Moodie Motivates, Informs SOFLO High School Seniors, Juniors About College

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, June 17, 2020—South Florida Aquatic Club College Prep Advisor Natasha Moodie recently shared her expertise on getting recruited by college coaches during high school.

The Miramar High School and University of Michigan alum took SOFLO swimmers entering their junior and senior years through the process of preparing for college including the interview process with coaches, filling out paper work and applying for scholarships and financial aid.

“This is a very exciting time,” Moodie said during her well-organized and informative Zoom presentation. “And, congratulations on completing the school year with all the challenges.”

On Monday, the recruiting season for rising high school juniors in the class of 2022 officially started.

Unlike past years when student-athletes started receiving calls from coaches on July 1, NCAA decided coaches can now start communicating through texts, emails and phone calls beginning June 15th after an athlete’s sophomore year.

The NCAA also adopted new rules allowing official on-campus visits to begin on August 1 (instead of Sept. 1), after the athlete’s sophomore year of high school. Before that swimmers weren’t allowed to take official visits until after the first day of classes of their senior year.

Moodie outlined information from a six-page recruiting guide she put together with the help of SOFLO CEO and coach Chris Anderson. Some swimmers have already researched colleges and have a Top 10 list, Moodie said. Others are just starting to think about the college process. Either way, the guide is a great resource.

Moodie talked about a swimmer’s brand that will capture a college coach’s attention.

“This whole recruiting process is where you are getting to know the school and the coach, and the coach and team are getting to know you,” Moodie said. “It is a getting-to-know-you process. It’s a series of conversations. For a coach to get to know who you are, you need to know what to say and present the best version of you.”

Moodie said it’s important to share your swimming, school and personal goals about next season and the future, and to be specific. Talk about your consistencies, strengths and areas you want to improve. Being prepared for the coach’s questions will set you apart from others, she said.

Moodie reminded swimmers that every school and coach operates differently and have a different number of staff members. She suggested they research completely about the schools, teams and coaches with Google searches.

Moodie also includes a list of question coaches may ask swimmers during phone conversations. She also added it’s important to follow up communication with college coaches with a thank you note to illustrate a level of maturity that will set you apart from other recruits.

“I know I said a lot but it’s important to get input from your high school and club coaches, friends, teachers, mentors and have a practice conversation and ask them what they think you bring to the table, what are your strengths and what do they think you will add to a college team,” Moodie said. “It’s really nice to get that kind of input from someone.”

For questions please contact Moodie at Also check out SOFLO’s College Prep resource folder at:

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Back In Business, Swimmers Return To Newly-Refurbished Pool, Smiles All Around

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, June 9, 2020—After what seemed like an eternity indoors, South Florida Aquatic Club is back in the water.

Observing social distancing and every COVID-19 safeguard guideline set by local, city, county and state officials, the largest club in the Florida Gold Coast is back at 65 percent training.

SOFLO, the first team in Broward County to return, started off slowly three weeks ago with the older swimmers including Olympian Alia Atkinson first to get in with social distancing observed in and out of the pool including the parking and drop-off area.

The Bronze, Silver and Senior Developmental groups are now training three days a week. The Masters are training five days a week, Monday through Friday early mornings.

“We’re having fun,” said CEO and head coach Chris Anderson, whose staff kept the team workouts going with various zoom training sessions, educational workshops and guest lecturers including Olympic coach Gregg Troy.

SOFLO, awarded the USA Swimming Club Excellence Silver Medal for the first time in club history this year, is one of 63 year-round USA Swimming clubs with a total of more than 5,000 members in its clubs. Some local clubs were forced out of business because of financial difficulties caused by the pandemic.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, SOFLO was forced to shut down its swimming on March 14th. SOFLO was set to host the March 20-22 FGC Senior Championships, one of the club’s biggest annual revenue makers.

SOFLO was also unable to compete in the FGC Junior Olympics, FGC-Florida Swimming All-Star Championship, Shark Developmental Meet, TYR Elite Age Group Invitational in Sarasota, TYR Pro Series in Richmond, TYR/SOFLO Developmental Meet, Jon Olsen Invite, TYR Pro Series in Indianapolis, Atlanta Invite and Summer Invite at Gulliver Prep.

