Happy New Year: South Florida Aquatic Club Celebrates 2017, Looks Forward To New Goals In 2018

By Sharon Robb

January 1, 2018—It takes a village for a successful swim program like South Florida Aquatic Club.

Coaches, swimmers, parents, booster club, office staff, facility, officials, sponsors, school support, media and fans all play an integral role.

Then there are goals, hard work, dedication, motivation and sacrifice.

There’s also the down side. The losing and not swimming a best time at every meet. That’s the learning experience that teaches a swimmer humility and also a powerful motivator to work harder.

Year in and year out, SOFLO swimmers have learned their lessons well and continued their successful climb in 2017.

As everyone celebrated the New Year and took a little time off away from the pool, it’s always fun to look back to see what SOFLO accomplished over twelve months. From world-class international meets to sizzlers and masters meets, the tireless work ethic, commitment and passion were never more evident this year.

Success is never taken for granted at SOFLO. After outstanding past seasons, SOFLO improved across the board enjoying success at every level during 2017 and raised the bar once again for 2018.

The largest team in the Florida Gold Coast and one of the state’s largest never lost sight of the importance of the team concept which has become its trademark through the years.

“Our kids challenge themselves and push themselves past their comfort zone and it does show,” said SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson. “SOFLO has created an infrastructure with its coaches and staff that cultivates a high level of continuing excellence. We have a winning culture.”

Now entering its 18th year, the first ten as Comets Swim Team and eighth year as SOFLO, the team is looking forward to even more success at the local, state, national and international levels in 2018.

As the New Year gets under way with new dreams, goals and resolutions, let’s reflect on some of last year’s highlights including team and individual accomplishments.

SOFLO’s Top 10 Moments in 2017 were:

1. SOFLO makes team history by capturing its eighth consecutive team title and 14th overall at the Florida Gold Coast 14&Under Long Course Junior Olympics. It was the fifth consecutive year that the club won back-to-back short and long course titles in the same year.

2. SOFLO five-peats Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships in its home pool. It was the fifth time SOFLO swimmers accomplished the feat in the same season.

3. Longtime SOFLO swimmer Marc Rojas represented the Dominican Republic at the FINA World Championships.

4. SOFLO earned the highly-coveted USA Swimming Bronze Medal Club Excellence Award for the seventh time in eight years (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018).

5. SOFLO sent more than three dozen swimmers to the BCAA and FHSAA High School State Meets including Kathleen Golding, Molly Golding and Heath Brames of Cooper City, Paige Lane and Juan Diaz of Cypress Bay and Kelley Heron and Ricardo Roche of Pembroke Pines Charter. Golding and Heron were named 2016-17 Scholastic All-Americans.

6. At age 44, SOFLO masters swimmer and triathlete Evelyn Herrmann Salama crossed the finish line at the Hawaii Ironman in Kona, the granddaddy of all Ironmans. It was her fourth completed Ironman distance event. She is now training for the 2018 Boston Marathon.

7. SOFLO masters swimmer and City of Pembroke Pines police sergeant Jennifer Martin won seven gold medals, one silver medal and broke five world records over four days at the World Police & Fire Games in Los Angeles.

8. Gina Grant, a first-year SOFLO masters swimmer, raised awareness and became a role model for Special Olympics athletes. At the recent Aquascalientes, Mexico for the Athletes Without Limits USA Team, she brought home a bronze medal in the 400 individual medley. At the Rowdy Gaines Masters Classic in Orlando, she won 13 gold medals and one silver medal, high point award and broke three records.

9. SOFLO swimmers shined at All-Stars, Speedo Sectionals, Futures Championships and Speedo Junior Nationals.

10. SOFLO swimmers make college commitments including Kathleen Golding (Florida), Kelley Heron (Michigan State), CJ Kopecki (Seton Hall) and Ricardo Roche (Florida State).

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com


SOFLO’s Evelyn Salama Checks Another One Off Bucket List: Kona’s Ironman World Championship

By Sharon Robb

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII—October 15, 2017—Evelyn Herrmann Salama made it to the greatest finish line in the sport of triathlon.

