SOFLO Hosts Halloween Open This Weekend

By Sharon Robb

October 27, 2016—It will be scary good fun when South Florida Aquatic Club hosts the Halloween Open.

The three-day meet gets under way Friday at Academic Village Pool. All events are timed finals.

Host SOFLO has the largest contingent of swimmers with 68 athletes in 385 individual events.

The field has attracted a wide variety of swimmers from age group and high school to elite and pros. Among other Florida Gold Coast clubs competing are Gulliver, City of Miami, AquaKids Sharks, YMCA, SwimFast, Blue Marlins, North Miami and Florida Keys.

SOFLO’s Catalina Mendieta, 26, is top seed in the 50-yard freestyle in 24.47. Marc Rojas is top seed in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:00.66, 100-yard breaststroke in 55.70 and 100-yard freestyle in 48.02.

SOFLO swimmers are: Alana Acevedo, 15; Sarah Acevedo, 12; Michael Arias, 13; Fernando Barreto, 10; Kaitlyn Barrios, 10; Brennan Binder, 12; Tyler Bland, 15; Samuel Bullen, 11; Kyana Castro, 14; Maya Coffey, 15; Javier Colmenares, 10; Juan Colmenares, 12; Kayla Cunningham, 13; Kerry Cunningham, 10;Daniela Curbelo, 13; Mark Andre de Gracia, 12; Katrina Del Vecchio, 13; Luna Delgado, 10; Diego Dulieu, 11; Mia Escudero, 12; Nathaniel Garrick, 11; Alex Golding, 12; Molly Golding, 13; Logan Gonzalez, 11; John Paul Handal, 13; Zackary Harris, 12; Kalin Hubbard, 12; Paige Lane, 14; Sebastian Lares, 12; Jie Hoon Lee, 13; Jena Legaspi, 12; Maria Legaspi, 10; Lance Lesage, 14; Luke Lezotte, 15; Jonathan Lozano, 9; Michelle Marinheiro, 13; Alejandro Mateus, 11; Leonardo Mateus, 14; Catalina Mendieta, 26; Yannai Michael 12; Nicolas Munoz, 13; Judith-Alison Natino, 11; Juan Osorio, 17; Sabrina Osorio, 11; Sofia Osorio, 11; Abby Oyetunji, 17; Leah Pando, 10; Alessandro Pereira, 10; Giada Porven, 8; Lucas Porven, 11; Samuel Quintero, 16; Sara Quintero, 12; Santiago Rivera, 19; Enrique Rodriguez, 11; Marc Rojas, 22; Javier Roman, 13; Nicolas Rossi, 13; Sophia Ruppert, 13; Mallory Schleicher, 13; Juan Serna, 15; Kailey Smith, 11; Owen Smith, 10; Christian Tijero, 11; Victoria Torres, 12; Emma Twombly, 12; Christian Vasquez, 13; Yanjun Wang, 11; and Aldo Zepeda, 11.


What: SOFLO Halloween Open

When: Friday-Sunday

Schedule: Friday, Session I, 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, Session II, 9:30 a.m.; Sunday, Session III, 9:30 a.m. All events timed final.

Where: Academic Village Pool, 17191 Sheridan Street, Pembroke Pines

Admission: $3 per session, $3 heat sheets per session. For information call 954-538-3721.

Sharon Robb can be reached at for results and questions.

SOFLO’s Megan Romano Wins Backstroke At All-Florida Sr. Circuit Meet

By Sharon Robb

May 14, 2016—With the U.S. Olympic Trials six weeks away, Megan Romano is in the midst of one of her final tune-ups at the All-Florida Senior Circuit Meet at Florida Gulf Coast University Aquatics Center.

On Saturday, Romano, 25, a former world champion, won the 100-meter backstroke in 1:02.16, after going 1:02.09 in morning prelims to earn the top seed.

Romano had the fastest seed times in the 50-meter freestyle in 26.28 and 400-meter freestyle in 4:22.75 in prelims before scratching from finals.

The U.S. Olympic hopeful is preparing for the June 26-July 3 Olympic trials in Omaha, Neb. She has been training with SOFLO’s ProFlo group since early January with remarkable progress.

SOFLO teammate Catalina Mendieta, 26, was fifth in the 100-meter backstroke in a best time 1:06.50, improving her previous best time of 1:06.97.

SOFLO’s Santiago Rivera, 19, was fourth in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:31.43, shaving 4.63 seconds off his previous lifetime best time of 2:36.06. He qualified third in prelims in 2:31.53.