SOFLO and the Comets Booster Club was also forced to postpone its 20th annual Awards Banquet on May 2.

The swimmers were counting the days to see the renovations, refurbishing and new equipment for Academic Village Pool, their home training pool.

The Olympic-size pool features state-of-the art equipment and design.

“We totally revamped the entire infrastructure of the actual pool,” Anderson said. “It’s twice as efficient as the old pool.”

Among the renovations: the entire pool liner was replaced; there are 23 racing target lanes; non-slip wall targets on each lane; the yard course and long course are easily distinguishable with the color blue for the yard course and black for the long course; ten state-of-the-art starting blocks that feature the backstroke starting ledge; 2,100 square feet of shade for coaches and in-the-water athletes; and functioning pool deck with state-of-the- art drainage.

Smiles all around.

Sharon Robb can be reached at


By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, May 22, 2020—For eleven years, Rafael Rodriguez had the drive, dedication and passion it took to be a swimmer at South Florida Aquatic Club.

Rodriguez, 18, a recent Pembroke Pines Charter graduate, is headed to Purdue to study engineering and continue his competitive swimming career.

Rodriguez forged friendships and memories at SOFLO that will last a lifetime.

“I think what I will remember the most is all the relays I swam with my friends in Bronze and JOs,” Rodriguez said. “I won a lot of relays with a group of friends who are still my friends. Going on road trips like nationals was really fun. I really liked all the travel meets with the team.”

Rodriguez was a member of Florida Gold Coast record-breaking relay teams in 11-12. He went on to do well at JOs, Seniors, Summer and Winter Juniors, Zones, Futures, Open Water and high school meets. He is ranked among the Top 25 swimmers in the state in several events. He earned a $1,100 Senior Commitment & Loyalty Scholarship from the Comets Swim Team Booster Club, Inc. ($100 per year as a SOFLO student-athlete).

“It’s been super fun,” Rodriguez said. “I couldn’t have asked for any better sport to do.”

Before he discovered his love for swimming, he competed in soccer, basketball and baseball.

“But for whatever reason I got into swimming lessons and really enjoyed it,” Rodriguez said. After taking lessons with Coach Luis, Rodriguez quit all his other sports at age 7 to focus on swimming.

“I think it was I really liked the water,” Rodriguez said. “It’s one of the hardest sports to keep up with. I’m really competitive and it was the hardest thing I could do, so I stuck with it.”

Rodriguez knew he had potential when he broke his first FGC record in the 1,000. “That’s when I started to push myself harder physically and mentally,” he said.

Rodriguez credits SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson for playing a key role in his success.

“I think I will miss Coach Chris yelling at me the most,” Rodriguez said with a smile. “It was a loving yell. I had some rough patches at some meets. I swam really, really bad at Summer Juniors. There were times I would get in my head to quit and move on, but Coach would always fix my mind. He wouldn’t let me quit. He knows how to push my buttons the right way. He made me become a better swimmer and better person. I will always appreciate that.”

Rodriguez has been staying fit with SOFLO’s Zoom workouts. He’s been keeping his mind sharp by not focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic, choosing instead to stay distracted with doing dryland and playing basketball and video games. He also is planning to talk with SOFLO’s younger swimmers to help motivate them once they return to the pool. “I’ve just been doing a lot of stuff to keep busy,” he said.

Rodriguez is looking forward to the next chapter in his life. He hopes to make an impact his freshman season, but college campuses are still in a state of flux whether they will open in the fall.

“I think my college coach is figuring out what is going to happen and what’s going on in the world right now,” Rodriguez said. “I really like the school and I talked to the coach a couple times and we really connected.”

Former SOFLO teammate and Canadian national Lance Lesage, who still has one year left at St. Thomas Aquinas, verbally committed to Purdue and will join Rodriguez in the fall of 2021. “It’s nice to know someone will be there that you have known for a really long time,” Rodriguez said.