And now she can say there is nothing in the world like it. A day later, she can probably still hear the cheers along the grueling course.

On Saturday, with her family and friends waiting for her at the finish line, the 44-year-old Pembroke Pines wife and mother of two completed the emotionally-charged race in 13 hours, 2 minutes and 51 seconds.

On a brutal day, Salama completed the 140.6-mile journey that is the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit.

She was 79th out of 93 in the women’s 40-44 age group; 439th out of 617 women; and 1,765th out of 2,221 overall finishers.

She completed the 2.4-mile swim in 1:07:44 for 27th in her age group; the 112-mile bike in 6:43:59, 85th in her age group and 4:46:20 in the 26.2-mile run, 72nd in her age group.

Salama qualified for her first Kona appearance at Cabo Ironman 2016 in Cabo San Lucas. After Cabo she ran the Cocoa Beach Marathon and qualified for the 2018 Boston Marathon. Kona was her fourth Ironman distance event.

Other South Florida Ironman finishers were:

Cobi Morales, Miami, 40-44, 10:36:32, 127th out of 252 in age group.

Carolina Ponce, Miami, 45-49, 11:20:26, 27th out of 88 in age group.

Jenny Alcorn, Miami, 55-59, 11:20:38, second out of 53 in age group.

Brian Smith, Jupiter, 55-59, 12:25:57, 73rd out of 134 in age group.

Mandi Nilsen, North Miami, 30-34, 12:28:20, 63rd out of 71 in age group.

Fidel Rotondaro, Miami, 75-79, 14:17:56, first out of six in age group.

Leanda Cave, Miami Beach, pro, DNF

Fan favorite Andy Potts, 41, of Colorado Springs was the first American finisher in 8:14:43. He was seventh among 41 male pros. Potts competed in the second Olympic triathlon at the 2004 Summer Olympics less than a year and a half after starting the sport.

German Patrick Lange, 31, came alive late on the run to win the men’s title in a course record in 8 hours, 1 minute and 40 seconds.

Lange, who was third last year, came off the bike more than nine minutes behind Canadian Lionel Sanders and trailed by more than six minutes midway through the run course. With 5K left, he kicked it into another gear to overtake Sanders.

“It’s everything I ever dreamed of,” Lange said. “Oh my God, I cannot believe it. I always, always, always since I was a child dreamed to have this crown.”

Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf won her third consecutive women’s title in 8:50:47. She took the lead late in the bike leg and was never challenged during the run to win by a nine-minute margin of victory.

“It was the hardest I’ve ever had to fight to win,” Ryf said.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO’s Evelyn Salama Ready To Take On Kona’s Ironman World Championship Saturday

By Sharon Robb

KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII—October 13, 2017—“Look out, I’m just getting started. I am more motivated than ever.”

That was Evelyn Herrmann Salama, then 36, eight years ago after competing in the May 20-23 U.S. Masters Short Course Nationals at Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta where she swam five lifetime-best times.

On Saturday, the 44-year-old Pembroke Pines wife and mother of two will compete in the Ironman World Championship, the granddaddy of all triathlons.

Ever since she earned one of the 40 qualifying slots for her first Kona appearance at Cabo Ironman 2016 in Cabo San Lucas, Salama has been focused on “checking another one off my bucket list.”

It will be her fourth Ironman distance event that features a 2.4-mile swim, 112-bike and 26.2-mile run in challenging winds and hot conditions.

“It is overwhelming,” Salama said from Kona. “I am happy I have such an incredible supportive husband and sponsor to let me come out two weeks ahead of time to get acclimated to the time change and weather. I am a bucket of nerves.”

Salama has been able to get in some pre-event swims, bike rides and runs along the course as well as trying out the local cuisine and now is resting and surrounded by her family including husband Jason, son Gustavo and daughter Eliana, and friends leading up to the big day.

“I am overwhelmed by the athletes, everyone looks fitter than the last person you saw,” Salama said. “I have taken a week to marinate in that and convince myself I belong here. I know now I have earned my spot and I am ready to go.”

