SOFLO Swimmers Headed To Validus Bermuda National Championships

By Sharon Robb

May 17, 2016—Five South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers, led by Bermuda national record holder Lisa Blackburn, will compete in the Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association Validus National Long Course Championships Thursday through Sunday at the National Aquatic Centre.

The meet has been sanctioned by FINA, the sport’s international governing body, as one of the last few qualifiers for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and will also serve as a final qualifier for the Caribbean Island Swimming Championships.

Blackburn, 44, one of the oldest swimmers in the meet, is trying to reach the Olympic B standard in the breaststroke events for Bermuda. She is also a masters world age group record holder.

Blackburn is second seed in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:12.11. She is seeded third in the 200-meter individual medley in 2:26.90 and eighth in the 100-meter freestyle in 1:00.12.

Blackburn is coming off the Mayaguez International Swimming Open in Puerto Rico, where she swam a best time 58.95 in the 100-meter freestyle and finished third. She also won the 100-meter breaststroke in a season-best 1:13.19, the first time she has been under 1:14 in a year.

“I am really encouraged by my results,” Blackburn said. “Anything is possible regardless of age. It’s always special to represent Bermuda and I take a lot of pride in being able to do so.”

Joining Blackburn are 2012 U.S. Olympic relay gold medalist Claire Donahue, Kile Aukerman, Alina Schulhofer and Timothy Wynter.

Wynter, 20, of Jamaica, is top seed in the 50-meter backstroke in 26.89 and 100-meter backstroke in 57.66. He is second seed in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:07.60. He is 11th seed in the 50-meter freestyle in 24.98.

Donahue, 27, is top seed in the 50-meter butterfly in 26.31, 100-meter butterfly in 58.86 and 200-meter butterfly in 2:14.28. She is fifth seed in the 50-meter freestyle in 27.03.

Schulhofer, 21, of Austria, is second seed in the 200-meter freestyle in 2:05.73, third in the 100-meter freestyle in 58.16 and fifth in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:05.40.

Aukerman, 23, trying to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials, is seeded third in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:03.75, third in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:18.95 and fourth in the 50-meter breaststroke in 29.54.

Countries expected to compete are Trinidad & Tobago, Panama, Guam, Syria, Jamaica, Austria and Venezuela.

The competition begins Thursday night at 6 p.m.


U.S. Olympic hopeful and American record holder Kelsi Worrell has turned pro and signed with TYR, sponsor of South Florida Aquatic Club and leading manufacturer of competitive swim and triathlon gear. Worrell is the nation’s top butterflyer. At Louisville, she won three NCAA career titles in the butterfly and set American and NCAA records.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Kelsi to the TYR family,” said Matt DiLorenzo, TYR CEO. “She has proven to be a rising star in the sport, and we have complete confidence that her already extraordinary career has only just begun.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Donahue Breaks Two World Masters Records At Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic

By Sharon Robb

October 12, 2015—U.S. Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue of South Florida Aquatic Club definitely has a future as a masters swimmer.

Donahue, 26, making her masters meet debut, broke two masters world age group records in the 25-29 50- and 100-yard butterfly events on Sunday, the final day of the three-day Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic.

Donahue broke the record in the 50-meter butterfly in 26.31, breaking the previous mark of 27.08 by Aussie Natalie Jones.

Donahue also broke the record in the 100-meter butterfly in 59.16 breaking the record of 1:00.18 set by Yuko Nakanashi of Japan.

It was the first time a masters swimmer broke one minute in the 100 butterfly.

Donahue is part of SOFLO’s large Pro Flo group training for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and Rio Summer Olympics.

“It feels great to be part of a team again,” Donahue tweeted along with a photo of her teammates and coach.

SOFLO left the three-day meet with three masters world age group records. Teammate Lisa Blackburn, 44, a Bermuda national record holder, won the 40-44 100-meter individual medley in a record-breaking 1:04.19 on Friday.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Lisa Blackburn Breaks Masters World Age Group Record At Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic

By Sharon Robb

October 10, 2015—Lisa Blackburn of South Florida Aquatic Club broke a masters world age group record on Day Two of the Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic at Orlando Aquatic Center.

