postolski 2:57.14; 15-and-over, 1. Sara Lacusky, Martin County 2:39.38; SOFLO: 2. Lindsey Sauer 2:40.37.

50-meter freestyle: 10-and-under, 1. Andrea Santander, MBS 30.57; SOFLO: 6. Delaney Biro 33.38, 10. Sarah Schimansky 36.27, 13. Gabby Beltrano 36.88, 20. Lydia Szakacs 38.75; CSSC: 26. Cara Virgin 39.88; 11-12, 1. Madelyn Moore, Bermuda 28.95; SOFLO: 2. Catharine Cooper 29.00, 3. Isabella Pittinger 30.81, 5. Megan Schimansky 32.01, 6. Hannah Virgin 32.26, 17. Megan Appelbaum 34.62, 18. Lauren Noyola 34.76, 22. Daniela Gomez 34.96; 13-14, 1. CJ McCartin, St. Andrew’s 29.64; SOFLO: 3. Veronica Postolski 29.94, 4. Steph Campo 30.16, 7. Charlene Forti 31.43, 10. Daniel Ginzburg 31.70, 13. Adrianna Cuevas 32.27, 17. Rebecca Wilkerson 32.67, 20. Kristin Sauer 33.10; Open, 1. Arlene Semeco, SOFLO 26.38; SOFLO: 3. Emma Lincoln 29.62, 4. Emily Greenwood 29.64, 21. Kristina Brennan 30.60, 26. Lindsey Sauer 31.18, 27. Kennedy Sanes 31.37, 33. Bar Bogoslavsky 32.28, 34. Gina Gautieri 33.34, 36. Catalina Gonella 33.82.

50-meter butterfly:

13-14, 1. Julia Talamo, Rockway 33.94; SOFLO: 6. Charlene Forti 37.13; 15-and-over, 1. Aubrey Murray, Martin County 30.85; SOFLO: 2. Kristina Brennan 31.74, 3. Lindsey Sauer 33.11, 8. Emily Greenwood 34.50.

100-meter backstroke:

10-and-under, 1. Andrea Santander, MBS 1:19.22; SOFLO: 4. Gabby Beltrano 1:25.18, 8. Delaney Biro 1:30.91; CSSC: 16. Emma Gomez 1:42.86; 11-12, 1. Isabella Pittinger, SOFLO 1:14.11; SOFLO: 2. Megan Schimansky 1:14.99, 10. Daniela Gomez 1:28.15; 13-14, 1. Steph Campo, SOFLO 1:12.50; SOFLO: 3. Veronica Postolski 1:17.29, 4. Daniela Ginzburg 1:18.06, 6. Adrianna Cuevas 1:19.24; Open, 1. Brenna Ruth, St. Andrew’s 1:11.74; SOFLO: 4. Kristina Brennan 1:17.22, 5. Emma Lincoln 1:19.65, 16. Bar Bogoslavsky 1:23.91.

200-meter freestyle relay:

10-and-under, 1. SOFLO 2:26.13 (Sarah Schimansky, Lydia Szakacs, Gabby Beltrano, Delaney Biro); 13-14, 1. Rockway 2:10.58.


200-meter breaststroke:

13-14, 1. Julio Horrego, Hialeah 2:36.53; SOFLO: 3. Tristan Celestin 2:52.73; 15-and-over, 1. Brian Arnaud, SOFLO 2:42.78; SOFLO: 4. Kyle Desrosiers 2:53.81, 5. Austin Pillado 3:00.00, 6. Deek Maguire 3:09.77.

200-meter individual medley:

10-and-under, 1. Jonathan Skarie, Martin County 2:49.40; SOFLO: 5. Christian Carlson 3:10.94, 13. Joshua Hanks 3:35.46, 14. Alexander Meyer 3:38.77; 11-12, 1. Ervin Marin, Blue Marlins 2:32.20; SOFLO: 4. Ricardo Roche 2:43.15, 8. Christian Carlson 2:58.86; 13-14, 1. Jonathan Farah, HAT 2:24.53; SOFLO: 4. Sebastian Vargas 2:36.27; 15-and-over, 1. Brandon Goldman, SOFLO 2:13.97; SOFLO: 4. Luke Torres 2:20.14, 11. Bryce Pierce 2:31.91.