Eight years ago, SOFLO age group coach Rose Lockie was Salama’s mentor when she decided to compete in masters swimming. Now she is working with her son Travis Lockie in swimming and her coach Dirk Smeets of West Palm Beach. Smeets of the Netherlands has played an integral role in Salama’s progess and success.

Her proudest accomplishment was representing Team USA in 2015 in the ITU World Triathlon Championship in Chicago in her 40-44 age group.

Her progress has been remarkable in eight years.

“I grew up a little bit,” Salama said. “I came to realize despite all of Rose’s efforts and my tenacity and stubbornness I was never going to compete with people who have been swimming all their lives.”

A friend suggested she try triathlons. Her first was a reverse triathlon on a Huffy bike.

“I got out of the water and I thought I got this easy and then everybody passed me on the bike,” Salama said with a laugh. “I crossed the finish line feeling humbled.”

Now Salama is in Kona eyeing that finish line with a different mindset.

“I didn’t know my mindset at first,” Salama said. “When I qualified I was thinking Top 10 in my head but now I have adjusted my goals. A good friend said to me when I qualified for Kona, it was like being the valedictorian of my high school. Now I am in Kona and it’s like Harvard, everyone is a valedictorian. It’s quite a thing to get here and another thing to compete here. It’s really humbling.”

Salama has become an example for those with very little experience or background in sports to start training and competing. When she started masters swimming she had only swam in fifth, sixth and seventh grade. It helped that Academic Village Pool was less than an hour from her house when she decided to train with Rose Lockie for the masters meet.

The rest, as they say, is history. After Kona she wants to spend more time with her family.

“I will hang up my full Ironman shoes, my kids have had it,” Salama said. “I didn’t expect to get this far. But I also don’t want to look back and see that I was a detriment for my children. My family comes first. I told my daughter, who is a soccer phenom, that this is my World Cup, this is what I trained for.

“I am very lucky that I am checking off everything I had as goals. I qualified for 70.3 worlds. I competed in the Olympic distance at worlds. And now I am here at the mecca.

“At this point I just want to do my best and cross that finish line knowing I gave it everything I had. I will be happy with that. I don’t want to put a time out there. This place is so powerful. I just want to do the best of my ability that day.”

For those wanting to follow Salama on the Ironman website tracker, her number is 1618.

Salama will be among 2,400 age group athletes. The largest international athlete field in race history will have 66 countries, regions and territories on six continents represented.

Athletes ranging in age from 18 to 84 earned their championship opportunity by having finished among the best at one of more than 40 qualifiers around the world.


WHEN: Saturday, 6:35 a.m., (HST).

WHERE: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

COURSE: 2.4-mile swim starts at Kailua Pier and finishes at Kamakahonu Bay; 112-mile bike along Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway from Kailua-Kona to the turnaround in Hawi; 26.2-mile run winds through the town before heading out to Ali’i Drive.

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS: Daniela Ryf, Switzerland and Jan Frodeno, Germany.

TOTAL PRIZE MONEY: $650,000 pro purse distributed to the Top 10 men and women finishers.

LIVE COVERAGE: Race coverage can be viewed on Ironman.com. For live tracking, real time results and instant notifications, fans can download the Ironman Tracker app on Google Play and the iTunes App Store. In addition, NBC will air an event special on Dec. 9 at 2:30 p.m.

MEN’S TOP PROS: Jan Frodeno, Germany; Sebastian Kienle, Germany; Benjamin Hoffman, U.S.; Patrick Lange, Germany; Timothy O’Donnell, U.S.; Frederik Van Lierde, Belgium; Kyle Buckingham, South Africa; Tim Don, Great Britain; Pete Jacobs, Australia.