The Bermuda national record holder broke the 100-meter individual medley record in 1:04.19, also a national record by 1.5 seconds and lifetime best by 0.5 seconds.

Blackburn bettered her previous time of 1:05.77. The previous masters world record was 1:04.25 set by Susan Von Der Lippe in November 2008.

Blackburn also won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:13.09 off her seed time of 1:12.32; 50-meter breaststroke in a best time 33.40 and 50-meter freestyle in 26.50, also a best time.

Blackburn, 44, is competing in six events over two days: 100 IM, 100 breaststroke, 50 breaststroke, 50 freestyle, 200 breaststroke and 200 IM.

Four other SOFLO teammates competed on Day Two.

U.S. Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue, 26, won the 25-29 200-meter butterfly in 2:17.83. Donahue also won the 50-meter freestyle in 25.98.

Catalina Mendieta, 26, of Colombia was second in the 50-meter freestyle in 26.56.

Kile Aukerman, 22, won the 18-24 100-meter individual medley in a best time 58.02, dropping 1.97 and 100-meter breaststroke in 1:03.26, another best time. He also won the 50-meter breaststroke in 29.08.

Alejandro Zambrano, 21, was second in the 18-24 100-meter individual medley in a best time 1:01.64, dropping 4.12 seconds.

Fifty-three clubs are competing in the three-day meet that began on Friday. Other South Florida clubs competing include Swim Fort Lauderdale, recently awarded U.S. Masters Club of the Year; GOLD; Wahoos of Wellington, Palm Beach Masters and T2 Aquatics.

The meet, which concludes on Sunday, is also serving as the Dixie Zone Short Course Meters Championships.


What: Seventh annual Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic

When: Sunday, 8:30 a.m., 25-meter timed finals

Where: YMCA Aquatic Center, 8422 International Drive, Orlando

Admission: $5. For information go to

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Pickrem, Pinto Medal On Final Swimming Day Of XVII Pan American Games

By Sharon Robb

July 18, 2015—On the final night of swimming, swimmers with Florida ties were still making an impression at the XVII Pan American Games in Toronto.

During Saturday morning prelims, Canadian Sydney Pickrem, 18, of Clearwater broke her first national record during the heats of the 200-meter individual medley in 2:11.16, 7/100ths of a second faster than the previous record set in 2011.

Pickrem was the second fastest morning qualifier behind American Caitlin Leverenz in 2:11.04.

Pickrem came back at night to take the bronze in 2:11.29, just getting out-touched by American Meghan Small in 2:11.26.

It was Pickrem’s second medal of the game. She also won a silver in the 400-meter individual medley behind gold medalist Leverenz.

In the 800-meter freestyle, Venezuela’s Andreina Pinto, 23, of Gator Swim Club took the bronze in 8:31.08 in her sixth and final event.

It was Pinto’s second medal of the Games. She won silver in the 400-meter freestyle.

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson of Jamaica was shut out of medals on the final day. The three-time Olympian was eighth in the 200-meter individual medley in 2:18.02 and led off Jamaica’s seventh place 4×100-medley relay. Atkinson left the Games with one medal.

In the biggest upset of the night, Brazilian Henrique Rodrigues knocked off countryman Thiago Pereira in the 200-meter individual medley to win the gold medal.

Rodrigues broke Pereira’s Pan American Games record (1:57.79) in 1:57.06. Pereira was also under his old record in 1:57.42. Pereira, the most decorated swimmer in Pan Am history, was leading for most of the race until Rodrigues powered by him in the final 50 meters.

The U.S. women’s team broke the Pan American Games record in the 4×100-meter medley relay during morning prelims in 3:57.35 to earn the top seed. Natalie Coughlin led off with a blistering 59.20 split and was joined by Katie Meili (1:06.57), Kelsi Worrell (57.63) and Allison Schmitt (53.95).

The U.S. came back with the same foursome to win the gold medal and re-break their record in 3:56.53.

