WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
April 25, 2012
South Florida Aquatic Club will have nine swimmers competing in the Florida Gold Coast Open Water Boys and Girls All-Star Team races Saturday at the Open Water Festival in Fort Myers.
Five girls and four boys were invited based on short course times in the 500-yard freestyle and 1,650-yard freestyle events.
The SOFLO girls competing are Kelley Heron, coming off an outstanding showing at the IMX Swimming Challenge this past weekend; Jessica Rodriguez, Sophia Bucaro, Melissa Marinheiro and Leonie Davies, coming off an impressive showing at Swim Miami last Saturday.
The boys are Kevin Porto, Nicholas Perera, Ricardo Roche and Julien Pinon.
The SOFLO contingent is part of the Florida Gold Coast All-Star Team that will compete against Florida Swimming in the Open Water All-Star Challenge Cup on Saturday in Miromar Lakes.
The distance races are 2.5K for 12-and-unders at 10:45 a.m. and 5K for 13-14 and 15-18 at 8 and 9:30 a.m. respectively. The Fran Crippen Sunset Mile will also be held.
SOFLO age group coach Megan Garland is a member of the all-star coaching staff. The team will be treated to a practice session and pasta dinner Friday night at Miromar Lakes Beach Club. Meet director is Gregg Cross.
On Friday, most of the nation’s top open water swimmers will compete in the 10K Open Water National Championships.
Women will be shooting for one of the top two spots to be able to swim at the final Olympic qualifier in June. For the men, the Friday event has no official bearing on the Olympic selection process. It does count however for the open water national team selections.
National team and junior national team selections will both be based on the event.
Heading the women’s field is Christine Jennings, who was 13th at the first Olympic qualification meet. Last December Jennings broke her leg sprinting on the beach at the finish of an open water race in Brazil and is now back swimming. Jennings will be joined by Ashley Twichell, the 2011 U.S. Open Water Swimmer of the Year and Fran Crippen Foundation Award recipient. Twichell recently relocated to Mission Viejo where she trains with coach Bill Rose and distance swimmer Chloe Sutton. Evan Fabian, another top swimmer, will compete along with Haley Anderson, Emily Brunemann and Claire Thompson. Local swimmer Damaris Iriondo, now at Princeton, and 14-year-old Becca Mann of Clearwater Aquatic Team are top Florida swimmers competing.
Alex Meyer of Crimson Aquatics, Arthur Frayler of Germantown Academy and Andrew Gemmell head the men’s 10K field. Among local swimmers are University of Florida trio Carlos Omana of Metro Aquatics, Joey Pedraza of Davie Nadadores and Thomas Veale of Pine Crest Swimming and Sam Smiddy of AK Sharks.
There will also be a Masters 5K event.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com