WOMEN’S TOP PROS: Daniela Ryf, Switzerland; Sarah Crowley, Australia; Kaisa Sali, Finland; Sarah Piampiano, U.S.; Heather Jackson, U.S.; Michelle Vesterby, Denmark; Susie Cheetham, Great Britain; Anja Bernek, Germany; Michaela Herlbauer, Austria; Linsey Corbin, U.S.; Leanda Cave, Great Britain.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com


SOFLO’s Kylie Herman Making Waves At College; Salama Runner-Up At Key West Triathlon

By Sharon Robb

December 7, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club’s Kylie Herman is tearing it up at the collegiate level.

The Brandeis University freshman and Cypress Bay alum posted five Top 20 finishes in three freestyle and two butterfly events at the recent Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Gompei Invitational in Worcester, Mass.

With her versatility from sprint to distance, Herman scored 96 of the Judges’ 408.5 points to lead her team to a tenth-place finish among an impressive field of Division II and III swim teams.

Herman’s best finish was in the 500-yard freestyle placing 14th in 5:17.30.

Herman was also 15th in the 200-yard butterfly in 2:17.17. She had two 16th place finishes in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:01.93 and 200-yard freestyle in 2:00.00. She was 18th in the 50-yard freestyle in 55.98.

She also led off the 12th place 400-yard freestyle relay team that finished in 3:48.10 with teammates Joanna Murphy (Sarasota Riverview alum), Abby Damsky and Fallon Bushee.

Brandeis is now off from its dual meet schedule until Jan. 20 and will be headed for a Jan. 1-8 training trip to Dorado, Puerto Rico.


South Florida Aquatic Club masters swimmer Evelyn Salama finished runner-up among women at this past weekend’s Key West Triathlon.

Salama, 42, of Pembroke Pines was second in 2 hours, 26 minutes and 29 seconds in the Olympic-distance triathlon that features a 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run.

Overall winners were Yunior Rosete Torres, 31, of Aventura in 1:58:43 among men and Imke Oelerich, 26, of Davie in 2:22:37 among women.

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre was among a field of 857 athletes who competed in the Olympic distance, sprint distance, duathlon and relay divisions.


SOFLO three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson finished runner-up to track sensation Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the second annual Caribbean Sports Awards, organized by the Caribbean Sports Journalists Association. Cuban Yarisley Silva was also a runner-up among 11 women nominated.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Copyright: Content cannot be reprinted or used in any form without permission from South Florida Aquatic Club.


Masters Compete In Dixie Zone Championships Fort Lauderdale Masters Challenge This Weekend

Masters Compete In Dixie Zone Championships Fort Lauderdale Masters Challenge This Weekend


February 24, 2011

The first of four Dixie Zone Championships will be hosted at the 18th Fort Lauderdale Masters Challenge that gets under way Friday at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex.

The short course yards meet is the first of four championships held throughout the U.S. Masters Swimming Dixie Zone.

The others are long course meters in Sarasota, short course meters in Charlotte, N.C. and open water in Fernandina Beach.

The three-day meet begins Friday with the 1,000-yard freestyle individual event and 800-yard freestyle and mixed freestyle relays.

GOLD, one of the state’s top masters swimming teams, features swimmers from a large region including Comets and Coral Springs Swim Club masters. More than 200 swimmers and 23 teams are entered.

Among the GOLD lineup is Evelyn Salama, in her first major meet since the masters nationals in Puerto Rico.

The 37-year-old mother of two from Pembroke Pines is competing in only her third year of masters swimming and has been a fast learner, medaling and swimming career-best times at two major national meets.

Other top GOLD swimmers in the field are Celia Devanney, 53, and Lars Ferron, 55, of Coral Springs Masters, Edileide Marinheiro, 42, Peggy McDonnell, 55, Cav Cavanaugh, 75, Barbara Protzman, 56, and Timothy Shead, 58.


What: 2011 Dixie Zone Championships 18th annual Fort Lauderdale Masters Challenge

When: Friday-Sunday

Where: Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex, 501 Seabreeze Blvd.

