SOFLO Swimmers Shine For Florida Gold Coast All-Stars At Weekend Open Water Festival

By Sharon Robb

May 2, 2017—South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers represented the team well as Florida Gold Coast All-Stars at this past weekend’s Open Water Festival at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club in Fort Myers.

One of the nation’s top open water events was held in Miromar Lakes’ 700-acre freshwater lake and featured USA Swimming Open Water Relays, Open Water Clinic, Crippen Sunset Mile and Youth Buddy Swim on the first day.

Sunday events included the Florida Swimming Open Water Championships, Local Swim Club All-Star Challenge and Open Water Festival Race.

In the boys’ 15-18 LSC Challenge, Michael Fernandez outsprinted SOFLO’s Leonardo Mateus to finish first in 59:29. Mateus second-place time was 59:31.

In the Crippen Mile, Mateus finished fifth overall and in the 13-and-over diivision in 15:56.1. Mallory Schleicher was 40th in 18:33, Sarah Acevedo was 81st in 20:13 and Alejandro Mateus was 90th in 21:09.

Sarah Acevedo was also 29th in the 13-and-over division in the mile event. Alejandro Mateus was 20th in the 13-and-under division.

Mallory Schleicher was sixth in the LSC Challenge 13-14 Girls 5K in 1:08.51. Sarah Acevedo was 16th in 1:14:28.

Alana Acevedo was 16th in the LSC Challenge 15-18 Girls 5K event in 1:14:40.

In the LSC Challenge Boys’ 11-12 2K event, SOFLO’s Enrique Rodriguez was third in 33:36; Alejandro Mateus was sixth in 33:59 and Aldo Zepeda was 12th in 35:58.

More than 300 swimmers competed in the two-day event. One of the highlights was two-time Olympic medalist Haley Anderson working with swimmers during the open water clinic.

Miromar Lakes hosted the 2007 USA Swimming Championship Trials because of its ideal climate and lake conditions.



Overall, 1. Bora Unalmis 15:38.5, 2. Taylor Uselis 15:41.8, 3. Michael Fernandez 15:47.4, 4. Cameron Dafoe 15:56.1, 5. Leonardo Mateus 15:56.1, 40. Mallory Schleicher 18:33, 81. Sarah Acevedo 20:13, 90. Alejandro Mateus 21:09.

Male, 13-and over, 1. Bora Unalmis 15:38.5, 2. Taylor Uselis 15:41.8, 3. Michael Fernandez 15:47, 4. Cameron Dafoe 15:56, 5. Leonardo Mateus 15:56.1.

Female, 13-and-over, 1. Alix Roy 16:45, 2. Rebecca Rivers 17:54, 3. Tonni McNeese 17:59, 4. Emil Moylan 18:05, 5. Nicolette Wickes 18:10, 29. Sarah Acevedo 20:13.

Under-13 Male and Female: 1. Kylee Grafmiller 17:36, 20. Alejandro Mateus 21:09.

Girls 5K:

1.Morgan Tankersley, Greater Tampa 1:03:23, 2. Jordan Gorham, West Florida 1:03:52, 3. Madison Murtagh, Fast Lane 1:04:20.

Boys 5K:

1.Theodore Smith, Sarasota 55:57, 2. Taylor Uselis, Clearwater 56:29.7, 3. Cale Russell, Central Florida 1:00:43.

Girls 15-16: 1. Alixandra Roy, Highlander 1:02:40.5, 2. Polina Rukosuev, Fast Lane 1:02:42, 3. Taylor Ward, Clearwater 1:03:35.

Boys 15-16, 1. Andrew Kalaman, Sarasota 59:23, 2. Nicholas Hernandez, Sarasota 59:30, 3. Marshall Webster, Sarasota 59:35.

Girls 13-14: 1. Olivia McMurry, Swim Florida 1:04:20, 2. Carin Sanchez, Greater Tampa 1:08:16, 3. Mckenna Fiore, Gulf Coast 1:08.22.

Boys 13-14, 1. Ryan Staunch, Swim Florida 1:02:47, 2. Jacob Pishko, Bolles 1:04:05, 3. Antonio Medina, Gulf Coast 1:04:21.

Girls 11-12 (2K), 1. Michelle Fernandez, SAS 36:01, 2. Christina King, Tampa Bay 36:07, 3. Julian Balbi, SAS 36:51.

Boys 11-12 (2K), 1. Andrew Billitto, West Florida 32:17, 2. Andrew Taylor, Tampa Bay 32:45, 3. Ethan Russell, Central Florida 33:57.

Girls 10-and-under (800 meters), 1. Brooke Billitto, West Florida 11:57, 2. Talia Herron, Gator Swim Club 12:32, 3. Sophia Pellegrino, Swim Florida 12:46.