Coughlin made history by winning her 60th international medal that includes the Olympics, World Championships, Pan Pacs and Pan Ams. Her backstroke leadoff split was 59.05, the fastest she has been since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Brazil also broke the meet record in the men’s 4×100-meter medley relay in 3:32.68 with Arthur Mendes, Marcelo Chierighini, Guilherme Guido and Franca Da Silva.

Canadian Ryan Cochrane won the 1500-meter freestyle in a Pan American Games record 15:06.40.

Also in prelims, Caitlin Leverenz broke the Pan American Games 200-meter individual medley record in 2:11.04 and came back at night to break it again to win gold in 2:10.51.

American teenager Sierra Schmidt, 17, won the 800-meter freestyle in a Pan American Games record 8:27.54, more than two seconds ahead of Chile’s Kristel Kobrich, the defending champion, in 8:29.79.

Schmidt went out hard in the first 200 meters for nearly a three-second lead and pushed the field for the remainder of the meet.

Also during the meet, Venezuela’s Isabella Paez of Duke and Metro Aquatics, broke the national record in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:00.79 and won the “B” final. The previous record was 1:01.19 set by Elimar Barrios five years ago. She also qualified for the 200-meter butterfly where she finished sixth in 2:13.64. On Saturday, she swam the butterfly leg of her country’s 4×100-meter medley relay.

The United States finished with 32 medals (12 gold, 10 silver, 10 bronze). Host Canada won 27 medals (8 gold, 10 silver, 9 bronze). Brazil finished with 26 medals (10 gold, 6 silver,10 bronze).



800-meter freestyle: 1. Sierra Schmidt, United States 8:27.54, record; 2. Kristel Kobrich, Chile 2:29.79, 3. Andreina Pinto, Venezuela 8:31.08.

200-meter individual medley: 1. Caitlin Leverenz, United States 2:10.51, record, 2. Meghan Small, United States 2:11.26; 3. Sydney Pickrem, Canada 2:11.29; SOFLO: 8. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 2:18.02.

4×100-meter medley relay: 1. United States (Natalie Coughlin, Katie Meili, Kelsi Worrell, Allison Schmitt) 3:56.53, record; 2. Canada 3:58.51, 3. Brazil 4:02.52; SOFLO: 7. Jamaica 4:14.58 (Alia Atkinson, Danielle Booth, Trudian Patrick, Breanna Roman).


1500-meter freestyle: 1. Ryan Cochrane, Canada 15:06.40, record, 2. Andrew Gemmell, United States 15:09.92, 3. Brandonn Almeida 15:11.70.

200-meter individual medley: 1. Henrique Rodrigues, Brazil 1:57.06, record, 2. Thiago Pereira, Brazil 1:57.42, 3. Joseph Bentz, United States 2:00.04.

4×100-meter medley relay: 1. Brazil (Arthur Mendes, Marcelo Chierighini, Guilhere Guido, Franca De Sailva) 3:32.68, record; 2. United States 3:33.63, 3. Canada 3:34.40; SOFLO: 5. Colombia (Jorge Murillo-Valdes, Omar Pinzon, Esnaider Reales, Mateo De Angulo) 3:40.79.


BERMUDA: Lisa Blackburn.

COLOMBIA: Carolina Colorado, Jorge Murillo Valdes.

JAMAICA: Alia Atkinson, Timothy Wynter, Chris Anderson (Coach).

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Jorge Murillo-Valdes Ties Meet, Breaks National Records, Qualifies For 2016 Rio Olympics On Day Two Of XVII Pan American Games

By Sharon Robb

July 15, 2015—Colombian Jorge Murillo-Valdes of South Florida Aquatic Club walked away with everything but a medal Wednesday at the XVII Pan American Games in Toronto.

During morning prelims, Murillo-Valdes, 23, tied the meet record and broke his own national record to not only earn the top-seed for finals but also qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Murillo-Valdes touched the wall first in 2:11.92 to equal the 2011 meet record of former U.S. swimmer Sean Mahoney.

Murillo-Valdes broke his own national record of 2:13.17 set last year. He dropped an impressive 1.25 seconds. Murillo-Valdes went out in 1:03.78 and was in second. He came back in 1:07.84 including 33.69 on his final 50 meters.