Schedule: Friday, warm-up 5 p.m., meet 6 p.m. (1,000 freestyle, 800 free relay, 800 mixed free relay); Saturday, warm-up 10 a.m., meet 11 a.m. (400 IM, 200 backstroke, 50 breaststroke, 200 medley relay, 100 freestyle, 50 backstroke, 200 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, 200 mixed free relay, 500 freestyle); Sunday, warm-up 8 a.m., 1,650-yard freestyle 9 a.m., meet 11 a.m. (200 IM, 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 free relay, 200 butterfly, 100 breaststroke, 200 freestyle, 100 IM, 50 butterfly, 200 mixed medley relay).

Admission: Free. For information call 954-828-4580.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com





Evelyn Salama returned home from her first U.S. Masters Short Course National Championships motivated more than ever.

After training for only two years with masters coach Rose Lockie, the 36-year-old mother of two from Pembroke Pines swam five career-best times in five timed final events during the national meet at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

The South Florida Aquatic Club masters swimmer returned to practice Monday morning already thinking about the Aug. 9-12 U.S. Masters Long Course Nationals in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“I am kind of unhappy that it’s over,” Salama said Monday afternoon while picking up her two children at swim lessons at the same Academic Village Pool and Training Center that she trains at.

“I missed my family and it’s great to be back, but I didn’t want the meet to end,” Salama said. “I got the fever now. I have been bitten by the bug. I am looking at masters nationals in Puerto Rico in August.”

After an overwhelming first day where she still managed to swim a best time on Friday, Salama got into a groove during the weekend and swam four more career-bests.

On Friday she swam a career-best 36.75 seconds to finish 15th in the 35-39 division of the 50-yard breaststroke. Her previous best was 37.84.

On Saturday she finished 16th in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:21.11 bettering her seed time of 1:22.02 and swam 1:07.48 to finish 21st in the 100-yard freestyle bettering her previous best of 1:08.82.

On Sunday, before she and Lockie caught a flight home, she had a huge drop in the 100-yard individual medley in 1:14.10 to place 23rd. Her previous best was 1:19.30. She also swam the splash-and-dash 50-yard freestyle in 29.48 to finish 21st . Her previous best was 30.71.

“It was a mind blowing experience not only swimming and everything we accomplished but everything we saw,” Salama said.

“We watched a 52-year-old blind man get up on the blocks and swim the 100 IM. Someone at the end of his lane had a stick with a tennis ball to tap him as he approached the wall so he knew when to turn. That was so awesome, the whole place stood up when he finished. Anytime I think I can’t do this or anything else in my life, I am going to think about him.”

Salama said her national debut is slowly sinking in although she was disappointed over not placing in the Top 10 and bringing home a medal.

“I think the words best times are self-explanatory but I am still having trouble processing that it was a big deal mainly because of my naivete,” Salama said. “I have gotten some great support from people telling me I did well. Rose keeps telling me over and over again swimming best times at nationals is great.

“I am glad my hard work paid off,” Salama said. “It’s still pretty unbelievable to me. I have never been more disciplined for anything like I was preparing for this meet. I took it very seriously.”

Salama and Lockie haven’t had a chance to talk about her next goal.

“I have been back less than 24 hours,” Salama said with a laugh. “I did go to practice and puked twice. Rose knows what she is doing. I am going to shut my mouth and take her advice.”

When she returned home late Sunday, Salama was greeted by little signs her children, Gustavo, 7, and Eliana, 6, made and posted in the family room.

“They were great, they read ‘We Love You, First Place,’” Salama said. “I was first in my heat but that didn’t mean I won the event which is something I learned as well. But I am going to let them go with that.”

In more masters nationals action, Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones, 26, of SwimMAC swam an impressive 19.14 in the 50-yard freestyle to win the 25-29 title and break Sabir Muhammad’s 2004 mark of 19.44.

“What a weekend,” Jones said on Twitter. “Went to Masters Nationals and found a new appreciation for the love of swimming. Went 19.1, finally got my stroke together.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com






Evelyn Salama is making up for lost time.

The mother of two from Pembroke Pines is competing in her first U.S. Masters Short Course Nationals at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta.

After training for two years with masters coach Rose Lockie, the South Florida Aquatic Club masters swimmer is making remarkable progress  in the national spotlight.

