South Florida Aquatic Club, Florida Gold Coast Well-Represented At 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships When Swimming Begins Sunday

By Sharon Robb

GWANGJU, South Korea, July 20, 2019—When the swimming competition of the 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships begin Sunday, South Florida will be well-represented with talented swimmers including several medal hopefuls.

The eight-day meet will be held at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center. Opening day events are the women’s 200 individual medley, women’s 100 butterfly, men’s 50 butterfly, men’s 100 breaststroke, men’s and women’s 400-meter freestyle and 4×100-meter freestyle relays including finals in the 400s and relays.

South Florida Aquatic Club will be represented by Olympians Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and Nguyen Vien of Vietnam.

Atkinson, a four-time Olympian, is the 2018 short course world champion in the 50 breaststroke. She holds both short course breaststroke world records at 28.56 and 1:02.36. In her last Worlds appearance in 2015, Atkinson settled for silver in the 50 breast with her current lifetime best of 30.11. Her season best this year is 30.58, ranked seventh in the world.

Atkinson, who turns 31 in December, is among medal favorites in the 100 breaststroke. She has been as fast as 1:05.93 but not since 2015.

SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson will coach the Jamaican team that also features Michael Gunning and Keanan Dols, who is making his long course worlds debut. Dols will compete in the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley events. Dols has decided to redshirt at Penn to focus on training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

SOFLO’s Nguyen Vien, her country’s top swimmer, is one of seven swimmers representing Vietnam.

Vien is known as the most prolific swimmer in Vietnam. She collected 19 gold, seven silver and two bronze medals, and broke 11 records at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. In addition, Vien won two Asian Games bronzes, alongside one silver and two bronzes at the FINA World Cup.

Vien will compete in the 400-meter freestyle and 200- and 400-meter individual medleys. She is using worlds as a warm-up for the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines later this year, according to Tran Duc Phan, Deputy Director of the General Department of Sports and Physical Training.

Aruba national record holder Patrick Groters, a NSU University School and Pine Crest Swimming Club alum, will represent Aruba. Groters holds 11 national records and 18 age group records in Aruba. He is a sophomore at University of Denver.

NSU University and Pine Crest Swimming Club alum Daniel Jacobs, 19, is also competing for Aruba. Jacobs, a sophomore at Georgia Tech who currently trains with Azura Florida Aquatics, is a national record holder in the 4×200-meter freestyle and national age group record holder in the 200 and 400 freestyle. He is expected to swim both freestyles.

Dylan Carter, 23, an American Heritage alum, will represent Trinidad and Tobago. Carter is the 2018 Commonwealth 50-meter butterfly silver medalist and 2018 FINA World Short Course bronze medalist in the event.

“This is the most prepared I have felt for a worlds long course I would say in my life,” said Carter, who also plans to compete in the Pan American Games. “I know I am prepared and I know I am ready.”

Florida State, Riviera Beach Suncoast and Lake Lytal Lightning alum Will Pisani of West Palm Beach is one of 13 male swimmers and 25 overall who will represent Canada. Pisani will compete on the 400-meter freestyle relay team, 100 freestyle and 50 butterfly.

Miami’s Isabella Paez will represent Venezuela in the butterfly events. She is a Doral Academy, Duke and Metro Aquatic Club of Miami alum. She will also compete in the Pan American Games.

St. Andrew’s Izaak Bastian of Florida State will represent the Bahamas in the breaststroke and sprint freestyle. As one of the top swimmers in the Bahamas, Bastian competed at the Youth Olympics in the breaststroke events in 2018 before being named as the Male Junior Athlete of the Year by the Nassau Guardian.

Lauren Hew, another St. Andrew’s alum and Florida State swimmer, will compete for the Cayman Islands. nternationally, Hew represented the Cayman Islands at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in seven individual events.

Azura Florida Aquatics has the largest contingent at worlds with 12 swimmers from 10 countries. They are: Julio Horrego, Honduras; Steven Aimable, Senegal; Gabriel Araya, Chile; Tatiana Illis, St. Maarten; Daniel Jacobs and Alyson Ponson, Aruba; Celina Marquez, El Salvador; Mariel Mencia, Dominican Republic; Yeziel Morales, Puerto Rico; Mya Defreitas, Shane Cadogan and Alex Joachim of St. Vincent and Grenadines.