While he was able to graduate last week from Pembroke Pines Charter (observing six feet of distancing, of course), where he has attended since kindergarten, he was “bummed” that he missed Grad Bash at Orlando theme parks with his schoolmates.

It will be bittersweet for Rodriguez when he leaves for college in August and says good bye to SOFLO teammates and coaches.

“I am going to miss everybody,” Rodriguez said. “I hope to come back and train during school breaks. I am super happy with what I have been able to accomplish so far and I hope to do more in college.

“My goals are to get a college degree and I want to make NCAAs and final there,” Rodriguez said. “I want to help the team do well. Whatever Coach wants me to swim I will be fine with.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Olympian Natasha Moodie Shares Her Struggles, Accomplishments As Student-Athlete

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, May 13, 2020—Resilience is not letting setbacks destroy you, learning from them and trying again. It’s one of life’s great skills which Natasha Moodie has mastered since she was a little girl.

The Jamaican Olympian, University of Michigan and Miramar High School alum and former South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer shared her trials and tribulations with SOFLO swimmers, parents and coaches recently on Zoom.

Moodie, 29, is SOFLO’s full-time college advisor. Her life’s story is remarkable. She never rejoiced in easy victories because there were no easy victories for the injury-plagued swimmer. She recovered from failure and learned something about herself along the way. She is tough. And, that’s how confidence is built. She is confident in anything she takes on.

For nearly an hour she shared her own stumbles and showed swimmers that mistakes are totally normal and helps them take their own in stride. She also proves that being a good role model doesn’t mean you have to be perfect.

The theme of her motivational talk was “determine your success by committing to the development of your character.”

Moodie started elementary school in Kingston, Jamaica at 4 and was one of only three 6-and-under swimmers at the center.

“We made it from one end of the 50-meter pool,” said Moodie, who by age 6 was swimming year-round for a club. At 12, her family moved to New Jersey where she joined an age group team. In 2005, she moved to Miramar and joined the Comets/SOFLO club.

“It was very tough for me at first,” Moodie said. “Having Chris (CEO and head coach Chris Anderson) as a coach really changed my life. He consistently pushed me. There was not really a limit on our goals. Coach did not put a cap on me on what I could achieve.”

Early on Moodie injured her shoulder. “I had no endurance, I was slowest in practice,” she said. “It was the first time I was truly challenged. I made a commitment to swimming and to what I was doing. I really wanted to be better and meet Chris’ expectations.”

Moodie said that meant giving 100 percent at every practice, getting to the pool at 4:45 in the morning, going to school and then returning for afternoon practice.

“Every meet I gave my best even though I had to swim the 400 IM and 200 fly,” Moodie said. “I had to be humble enough to accept correction to improve as an athlete.”

At the high school state meet, she won the 50-yard freestyle and had the pool deck buzzing.

“Most people didn’t even know my high school had a swim team,” Moodie said. “No one knew who I was. I was beating people who were suppose to win.”

At that meet Moodie made her U.S. Open cut and it all snowballed from there. “I had no idea what the U.S. Open was and here Chris is asking me if I wanted to go and I said ‘sure, yeah.” The next two years I went to juniors and seniors. If Chris said jump, I jumped.”

Moodie only missed two days of practice for prom and graduation. She competed in several U.S. Opens, senior nationals, made the Jamaican national team, 2006 World Championships in Australia, 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil, 2008 Seoul Olympics and 2009 World Championships. She retired from the Jamaican national team in 2010.

Moodie was 15 her senior year of high school when she was being recruited by colleges. “At that time recruiting was different,” Moodie said.

At only 16, Moodie started her collegiate career at Michigan on a full scholarship. She is the youngest SOFLO swimmer to earn a Division I scholarship. She made several college visits but it was Michigan she had her heart set on.

“I went to Michigan on a recruiting trip and it was the most boring trip,” she said. “It was 20 degrees and I was shaking the whole weekend. But I needed a place with minimal distractions to be successful in college and that environment didn’t have distractions.”

