SOFLO’s Julio Horrego Among Field For Toyota U.S. Open Swimming Championships

By Sharon Robb
GREENSBORO, N.C., November 28, 2022—Julio Horrego of South Florida Aquatic Club will compete in the Toyota U.S. Open Swimming Championships at Greensboro Aquatic Center scheduled for Wednesday through Saturday.

Horrego, 24, a 2020 Honduran Olympian and national record holder, will compete in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke against strong fields in the long course meet. The 100 is Friday and 200 breaststroke on Saturday.

Horrego is seeded fifth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:01.18. Ireland’s Darragh Greene is seeded first in 59.76 followed by Bulgarian national record holder Lyubomir Epitropov of University of Tennessee, 1:00.32; AJ Pouch of Virginia Tech, 1:00.85; and Reid Mikuta of Auburn University, 1:00.92.

Horrego is seeded tenth in the 200 breaststroke in 2:16.40. Pouch is seeded first in 2:09.07.

The four-day meet has attracted both U.S. and international swimmers and expected to be one of the most competitive with some great rivalries.

University of Florida grad assistant Katie Ledecky will compete in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 freestyle. She will have a rematch against Canadian 15-year-old Summer McIntosh in the 400. McIntosh, who trains with the Sarasota Sharks, knocked off Ledecky in the World Cup in Toronto.

Among other top swimmers entered are Regan Smith, Chase Kalisz, Baylor Nelson, Erin Gemmel, Emma Weyant, Leah Hayes, Abbey Weitzeil, Katharine Berkoff, Jake Mitchell, Josh Liendo, Guilherme Costa and Mona McSharry.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Julio Horrego Makes Olympic Debut; Alia Atkinson Begins Medal Quest Sunday; Kalisz, Hafnaoui, Ohashi Win Gold

By Sharon Robb
TOKYO, Japan, July 24, 2021–South Florida Aquatic Club’s Julio Horrego had his first Olympic moment Saturday.

Despite no fans in the 15,000-seat Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Horrego, 22, swimming the 100-meter breaststroke in Lane 5 in Heat 2, was fourth in his heat and 43rd overall in 1:02.45. He was 29.09 at the turn. Horrego has the 200-meter breaststroke remaining.

SOFLO teammate Alia Atkinson, 32, of Jamaica will make her fifth and final Olympic appearance when she competes in the heats of the 100-meter breaststroke Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. EST. The short course world champion and national record holder’s mantra for her final Summer Games has been “last swim, fast swim.”

Other local swimmers results:

Former St. Andrew’s Swimming and Florida State’s Izaak Bastian of the Bahamas was eighth in the 100-meter breaststroke heat and 40th overall in 1:01.87.

Peru’s Joaquin Vargas of Azura Florida Aquatics was 25th overall in the 400-meter freestyle in 3:52.94. Vargas competes Sunday in the 200 freestyle and Azura teammate Celina Marquez of El Salvador and Nova Southeastern competes in the 100 backstroke in the opening heats.

University of Miami’s Remedy Rule of the Philippines was 25th in the 100-meter butterfly in 59.68.

In the championship medal finals:

Men’s 400 individual medley: Americans Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland finished one-two. Kalisz, 27, of Bel Air, Md., a silver medalist in 2016, won gold in 4:09.42. Kalisz pulled away from the field in the breaststroke and was 2.5 seconds ahead going into the freestyle. Litherland came on in the freestyle to clinch the silver in 4:10.28.

“This means the world to me,” said Kalisz, obviously in pain after leaving it all in the pool. “This was the last thing I really wanted to accomplish in my swim career. It’s something that was a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I can’t believe it…I really can’t believe it.”

Men’s 400 freestyle: In a shocker, teenager Ahmed Hafnaoui, 18, of Tunisia, swimming in Lane 8 won his country’s first Olympic medal in the event and only fifth medal in any sport. With an insane kick at the finish, the youngest swimmer in the final won in 3:34.36, out-touching Aussie Jack McLoughlin in 3:43.52. The Tunisian had only qualified eighth by 8/100ths of a second (3:45.68). He is only the second swimmer from Tunisia to make a final. The son of former Tunisia national basketball player, Mohamed Hafnaoui was 12 when he joined Tunisia’s national swimming program. University of Florida junior Kieran Smith, making his Olympic debut, hung on to take the bronze in 3:43.94.

“I just can’t believe it, it is amazing, I am Olympic champion now,” Hafnaoui said. “I don’t know how I did it, I just put my head to the water. I just can’t believe it. “This is a dream that came true.”

Women’s 400-meter individual medley: Japan’s Yui Ohashi won her country’s first gold medal in 4:32.08. She had a two-body length lead during the breaststroke leg. American Emma Weyant, 19, of Sarasota Sharks, fourth going into the backstroke, came back to take silver in her Olympic debut in 4:32.76. U.S. teammate Hali Flickinger was third in 4:34.90. Reigning Olympic, world and European champion and world record holder Katinka Hosszu of Hungary, at 32 the oldest in the field, faded to fifth in 4:35.98. Weyant top seed in the 400 IM after prelims in 4:33.55.