The battle for medals will be between the U.S., Australia and Canada. The U.S. is projected to win 25, Australia 12 and Canada 9.

Olympic qualifying spots for relays will be on the line. The worlds will be the first chance for countries to qualify relays for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The spots go to the nation and not the swimmer foursome. At the Olympics, countries can select any swimmers they wish. There are seven relay events at the Olympics including the new mixed 400-meter medley relay.

The world championships has brought together a record 2,620 athletes from 194 countries and territories around the world with 76 sets of medals up for grabs in pool swimming, open water swimming, water polo, diving and synchronized swimming.

The meet will be streamed and televised by the Olympic Channel and live timing will be available.

TV Schedule:

Live Results:

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Jennifer Martin Preps For World Games At U.S. Police & Fire Championships On Saturday

By Sharon Robb

SAN DIEGO, June 27, 2019—With the Aug. 8-18 World Police and Fire Games just 41 days away in China, Jennifer Martin will get her first big test Saturday at the United States Police & Fire Championships.

The City of Pembroke Pines police sergeant will compete in the one-day swimming competition at Southwestern College in Chula Vista. The championships got under way on June 2 with various other sports.

Martin, 38, representing the Pembroke Pines Police Department, will compete in nine events including four relays.

When not working full-time, Martin has been training and fine tuning with SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson at SOFLO’s Academic Village Pool, where she use to coach with the Comets Swim Team. She has also been cross training in the gym and local road races.

For the second consecutive year, Martin is being sponsored by the Broward County PBA (Police Benevolent Association).

Over three hours, Martin has a Herculean lineup of individual and relay events. She will compete in the 30-39 50-yard breaststroke, 50-yard freestyle, 50-yard butterfly, 100-yard freestyle and 50-yard backstroke. She will also swim four relays: 200 freestyle, 200 medley, 200 medley mixed and 200 freestyle mixed.

“It’s a very challenging day for me,” Martin said.

Martin has been among top athletes in several local, state, national and international competitions. It is the second time she will compete in the United States Police & Fire Championships.

At the 2018 competition in less than three hours, Martin won nine gold medals and broke three USPFC meet records including an 18-year-old record. She competed in three races in less than seven minutes which included two meet-record performances.

Martin won the 50 breaststroke, 50 freestyle, 50 butterfly, 100 breaststroke, 100 freestyle, 50 backstroke and was a member of the winning 200 freestyle relay, 200 medley relay mixed relay and 200 freestyle mixed relay.

She broke meet records in the 50 breaststroke (1990 record of 33.93) in 33.11, 100 breaststroke (1994 record of 1:17.89) in 1:13 and 50 butterfly (2016 record of 28.36) in 28.1.

In her last major international competition, the 2017 World Police & Fire Games in Los Angeles, Martin won seven gold medals and one silver and broke five world records over four days of open water and pool racing.

The eight-day United States Police & Fire Championships is an Olympic-style competition with athletes representing law enforcement, firefighters and officers from corrections, probation, border protection, immigration and customs from across the country. It got under way June 22 and ends on Saturday.

Athletes compete in 54 different sports at 33 venues throughout the San Diego county.

It began in 1967 as the California Police Olympics, in 1990 was the California Police Summer Games, in 2000 was the California Police and Fire Games, and since 2012 has been known as the U.S. Police and Fire Championships.

The California Police Athletic Federation is the governing body for the U.S. Police & Fire Championships. Its mission is to promote sport and physical fitness among personnel representing various agencies.

The World Police & Fire Games are set for 2019 in Chengdu, China. The World Games are held every two years.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Open Water Swimming Takes Center Stage Friday Through Sunday At Miami Marine Stadium; Schleicher, Bono Lead SOFLO Contingent

By Sharon Robb

May 2, 2019—South Florida Aquatic Club will be well-represented at the elite, age group and masters levels Friday through Sunday at the USA Swimming Nationals Open Water 10K/5K and Swim Miami 2019.