It wasn’t easy when she arrived on-campus. She called her first semester “an absolute disaster.” She was reprimanded for being late her first day of practice. After the first two weeks, she injured her left arm and couldn’t swim in practice. She had the least endurance and was the weakest in dryland which she said her teammates thought she wasn’t working hard.

“I was injured and terrible in practice,” Moodie said. “My teammates didn’t think I was putting in the effort. They didn’t know my character yet.”

In addition to being constantly injured, she did not do well on her final exams and failed her first semester with an F average, making her ineligible to compete her second semester.

“It was devastating and really hard for me,” she said. “I disappointed myself, my family and my teammates. After that first semester I got tutors, made weekly appointments with my professors, met with my academic advisor and joined study groups. I had to humble myself and take those steps to meet my goals.”

Moodie said she took time to reflect on how badly “did I want that degree from Michigan.”

Moodie nearly failed another semester her junior year but met with a tutor every day and professors three times a week.

“I did whatever it took to get there,” Moodie said. “I couldn’t spend time comparing myself to others. I had to stay true to myself and character.”

Even though she had only her electives left her senior year she never got overconfident. Just because she was doing better, she never let up. She was also named team captain.

“It wasn’t my GPA or amount of team points I scored, it was my character,” Moodie said. “Even when I was failing I maintained my integrity. I didn’t cheat or cut corners. I made the necessary changes to make it through and become better. I started at the bottom and now I am here.”

Injuries continued to plague her body that senior year. She was the only swimmer on the team not to earn an academic award or any individual swimming honors. And, she fell short of her goal of winning the Big 10 Championships by .02.

“It did not change my character or goals, I always put in 100 percent,” Moodie said. “I never missed a pratice and never let go of my goals.”

Moodie walked away with her college diploma finishing with a 2.6 GPA or C average. She went on to grad school at Johns Hopkins University.

“My coach said my professor reached out to him and said how much he enjoyed having me as a student,” Moodie said. “I barely graduated but they saw my dedication and character. Despite my difficulties I stayed true to myself and developing my character. It was my character that set me apart from my peers. It’s not about my grades or accomplishments, it was my dedication to get things done.”

Moodie stressed achievements are not the only measure of success.

“We are taught to push past our limits,” Moodie said. “You have an opportunity to show what you are made of. To be able to push yourself past your perceived boundaries are privileges. You get a chance to prove what you are made of for yourself, not your coaches or parents or teammates.

“I urge you to commit to developing yourself and giving your very best at every practice. Be able to humble yourself to accept corrections. These are valuable lessons to you for the rest of your life.

“If you fully commit to yourself and future self regardless of what your accomplishments say on paper, give everything to accomplishing that goal and character, at the end of the day you can say you are successful.

“I made sure that my 2.6 GPA told my story of resilience, it wasn’t a story of failure,” Moodie said. “It was a sign I didn’t give up. I was able to exercise humility and was willing to work hard and face not being the best. My life was filled with defining moments and you will have those moments that will define you, too.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Shares Her Journey With SOFLO, FGC Swimmers On Zoom

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, May 4, 2020–In front of a captive audience of nearly 300 Florida Gold Coast swimmers including several South Florida Aquatic Club teammates, Alia Atkinson shared her trials and tribulations in swimming.

The four-time Jamaican Olympian and world short course record holder made a special appearance recently on the Zoom platform for the Florida Gold Coast.

Atkinson, 31, is focusing on her fifth appearance at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, an historic feat for a Jamaican swimmer. She made her first Olympic team at age 15 under the watchful eye of SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson who has coached her for most of her career.

Atkinson spoke for 30 minutes and then opened it up for a question-and-answer session with Jennifer Gibson of Swim Fort Lauderdale as moderator. She talked about her early years as an age group swimmer and college career at Texas A&M. She started swimming at age 4. She said she liked the feel of the water and “hearing that swish.”

“I know you guys are busy doing something even though you are home and not training with your team,” Atkinson said, referring to the quarantine.

