SOFLO’s Atkinson Heads Field For Speedo Championship Series Southern Zone South Sectionals That Begin Thursday

By Sharon Robb

PLANTATION, March 4, 2020—Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson will be among South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers at the Speedo Championship Series Southern Zone South Sectional Championship that begins Thursday at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

Atkinson, 31, will compete in six events, including her signature event 100-meter breaststroke. She is seeded first in the event in 1:06.83. She is also seeded first in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:00.13; 50-meter breaststroke in 30.19; 50-meter butterfly in 26.54; 100-meter freestyle in 55.41; and 200-meter breaststroke in 2:31.

SOFLO will have 31 qualified swimmers (16 boys and 15 girls) compete in 140 individual events and 12 relay events race in the long course meet.

Atkinson will be joined by teammates Sarah Acevedo, 16; Michael Arias, 17; Dominic Bono, 16; JennaMarie Brames, 16; Juan Colmenares, 16; Alana Deo, 16; Elena Dinehart, 15; Olivia Dinehart, 15; Alex Golding, 15; Molly Golding, 16; Sally Golding, 15; Sophia Grubbs, 14; John Paul Handal, 17; Christopher Hau, 15; Sebastian Lares, 15; Jena Legaspi, 16; Alejandro Mateus, 14; Leonardo Mateus, 18; Manuel Melendez, 16; Yannai Michael, 15; Juan Mora, 15; Garrett Oliver, 17; Sabrina Osorio, 15; Sara Quintero, 16; Rafael Rodriguez, 16; Nicolas Rossi, 16; Mallory Schleicher, 16; Miguel Sierra, 16; Lucy Smutny, 16; and Madeline Smutny, 14.

Six events will open the meet on Thursday. They are the 1,500 freestyle, 800 freestyle, 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, 200 mixed medley relay and 200 mixed free relay.

A large field will compete over four days in one of four designated USA Swimming zones. The others are Eastern, Central and Western Zone Sectionals. The meet attracts some of the top swimming talent from across the United States and internationally.

Heading the elite field are Santiago Corredor, 20, of Gator Swim Club, seeded first in the 800- 400- and 200-meter freestyles; Josh Zuchowski, 15, of FAST, seeded first in the 50-meter backstroke; Celina Marquez, 20, of Azura, seeded first in the 50-meter backstroke and 100-meter backstroke; Gabriel Araya, 20, of Azura, seeded first in the 100-meter butterfly; Aruba’s Allyson Ponson, 24, of Azura, seeded first in the 50-meter freestyle; and Brazil’s Bruno Fratus, 30, of Coral Springs Swim Club, seeded first in the 50-meter freestyle.

Among Florida Gold Coast teams entered are Azura Florida Aquatic, East Coast Aquatic Club, North Palm Beach, Martin County, Coral Springs Swim Club, Sunrise, TS Aquatics and host Plantation Swim Team.

Defending champions are Azura Florida Aquatics (1,116.5) and Sarasota YMCA (1,432). SOFLO, with 35 swimmers, was third among both the girls (852) and boys (776) teams last year.


What: 2020 Southern Zone South Sectional Championships

When: Thursday-Sunday

Schedule: Thursday, timed finals 5 p.m.; Friday, Saturday and Sunday, prelims 9 a.m. and finals 5 p.m.

Where: Plantation Central Park Aquatic Complex, 9151 NW Second Street.

Of note: Admission is $5. For more information call 954-452-2526.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Cunha Wins Third 25K Open Water Gold Medal; UM Diver Dinsmore Advances To Saturday Final At FINA World Aquatics Championships

By Sharon Robb

Budapest, Hungary, July 21, 2017—In the last and most grueling of six open water races, defending champion Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil won the women’s 25K open water race for her third world title on Day 8 of the 17th FINA World Aquatics Championships Friday at Lake Balaton.

Cunha, who has frequently trained in South Florida and won the Fort Lauderdale Roughwater event, finished in 5 hours, 21 minutes and 58 seconds, a two-second margin of victory.

She is only the second woman to win three world golds. Dutch swimmer Edith van Dijk won four.

Cunha also won gold at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai and 2015 in Kazan. Cunha has two silver medals and four bronze medals from past world championships. She has made the podium in every individual open water event.

“When it starts, I think of nothing, but toward the end I knew I was the only one in the leading three that had done the 25K course before,” Cunha said. “So I know the pain that would arrive at the end. This experience made the difference.”

Olympic 10K gold medalist Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands was second in 5:22:00. Arianna Bridi of Italy took the bronze in 5:22:08.