The USA Swimming National Championships Series begins Friday with the 10K. The women’s race is 8 a.m. and men’s race at 10:30 a.m. The top two men and top two women in the 10K races will advance to the 18th FINA World Championships in July in South Korea where they can qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a Top 10 finish. The 10K has been an Olympic event since 2008.

Heading the men’s 10K field are Olympian Jordan Wilimovsky and Brendan Casey. Ashley Twichell and Haley Anderson are the top women in the field.

SOFLO’s Mallory Schleicher and Dominic Bono will compete Saturday in the 5K Junior National Championships 16-and-under races. The boys race is 8 a.m. and girls race at 8:05 a.m.

The 5K national championships are Sunday. The men’s race is 7:30 a.m. and women’s race is 7:35 a.m.

The competitors at the Open Water National Championships will be racing on a course that’s similar to what they will face at Worlds and the Olympics. The water will be around 80 degrees and salty, and the course will be protected, meaning there will be fewer waves.

The course was chosen to mimic what qualifiers will face in the future because it’s important to choose swimmers who perform best under those conditions, according to USA Swimming Open Water Director Bryce Elser.

“I’m really excited they’re mimicking World Championships as closely as possible,” Anderson said. “I think it’s really important to start acclimating as soon as possible for the race we’re going to have at Worlds. The more chances you get to race in something like that, the better.”

The open water national championships will serve as the selection event for spots on U.S. rosters, too.

Swim Miami 2019 also returns to Miami Marine Stadium. The course is an amazing pristine, generally calm water environment that will definitely allow all ages and abilities to enjoy the open water event.

Four races will be held in Sunday’s Swim Miami 2019: 800-meters, Miami Mile, 5K (3.1 miles) and 10K (6.2 miles). There is also the K-9 Krawl World Championships, a human and dog duathlon where owner and dog swim 200 yards and run 400 yards.

Swim Miami is the longest-standing open water swim on the East Coast and one of the largest in the U.S.

SOFLO has entered 23 age group swimmers (17 girls and 6 boys) and three masters swimmers.

The age group swimmers are Sophia Bedoya, 16, mile; Alexander Blandon, 17, mile; Alexis Christensen, 13, mile; Elena Dinehart, 14, 5K; Elise Dinehart, 10, mile; Olivia Dinehart, 14, 5K; Pilar Duranti, 11, 800; Genesis Escobar, 11, 800; Sophia Grubbs, 14, 5K; Anastasia Lutz, 12, mile; Alejandro Mateus, 13, mile; Leonardo Mateus, 17, mile; Sabrina Osorio, 14, mile; Sofia Osorio, 14, mile; Martin Petkov, 10, 800; Lucy Smutny, 16, 5K; Lydia Smutny, 10, mile; Madeline Smutny, 13, 5K; Ventura Torres, 17, mile; Victoria Torres, 14, mile; Juan Vallmitjana, 10, 800; Olivia Ware, 15, 10K; and Isabelle Wilson, 12, 5K.

The masters swimmers are Emmanuel Butmankiewicz, 33, in the mile; Hawaii Ironman Evelyn Salama, 45, 5K; and Kristen Vlaun, 46, 10K.

SOFLO coach Chris Anderson will also be involved in the event. His boat will serve as the officials’ boat for every race throughout the weekend.

The course is one lap for the mile, three laps for the 5K and six laps for the 10K.

Saturday is mandatory check-in for all events 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sunday’s schedule is 7-8:45 a.m. check-in; 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Sponsor Expo Open; 7:30 a.m., USA Swimming Nationals Open Water 5K; 8:30 a.m., 800 Meter Male (All Ages); 8:32 a.m., 800 Meter Female (All Ages); 8:34 a.m., Special Olympics 800 M (All); 8:40 a.m., 10K Male (All Ages); 8:42 a.m., 10K Female (All Ages); 10 a.m., 5K 18-and-under (Male); 10:02 a.m., 5K 18-and-under (Female); 10:04 a.m., 5K 19-39 years old (Male); 10:06 a.m., 5K 19-39 years old (Female); 10:08 a.m., 5K 40-and-older (Male); 10:10 a.m., 5K 40-and-older (Female); 10:15 a.m., Miami Mile 18 and under (Male); 10:17 a.m., Miami Mile 18 and under (Female); 10:19 a.m., Miami Mile 19-39 years old (Male); 10:21 a.m., Miami Mile 19-39 years old (Female); 10:23 a.m., Miami Mile 40 and older (Male); 10:25 a.m., Miami Mile 40 and older (Female); 10:27 a.m. Special Olympics 1 Mile (All); 12:15 p.m., K-9 KRAWL; Awards ceremony. Awards will be going on simultaneously as events finish.