Between sessions, Murillo-Valdes wrote on his Facebook page:

“Thank you God for this opportunity to be able to achieve my biggest dream, to be in the Olympic Games. This day I will never forget, record Pan, national record and mark for the Olympic Games.”

Murillo-Valdes came back to better his own national record in 2:12.71 to finish fifth, shaving another second off his lifetime-best.

Brazilian Thiago Simon won the gold medal in 2:09.82, breaking the meet record. Canadian Richard Funk was second in 2:11.51 and Thiago Pereira of Brazil was third in 2:11.93.

SOFLO teammate and three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson just missed a medal finishing fourth in the 200-meter breaststroke in a season-best 2:27.15 after going 2:28.86 in prelims.

Bermuda national champion and SOFLO swimmer Lisa Blackburn finished 15th in 2:46.32 after going a

season-best 2:42.82 in prelims.

Two-time Colombian Olympian Carolina Colorado, competing in her third Pan Ams, won the “B” final of the 200-meter backstroke in 2:14.87 that would have placed her eighth in finals.

Florida Gold Coast’s lone medal winner was Clara Smiddy of AquaKids Sharks and Michigan competing in her first major international meet. Smiddy, the fourth fastest qualifier, took the bronze in 2:11.47 behind Canadians Hilary Caldwell in 2:08.22 and Dominique Bouchard in 2:09.74.

In other championship races:

Reigning Olympic champion Allison Schmitt won the first gold medal for the United States in the 200-meter freestyle and broke the 36-year-old meet record held by American Sippy Woodhead. Schmitt won in 1:56.23 breaking the previous record of 1:58.43 set in San Juan Puerto Rico. The record has stood since 1979.

In a close race, Brazilian Joao De Lucca, 25, won gold in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:46.42, breaking the meet record of 1:47.18 held by Florida alum Brett Fraser and Brazilian and South American record of 1:46.57 held by Brazilian Thiago Pereira. Argentine Federico Grabich took silver in a national record. 1:47.62. American Michael Weiss took bronze in 1:47.63.

Canadian women continued their domination in the medal count finishing 1-2 in the 200-meter breaststroke. In an exciting finish, Kierra Smith edged teammate Martha McCabe, 2:24.38-2:24.51 for the gold and meet record. American Annie Lazor took the bronze in 2:26.23.

Also in the men’s 200-meter backstroke, Jamaica’s Timothy Wynter of SOFLO swam 2:08.78 to finish 16th overall after going a career-best 2:07.17 in

prelims. He is the fastest Jamaican in

the event this season and is close to the national record of 2:06.54 held by Keanan Dols of Sarasota.

The United States finished one-two in the 200-meter backstroke. Sean Lehane came from behind in the final 50 meters to overtake early leader Omar Pinzon of Colombia to win in a meet record 1:57.47 followed by teammate Carter Griffin in 1:58.18.

Brazil dominated the men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay to win in a meet record 7:11.15 followed by Canada in 7:17.33 and Venezuela in 7:21.14. The U.S. finished second but was later disqualified.

Thursday’s events are the 400-meter individual medley, 100-meter butterfly and women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay.

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) will offer more than 650 hours of coverage online. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes will also televise the Games including 62 hours of live coverage.



200-meter freestyle: 1. Allison Schmitt, United States 1:56.23, 2. Emily Overholt, Canada 1:57.55, 3. Manuella Lyrio, Brazil 1:58.03.

200-meter breaststroke: 1. Kierra Smith, Canada 2:24.38, 2. Martha McCabe, Canade 2:24.51, 3. Annie Lazor, United States 2:26.23; SOFLO: 4. Alia Atkinson, Jamaica 2:27.15; 15. Lisa Blackburn, Bermuda 2:46.32.

200-meter backstroke: 1. Hilary Caldwell, Canada 2:08.22, 2. Dominique Bouchard, Canada 2:09.74, 3. Clara Smiddy, United States 2:11.47; SOFLO: 9. Carolina Colorado, Colombia 2:14.87.


200-meter freestyle: 1. Joao De Lucca, Brazil 1:46.42, 3. Federico Grabich, Argentina 1:47.62, 3. Michael Weiss, United States 1:47.63.