American Becca Mann, a former Clearwater (CAT) swimmer, was seventh in 5:27:06.

France continued its dominance in open water with Axel Reymond winning the men’s 25K by just 6/10ths of a second.

Swimming for more than five hours, the Frenchman defeated Matteo Furlan of Italy (5:02:47).

“When there are 200 meters left, all you think about is touching the board,” Reymond said.

Russian Evgenii Drattcev took bronze in 5:02:49. American Chip Peterson was fifth in 5:03:43.

There were 44 finishers in the race. Five were unable to finish the race. Warm temperatures were also a challenge. The water temp was 75 degrees.


University of Miami redshirt sophomore David Dinsmore finished fourth in men’s 10-meter platform semifinals to qualify for Saturday’s final for Team USA.

Dinsmore, the NCAA national platform champion as a freshman, scored 483.10 points to qualify for his first worlds final.

Dinsmore is ranked behind Aleksandr Bondar of Russia (509.10), Tom Daley of Great Britain (498.65) and Chen Aisen of China (488.55) and will be in the medal hunt on Saturday.

“It’s really exciting,” Dinsmore said. “Last time I had a good meet but there was tough competition and it didn’t work out. Especially this year after the Olympic year, I wanted to come out and dive as best I could and things worked out.”

At the 2015 World Championships, Dinsmore finished 15th in the semifinals. Earlier in the week, Dinsmore earned a bronze medal in the mixed 3-meter/10-meter team event with Krysta Palmer.

Fort Lauderdale’s Jordan Windle finished 26th in the 10-meter prelims in his first worlds competing in an individual event.

Olympic gold medalist Shi Tingmao led China to a one-two finish in the women’s 3-meter springboard final. Shi, the defending champion and Monday’s 3-meter synchro winner, finished first with 383.50 points followed by teammate Wang Han (359.40) to capture China’s ninth consecutive gold medal in the event and seventh in 11 diving events in Budapest. Canadian Jennifer Abel took the bronze medal with 3:51.55 for the second worlds in a row.

“I need to work harder in order to achieve a higher score and win more gold medals,” Shi said.

Chinese divers have won 20 of the last 21 Olympic and world titles in the 3-meter springboard since 1986.

The last two diving finals are scheduled for Saturday.


Russia won the team free title winning its sixth gold medal. Twelve teams were in the final. Russia has been the title holder of the team title since 2007. Russia scored 97.300 points. China took the silver and Ukraine took bronze.


The U.S., Italy, Hungary and Greece all advanced into the women’s quarterfinal round. Italy has won three straight games and earned an automatic berth.

In the men’s tournament, Croatia reached the quarterfinals as expected. Croatia has beaten the U.S., Russia and Japan.


In the medal tally, China leads with 16 total medals including seven golds, Russia has 13, Italy had 8 and France has 7. The U.S. has 5 medals including only one gold.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 147: Two Textile-Bests Fall On Day 3 Of Maria Lenk Trophy Meet

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 147: Two Textile-Bests Fall On Day 3 Of Maria Lenk Trophy Meet


April 26, 2012

Back-to-back new textile-best men’s and women’s times in the 50-meter butterfly highlighted third day action at the Maria Lenk Trophy Meet Thursday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A day after Brazilian Cesar Cielo came close to swimming a textile-best in the 50-meter freestyle, came back to better the existing time in the men’s 50-meter butterfly in 22.76, bettering the old mark of 22.96 held by Roland Schoeman. The time also shattered Brazilian and South American records.

Cielo’s time made him the fourth fastest in history of the race.

In the women’s 50-meter butterfly, Jeanette Ottesen swam a textile-best 25.29 to better Therese Alshammar’s old textile-best of 25.37. It was the third best swim in history.

Wind and rain played havoc at the outdoor meet and some coaches complained that the times were wind-aided.

In other championship finals:

Leonardo de Deus broke a meet record in the men’s 200-meter backstroke in 1:57.38. Current national record holder Thiago Pereira finished just .01 seconds behind in 1:57.39.

Felipe Silva broke the minute-barrier twice and won the 100-meter breaststroke in 59.83 after going 59.63 (third fastest in the world this year) in morning prelims. Henrique Barbosa was second in 1:00.54. Olympic qualifier Felipe Lima was fourth in 1:00.62. Five swimmers have broke the minute barrier in the event so far this year.

World runner-up Lotte Friis of Denmark won the 800-meter freestyle in 8:26.98, sixth fastest time in the world this year.