Every swimmer will be awarded a limited edition finisher medal. The overall top men three men and women will also earn awards.

The finish time limits are: 10K Swim: 4 hours; 5K Swim: 2 hours; Miami Mile: 1 hour and 800 meters: 30 minutes.

Proceeds benefit the H2Os Foundation. The H2Os Foundation through grants, generous donations, events, and strategic corporate partnerships offers children and youth a unique opportunity to learn a lifesaving skill, and more importantly a life-long commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

Live coverage of each race from Miami will be available each morning at The webcast schedule is Friday at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.; Saturday at 8 a.m. and Sunday at 7:30 a.m.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

South Florida Aquatic Club First Florida Gold Coast Club To Receive Safe Sport Recognition

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, January 23, 2019—South Florida Aquatic Club reached a milestone by becoming the first Florida Gold Coast Club to receive USA Swimming Safe Sport recognition.

The USA Swimming Safe Sport Program raises awareness about misconduct in swimming, promotes open dialogue, and provides training and resources. USA Swimming is committed to making swimming safe for everyone.

SOFLO and other USA Swimming members will use the policies, guidelines, best practices, strategies and tools to create a safe atmosphere at SOFLO’s home Academic Village Pool and away meets.

USA Swimming put together a Safe Sport handbook which is designed to help USA Swimming members to implement safe sport practices at the local level. The handbook is online and also is mailed to each of USA Swimming’s 2,790 member clubs.

SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson is committed to fostering a fun, healthy and safe sport environment for all its members including swimmers, parents and coaches.

Earlier this week Anderson was informed that SOFLO was the first FGC club to receive Safe Sport recognition.

Trish Hughes, Administrative Assistant for USA Swimming, wrote:

“Congratulations on achieving Safe Sport Recognized status for South Florida Aquatic Club. I hope that you found the process of policy review and education beneficial. I have copied your general chair, Safe Sport chair, and the Southern Zone Safe Sport coordinator on this message, because good work should be celebrated.”

USA Swimming is hosting a Prevention Convention 360, Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at the Colorado Springs Marriott. The conference will explore a holistic approach to abuse prevention in sport and cultivating healthy, positive, and inclusive swim clubs and other youth-serving organizations. Conference speakers will explore the what, why, and how of abuse, survivorship, and safe communities.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Wins Second Gold, Dylan Carter Takes Bronze On Day Five Of FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships

By Sharon Robb

HANGZHOU, China, December 15, 2018—Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson of South Florida Aquatic Club won her second gold medal Saturday at the 14th FINA World Short Course Championships.

Atkinson, 30, the top-seed and world record holder in the 100-meter breaststroke, won the event in 1:03.51. She is the first woman to win the event for three consecutive world championships (won gold in 2014 and 2016). It was her third medal after winning the 50-meter breaststroke and third in the 100-meter individual medley.

American Katie Meili took silver in 1:03.63. Meili pulled away from the field along with Atkinson, who had a great start and then held on for the win to out-touch Meili. Aussie Jessica Hansen was third in 1:04.61.

“Done and done,” Atkinson said. “Beyond thankful for God’s calming guidance and keeping me mentally and physically in the game. Two golds and a bronze is the best haul at worlds yet, and to do it at 30 years old makes it even better.”

Other Florida swimmers:

1. prelims, 3. semis, Caeleb Dressel, U.S., Clay/Bolles, 100-meter freestyle, 45.98, 46.09.

