By Sharon Robb
January 1, 2020—South Florida Aquatic Club enters the new decade with some outstanding 2019 memories.
Whether it was Junior Nationals, Senior Championships, Junior Olympics, Atlanta Speedo Winter Junior East Championships, USA Swimming Futures Championships, Southern Zone South Sectional Championships, Plantation Speedo Winter Championships, World Police & Fire Games State High School Championships or Sizzlers, swimmers and coaches were emotionally-charged during the 2019 season.
Buoyed by accomplishments in 2018, the team was determined and motivated to improve and it did.
SOFLO swimmers rose to the occasion defending team titles and winning new ones, competing against the best internationally, nationally, regionally and locally, improving times and strokes.
After senior champs, “The emotions were high,” SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson said. “I needed to remind the kids more how well they are doing, what they have accomplished, and reward them for what they did.”
Heading into its 20th year of existence, first as the Comets and now SOFLO Sharks, the coaching staff worked together to improve the training environment and continued to cultivate a winning culture.
“The talent we have in the water is easier to maintain when the expectations are there,” Anderson said.
“We have a winning culture. SOFLO has created an infrastructure with its coaches and staff that cultivates a high level of continuing excellence. Our kids challenge themselves and push themselves past their comfort zone and it does show.”
The emphasis was always on “team effort,” not only swimmers and coaches, but parents, booster club, officials, office staff, school support, media and fans, who all played roles in that “team effort.”
SOFLO remains the largest and most diverse local swim club in the Florida Gold Coast.
Each year SOFLO swimmers have learned their lessons well and continued to build on them in 2019. Every swimmer contributed. Every point earned by each SOFLO swimmer at various meets counted.
Success is never taken for granted. After outstanding past seasons, SOFLO improved across the board enjoying more success at every level during 2019 and raised the bar even higher for 2020.
As everyone celebrates the New Year and bringing in the Roaring 20s, the first ten as Comets Swim Team and entering its tenth year as SOFLO, it’s always fun to look back to see what “the team” accomplished over the past twelve months.
SOFLO’s Top 12 Moments in 2019 were:
1. SOFLO is awarded the USA Swimming National Club Excellence Silver Medal for 2020 for the first time in club history. SOFLO has been a Bronze Medal club winner eight of the last nine years (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019), but had never earned silver. SOFLO moved up from 5,362 to 9,324 rating points and was the only Florida Gold Coast club to earn silver medal club honors and one of only eight teams from around the state.
2. SOFLO established itself as one of the all-time top swim clubs in Florida Gold Coast history winning the FGC Senior Championships combined team title with 3,287 points for the first time in meet history in March. It was the first time SOFLO totaled 3,000 or more points in any FGC meet. SOFLO also won the boys team title with 1,663 points and SOFLO girls were second.
3. SOFLO secured its place in the record books by winning both seniors and JO titles in the same short course season for the sixth time in team history.
4. SOFLO wins FGC Short Course Junior Olympics Short Course Championship for a record ninth consecutive and tenth overall combined title and FGC Long Course JOs for tenth consecutive and 11th overall. SOFLO has won back-to-back JO titles in a single season seven times.
5. SOFLO 15-16 boys win the combined and boys team titles at FGC Senior Long Course Championships.
6. The combination of AquaKids Sharks and SOFLO continued to be successful. AK Sharks’ competitive swimmers race as part of SOFLO.
7. SOFLO’s four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson makes her debut with the inaugural International Swimming League pro swim series and Team Iron, owned and led by superstar Katinka Hosszu of Hungary.
8. SOFLO masters swimmer, former Comets coach and City of Pembroke Pines Police sergeant Jennifer Martin won five gold medals, four silver medals and broke two world records in her international swimming debut at the 18th Chengdu 2019 World Police and Fire Games in China.
9. SOFLO’s Kathleen Golding head to Florida and Mary Smutny to Texas to begin another chapter in their outstanding swimming careers at strong Division I programs. And, with her longtime coach Chris Anderson, Golding made her first U.S. Olympic cut at the Phillips 66 National Championship in August in California. Smutny also has her U.S. Olympic trials cut.
10. SOFLO has ten swimmers selected for the Florida Gold Coast-Florida Swimming All-Star Meet in Fort Pierce.
11. SOFLO qualifies three dozen swimmers for the BCAA Championships and all four classifications at the FHSAA State Swimming and Diving Meets including swimmers from Cooper City, Cypress Bay, NSU University School, Pembroke Pines Charter, American Heritage Plantation, St. Thomas Aquinas, Everglades, Doral and Somerset.
12. SOFLO has four swimmers (Lance Lesage, Rafael Rodriguez, Gaby Banks, Mallory Schleicher) named to Sun-Sentinel All-County Swimming and Diving first team.
SOFLO take a bow! Happy New Year and here’s to a safe, happy and healthy new year and decade. Later 2019.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org