Laure Manaoudou of France won the 200-meter backstroke in 2:11.77.

Ana Carvalho won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:10.53.


Coral Springs Swim Club five-time Olympian Dara Torres is among 18 Olympians suing Samsung Corp. over a Facebook app they said misuses their names and images. Mark Spitz, Janet Evans, Greg Louganis, Cullen Jones, Amanda Beard, Jessica Hardy and several others filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday. The athletes object to the Samsung Olympic Genome Project which shows Facebook users how they are connected to famous Olympians. The complaint said Samsung has been running the Olympic Genome Project since March without the permission to use the athletes’ names and images. Samsung said it was disappointed by the lawsuit. USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said the USOC and Samsung began the Olympic Genome Project so Americans could find connections with U.S. athletes and not as a way to commercialize athletes’ names…Olympian Natalie Coughlin was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Thursday night along with singer Moby and actress Diane Keaton…Olympic breaststroker Rebecca Soni is featured in this week’s Sports Illustrated Magazine.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 140: SOFLO’s Arlene Semeco Takes Gold At South American Championships

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 140: SOFLO’s Arlene Semeco Takes Gold At South American Championships


March 17, 2012

Arlene Semeco of the South Florida Aquatic Club saved her best for the last day of the South American Championships in Belem, Brazil.

The three-time Olympian for Venezuela won her first gold medal of the meet in the 50-meter freestyle, her signature event, in a pool record 25.21 seconds.

Semeco, 28, finished ahead of Brazil’s teenage sensation Gracielle Hermann in 25.31. Daynara Ferreira Paula, also of Brazil, third in 25.64.

Semeco was also anchor leg of Venezuela’s second-place 4×100-meter medley relay team in 4:15.54. Brazil won in 4:10.50.

Semeco walked away with one gold and three silver medals over four days of competition. She anchored the second-place 400-meter freestyle relay team with a come-from-behind finish in 8:16.41 with a 54.85 split. She was second in the 100-meter freestyle.

SOFLO teammate Mariangela Macchiavelo of Brazil swam 27.20 in morning prelims.

In other championship races:

Brazil’s world and Olympic champion Cesar Cielo, broken down from heavy training, won the 100-meter freestyle in 48.70. Venezuelan Cristian Quintero of USC swam 49.77 in the event just a week away from the NCAA Division I Men’s Championships.

Brazil’s Thiago Pereira won the 400-meter individual medley in 4:24.49.

Switzerland Swim Trials

Olympian Dominik Meichtry came from behind to catch Flori Lang to win the 100-meter freestyle in 49.61 to highlight action on Day 3 of the Swiss National Championships, serving as the selection meet for the Olympics and European Championships. Meichtry recently became engaged to U.S. national team member Jessica Hardy.

Other individual winners were:

Kilian Bossard, men’s 400-meter individual medley, 4:28.95.

Annick van Westendorp, women’s 400-meter individual medley, 4:59.87.

Martin Schweizer, 50-meter breaststroke, 28.55.

Stephanie Spahn, 50-meter breaststroke 32.58.

Jovan Mitrovic, 1500-meter freestyle, 15:35.86.

Matilde Frigerio, women’s 800-meter freestyle, 9:34.11.

Maria Ugolkova of Russia won the 100-meter freestyle in 55.95.

Lukas Rauftlin won the 200-meter backstroke in 2:03.21.

Teenager Danielle Villars won the 200-meter backstroke in 2:18.53.

Australian Swim Trials

Leisel Jones became the first Australian swimmer—male or female—to make her fourth Olympic team after finishing second in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:07.64 at the Australian Olympic Trials. Jones made her first Olympic team at age 14.

“I will be able to relax more at these Olympics and I’m confident I can go faster and really chase Rebecca Soni down in London,” Jones told reporters after her race.

Among winners were Thomas Fraser-Holmes, 200-meter freestyle, 1:46.88; Leiston Pickett, 100-meter breaststroke, 1:06.88, tying with Soni as the world’s fastest time this year; Emily Seebohm, 100-meter backstroke, 59.28; and Hayden Stoeckel, men’s 100-meter backstroke, 53.98.

Five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe’s hopes of returning to the Olympics after a long layoff rests on his swims in the 100-meter freestyle on Sunday. He still has a shot at qualifying individually or for a relay.

