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.
Live Results: http://omegatiming.com
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org