Atkinson stressed the importance of learning something from every swim.

“No matter whether you win or lose, you can find something to learn from that swim,” she said. “I have a lot of failures, and I am still learning. I turned those failures into a learning experience.

“The road is going to be rough but your journey is your journey. You can find little things to get better with every race.

“Swimming is very fickle, you have to be patient. Your body will get stronger. It’s really about being patient and persevering.”

Atkinson admits she came to a crossroads after just missing a medal in the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. She was eighth at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“From 23rd to fourth put that fire back,” Atkinson said. “I realized I wasn’t finished now. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I now realize I need to swim for another reason.”

Atkinson also touched about signing with her first major sponsor, Speedo, her first world record and competing on the pro circuit around the world.

While swimmers are at home, she suggested they use YouTube as a source to check out elite swimmers and their strokes.

“I have started to understand more about other strokes,” she said. “Break down your strokes and fine tune. Use YouTube as a reference, watch the swimmers and their strokes and then compare your strokes to theirs.”

Atkinson talked about the mental aspects of swimming and how it can be a roller coaster.

“I believe in positive reinforcement,” she said. “Do the little things to change your outlook to positive.

“Have small goals during quarantine,” she told swimmers. “Help yourself so you get excited, help yourself physically and mentally. For me, I focus on the small things, things I can control.”

The Olympics being moved to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic threw everyone for a loop including Atkinson but she is adjusting.

“You cannot change your circumstances, but you can change your mindset,” Atkinson said. “It’s about how mentally tough can you get no matter what the world throws at you.

“I am looking forward to 2021,” Atkinson said. “I’m not sure what the future holds. You guys are all in the same boat as me. Just stay connected to your teammates and coaches.

“Start working on things that you lacked before, be a little ahead of the curve. Even though circumstances may hinder your mental state, there is always a chance to get back up and get tougher. Make your weakness into your strength. This is a great time to do it.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Natasha Moodie Enjoying Role As SOFLO College Advisor; Seven SOFLO Seniors Headed To College This Fall

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, April 30, 2020–With the college application process and recruiting rules frequently changing, South Florida Aquatic Club CEO and head coach Chris Anderson was looking to help SOFLO parents and swimmers.

Twenty years ago, when the club was in its beginning stages, there were fewer swimmers and college guidelines to contend with.

Now, with ever-changing rules and regulations and to educate swimmers and parents on the various NCAA Division I, II and III and NAIA colleges, Anderson hired his former swimmer Natasha Moodie as a full-time college advisor. Moodie is believed to be the first full-time college advisor at a USA Swimming club in the Florida Gold Coast.

Moodie, 29, a 2008 Olympian and three-time national record holder for Jamaica and alum of University of Michigan, where she was an NCAA All-American, is sharing her vast knowledge with SOFLO swimmers and parents.

Moodie, who has a strong background in education, develops college prep programs as program director for public schools in Miami-Dade. She is currently on a leave of absence and devoting her time to assisting SOFLO swimmers and parents through the maze of college research and preparation.

A day before College Signing Day (May 1), seven SOFLO seniors have committed to college. They are: Leonardo Mateus, Yale; Gabby Banks and David Diaz, Florida State; Sophia Bedoya, New York University; Rafael Rodriguez, Purdue; Roby Garrido, Rochester Institute of Technology; and Nick Chaimowicz, Broward College.

While most of the seniors already had a good idea of what college they would be attending when Moodie started last fall, she was there to answer any and all questions. She is currently working with SOFLO high school freshmen, sophomores and seniors.

“The team is much bigger now than when I was there in the early 2000s,” Moodie said. “Only three of us at the time wanted to swim in college. I am really thankful for Chris’ help with the college process. All my knowledge from recruiting came from Chris. No one in my family swam Division I. I was exposed to a lot of colleges at the U.S. Open, Junior Nationals and international meets.

“The club is so much larger now. There was definitely a need for my job. Today students need more guidance because the rules and college process has changed quite a bit just in the last five years when it comes to college application and recruiting.”