“This is my first (major) international meet,” said Weyant after prelims. “It was really cool to be in the Olympics. I was really just trying to set myself up well for tomorrow morning and execute my race.”

After the final, Weyant said, “I think my mom and dad just fainted. This is just crazy to be a silver medalist and race the best in the world.”

Women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay: Australia broke the first world record in swimming blowing away the field in 3:29.69 with Bronte Campbell, Cate Campbell, Emma McKeon and Meg Harris. Canada was second in 3:32.78 and the U.S., with Simone Manuel on anchor leg, was third in 3:32.81.

In the biggest upset of the day, world champion and local hero Daiya Seto of Japan missed the final in the 400-meter individual medley, an event he was the heavy favorite. He had the fastest time (4:09.02) of the year. He was fifth in his heat and ninth overall missing the final by 0.32 seconds. After 300 meters he was a full body length ahead and then let it slip away on the freestyle leg. Seto still has the 200 IM left, which he is defending world champion.

Among the limited audience was First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Members of the U.S. swimming team cheered and chanted from the stands for Dr. Biden, who sat across the pool and waved as swimming kicked off.

Without fans, masked teams had ample room to spread out in socially distanced seats above the deck. The U.S. contingent waved tiny American flags and pounded red-white-and-blue Thunderstix, while the Germans spread their large-sized flag over two rows of seats.

NBC is hosting watch parties for parents of Olympians in Orlando.

400-meter individual medley: 1. Yui Ohashi, Japan 4:32.08, 2. Emma Weyant, US 4:32.76, 3. Hali Flickinger, US 4:34.90.

4×100-meter freestyle relay: 1. Australia 3:29.69, 2. Canada 3:32.78, 3. United States 3:32.81.

400-meter individual medley: 1. Chase Kalisz, US 4:09.42, 2. Jay Litherland, US 4:10.28, 3. Brendon Smith, AUS 4:10.38.

400-meter freestyle: 1. Ahmed Hafnaoui, Tunisia 3:43.36, 2. Jack McLoughlin, AUS 3:43.52, 3. Kieran Smith, US 3:43.94.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Kalisz, Smith, Weyant Win On Opening Night Of U.S. Olympic Trials; Alex Evdokimov Top FGC Finisher

By Sharon Robb
OMAHA, Neb., June 13, 2021—Chase Kalisz became the first swimmer to make the U.S. Olympic team Sunday night at the Olympic Swimming Trials at CHI Health Center.

Trailing by three seconds in the 400-meter individual medley going into the breaststroke, Kalisz, 27, of Athens Bulldogs powered his way back to win in 4:09.09, second fastest time in the world this year, and make his second consecutive Olympic team.

Training mate Jay Litherland, a dual U.S. and Japan citizen, reeled in early leader Carson Foster in the final 20 meters to finish second in 4:10.33.

Kalisz was hugged by good friend and legendary Michael Phelps after he climbed out of the pool.

“This is the Olympic Trials, times don’t matter, it’s all about racing,” Kalisz said. “I knew where I needed to be. I made my move right where I needed to make my move and I’m happy how it played out.

“It’s been a rough year, I guess a tough two years, but to make the Olympic team with my teammate Jay who I get to train with every single day, that’s the coolest part.”

In the second final of the night, Kiernan Smith, 21, of University of Florida, not only had to win but had the pressure of having to swim FINA’s “A” qualifying time of 3:46.78. He did just that, winning in a personal-best 3:44.86, fastest time in the world this year. No other swimmer in the field made the qualifying cut.

Smith took it out hard in the first half of the race and had at least a body length lead and was on American record pace for the first 200 meters.

“I knew there was a little pressure to make that time considering no Americans had made it so far this year,” Smith said. “I was confident with myself after a pretty relaxed morning swim. I really just wanted to pounce on the first 200 and stay out there and make it a one-man race if I could.

“All that was going through my head in the last 100 was I am about to be an Olympian,” Smith said. “It sounds incredible to make my first Olympic team. I couldn’t imagine that five years ago when I was first here.”

In a thrilling women’s 400-meter individual medley race, 19-year-old Emma Weyant of Sarasota Sharks making her Trials debut, came on strong in the final 50 meters against two veterans to pull off the shocker and win in a best time 4:33.81 and earn a spot on the team.

Flickinger led after the butterfly and backstroke legs with Weyant in striking distance. St. Petersburg’s Melanie Margalis, down five seconds, surged back into contention after the breaststroke leg. All three were even on the final 50 turn with 1/10th of a second separating them. Weyant turned it on in the final 20 meters with Flickinger just behind her.