200-meter breaststroke: 1. Thiago Simon, Brazil 2:09.82, 2. Richard Funk, Canada 2:11.51, 3. Thiago Pereira, Brazil 2:11.93; SOFLO: 5. Jorge Murillo-Valdes, Colombia 2:12.71.

200-meter backstroke: 1. Sean Lehane, United States 1:57.47, 2. Carter Griffin, United States 1:58.18, 3. Leonard De Deus, Brazil 1:58.27; SOFLO: 16. Timothy Wynter, Jamaica 2:07.78.

4×200-meter freestyle relay: 1. Brazil 7:11.15, 2. Canada 7:17.15, 3. Venezuela 7:21.14.


BERMUDA: Lisa Blackburn

COLOMBIA: Carolina Colorado, Jorge Murillo-Valdes

JAMAICA: Alia Atkinson, Timothy Wynter, Chris Anderson (Coach)

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Fab Five Ready For Pan American Games; Swimming Begins Tuesday

By Sharon Robb

July 12, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club takes center stage when swimming begins Tuesday at the XVII Pan American Games in Toronto.

SOFLO’s five-member pro team representing Bermuda, Colombia and Jamaica ended a successful week-long training camp at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario on Sunday and checked into the Athletes’ Village.

“We wanted to get the athletes settled and away from everything before the competition,” said Chris Anderson, SOFLO head coach and Jamaica national team coach. “It helped with the team bonding and getting focused for their races.”

SOFLO has the Florida Gold Coast’s second-largest contingent of swimmers competing at the Pan Am Games.

“It’s great to have five kids here,” Anderson said. “It takes a little of the pressure off. They are hanging out together. They are aware of each other’s goals and it’s motivating. It should be a real fun time.”

It is the most swimmers SOFLO has had at a major international meet in its 15-year history.

Heading SOFLO’s Fab Five is three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson, a short course world record holder and gold medalist. The Jamaican national record holder has been competing in the Pan American Games since age 15 but has yet to win a gold medal. Her highest finish has been third place in the 200-meter individual medley in Mexico City.

“I feel she will do something special,” said Anderson, her longtime coach. “She should have multiple medals when she leaves Pan Ams.

“It’s a great opportunity for her. I think she will do something nice in the 100 butterfly, I would like to see her break the double 0 barrier. I’d like to see her go a personal best in the 200 breaststroke and earn a medal. The focus is on the 200 IM, 200 breaststroke and 100 butterfly to take the pressure off the 100 breaststroke. She will rest for worlds in the 50 and 100 breaststroke.”

At 43, SOFLO’s Lisa Blackburn, Bermuda’s national record holder, is expected to be the oldest swimmer in the field. She is a two-time silver and bronze medalist at the 2003 Pan American Games.

“I think it’s great and I am pretty confident she will be the oldest performer participating at the Pan Am Games aquatic competition,” Anderson said. “She is set up wonderfully in the 100 breaststroke to go a best-time. She will also swim the 200 breaststroke and 200 IM. She is competing for personal bests and Olympic cuts.”

Two-time Colombian Olympian and national record holder Carolina Colorado, 27, has competed in the 2007 and 2011 Pan American Games.

“Carolina has trained so well,” Anderson said. “Her body has definitely changed since she started training with us seven months ago. She is much more athletic. She performed wonderfully at the Grand Prix, racing and coming back at night. I expect her to final in the 100 and 200 backstroke. She is also swimming the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle. If she can find a way to recover from her morning swims, she will podium at night.”

Colombian national teammate Jorge Murillo Valdes is also expected to medal in the breaststroke events.

“He has performed really well with in-season best times,” Anderson said. “He will make finals. I feel he is about to emerge. We had a solid plan for him and this is one of his premier meets. I think he will come home with a medal for Colombia.”

Jamaica’s Timothy Wynter, 19, is the youngest member of the team. The national record holder in the 50 and 100 backstroke is making his Pan Ams debut. He has international experience competing in the FINA Junior World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Youth Olympic Games and Short Course World Championships. Wynter, who originally committed to Duke last year, will try and walk on at University of Southern California in the fall.