On Friday, Salama, 36, swam a career-best 36.75 seconds to finish 15th in the 35-39 division of the 50-yard breaststroke. Her previous best was 37.84.

On Saturday, she will compete in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:22.02 seed time) and 100-yard freestyle (1:08.82) and Sunday the 100-yard individual medley (1:19.30).

The New York-born Salama swam in sixth and seventh grade and “remembers liking it,” but quit when her family moved to South Florida and joined the debate team.

Salama didn’t think about swimming again until two years ago when she was sitting on her porch drinking a glass of wine.

“I thought to myself, ‘this is pathetic, I need to start thinking about my two small children and start getting healthy and active. I looked through the local Pembroke Pines magazine and saw the city had a pool less than a mile from my house and I joined the Comets team.”

Though Salama is still relatively new and raw with her strokes and race strategy, Lockie has been impressed with her work ethic and determination.

Salama swam in only three local meets when she decided she wanted to compete at masters nationals. She hates to travel but Atlanta was “so close to home” that she said she wanted to give it a shot. Though qualifying times aren’t necessary, she qualified in the 50 and 100 breaststroke at a North Miami meet.

“She works hard and hangs on every word I say,” said Lockie, who along with masters teammate Pam Brake is with Salama in Atlanta. 

“I think today was a little overwhelming for her seeing the number of people and how crowded the warm-up lanes are, but she handled it really well. Her first 25 she said she was uncomfortable, missed the turn a little and then settled in the last 25.

“Her enthusiasm is great, she is really gung-ho,” Lockie said. “She wants to get better even at 36. She sees swimmers older than she is doing really well and I have to keep reminding her that a lot of these people have been swimming their whole life.”

Salama was happy to get her first national race under her belt.

“I wasn’t nervous because I enjoy competition,” Salama said. “It was a little overwhelming seeing how many people are here. I don’t know what it was. I think I was just anxious to get in the water. I didn’t think a national meet was a big deal until I got here.”

Salama’s first experience at a local swim meet was as a timer.

“I remember watching a 90-year-old swimmer being helped into the water and competing and I just thought that was so inspiring,” Salama said. “It was so moving, the crowd stood up and started applauding. I thought if she can do it, why can’t I?

“Today we saw a 65-year-old break a national record in the 200 freestyle under 2 minutes and it was so inspiring,” Salama said.

That was Richard Abrams, 65, who swam 1:57.54 in the 200 freestyle to break the previous 65-69 record of 2:00.61.

The masters training schedule fits in nicely with her family. She drops her son Gustavo, 7, and daughter Eliana, 6, off at school and heads to the pool. She runs or does dryland before practice and she is home by 11. She also quit smoking and said she is fitter than she has ever been.

“I am so stubborn,” Salama said. “I get angry when people pass me in practice. I ask myself why is she so good and so fast. I want that to be me. I haven’t lost sight of my priority which is my family, that is the most important thing to me. I work swimming around my family.”

Her “incredibly amazing husband” Jason has been supportive and encouraged her to go to Atlanta.

“He has his own shop, works six days a week including Saturday and he said go,” Salama said. “He has been so supportive since Day One. When I met Rose I told her I kind of swam. She told me to get in the water and if I was still here in a week we would talk. The rest is history.”

Soaking in the national meet atmosphere has motivated Salama even more for the future. During dinner Friday night the topic of conversation was future goals.

“I am still so inexperienced, I ask Rose everything,” Salama said. “I think I am pleased with myself and swimming a best time. My inexperience is such a factor that I have a problem processing all of this in my mind.  I don’t even know if I recognize myself. I am enjoying the ride.

“I want to be the best swimmer I can be and keep getting better,” Salama said. “I want to hear that announcer guy say my name when I finish the race. That is the goal.”

Salama is rubbing elbows with Olympians and national champions and record breakers. On Friday, Mark Gangloff, 27, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and NCAA champion from Charlotte, N.C. broke the 50-yard breaststroke national record in 23.87 in his 25-29 age group. The previous record was 24.40.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com