Amsterdam Swim Cup

Hannah Miley, the No. 1 ranked swimmer in the world with a 2:10.77 from the recent British Olympic Trials, won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:12.54 at the Amsterdam Swim Cup in The Netherlands. Miley is one of 28 British swimmers qualified for the 2012 London Olympics. Panagiotis Samilidis won the men’s 100-meter breaststroke in 1:01.10, one of several Top 15 ranked times turned in during the day of competition.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Luke Torres Returns To Winning Ways On Day One At FGC Senior Championships

SOFLO’s Luke Torres Returns To Winning Ways On Day One At FGC Senior Championships


March 4, 2011

After three weeks of soul-searching during winter break, Luke Torres is back in the pool working to return to championship form.

Training for less than two months, the Brazilian teenager picked up a confidence-building win Friday night on the first day of the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships in Plantation.

In the race of the night, Torres, 16, out-touched longtime rival Yousef Alaskari, 16, of the Davie Nadadores in the 200-yard butterfly to win in 1:55.21. Alaskari finished just 25/100ths of a second behind in 1:55.46.

After morning prelims, Alaskari was fastest qualifier in 1:58.70, slower than his seed time of 1:50.99. Torres was the sixth-fastest qualifier in 1:59.69.

Torres also swam the 500-yard freestyle prelims and finished 23rd in 5:06.40. “That was ridiculous,” Torres said.

Preparing for sectionals in two weeks, Torres was not shaved or tapered and wasn’t expecting to win any of the three events he entered in the meet. He was just looking to race and fine tune his stroke.

“It was a great race,” Torres said. “I am not really focused on Senior Championships with sectionals in two weeks. I just tried to pace it well. I went out pretty easy and then kept the pace and tried not to die at the end.”

It was Torres first competitive meet since the Brazilian Nationals in December where he had a disappointing meet.

“It was pretty bad,” Torres said. “I wanted to quit but at the same time I knew I wasn’t going to. I went back to practice and Michael (Lohberg) told me to take a break so I took three weeks off during winter break.”

He spent the time with his family in Brazil. He talked with his father, Lohberg and co-head coach Bruno Darzi. It was just enough time to convince Torres how much he missed the sport and stoke his competitive fires.

“I still love swimming,” Torres said. “I want to get back to where I was. I want to get back to being the old Luke.”

Of course, winning Friday night and beating Alaskari didn’t hurt.

“It was great,” Torres said. “Whenever I do well I don’t feel pain during the race. It helps my confidence especially with sectionals in two weeks which we are tapering for. I am happy, I am smiling.”

Torres expects to be in championship shape by the summer where he is shooting for low 55s.

“After sectionals I want to try pushing it in practice,” Torres said. “I always do my best during the summer.”

Other SOFLO individual champions were

Two-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson, 22, in the 50-yard breaststroke in 29.16.

Lindsey McKnight, 16, in the 100-yard freestyle in 51.55. Teammate Emma Lincoln was second in 53.33.

Atkinson, Lincoln and McKnight joined Katie Brennan on the 400-yard freestyle relay to finish third in 3:34.35.

SOFLO’s Brandon Goldman was second in the 200-yard backstroke in 1:55.32 to lead the boys team.



200-yard freestyle relay: 1. MAC (Chinyere Pigot, Ana Anaya, Carla Robles, Evita Leter) 1:37.00; SOFLO: 6. “A” 1:40.91 (Linea Cutter, Katie Brennan, Emma Lincoln, Alia Atkinson; 13. SOFLO “B” 1:43.99 (Maria Lopez, Kristina Brennan, Amber Hunter, Brittany Williford).

200-yard backstroke: 15-16, 1. Chelsea Britt, FLA 2:01.38; SOFLO: 4. Marcella Marinheiro, Unattached-SOFLO 2:07.88, 9. Emily Greenwood 2:14.45; 18. Rachel Ling 2:22.25, 27. Belinda De La Torre 2:34.44; Open, 1. Lauren Driscoll, FLA 2:02.65.

100-yard freestyle: 15-16, 1. Lindsey McKnight, SOFLO 51.55; SOFLO: 2. Emma Lincoln 53.33, 7. Marcella Marinheiro, Unattached-SOFLO 54.29, 8. Anne Kuczynski 54.41, 12. Kristina Brennan 56.11, 21. Amber Hunter 56.64, 22. Emily Greenwood 56.70, 26. Maria Lopez 57.07, 47. Rachel Ling 59.88, 52. Gabriella Fawaz 1:01.14, 58. Brianna Giordanella 1:02.59; Open, 1. Chinyere Pigot, MAC 51.57; SOFLO: 2. Alia Atkinson 52.96, 6. Linea Cutter 54.38, 15. Katie Brennan 55.78.