Wynter will compete in the 100 and 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly.

“He has trained quite well,” Anderson said. “If he is going to walk on at USC and represent Jamaica in the next Olympics this is the meet he has to go in there and go best times. He is in good shape to do it.”

Atkinson, Colorado and Murillo will also compete at worlds in Kazan as well as the first two legs of the FINA World Cup in Moscow and Paris.

The Pan American Games, held the year before the Summer Olympic Games, officially began on Friday night with the Opening Ceremonies.

This multi-sport Olympic-style event features 7,000 athletes from 41 countries and territories including Cuba and host Canada along with South, Central and North America as well as the Caribbean countries competing in 51 sports.

Swimming begins on Tuesday and ends Saturday. The first event is the 100-meter freestyle.

Several new structures have been built for the Games including Scarborough’s Aquatics Centre, one of the largest centers ever built specifically for the Games which end July 26th.

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) will offer more than 650 hours of coverage online. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes will also televise the Games including 62 hours of live coverage.

Longhorn Network will have 44 hours dedicated to swimming, diving and women’s volleyball. ESPN Radio will provide daily updates. Check your local listings.


BERMUDA: Lisa Blackburn

COLOMBIA: Carolina Colorado, Jorge Murillo Valdes

JAMAICA: Alia Atkinson, Timothy Wynter, Chris Anderson (Coach)

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Wins On Final Night Of Charlotte Arena Pro Swim Series

By Sharon Robb

May 17, 2015—-Still looking for a confidence-building swim, Alia Atkinson got one on the final night of the 31st annual Arena Pro Swim Series at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in Charlotte, N.C.

The three-time Jamaican Olympian and world record holder from South Florida Aquatic Club stepped up and won in convincing fashion to close out the four-day meet on a good note Sunday in front of a sellout crowd and national television audience.

Atkinson, 26, won her first event of the meet in the 50-meter breaststroke in 30.54, second fastest time in the world this year and just 7/100ths of a second ahead of Olympian Jessica Hardy.

Atkinson had the fastest start off the blocks and broke the water first with a quick turnover to finish strong by out-touching Hardy.

Hardy was closing in fast but was short on the finish as Atkinson had the momentum going into the wall. Hardy finished in 30.61, fourth fastest time in the world.

“It’s a pretty good time considering my 100 and 200 breaststrokes were a bit iffy,” Atkinson said. “I am glad I could turn out a good 50. I am looking forward to a good summer and will see if I can do both the Pan American Games and World Championships.”

Atkinson also made the “C” final of the 100-meter freestyle where she finished eighth in 58.42 and 24th overall. Her prelims time was 57.49.

Two-time Colombian Olympian Carolina Colorado, 27, of SOFLO was eighth in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:15.99 after going 2:14.53 in prelims. Colombian teammate Jorge Murillo Valdes, 23, was seventh in the 50-meter breaststroke in 28.47 bettering his prelim time of 28.63.

Bermuda national champion and SOFLO teammate Lisa Blackburn, at 43 the oldest swimmer in the field, won the “C” final in an impressive 33.96 after going 34.12 in prelims.

Timothy Wynter, 19, was sixth in the “D” final of the 200-meter backstroke and 30th overall in 2:11.15.

After watching Michael Phelps win the “B” final of the 200-meter individual medley in 2:00.25 in a “statement swim” Olympian Ryan Lochte came back with his own “statement swim” to win the “A” final in 1:57.20.

Lochte, 30, looked like the old Ryan Lochte taking out the race with powerful strokes to finish with the third fastest time in the world this year in the event he holds the world record in.

“It’s definitely a confidence-booster,” Lochte said. “We were watching Michael’s race in the ready room and he was out like a bullet. I knew he was going to put up a good time. I wish he was in our heat, but when it counts he will be there.

“That swim helps my confidence. Last year was a little rocky. Now I’m back training and feeling good in the water. Things are getting better for my overall confidence and attitude. I feel great.”

In the “B” final, Phelps won by more than a body length in 2:00.25 after swimming 2:03.06 in the morning. Had he done that time in the morning it would have been the fastest qualifying time for the final and would have placed him sixth overall in the final.