Moodie had been visiting with swimmers and parents before the COVID-19 pandemic but now communicates on the ZOOM platform.

Several swimmers would like to swim in college but may not have had the exposure to college coaches that Moodie had on the U.S. and international scene. She discusses the student’s goals in high school in terms of courses and activities and talks about the various collegiate programs that would be a good fit with their interests.

“It’s all centered around college,” Moodie said. “All the students who said they wanted to swim we look for a good fit. Some of them are not seen by college coaches on the national or international level, sectionals or Futures. My primary focus is serving the student-athletes who don’t get that exposure or had face-to-face meetings with college coaches. We want them to know there are colleges out there for them.

“I am a resource for families and kids to come to me for what they need,” Moodie said. “I am working with the junior class now. Quite a few students and parents have put together a college list. We talk about their priorities, what’s important, tuition, expenses, whether they want to stay in Broward, the state of Florida or outside the state.”

Unlike college football and basketball that dominate the headlines, collegiate swimming does not get a lot of exposure.

“There’s not a lot of national recognition,” Moodie said. “I’m not surprised that these students may not know about Division II schools. And NAIA is still quite young. The whole college system changes so much every year. I want to help them with their research.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, there are expected to be changes in the fall at colleges across the country. There is also talk of student-athletes taking a gap year. But SOFLO’s college-bound athletes are still planning on starting college in the fall whether it’s on campus or online.

Many colleges are supporting students by deferring deadlines, waiving fees and making standardized tests such as ACT and SAT optional. Still, no one knows what the fall semester will look like just yet.

“I am telling them everyone is in the same boat across the world, which is a position of waiting,” Moodie said. “I trust whatever decision the NCAA, USA Swimming, Florida Gold Coast and colleges make. I trust they will make the right decisions to protect the students and universities. It’s in the best interest of everyone. When things do resume we will all re-start wherever we are.”

Despite the challenging times, Moodie is enjoying her new role with SOFLO.

“It has been great being around swim families again, the parents have been so welcoming,” Moodie said. “I feel a close connection with them. Swimming and education are two things I love. I am excited for the future and excited to see what the future holds for these kids.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Nutrition Webinar Gives SOFLO Parents, Swimmers Food For Thought: Good Nutrition = Good Training = Good Results

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, April 26, 2020—South Florida Aquatic Club parents and swimmers were treated to an informative and educational nutritional talk Saturday morning.

For more than an hour, University of Miami adjunct professor Adrienne Brown of the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Sciences addressed the nutritional needs for both 12-and-under and 13-and-over swimmers.

Like almost everything else in society, SOFLO has been shut down from swimming in its newly-renovated pool and competing in meets for 44 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, South Florida Aquatic Club CEO and head coach Chris Anderson, his coaching staff and guest speakers have been using the Zoom platform to hold not only remote dryland workouts during the stoppage, but informative webinars such as the nutrition presentation.

“Right now you’re not at the pool six days a week, not doing doubles and unfortunately, not doing competitions on weekends so your diet changes a little,” Brown said. “But you do have control over wise choices, whether it’s cardio, keeping up with dryland or nutrition, which you definitely have control over.”

Staying home around the clock during the pandemic can be stressful and tempting when the refrigerator and cupboards are well-stocked.

“What you are putting in your body is something you have control over now,” Brown said. “Nutrition is 24/7. You can think about your nutrition and how it is going to prepare you for what’s coming in the future.”

Brown stressed how swimmers have more time now so it’s important to be mindful and focus on what they can control. Poor training and poor diet cannot be made up in a few days or day of competition, she said.

“Sound human nutrition equals sound athlete nutrition,” Brown said.

Brown presented a well-planned outline chocked full of up-to-date information for swimmers and parents and covered each topic fully.

The outline featured:
Purpose of food.
Components of proper diet (carbs, proteins and fats).
Food for general health, training and performance.
What to eat, when to eat and how much to eat.
Food choices.

Brown also pointed out that inadequate fueling, in other words poor diet, before and after training, leads to fatigue and poor performance.