50-meter freestyle:

10-and-under, 1. Jonathan Skarie, Martin County 32.48; SOFLO: 6. Andres McKeon 35.42, 7. Alexander Meyer 36.15, 10. Connor Marks 35.20, 11. Carter Carlson 35.37, 19. Andre McDade 37.01, 28. Joshua Hanks 39.83; 11-12, 1. Bryan Quintero, MBS 28.61; SOFLO: 7. Ricardo Roche 31.86, 8. Christian Carlson 32.04, 13. Guy Bogoslavsky 34.06, 16. Guilherme Hada 34.87; 13-14, 1. Julio Horrego, Hialeah 27.44; SOFLO: 3. Tristan Celestin 27.69, 5. Sebastian Vargas 28.26, 17. Collin Burt 30.80; 15-and-over, 1. Keegan Boisson-Yates, SOFLO 25.23; SOFLO: 2. Luke Torres 25.47, 6. Ben Fruitman 26.40, 8. Brian Arnaud 27.01, 22. Kyle Desrosiers 27.46, 27. Bryce Pierce, 30. Joshua Cutter 27.93, 31. Austin Pillado 28.06, 41. Justin Torres 29.18, 42. Dylan Allen 29.31, 46. Jacob Brookins 30.02, 49. Di Sanguinetti 50.20.

50-meter butterfly:

13-14, 1. Isdrey Lorenzo, Hialeah 31.56; SOFLO: 5. Tristan Celestin 34.48, 6. Collin burt 35.22; 50-and-over, 1. Bradley Adan, Rockway 27.64; SOFLO: 5. Mauricio Hidalgo 29.70, 6. Bryce Pierce 29.79, 16. Kyle Desrosiers 30.38, tie, 17. Brendan Teeters 30.72, 17. Joshua Cutter 30.72, 23. Dylan Allen 31.48, 28. Di Sanguinetti 1:12.41.

100-meter backstroke:

10-and-under, 1. Jonathan Skarie, Martin County 1:24.65; SOFLO: 3. Connor Marks 1:26.90, 6. Andre McKeon 1:30.59, 10. Carter Carlson 1:35.34, 11. Andrew McDade 1:36.51, 15. Joshua Hanks 1:40.70, 16. Alexander Meyer 1:41.58; 11-12, 1. Bryan Quintero, MBS 1:14.41; SOFLO: 2. Ricardo Roche 1:15.56, 6. Christian Carlson 1:18.91; 13-14, 1. Jonathan Farah, HAT 1:08.11; SOFLO: 6. Collin Burt 1:18.42; Open, 1. Brandon Goldman, SOFLO 1:00.34; SOFLO: 4. Keegan Boisson-Yates 1:05.01, 5. Ben Fruitman 1:08.43, 21. Brendan Teeters 1:17.35.

200-meter freestyle relay:

10-and-under, 1. Hialeah 2:18.35, 2. SOFLO 2:18.66 (Connor Marks, Andres McKeon, Alexander Meyer, Carter Carlson); 11-12, Not available; 13-14, Not available; 15-and-over, 1. Y Broward County 1:51.87. 

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Ready For Florida Gold Coast Meets In Boca Raton, Coral Springs

SOFLO Ready For Florida Gold Coast Meets In Boca Raton, Coral Springs


June 20, 2012

Three-time Olympian Alia Atkinson heads a large contingent of South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers for the FLA International Invitational that begins on Thursday at Florida Atlantic University Aquatic Complex in Boca Raton.

Atkinson, 23, is competing in six events including all three breaststroke events. It will be her last meet before heading to training camp before the 2012 Olympics where she will represent Jamaica and her coach Chris Anderson will be on the coaching staff for Jamaica.

SOFLO has nearly 100 swimmers competing in the four-day meet including 9-year-olds Kyana Castro, Trinity Hoyos, Michelle Marinheiro, Emma Perera and 8-year-old Sara Quintero of the Comets.

The boys’ contingent is led by Florida State’s Alex Rodriguez, 21, college-scholarship-bound Xavier Brown, 17, and Marc Rojas, 18, and 9-year-olds Nicolas Drolet, John Paul Handal, Akira Huang, Nicolas Rossi and 9-year-old Sebastian Lares of the Comets.

Other familiar faces on the team are Bianca Muniz, 20, and Shawn Clark, 25.


What: FLA International Invitational

When: Thursday-Sunday

Schedule: Thursday, finals 4:30 p.m.; Friday, prelims 8:30 a.m., finals 5:30 p.m., Saturday, prelims 8:30 a.m., finals 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, prelims 8:30 a.m., finals 5:30 p.m.

Where: Florida Atlantic University Aquatic Complex, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton

Admission: Admission $6 per session includes heat sheet; two-day pass, $20, all-session pass, $35. For information call 954-468-5590.