5. Melanie Margalis, U.S., St. Petersburg, 200-meter individual medley, 2:07.39.

12. Marcelo Acosta, El Salvador, Azura alum, 1,500-meter freestyle, 14:45.78.

25. Isabella Paez, Venezuela, Dora, Miami Metro Aquatics, 100-meter butterfly, 59.69.

66. Jhonny Perez, Dominican Republic, Azura alum, 100-meter freestyle, 51.03.

In Saturday’s finals seven countries won seven gold medals. No world records were broken.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:03.25 for her third consecutive title in the event which she holds the world and championship record in 2:01.86. It was her fourth gold medal of the meet. The U.S. finished two-three with St. Petersburg’s Melanie Margalis in 2:04.62 and Kathleen Baker in 2:05.64.

“It’s always nice to race in China,” Hosszu said. “I’ve got many fans throughout the year. I’ve been racing a lot in Beijing and now in Hangzhou. Obviously, I’m very happy with my results over the past couple of days. I’m happiest with this, the women’s medley gold because of the time (2:03.25).

“My training hasn’t changed that much by changing my coach. I’ve had a long swimming career, so I’m pretty aware what I need to do to perform well. Obviously, it’s really good to have a coach who can provide additional value to my training. There are little things I have changed and try to focus on. I do pay attention to recovery and try to do a lot more quality instead of quantity”.

American Olivia Smoliga won the 50-meter backstroke in an American record 25.88 successfully sweeping the sprint backstrokes. It was the only gold medal won by the U.S. on Day 5. Caroline Pilhatsch of Austria was second in a national record 25.99. Australia’s Holly Barratt was third in 26.04.

“It feels like a blur to me, it goes by so quickly,” Smoliga said. “I saw both girls off the side of me at the turn and I knew I had to have a good finish, so I tried my best to get my hands on the wall first. I think the time (25.88) is important. It shows how your training has been going, if you have improved your times from previous years. It shows what you are doing is the right thing”.

Japan’s Daiya Seto won the 400-meter individual medley in 3:56.43. Seto took off and led from start-to-finish. He was within a second of the world record of 3:55.50 held by Ryan Lochte. Aussie Thomas Fraser-Holmes was second in 4:02.74 and Brazil’s Brandonn Almeida was third in 4:03.71.

Brazilian world record holder Nicholas Santos knocked off South African Chad le Clos in the 50-meter butterfly in a championship record 21.81. Le Clos finished in 21.97 and Plantation American Heritage alum Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago was third in 22.38. He was sixth fastest qualifier for the event. It was the second-ever medal for the Caribbean nation after George Bovell’s bronze in 2012 in the 100 IM.

Russia won the men’s 4×50-meter medley relay in a championship record 1:30.54. The U.S., despite Ryan Murphy leading off with a fast split of 22.73, took silver in 1:30.90 and Brazil won the bronze medal in 1:31.49.

In an exciting finish, China outlasted the U.S., 7:34.08-7:35.30 to take gold in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay. Australia took bronze in a national record 7:36.40.

The short course worlds are swum in short course meters and held in the years when FINA does not hold its world championships (currently this means in even years). The short course championship is swimming-only events where world championships feature all five aquatic disciplines.

A field of 960 swimmers, with several top names missing, from 178 countries are competing for 46 world titles over six days at the Hangzhou Olympic and International Expo Center Tennis Centre. The center is uniquely shaped like a lotus bowl with an 8,000-seat capacity.

On the sixth and final day, prelims are 9 a.m. in China, 8:30 p.m. EST in the U.S. Finals are 7 p.m. in China and 6 a.m. EST in the U.S.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Wins Gold; Two Relay World Records Broken On Day Two Of FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships

By Sharon Robb

HANGZHOU, China, December 12, 2018—Four-time Olympian and world record holder Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and South Florida Aquatic Club followed up her world record in October with a gold medal on Day Two of the 14th FINA World Short Course Championships.

After finishing runner-up three times, Atkinson, 30, seeded first, won the 50-meter breaststroke in 29.05, a half-second off her world record of 28.56 set on October 6 at the FINA World Cup Series.

Atkinson held off Lithuanian rival and two-time short course gold medalist Ruta Meilutyte who finished second in 29.38. Italian Martina Carraro was third in a national record 29.59.

Meilutyte took the lead with a faster reaction time off the blocks, 0.60 to 0.62. But Atkinson pulled away after a great turn and went on to win her first 50 breaststroke short course title.