She also said if swimmers are eating a balanced diet with lots of variety including a rainbow of colors (fruits and vegetables), supplements are not necessary.

There were also questions about energy drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade which contain stimulants. Swimmers should think about whether they are necessary and if you need them, she said. If so, try to dilute them by packing your water bottle with ice. Cold beverages are absorbed faster. Diluting morning orange juice and other juices was also suggested. Chocolate milk is good for recovery, she added.

Brown said when reading the nutrition labels on food and drinks, common sense should dictate. The fewer ingredients in a product the more natural it’s going to be. The simpler is by far the better. “Look at a nutrition label, it is eye-opening,” Brown said.

“There are no quick fixes or magic pills out there,” Brown said. “Supplements are not going to make you go faster or get bigger. Mindful eating, nutrient density and what is this food going to do for me, are important. Good nutrition equals good training equals good results. The key is establishing lifelong healthy patterns.

“I know you guys are stressed, we are all stressed,” Brown said. “Reach out to your coaches, parents and friends.”

A PDF of the full presentation will be available to parents and swimmers this week, Anderson and Brown said.


Dryland training continues to be a success for swimmers who are working out in their garages, living rooms, laundry rooms, bedrooms, front yards and back yards.

Ethan McPeek of Silver Group continues to win the ingenuity award. For his tubing sessions, McPeek was looking for a sturdy base for his stretching drills and got the idea to tie his tubing to a fire hydrant near his home. In Friday’s session, McPeek found himself at his grandmother’s house without weights so decided to borrow her 3-pound weight which Anderson called “Granny’s weight.” It still got the job done.

Anderson had some fun with Silver Group suggesting they use their siblings if they didn’t have weights. One swimmer did ask if he could use his little brother. Another wanted to use his dog, but then added the dog was 43 pounds so it probably wouldn’t work. It started to rain during the workout but that didn’t deter the swimmers. Anderson just moved indoors to finish out the session.

“We are implementing things because we are home now and obviously your lives have changed,” Anderson said.

The Silver Group did a similar workout to the seniors which was held an hour before. Both groups did drills from jumping rope, planks and chest presses to overhead extensions, arm swings and palm walk-ups. The focus was working on core, cardio, building speed and athleticism.

“This is going to burn guys, you are going to feel it eventually,” Anderson said.

“Coach, it actually feels like a Friday,” said one swimmer. “That’s a good thing, it’s getting to feel normal,” Anderson said.

“Excellent work guys, excellent work,” Anderson said at the end of the session.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Florida Gold Coast Awards South Florida Aquatic Club With COVID-19 Grant Relief Funding

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, April 22, 2020–South Florida Aquatic Club, the largest USA Swimming club in South Florida, has received a much-needed relief grant from the Florida Gold Coast.

The Florida Gold Coast, the nation’s 29th largest LSC, is the first to launch a grant program to help its member clubs while they are shut down during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

SOFLO, awarded the USA Swimming Club Excellence Silver Medal for the first time in club history this year, is one of 63 year-round USA Swimming clubs with a total of more than 5,000 members.

The entire grant will be used to pay SOFLO’s coaching staff, according to SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson.

“It is the Florida Gold Coast Committee and Board supporting a common vision that is extremely important to all of us,” Anderson said. “It’s nice they are helping out the clubs in a time of need and doing it in the fairest way they can. I am extremely appreciative and thankful.”

The LSC is awarding up to a total of $85,000 (budgeted reserve money) to member teams. The one-time grant program is designed to help clubs stay solvent while club income is drastically reduced until they are able to return to normal day-to-day operations.

The Florida Gold Coast has teams in Miami-Dade, Broward, Martin County, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.

SOFLO was one of the hardest hit. The club was forced to shut down its swimming on March 14th just before the FGC Junior Olympics. SOFLO was set to host the March 20-22 FGC Senior Championships, one of the club’s biggest annual revenue makers.