Less than 20 minutes later after the 200 IM, Lochte was challenged with the second half of a tough double and managed to finish third in the 200 backstroke in 1:58.96, six seconds off his best time, despite dying in the last 50 meters.

“The coaches said they could see my face for the last 15 meters of the backstroke and I was like crying in my goggles,” Lochte said. “I was in so much pain. I watched the video, I could just see my stroke fall apart at the end. But the time was still good. I felt like I had a good meet.”

Three other swimmers with Florida ties did well on the final night.

Although overshadowed by Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu of Hungary in the 200-meter individual medley, Melanie Margalis, 23, of St. Petersburg had a great swim to finish second in 2:10.57.

Clara Smiddy, 19, of Club Wolverine and AquaKids Sharks was third in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:12.27, the top American finisher in the event.

Two-time Bahamian Olympian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, 25, of SwimMAC just missed sweeping the sprint freestyles, finishing second and just 7/100ths of a second behind 32-year-old veteran Natalie Coughlin in 54.31.

In other championship finals:

Women’s 800-meter freestyle: Denmark’s Lotte Friis pulled away early in the race and went on to win in 8:25.07, the sixth best time in the world this season. Friis returned to the Top 10 in the world for the first time this year. Former Clearwater swimmer Becca Mann finished two body lengths behind her in second in 8:28.82.

“I was consistent, that is my specialty my coach calls me a Swiss clock,” Friis said. “I felt comfortable. My goal was to do better than last season here and I did so I am happy.”

Women’s 200-meter individual medley: Hungarian Katinka Hosszu won her best event in 2:08.66, a full second faster than the fastest time in the world this year and her fifth win in the meet. Mann, 17, gets the Iron Girl award for finishing the 800 and less than five minutes later returning to the blocks for the second race of the night. Swimming in Lane 4, Mann was among the early leaders and had a great final 50 to tie for third in 2:16.32.

“I just tried to be aggressive and see where I am at right now with my training,” Hosszu said. “I am really, really happy with this time. It is definitely a really good time for me and I am really excited. This gives me a lot of confidence heading into the summer. I am excited to go back and train.”

Women’s 200-meter backstroke: Just fifteen minutes after winning the 200 IM, Hosszu went a best time 2:07.79 to win. It was the third fastest time in the world this year. Even Hosszu was surprised at her time on the scoreboard, throwing her arms up in disbelief.

Men’s 200-meter backstroke: Arkady Vyatchanin of Serbia and New York Athletic Club won his second event of the meet sweeping the backstroke events in a Serbian record 1:56.31, fourth fastest time in the world this season. Defending Olympic champion Tyler Clary was second in 1:58.43. Carlos Omana, 22, of Metro Aquatics was fourth in the “B” final.

“I had the same approach and same goal in the 100, I wanted everything faster than Mesa so it is good because it happened,” Vyatchanin said. “It is a good time for me. Of course, I am motivated by great racing with these guys and doing this. They are great competitors. The fact I was a little bit faster gives me a little more motivation. I am taking baby steps in the right direction.”

Men 50-meter breaststroke: Brazil’s Felipe Lima, who used to train in South Florida, won the 50-meter breaststroke in 27.72.

“This meet is part of practice for the Pan American Games and World Championships, two big meets ahead,” Lima said. “I am very happy with this time. Now I can go back home and start working next week. I am very confident with myself. I am training hard every day to achieve my goals. I am really happy with results here at this meet.”

Women 100-meter freestyle: Olympic veteran Natalie Coughlin, 32, of Cal Aquatics closed in on early leader Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of SwimMAC to win in 54.24, just 7/100ths of a second ahead of the Bahamian Olympian.

“I have Santa Clara next and then Pan Ams which I am super excited about,” Coughlin said. “I still love this. I love the process of it. I get to work with amazing people. I have great teammates and coach. I love training, the day to day struggle.”

Men 100-meter freestyle: Top qualifier Nathan Adrian, 26, of Cal Aquatics out-touched Italian Marco Orsi to win in 48.85.

