SOFLO Well-Represented At Fort Myers Open Water Festival This Weekend

SOFLO Well-Represented At Fort Myers Open Water Festival This Weekend


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

Open Water Swimming Highlights Weekend In Fort Lauderdale And Fort Myers

Open Water Swimming Highlights Weekend In Fort Lauderdale And Fort Myers


June 9, 2011

Open water swimming, national-caliber and age group, will take center stage off the beaches of Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers Friday through Sunday.

Kicking off the open water three-day weekend, that will be broadcast live online at, is the USA Swimming 10K Open Water National Championship Friday at 9:30 a.m. with the men’s race. The women’s race begins ten minutes later.

The top open water swimmers in the U.S. will compete for the top two spots in the 10K that will automatically qualify them for the FINA World Championships and serve as the Olympic trials for open water.

The 5K race is Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

Only the 10K will serve as a qualifier. The 10K winners will have a choice  to also compete at worlds in either the 5K of 25K, or both, in Shanghai.

2008 Olympian Mark Warkentin of Santa Barbara, Calif. and 2010 Pan Pacs 10K champion Chip Peterson of Pine Knolls Shores, N.C., U.S. national team members Andrew Gemmell of Wilmington, Del., Sean Ryan of Chattanooga, Tenn. and Joe Kinderwater of Baltimore will compete in the men’s 10K race. More than 50 men swimmers are expected in the 10K field.

The women’s field, featuring forty swimmers, are led by 2009 10K national champion Emily Brunemann of Crescent Springs, Ky., 2010 Pan Pac 10K champion Christine Jennings of Longmont, Colo., 5K world champion Eva Fabian of Keene, N.H. and U.S. national team member Haley Anderson of Granite Bay, Calif.

The 10K will also serve as the selection event for the 2011 World University Games.

The national championship was moved from Fort Myers to Fort Lauderdale in April in accordance with water temperatures recommended by USA Swimming’s Board of Directors. The last-minute change of venue was due to concerns that the water would be too hot to swim the longer distance events.

SOFLO Sends Twelve To FGC Open Water All-Star Event

The South Florida Aquatic Club will be well-represented on the Florida Gold Coast All-Star team when it competes against the Florida Swimming Association Sunday during the Open Water Festival off Fort Myers Beach. More than 500 swimmers are entered in the Festival events.

SOFLO’s All-Stars are:

11-12 Girls: Jessica Rodriguez, Sophia Bucaro, Allison Kopas.

11-12 Boys: Juan Lucas, Alfredo Mesa Jr., Carlos Rodriguez, Julien Pinon, Kevin Porto.

13-14 Girls: Leonie Davies, Amber Hunter.

13-14 Boys: Dylan Sell, Blake Kelley.

SOFLO age group coach Josh Laban, two-time Olympian for the Virgin Islands, will serve as one of the All-Star coaches. Julie Smiddy is head coach and Sid Cassidy is open water chairman.

Also competing for SOFLO in the open water 4K event, masters swimmer Michael Piazza, 47.

On Saturday, swimmers have the option of competing in the Crippen Mile at 6:30 p.m. as a tuneup for Sunday’s event. The event is named after former U.S. national team member Fran Crippen who tragically died during a FINA-sanctioned open water event last October. His death has helped raise awareness of safety issues for all swimmers and races around the world.

Also on Sunday, Swimming Canada’s 10K world team trials and U.S. Masters 10K and 5K events.

The FGC All-Star swimmers compete Sunday in the 15-18, 13-14 and 11-12 Florida Cup Open Water Challenge. The 15-18 and 13-14 course is 4K and 11-12 is 2K. will broadcast the day’s races live.

Sharon Robb can be reached at