“I just put my head down in the last 50, it hurt a lot but having all those amazing girls to race was awesome,” said Weyant, who deferred going to school at Virginia for a year to train for the Trials in Sarasota. “I had to learn about making a race plan and today was just about racing. To hear I am an Olympian is crazy, I can’t even believe it.”

In the women’s 100-meter butterfly semifinal, 18-year-old Torri Huske of Arlington Aquatics broke the American record in 55.78, erasing Dana Vollmer’s mark of 55.98.

In a span of eight hours, Michael Andrew, 22, broke the American record twice in prelims and semifinals of the 100-meter breaststroke. With two explosive starts, Andrew broke Kevin Cordes’ 2017 American record of 58.64 by nearly a half second in 58.19, in morning prelims. He came back at night to break it again in the semifinals in 58.14.

Four of the five qualified Florida Gold Coast swimmers competed on opening day with only one advancing into the semifinals.

In the morning prelims of the 100-meter breaststroke, Alex Evdokimov, 25, of Pinnacle Racing (VA) and formerly Coral Springs Swim Club, finished eighth in a best time 1:00.22 to qualify for the semifinals where he finished fifth in 1:00.64 and failed to make finals by two spots placing tenth. He was seeded tenth in 1:00.47. He has the 200 breaststroke left to swim.

In other Florida Gold Coast results:

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Kathleen Golding, 20, of University of Florida was 21st in the 400 IM in 4:47.94 off her best time of 4:46.12. She has the 400 freestyle and 200 IM left to swim.

Julia Podkoscielny, 16, of Pine Crest Swimming, was 25th in the 400 IM in 4:48.72, off her best time of 4:44.83. She has the 200 IM and 200 backstroke remaining.

Josh Zuchowski, 17, of FAST, was 37th out of a field of 38 swimmers in 4:32.24, off his best time of 4:25.79. He has the 100 and 200 backstroke events left to swim.

Erika Pelaez, 14, of Eagle Aquatics will start racing on Monday. She has qualified in the 100 backstroke, 50-and 100 freestyles.

Before Sunday’s prelims, 36-year-old Ryan Lochte scratched from the 400 IM. It is the first time since 2000 he has not competed in the event.

Two surprises in morning prelims were Zane Grothe (400 freestyle) and Madisyn Cox (400 freestyle) failing to make finals. Grothe had competed in the event in two World Championships and under 3:46. He struggled to a 3:50.80 to place 11th. Cox was 10th in 4:44.36, off her best time of 4:36.61, that would have placed her second seed in finals.

The top two finishers of most events will most likely become 2021 US Olympians. Relay only spots go to places 3-6 (though not completely guaranteed for 6th place) of 100- and 200-meter freestyle events. The maximum roster size for Team USA is 26 men and 26 women.

All races 200 meters or shorter will have three stages at Trials: a prelim in the morning, followed by a semifinal that evening. The final of the top-8 qualifier will take place on the following night.

Monday’s events are: (Morning Prelims Session), women’s 100 backstroke, men’s 200 freestyle, women’s 100 breaststroke, men’s 100 backstroke, women’s 400 freestyle; (Evening Session), women’s 100 butterfly final, men’s 200 freestyle, women’s 100 breaststroke semifinal, men’s 100 breaststroke final, women’s 400 freestyle final, men’s 100 backstroke semifinal and women’s 100 backstroke semifinal.

Daily finals coverage will be broadcast across NBC channels. Along with live finals coverage, 24 hours of preliminaries will be available on and NBC Sports App.

For prelims, today through June 19, 11 a.m. on NBC Stream and 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN. For finals, today through June 16 on NBC at 8 p.m., June 17 NBC at 10 p.m. and NBCSN at 8 p.m., June 18-19 NBC at 9 p.m. and June 20 NBC at 8:15 p.m. All times are Eastern Standard Time for South Florida.

Ten months after her father died from a brain tumor, Kaylee McKeown, 19, broke the women’s 100-meter backstroke world record in 57.45. The previous mark was 57.57 set by Regan Smith in 2019. Emily Seebohm, 29, swimming next to her, was second in 58.59 and qualified for her fourth Olympic team.


400-meter individual medley: 1. Emma Weyant, Sarasota Sharks 4:33.81, 2. Hali Flickinger, SUN 4:33.96, 3. Melanie Margalis, SPA 4:34.08.

400-meter individual medley: 1. Chase Kalisz, Athens Bulldogs Swim Club 4:09.09, 2. Jay Litherland, Dynamo 4:10.33, 3. Carson Foster, RAYSOFH 4:10.86.

400-meter freestyle: 1. Kiernan Smith, UFlorida 3:44.86, 2. Jake Mitchell, CSC 3:48.17, 3. Ross Dant, NCS 3:48.30.

Sharon Robb can be reached at