The three-day meet concludes Sunday with prelims at 9 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m.



200-meter butterfly: 1. Isabella Paez, Metro Aquatics 2:11.72, 2. Caroline Cooper, Highlander 2:17.58, 3. Mary Smutny, AquaKids Sharks 2:18.26.

50-meter freestyle: 1. Kaitlyn Schorr, STAR 26.24, 2. Kyla Valls, Miami Swimming 26.93, 3. Caroline Simmons, PAQ 26.94; SOFLO: 9. Ksen Golovkina 27.80, 13. Emiliana Pelaez 28.43, 23. Kelley Heron 29.25; prelims Catalina Mendieta 27.79.

100-meter backstroke: 1. Megan Romano, SOFLO 1:02.16, 2. Karen Vilorio Muchnik, SWIM 1:04.53, 3. Sandra Wilk, SWIM 1:05.71; SOFLO: 5. Catalina Mendieta 1:06.50, best time, 8. Kelley Heron 1:07.54.

400-meter freestyle: 1. Ryley Ober, SRQ 4:23.61, 2. Mary Smutny, AquaKids Sharks 4:24.58, 3. Lani Cabrera, SWIM 4:25.53.

200-meter breaststroke: 1. Christina Loh, Unattached 2:39.55, 2. Elizabeth White, SWIM 2:46.92, 3. Alixandra Roy, Highlander 2:47.94; SOFLO: 5. Kelley Heron 2:51.43, 13. Emiliana Pelaez 2:54.70, best time.


200-meter butterfly: 1. Alexander Arrieta, Metro Aquatics 2:06.21, 2. Campbell Lee, SRQ 2:06.91, 3. Luke Smutny, AquaKids Sharks 2:07.11; SOFLO: 10. Max Asnis 2:12.35, 13. Ervin Marin 2:14.81, best time.

50-meter freestyle: 1. Michael Saco, Miami Swimming 23.68, 2. Brandon Selts, Miami Swimming 24.27, 3. Irvin Hoost, Metro Aquatics 24.66; SOFLO: 15. Santiago Rivera 26.10.

100-meter backstroke: 1. Kevin Lindgren, MART 57.03, 2. Carlos Omana, Metro Aquatics 57.70, 3. Matthew Garcia, SYS 59.63.

400-meter freestyle: 1. Theodore Smith, SRQ 4:01.94, 2. Hayden Curley, Highlander 4:02.01, 3. Daniel Erlenmeyer, SYS 4:07.40; SOFLO: 12. Sam Asnis 4:18.58; 15. Max Asnis 4:25.20, 4:23.52, prelims.

200-meter breaststroke: 1. Campbell Lee, SRQ 2:23.54, 2. Joseph Perez, Metro Aquatics 2:24.00, 3. Carlos Omana, Metro Aquatics 2:29.99; SOFLO: 4. Santiago Rivera 2:31.43, best time, 7. Ervin Marin 2:36.07.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Mendieta, Tjon-A-Joe Double Winners On Final Day Of FGC Jupiter Invitational

By Sharon Robb

April 25, 2016

South Florida Aquatic pro swimmers got in a little more long course racing on the final day of the Florida Gold Coast Long Course Invitational Sunday at North County Aquatic Complex in Jupiter.

Catalina Mendieta and Raiz Tjon-A-Joe each won two events.

Mendieta, 26, won the 100-meter freestyle in 1:00.66 and 50-meter butterfly in 29.31.

Tjon-A-Joe, 18, of Suriname won the 100-meter freestyle in 54.52 and 100-meter breaststroke in 1:09.89

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Pro Swimmers Compete In Jupiter; Mateus Takes Silver At SwimMiami

By Sharon Robb

April 23, 2016—Several South Florida Aquatic Club pro swimmers got in some long course racing Saturday in the Florida Gold Course Long Course Invitational in Jupiter.

Alina Schulhofer, 21, won the 200-meter freestyle in 2:12.32 and was fourth in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:08.94.

Catalina Mendieta was a double winner. Mendieta, 26, won the 100-meter butterfly in 1:05.01 and 50-meter freestyle in 27.98.

Newest SOFLO member Raiz Tjon-A-Joe, 18, won the 100-meter butterfly in 58.21, just missing a best time. He also won the 50-meter freestyle in 24.41 and was second in the 100-meter backstroke in 1:03.92

Santiago Rivera, 19, won the 50-meter breaststroke in 32.62

Ksen Golovkina, 26, won the 50-meter breaststroke 34.34 and was second in the 50-meter freestyle in 28.98.