Inaugural Michael Lohberg Invitational Honors Six-Time Olympic Coach’s Legacy And Spirit

Three-time Olympian Arlene Semeco, Brandon Goldman and Luke Torres are among several former swimmers of six-time Olympic coach Michael Lohberg who will honor his legacy and spirit at the inaugural meet named in his honor.

The inaugural Michael Lohberg Invitational begins Thursday and ends Sunday at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.

Lohberg died April 4, 2011 at age 61 after a lengthy battle with aplastic anemia.

Over seventeen years, Lohberg built a world-class program at Coral Springs Aquatic Complex. He coached CSSC to nine Florida Gold Coast Junior Olympic Championships and was inducted into the 2009 Broward County Sports Hall of Fame. He also co-founded the South Florida Aquatic Club based at Coral Springs and Pembroke Pines.

Semeco, 28, who will represent Venezuela next month at the London Olympics, is seeded first in the 50-meter freestyle ahead of Lindsey McKnight, also a former Lohberg swimmer, and Megan Moroney, members of St. Andrew’s Swimming’s junior national team champion.

Semeco is also seeded first in the 100-meter freestyle in 54.92.

Semeco was one of a record eight CSSC swimmers Lohberg coached to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Lohberg qualified at least one swimmer for six Olympic Games from 1984 to 2008. He had four swimmers make the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Junior National qualifier Brandon Goldman, 17, one of Lohberg’s prized pupils, and Tristan Celestin, 13, are each seeded in four events.

Among Florida Gold Coast teams competing are St. Andrew’s, Rockway, Martin County, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Blue Marlins and Heritage Aquatics.

SOFLO’s top seeds are:

Brandon Goldman, 17, 400-meter individual medley, 4:39.27; 100-meter backstroke 59.26; 50-meter backstroke, 28.49; 200-meter backstroke, 2:08.60

Gina Gautieri, 19, 100-meter breaststroke, 1:16.61; 50-meter breaststroke, 35.79

Luke Torres, 18, 100-meter butterfly, 56.69; 50-meter breaststroke, 30.60; 100-meter freestyle, 53.48

Catharine Cooper, 12, 50-meter freestyle, 28.95; 100-meter freestyle 1:03.30

Tristan Celestin, 13, 50-meter freestyle, 26.92; 50-meter butterfly, 29.44; 50-meter breaststroke, 33.18; 100-meter freestyle, 1:00.48

Isabella Pittinger, 12, 100-meter backstroke, 1:14.63; 50-meter backstroke 34.26

Steph Campo, 14, 100-meter backstroke, 1:11.58; 50-meter backstroke, 33.57; 200-meter backstroke, 2:29.91

Collin Burt, 13, 50-meter backstroke, 30.89

Christian Carlson, 12, 50-meter backstroke, 35.51

Emily Greenwood, 17, 50-meter backstroke, 31.55

Breaststroker Gina Gautieri, after finishing her freshman year at Bucknell, is in the field and seeded first in the 50- and 100-meter breaststroke.

The meet is sponsored by the Coral Springs Swim Club and Coral Springs Aquatic Complex. Volunteers will wear t-shirts with Lohberg’s likeness and special medals have been designed for the meet.

The meet will feature prelims and finals, Friday through Sunday except for relays, 400-meter freestyle and 400-meter individual medley. Thursday’s opening session are timed finals for all swimmers.

Age groups are 10-and-under, 11-12, 13-14 and 15-and-over. Meet director is Charlie Alexander.


What: Michael Lohberg Invitational

When: Thursday-Sunday

Schedule: Thursday, 5 p.m. timed finals; Friday, 8:30 a.m. prelims, 5:30 p.m. finals, Saturday, 8:30 a.m., finals, 5:30 p.m., Sunday, 8:30 a.m., finals, 4:30 p.m.

Where: Coral Springs Aquatic Complex, 12441 Royal Palm Blvd.

Admission: $3 per session, heat sheets $2 per session. For information call 954-340-5032.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 164: SOFLO’s Vlad Polyakov Named To Third Olympic Team

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 164: SOFLO’s Vlad Polyakov Named To Third Olympic Team


June 12, 2012

Vlad Polyakov of the South Florida Aquatic Club was selected to the Kazakhstan Olympic team for the 2012 London Olympics.

It will be Polyakov’s third Olympic team. He was also a member of the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing teams.

The St. Thomas Aquinas alum was selected for the 4×100-meter medley relay team along with teammates Aleksander Tarabrin (54.8), Fedor Shkilev (53.0) and Artur Dilman (48.8). The foursome qualified in 3:36.99 to tie Brazil for the 16th spot according to FINA.

The foursome qualified earlier this month during a meet in Kazakhstan where top Kazakhstan swimmers were pulled out of individual finals to go for the relay qualifying time.