“That second 50 I need to be a lot faster, at least a full second faster,” Adrian said. “I will take this time tonight since we are in some tough training now. This summer it will be about execution. If I can execute a race the way I want to then the time will take care of itself. This is the first time I raced in a while so I’m happy.”

Phelps tied for third in “B” final in 49.96. Brazilian Cesar Cielo, seventh fastest qualifier in morning prelims, scratched from the final.

Men’s 1500-meter freestyle: Connor Jaeger, 24, of Club Wolverine made it look easy, winning in 14:58.13, third fastest time in the world. Egypt’s Ahmed Akaram, 18, swimming unattached, broke the national record.

The Arena Pro Swim Series wraps up in Santa Clara, Calif. June 18-21 where SOFLO is expected to send another large contingent.



800-meter: 1. Lotte Friis, Denmark 8:25.07, 2. Becca Mann, North Baltimore 8:28.82, 3. Leah Smith, Cavalier Swimming 8:29.28; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 19. Casey Francis, Unattached 9:03.49.

200-meter individual medley: 1. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary 2:08.66, 2. Melanie Margalis, St. Petersburg 2:10.57, 3. Caitlin Leverenz, Cal Aquatucs 2:11.84; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 24. Emily Kopas, Michigan/Swim Fort Lauderdale 2:22.80, 72. Lisa Blackburn, SOFLO 2:28.07

200-meter backstroke: 1. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary 2:07.79, 2. Dominique Bouchard, Team Ontario 2;10.25, 3. Clara Smiddy, Club Wolverine 2:12.27; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 8. Carolina Colorado, SOFLO 2:15.99.

50-meter breaststroke: 1. Alia Atkinson, South Florida Aquatic Club 30.54, 2. Jessica Hardy, Trojan Swim Club 30.61, 3. Breeja Larson, Unattached 31.01; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 11. Emily Kopas, Michigan/Swim Fort Lauderdale 33.14, 14. Evita Leter, Metro Aquatics 33.41, 17. Lisa Blackburn, SOFLO 33.96.

100-meter freestyle: 1. Natalie Coughlin, Cal Aquatics 54.24, 2. Arianna Wallace-Vanderpool, SwimMAC 54.31, 3. Chatal Van Landeghem, Canada 54.65; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 24. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 58.42, 79. Isabella Paez, Metro Aquatics 59.78.

400-meter medley relay: 1. SwimMAC 4:07.07, 2. Team Ontario 4:12.27, 3. Canada 4:13.81.


200-meter individual medley: 1. Ryan Lochte, SwimMAC 1:57.20, 2. Josh Prenot, Cal Aquatics 1:58.98, 3. Thiago Pereira, Brazil 1:59.51; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 15. Carlos Omana, Metro Aquatics 2:05.99, 18. Juan Sequera, Metro Aquatics 2:06.04.

200-meter backstroke: 1. Arkady Vyatchanin, New York Athletic Club 1:56.31, 2. Tyler Clary, SwimMAC 1:58.43, 3. Ryan Lochte, SwimMAC 1:58.96; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 12. Carlos Omana, Metro Aquatics 2:03.47, 30. Timothy Wynter, SOFLO 2:11.15.

50-meter breaststroke: 1. Felipe Lima, Brazil 27.72, 2. Cody Miller, Badger 27.95, 3. Brendan McHugh, Greater Philadelphia 28.01; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 7. Jorge Murillo Valdes, SOFLO 28.47, 25. Juan Sequera, Metro Aquatics 29.84.

100-meter freestyle: 1. Nathan Adrian, Cal Aquatics 48.85, 2. Marco Orsi, Italy 49.06, 3. Joao De Lucca, Brazil 49.21; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 102. Timothy Wynter, SOFLO 53.77.

1500-meter freestyle: 1. Connor Jaeger, Club Wolverine 14:58.13, 2. Ahmed Akaram, Egypt 15:07.84, 3. Ryan Feeley, Badger 15:38.09.

400-meter medley relay: 1. Brazil 3:38.62, 2. SwimMAC 3:42.44, 3. Team Ontario 3:49.52.

Sharon Robb can be reached at