SOFLO’s Leonardo Mateus, 14, finished second in the SwimMiami one-mile event in 16:37. Teammate Ryan Capote, 18, was 11th in 17:46.

Alexander Berggren, 21, of Sweden won the 10K title in 1:39:04. Catalina Berraud Galea, 19, of Fort Lauderdale won the women’s title in 1:47:23.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Sends Three Swimmers To Colombian Nationals


By Sharon Robb

November 17, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club will have three swimmers competing when the XX Colombian National Aquatic Championships begin on Wednesday in Antioquia, Colombia.

Olympian Carolina Colorado, Jorge Murillo-Valdes and Catalina Mendieta, all medal hopefuls, will represent SOFLO at the 11-day event that features all aquatic sports.

Colorado, 28, is a two-time Olympian and national record holder in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter backstroke events, 50-meter butterfly and relays.

Murillo-Valdes is a national record holder in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events and relays.

Murillo-Valdes broke the 100 (1:00.53) and 200 (2:11.62) national records at this past summer’s Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. He also is qualified in the 200 for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Mendieta, a Douglas High School alum, is ranked among the top five in the 50- and 100-meter butterfly and 50- and 100- meter freestyle in Colombia.

The trio are members of SOFLO’s pro team.


SOFLO swimmer Kylie Herman of Brandeis University was named University Athletic Association Swimmer of the Week for her performance in the team’s season-opener.

In her collegiate debut against Wheaton College, the freshman won two events–the 200-yard freestyle in 2:03.24 and 500-yard freestyle in 5:26.35. She was also second by less than a second in the 200-yard butterfly in 2:18.01.

Herman is a Cypress Bay High School alum and lives in Weston.


SOFLO’s Kathleen Golding, a freshman at Cooper City High School, is among top-ranked swimmers on the annual Florida Swim Network Mythical High School State Championship list.

The list is the network’s annual compilation of all four classes (1A, 2A, 3A, 4A) held at the Pinch-a-Penny FHSAA State Swimming and Diving Championships in Stuart to determine the ultimate champion.

Golding is ranked second in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:00.40, just 1/100th behind Tampa Catholic’s Christin Rockway. Golding is also ranked eighth in the 100-yard butterfly in 55.18.

SOFLO teammate Jessica Rodriguez, a junior at Hialeah Gardens, is ranked fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:03.63 ranked behind Caroline White of Trinity Prep (1:01.68), Kelly Fertel of Gulliver Prep (1:03.29) and Isabella English of Winter Park (1:03.31).

Jacksonville Bolles boys and Gainesville Buchholz girls just edged out Gulliver Prep for top team honors.

The full list can be found posted on the Florida Swim Network website.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Donahue, Blackburn Add Star Power To Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic

By Sharon Robb

October 8, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club will add star power to the seventh annual Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic that gets under way Friday at the YMCA Aquatic Center.

U.S. Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue and Bermuda national record holder Lisa Blackburn head the five-swimmer contingent.

Donahue, 26, and Blackburn, 44, will get a little racing in the 25-meter timed finals in their specialty events.

Donahue is entered in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter butterfly and 50-meter freestyle. Blackburn will swim the 50-, 100- and 200-meter breaststroke and 100- and 200-meter individual medleys.

Catalina Mendieta, 26, of Colombia one of the newest members of SOFLO’s PRO FLO’s group. The former PAQ swimmer graduated from James Madison University. She is among Colombia’s top-ranked swimmers in the 50 and 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle.

Also competing are Kile Aukerman, 22, and Alejandro Zambrano, 21. Aukerman, a Wright State alum, is training for the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials. Aukerman is a school record holder in the 100-yard breaststroke. The former Male Athlete of the Year also competes in the 200- and 400-yard individual medleys.

Zambrano swims the freestyle, butterfly and breaststroke.

The team is scheduled to depart after Friday’s morning workout at Academic Village Pool.

Fifty-three clubs are competing in the three-day meet. Other South Florida clubs competing include Swim Fort Lauderdale, recently awarded U.S. Masters Club of the Year and Coach of the Year (Marty Hendrick); Gold Coast Masters; Wahoos of Wellington, Palm Beach Masters and T2 Aquatics.

The meet is also serving as the Dixie Zone Short Course Meters Championships.


What: Seventh annual Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic

When: Friday-Sunday, 25-meter timed finals; Friday, 3 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.; Sunday, 8:30 a.m.

Where: YMCA Aquatic Center, 8422 International Drive, Orlando

Admission: $5. For information go to

Sharon Robb can be reached at