SOFLO was also unable to compete in the Junior Olympics, FGC-Florida Swimming All-Star Championship, Shark Developmental Meet, TYR Elite Age Group Invitational in Sarasota, TYR Pro Series in Richmond, TYR/SOFLO Developmental Meet, Jon Olsen Invite, TYR Pro Series in Indianapolis, Atlanta Invite and Summer Invite at Gulliver Prep.

SOFLO and its Booster Club was also forced to postpone its 20th annual Awards Banquet on May 2.

“I definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Anderson said. “We lost so many swim meets, not only home, but away meets. Now we will be able to compensate our staff for the lost revenue at the end of March and April.”

Anderson and his staff have been conducting a variety of dryland workouts and educational workshops on various topics from college recruiting to nutrition on Zoom Video.

“The Zoom workouts are nice, it’s keeping the club together, but we miss the actual water work,” Anderson said. “Our entire staff has had to evolve and become better at something else. We do have a plan in place for June and July when we get back into the water.”

When the coaches and swimmers do return to swimming, a gorgeous, refurbished Olympic-size pool with state-of-the art equipment and design, will be waiting for them.

“We totally revamped the entire infrastructure of the actual pool,” Anderson said. “It’s twice as efficient as the old pool.”

Among the renovations: the entire pool liner was replaced; there are 23 racing target lanes; non-slip wall targets on each lane; the yard course and long course are easily distinguishable with the color blue for the yard course and black for the long course; ten state-of-the-art starting blocks that feature the backstroke starting wedge; 2,100 square feet of shade for coaches and in-the-water athletes; and functioning pool deck with state-of-the-art drainage.

“The kids have something to look forward to,” Anderson said.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

New Date Announced For 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Athletes Now Have Target Date

By Sharon Robb

TOKYO, Japan, March 30, 2020—And now SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson, fellow Olympians and Olympic hopefuls from around the world have a target date.

The Summer Olympics and Paralympics have been rescheduled for nearly one year later with the date set for July 23-Aug. 8, 2021. The Paralympics were rescheduled for Aug. 24-Sept. 5.

The new Olympic dates would conflict with the scheduled world championships in track and swimming, but those events are now expected to also be pushed back. The IAAF World Track Championships are expected to be rescheduled for 2022. No word on the swimming event just yet.

The delay will cost at least $5.8 billion.

“The IOC has had close discussions with the relevant international federations,” organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said. “I believe the international federations have accepted the games being held in the summer.

“It is fantastic news that we could find new dates so quickly for the Tokyo 2020 Games. The new dates provide certainty for the athletes, reassurance for the stakeholders and something to look forward to for the whole world.”

Tokyo organizers said Monday the Opening Ceremony will take place July 23, 2021, almost exactly one year after the Games were scheduled to start this year.

“The schedule for the Games is key to preparing for the Games,” Tokyo organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said. “This will only accelerate our progress.”

Last week, the IOC and Japanese organizers postponed the Olympics until 2021 because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Mori said a spring Olympics was considered but holding the games later gives more space to complete the many qualifying events that have been postponed by the virus outbreak.

Muto said the decision was made Monday and the IOC said it was supported by all the international sports federations and was based on three main considerations: to protect the health of athletes, to safeguard the interests of the athletes and Olympic sport, and the international sports calendar.

According to FINA, the sport’s international governing body, announced several guidelines on Monday:

*All athletes and teams who already had qualified for the Olympic Games will keep their status for the 2021 Games.

*FINA was informed all test events that were postponedare expected to be rescheduled in 2021.

*FINA will finalize the dates and program for the 2021 World Aquatic Championships in Fukuoka.

Atkinson, a four-time Jamaican Olympian and world short course record holder, along with her SOFLO coach Chris Anderson, will be making their fifth historic Olympic appearance for Jamaica. Atkinson is already qualified.

“I think for me it’s just getting back my mindset, not thinking about the short-term goals in five months, but thinking of it in a year,” Atkinson said. “Plus, trying to get back to the things that I was working on without thinking that time is running out. Now I have much more time.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

South Florida Aquatic Club Raises The Bar Again In 2019, Sky Is The Limit For 2020

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