In six world short course championships, she has been 17th, sixth and second three times before winning. She now has the most medals (eight) for either a man or woman from the Caribbean at the world short course meet.

No other woman has won as many medals as Atkinson in the 50 breaststroke with four. Meilutyte has three. She is also tied with South African Cameron van der Burgh and Ukraine’s Oleh Lisohor as all-time top medalist in World Championship history in the event.

“It was a sweet swim,” said SOFLO and Jamaican delegation head coach Chris Anderson. “The 50-meter breaststroke has always been a difficult race to start off the World Championships. By having a great turn and solid finish I think it is really going to build confidence for the 100 breaststroke. It was a great swim for her and I’m looking forward to more swimming at worlds.”

In other Wednesday finals:

The U.S. women’s 4×50-meter medley relay team of Olivia Smoliga, Katie Meili, Kelsi Worrell Dahlia and Mallory Comerford broke the world and championship records in 1:42.38. China was second in 1:44.31 and the Netherlands was third in 1:44.57.

Bolles alum and Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy won a close battle in the 100-meter backstroke in 49.23. Current short course meters world record holder Xu Jiayu of China was second in 49.26. Russian junior record holder Kliment Kolesnikov was third in 49.40.

Fifteen minutes after swimming the medley relay, Kelsi Worrell Dahlia finished a close second behind Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu who won the 200-meter butterfly in 2:01.60 edging out Dahlia in 2:01.73, who re-broke her own American record. Japan’s junior world record holder Suzuka Hasegawa was third in 2:04.04.

South African Cameron van der Burgh jumped out to an early lead and held on for the win in the 100-meter breaststroke in a championship record 56.01. Ilya Shymanovich of Belarus was second in 56.10 and Japan’s Yasuhiro Koseki was third in 56.13.

American Blake Pieroni led from start-to-finish to win the 200-meter freestyle in 1:41.49. Danas Rapsys of Lithuania was second in 1:41.78 and Aussie Alexander Graham was third in 1:42.28. South African Chad le Clos failed to get out of the semifinals.

The U.S. won its third gold medal of the day in the 100-meter backstroke when American Olivia Smoliga knocked off world and championship record holder Katinka Hosszu, 56.19-56.26. There was a tie for third between Georgia Davies of Great Britain and Aussie Minna Atherton in 56.74.

The U.S. won the mixed 4×50-meter freestyle relay (Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Held, Mallory Comerford, Kelsi Worrell Dahlia) in a world and championship record 1:27.89 knocking off world record holder and defending champion Netherlands, second in 1:28.51. Russia was third in 1:28.73. It was a third event for both Dahlia and Comerford.

Other Florida swimmer results:

12. Dylan Carter, Trinidad and Tobago, American Heritage Plantation, 200-meter freestyle, 1:43.74.

15. Isabella Paez, Venezuela, Doral/Miami Metro Aquatics, 200-meter butterfly 2:11.23.

29. Marcelo Acosta, El Salvador, Azura, 200-meter freestye, 1:47.00

69. Abby (Araoluwa) Oyetunji, Nigeria, Somerset/South Florida Aquatic Club, 100-meter freestyle, 1:02.34.

The short course worlds are swum in short course meters and held in the years when FINA does not hold its world championships (currently this means in even years). The short course championship is swimming-only events where world championships feature all five aquatic disciplines.

A field of 960 swimmers, with several top names missing, from 178 countries are competing for 46 world titles over six days at the Hangzhou Olympic and International Expo Center Tennis Centre. The center is uniquely shaped like a lotus bowl with an 8,000-seat capacity.

Prelims are 9 a.m. in China, 8:30 p.m. EST in the U.S. Finals are 7 p.m. in China and 6 a.m. EST in the U.S.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships Begin Tuesday In China, Monday Night U.S. Time With Strong South Florida Connection

By Sharon Robb

HANGZHOU, China, December 9, 2018—Four-time Olympian Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and South Florida Aquatic Club is favored to repeat as world champion at the 14th FINA World Short Course Championships which begin Tuesday in China (Monday night in the U.S.).