Polyakov, 28, played a huge role with his split of 1:00.26 (out in 28.0 and back in 32.2). His best split ever in a relay is 59.5 at the 2009 World Championships.

Polyakov still hopes to swim the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke individual events in London and will compete this week in the June 14-17 Bahamas National Swimming Championships at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre in Nassau to try and swim the FINA qualifying standard. It is a certified FINA Olympic qualifying event.

SOFLO teammate Sharntelle McLean will also compete in the Bahamas meet to try and qualify for her third Olympics.

Polyakov will join SOFLO teammates Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and Arlene Semeco of Venezuela in London, also three-time Olympians.

SOFLO Ranked No. 1

South Florida Aquatic Club is currently ranked No. 1 in the Florida Gold Coast USA Swimming Virtual Club Championship Rankings for long course. SOFLO swimmers have 162,144 followed by Davie Nadadores, 160,149; Metro Aquatics, 132,121; Fort Lauderdale Aquatics, 117,104 and Lake Lytal Lightning, 104,959. The championships keep track of individual and relay performances for points to recognize the top swim clubs in the nation….SOFLO’s Xavier Brown signed with Daytona Beach State College and Marc Rojas signed with Indian River State College. They will be among seniors honored this week at a team dinner and ceremony at Academic Village Pool in Pembroke Pines.

Oen Death Ruled Hereditary Heart Disease

The Arizona medical examiner released the cause of death of Norway swimming great and national hero Alexander Dale Oen during a press conference on Tuesday.

The official cause of death was atherosclerotic coronary artery disease. The autopsy also found a blood clot in one of his arteries as the more specific cause.

Cardiologist Eivind Berge said in a statement that this type of coronary disease was highly unusual in a young person such as Oen. The only known risk factor for heart disease was familial.

The 2011 world champion in the 100 breaststroke died at age 26 while on a high altitude training trip in April in Flagstaff, Arizona. The initial autopsy was inconclusive.

Gulliver Prep Hires New Coach

Jeff Poppell was hired as the new aquatics director and head varsity swimming coach replacing James Sweeney. Poppell led the Arkansas Razorbacks’ women’s swimming and diving teams to national stature for the last six years. The team was ranked in the Top 25 for the last four seasons. The team was fifth at the SEC Championships, highest finish in the team’s history, and has 10 swimmers qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials. He was also the Team USA head women’s coach at the World Maccabiah Games. Before Arkansas, Poppell was head coach at Jacksonville Bolles for 13 years and was a state and national high school coach of the year. He was a former team captain for the Georgia swim team.


Olympic breaststroker Rebecca Soni completed her first solo ocean swim on Tuesday. “It was both totally calming and slightly terrifying,” she tweeted. Soni is an overwhelming favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events. Her boyfriend, Ricky Berens, is also an Olympic favorite in the 100-meter freestyle.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Goldman’s Success Continues On Final Day; Torres Wins Final Tune-Up In Texas Before Trials

Goldman’s Success Continues On Final Day; Torres Wins Final Tune-Up In Texas Before Trials


May 20, 2012

Brandon Goldman of the South Florida Aquatic Club was at his best during the three-day Texas Senior Circuit Meet in College Station, Tex.

In four events, Goldman, 17, who will be a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas in the fall, posted six best times, all back-to-back in three events during prelims and finals including a second Junior National qualifying cut time.

On Sunday, Goldman showed no signs of letting up, placing second in the 100-meter backstroke in 59.88. Goldman was third at the turn in 29.47 and came home in 30.41, second fastest split of the field, to place second, his highest finish in the meet.

Goldman was also third in the 200-meter individual medley in back-to-back best times of 2:13.56 in prelims and 2:12.04 in finals, bettering his previous best of 2:15.34.

It was Goldman’s best performance at a national-caliber meet. Goldman has junior national cut times in both the 400-meter individual medley (4:39.27) and 100-meter backstroke (59.26).

In what looked like a time trial at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex, five-time Olympian Dara Torres of the Coral Springs Swim Club won the 50-meter freestyle in 25.43 in her final pre-Olympic Trials tune-up.

Two-time Olympian and teammate Arlene Semeco of Venezuela was second in 25.83 and three-time U.S. Olympic trials qualifier and teammate Jessie Alcaide was third in 26.36. Fifteen-year-old Simone Manuel was fourth in 26.39 after competing in both the 200-meter butterfly and 100-meter backstroke.

Several other SOFLO swimmers, looking to gain experience on the national stage, turned in a solid final day of swims including two best times against a competitive field.