200-yard butterfly: 15-16, 1. Chelsea Britt, FLA 2:00.52; SOFLO: 5. Maria Lopez 2:12.44, 12. Amber Hunter 2:21.40; Open, 1. Ana Anaya, MAC 2:00.67.

50-yard breaststroke: 15-16, 1. Evita Leter, MAC 31.12; Open, 1. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 29.16, SOFLO: 5. Gina Gautieri 31.65.

500-yard freestyle: 15-16, 1. Olivia Katcher, FLA 5:02.63; SOFLO: 4. Emma Lincoln 5:07.87, 5. Marcella Marinheiro 5:10.57; Open, 1. Damaris Iriondo, FLA 5:03.39; SOFLO: 11. Katie Brennan 5:18.28, 12. Brittany Williford 5:23.45.

400-yard freestyle: 1. MAC (Ana Anaya, Chinyere Pigot, Carla Robles, Kristina Reyno) 3:33.72; SOFLO: 3. “A” 3:34.35 (Emma Lincoln, Alia Atkinson, Lindsey McKnight, Katie Brennan), 12. “B” 3:50.54 (Kristina Brennan, Amber Hunter, Maria Lopez, Brittany Williford).


200-yard freestyle relay: 1. Davie Nadadores (Ismael Ortiz, Glen Sochackyj, Aaron Dsouza, Joel Kempter) 1:25.03; SOFLO: 5. “A” 1:28.67, Abbas Qali, Alex Rodriguez, Keegan Boisson-Yates, Zain Qali; 8. “B” 1:32.09, Darryl Perez, Fernando Cardenas, Marc Rojas, Xavier Brown).

200-yard backstroke: 15-16, 1. Matthew Long, MAC 1:52.98; SOFLO: 2. Brandon Goldman 1:55.32; Open, 1. Fernando Santos, Unattached 1:50.13; SOFLO: 14. Fernando Cardenas 2:07.02.

100-yard freestyle: 15-16, 1. Juliano Ballestas, MAC 45.80; SOFLO: 4. Keegan Boisson-Yates 48.03, 23. Darryl Perez 51.34, 37. Daniel Lee 52.30, 46. Xavier Brown 53.02, 57. Jacob Walters 53.92, 59. Kyle Desrosiers 54.16, 68. Roger Capote 55.13, 72. Matias Sisnandez 56.12; Open: 1. Fernando Santos, Unattached 44.86; SOFLO: 13. Hazem Tashkandi 48.20, 29. Marc Rojas 50.18, 34. Fernando Cardenas 51.58, 38. Maurico Hidalgo 51.85, 42. Brian Arnaud 52.12, 47. Jaafar Bouland 52.35.

200-yard butterfly: 15-16, 1. Luke Torres, SOFLO 1:55.21; SOFLO: 13. Javier Menchaca 2:04.03; Open, 1. Julio Galofre, Unattached 1:48.90; SOFLO: 12. Mauricio Hidalgo 2:01.94, 4. Leo Andara 1:56.69, 29. Abbas Qali 2:17.28.

50-yard breaststroke: 15-16, 1. Ryan Rosenbaum, FLA 26.68; SOFLO: 12. Daniel Lee 30.16, 22. Joshua Cutter 32.32; Open, 1. Genaro Prono, DANA 25.59, SOFLO: 3. Alex Rodriguez 26.87, 5. Marc Rojas 27.66, 12. Brian Arnaud 29.57.

500-yard freestyle: 15-16, 1. Mack Martinock, Martin County 4:39.03; SOFLO: 20. Kyle Desrosiers 5:02.60, 28. Roger Capote 5:14.21; Open, 1. Julio Galofre, Unattached 4:30.07; SOFLO: 5. Marc Rojas 4:46.88, 11. Hazem Tashkandi 4:50.51.

400-yard freestyle: 1. Davie Nadadores 3:07.74 (Glen Sochackji, Aaron Dsouza, Joel Kempter, Ismael Ortiz); SOFLO: 7. “B” 3:23.64 (Darryl Perez, Marc Rojas, Fernando Cardenas, Xavier Brown); “A” disqualified.


What: Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships

When: Saturday-Sunday

Where: Plantation Central Park Aquatic Complex, 9151 NW 2nd Street

Schedule: Saturday, prelims 9 a.m., finals 5 p.m.; Sunday, prelims 9 a.m., finals 5 p.m.

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

Sharon Robb can be reached at