Atkinson, the defending world champion and record holder, is seeded first in the 50-meter breaststroke in 28.56 among a less than stellar field. Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania is seeded second in 29.36 and American Molly Hannis is third in 29.51. The prelims and semifinals are on opening day and finals the following day.

Atkinson, 29, broke her own world record at the FINA World Cup in Budapest on Oct. 6. She swam 28.56 breaking her previous mark of 28.64 which she set in Tokyo, Oct. 26, 2016.

The short course worlds are swum in short course meters and held in the years when FINA does not hold its world championships (currently this means in even years). The short course championship is swimming-only where world championships feature all five aquatic disciplines.

The World Short Course Championships have always been a meet where Atkinson has taken center stage. She was the first Jamaican swimmer to win a medal when she took silver in the 50 breaststroke in 2012 in Turkey. And, in 2014 she the first Jamaican to win a gold medal at the meet when she won the 100 breaststroke in Doha, Qatar.

SOFLO coach Chris Anderson is serving as the Jamaican team coach. Anderson has coached Atkinson since 2001 and has played a huge role in her success. Jamaican Breanna Roman had also qualified but withdrew because of illness.

SOFLO’s Abby Oyetunji, a Somerset Academy alum, is representing Nigeria in her world short course debut. Oyetunji has been swimming with SOFLO since 2011. She is one of four swimmers competing for Nigeria and one of only two women.

Patrick Groters, a NSU University School alum and Pine Crest Swimming Club swimmer, will represent Aruba. His older brother, Jordy, is graduating from Missouri this week.

American Heritage Plantation alum Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago will compete in five events. Doral and Metro Aquatic Club alum Isabella Paez will represent Venezuela.

Azura Florida Aquatics will be well-represented with current and alum swimmers coached by NSU University School coach Gianluca Alberani. Current swimmers are Sidrell Williams of Jamaica, Pedro Chiancone of Uruguay and Celina Marquez of El Salvador. Three alumni swimmers are Marcelo Acosta of El Salvador, Elisa Funes of El Salvador and Jhonny Perez of the Dominican Republic.

Other swimmers with Florida connections are Clay alum and Bolles Swimming Club swimmer Caeleb Dressel; Bolles alum Ryan Murphy; Melanie Margalis of St. Petersburg Aquatics; Vietnam’s Anh Vien Nguyen of St. Augustine Swim Team; Coral Springs Swim Club alum Abbas Qali and Plantation American Heritage alum Yousef Alaskari of Kuwait; and Westlake Prep alum Renzo Tjon-A-Joe of Surinam.

Other meet highlights:

USA Swimming’s five team captains are two-time Olympian Matt Grevers, three-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy, 2016 Olympic gold medalist Kelsi Worrell Dahlia, Madison Kennedy and Leah Smith. The U.S. team features 17 women and 18 men. The only top-seeded American male is Michael Andrew in the 100 IM. Kelsi Worrell Dahlia is the only American woman seeded first in the 100 butterfly. The women’s team will be coached by Brian Smith (Athens Bulldogs) and men’s team Dave Salo (Trojan Swim Club).

The U.S. team arrived in Hangzhou six days ago to give them twice as much time to adjust to the time zone as the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships they had in Tokyo last summer.

American Michael Andrew leads all male swimmers entered in five individual events. Teammate Leah Smith is entered in four women’s races.

Top names missing from the U.S. roster are five-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky, seven-time world champion Simone Manuel, two-time world champion Chase Kalisz, two-time Olympic champion Lilly King and Olympic champion Nathan Adrian.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu is entered in eight events, six of which she won at the 2016 Windsor Worlds. She will swim all three backstroke events, 100 and 200 butterfly and all three individual medley races. Hosszu is the world record holder in the short course 100 back, 200 back, 100 IM and 200 IM.

Hangzhou is the capital city of Zhejiang province and its economic, cultural, science and educational center, Hangzhou is one of the central cities in the Yangtze River Delta. It also is a popular City of Scenic Tourism, ranking among the first batch of National Historical and Cultural Cities crowned by the State Council. Located in the southern wing of the Yangtze River Delta, western tip of the Hangzhou Bay, downstream of the Qiantang River, and the southern terminus of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, Hangzhou stands as a vital transport hub in southeast China.

Sharon Robb can be reached at