In the men’s 50-meter freestyle, Xavier Brown, 17, qualified for the “C” final in 25.86 and came back to finish third in consolations and 11th overall in 25.79.

Leaving a lasting impression, Leonie Davies, 15, posted a best time of 9:30.15 in the 800-meter freestyle to finish 12th. Her previous best was 9:46.50.

Davies was competing in her first meet in Texas, where she will move with her family next month and start training at The Woodlands.

Evelin Jimenez, 16, posted a best time in the 50-meter freestyle in 29.16 bettering her previous best of 29.19.

In the women’s 200-meter butterfly, Maria Lopez, 16, qualified for the “B” final in 2:25.87 and came back to finish second in consolations and 10th overall in 2:24.76.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Brandon Goldman Races To Second USA Swimming Junior National Cut In Texas

SOFLO’s Brandon Goldman Races To Second USA Swimming Junior National Cut In Texas


May 19, 2012

For the second night in a row, Brandon Goldman turned in the team’s top performance at the Texas Senior Circuit Meet Saturday night in College Station, Tex.

Goldman, 17, earned his second junior national cut time and placed fourth in the 400-meter individual medley in a career-best time of 4:39.27 in the “A” championship final, more than a five second time drop.

Goldman had bettered his previous best time (4:44.46) in morning prelims in 4:42.09 and then turned it on in the championship final including a 31.60 split in the last 50-meter freestyle.

“This whole meet I have been really nervous before each race because I wasn’t sure how I would do,” Goldman said. “I had been training well. I knew I would get it together. I am excited about the times I’ve been going and happy to get have two junior national cuts.

“I’ve been doing a lot more training and been getting close to best times in practice. Aerobically and physically I’ve been more fit. I feel like I am getting a lot stronger.”

After dropping time in morning prelims, Goldman saw there was still room for improvement for the finals.

“I knew in the morning my fly was too slow,” Goldman said. “In my back I kept the tempo up. The breaststroke I did whatever comes out for me. The freestyle I was a little bit tired, a little bit dead. I gave whatever I had.”

Goldman said the 200 backstroke and 400 IM were his two best races.

“I wasn’t tapered for this meet at all, so I was just thinking let’s see what I can do,” Goldman said. “I didn’t have any specific cuts.

“This helps my confidence a lot. I’ve always been a nervous swimmer. The more and more swims I get, it helps my confidence. I swim best when I am confident obviously. When I feel my back is up against the wall I really swim well.”

It is Goldman’s third appearance at the Texas Senior Circuit meet. The indoor facility and meet are among his favorites. “I love the pool,” he said.

Goldman has the 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley left to swim on Sunday, the third and final day of the meet.

“These are shorter, more fun events for me,” Goldman said. “They are two of my best races and important to me.”

Goldman’s 400 IM splits were: butterfly (29.04, 33.65), backstroke (35.99, 35.19), breaststroke (40.10, 41.09) and freestyle (32.61, 31.60).

Goldman got his first junior national cut in March at the Purdue Invitational in the 100-meter backstroke where he won the “B” final in 59.26 and swam back-to-back best times despite being sick.

It was also Goldman’s second consecutive appearance in an “A” final at the Texas meet. On Friday, he swam back-to-back best times and finished fourth in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:08.60 on opening night.

“He has been training really harder lately,” said Coral Springs Swim Club head coach Bruno Darzi. “We didn’t really back off training for him at all and he’s not really tapered for this meet.

“I can’t really say I am surprised because of the way he’s been training,” Darzi said. “It was a good race and good confidence-boost for him.”

Goldman and Darzi sat down and talked about the race on Friday. Both wrote predicted splits for his race. Darzi nailed the backstroke and breaststroke splits and was 4/10ths off his finish time.

In other SOFLO swimmer performances:

Evelin Jimenez and Maria Lopez, a pair of 16-year-olds, turned in best times. Jimenez swam 1:09.51 in the 100-meter butterfly and Lopez went 2:16.31 in the 200-meter freestyle. Lopez also swam the 100-meter butterfly in 1:06.86.

U.S. Olympic trials qualifier Jessie Alcaide, 27, was sixth in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:03.26, better than her morning time of 1:03.79 but off her best time of 1:02.23.

Xavier Brown, 17, swam 1:03.25 in the 100-meter butterfly.

In Sunday’s women’s 50-meter freestyle, Dara Torres of Coral Springs Swim Club and SOFLO swimmers Jessie Alcaide, Arlene Semeco and Evelin Jimenez will compete. It will be Torres’ final tune-up meet before the U.S. trials where she attempts to qualify for her sixth Olympic team.

Sharon Robb can be reached at