Boys 10-and-under (800 meters), 1. Nathan Jacobs, Gator Swim Club 10:53, 2. Giovanni Medina, Gulf Coast 10:56, 3. David Fishberg, Fast Lane 11:23.

LSC Challenge 15-18 Boys (5K), 1. Michael Fernandez, Florida Gold Coast 59:29, 2. Leonardo Mateus, Florida Gold Coast 59:31, 3. Bora Unalmis, Gulf Swimming 1:00.34, 16. Joshua Balbi, Florida Gold Coast 1:08:31.

LSC Challenge 15-18 Girls (5K), 1. Polina Rukosuev, Florida Swimming 1:02:43, 2. Jordan Gorham, Florida Swimming 1:03:52, 3. Noa Heron, Florida Swimming 1:06:17, 15. Delaney Biro, Florida Gold Coast 1:12:59, 16. Alana Acevedo, Florida Gold Coast 1:14:40.

LSC Challenge 13-14 Girls (5K), 1. Carolina Benda, Maryland All-Stars 1:07:13, 2. Evelyn Krall, Maryland All-Stars 1:08:10, 3. Mckenna Fiore, Florida Swimming 1:08:22, 6. Mallory Schleicher, Florida Gold Coast 1:08.51, 16. Sarah Acevedo, Florida Gold Coast 1:14:28, 19. Madelyn Hebert, Florida Gold Coast 1:15:23.

LSC Challenge 13-14 Boys (5K), 1. Matthew Tannenberger, Gulf Swimming 1:00.24, 2. Cameron Dafoe, Gulf Swimming 1:01:02, 3. Ryan Staunch, Florida Swimming 1:02:47, 9. Pace Edwards, Florida Gold Coast 1:06:04, 11. Dominic Bono, Florida Gold Coast 1:06:45, 18. Benjamin Carey, Florida Gold Coast 1:12:00, 19. Carson Neidert, Florida Gold Coast 1:17:44.

LSC Challenge Girls 11-12 (2K), 1. Kylee Grafmiller, Gulf Swimming 33:19, 2. Storrie Kulynych-Irvin, Maryland All-Stars 34:05, 3. Emmalee Gettys, South Texas All-Stars 34:09, 7. Anabela Schearer, Florida Gold Coast 35:55, 9. Maris Proscia, Florida Gold Coast 36:53, 10. Rachel Lilenthal, Florida Gold Coast 36:54, 17. Maci Hebert, Florida Gold Coast 44:52.

LSC Challenge Boys 11-12 (2K), 1. Brendan Studdert, Gulf Swimming 32:44, 2. Andrew Taylor, Florida Swimming 32:45, 3. Enrique Rodriguez, Florida Gold Coast 33:36, 4. Chipper Edwards, Florida Gold Coast 33:45, 6. Alejandro Mateus, Florida Gold Coast 33:59, 8. John Trieu, Florida Gold Coast 35:13, 12. Aldo Zepeda, Florida Gold Coast 35:58.

LSC Challenge Boys 10-and-under (800 meters), 1. Henry Shoemaker, Florida Swimming 10:10, 2. Geoffrey Cradock, Maryland All-Stars 10:18, 3. Farouk Musa, Florida Gold Coast 10:34, 10. William Connors, Florida Gold Coast 11:41, 11. Owen Williams, Florida Gold Coast 12:22.

Team results

Male: 1. Gulf Swimming All-Stars 1:31:29, 2. Maryland All-Stars 1:33:43, 3. West Florida 1:39:07.

Female: 1. West Florida 1:38:16, 2. Gulf Swimming 1:41:20, 3. Maryland 1:43:34.

Mixed: 1. Sandpipers of Nevada 1:28:49, 2. South Texas 1:32:28, 3. Florida Gold Coast A 1:38:17 (Michael Fernandez, Leonardo Mateus, Delaney Biro, Joshua Balbi, Alana Acevedo). 4. Gator Swim Club 1:40:16, 5. Florida Gold Coast B 1:42:00 (Enrique Rodriguez, Chipper Edwards, Alejandro Mateus, Mallory Schleicher, Sarah Acevedo).

Team results

14-and-under male, 1. Maryland All-Stars 47:40.3, 2. Gulf Swimming All-Stars 50:27.6.

14-and-under mixed: 1. Gulf Coast Swim Team 48:30.5, 2. Gator Swim Club 52:29.4, 3. Florida Gold Coast A 52:48.7 (Dominic Bono, Pace Edwards, Benjamin Carey, Madelyn Hebert, John Treu), 4. South Texas All-Stars 55:07.8, 5. Florida Gold Coast B 55:58.2 (Rachel Lilienthal, Aldo Zepeda, Maris Proscia, Carson Neidert, Maci Hebert).

14-and-under girls: 1. Maryland All-Stars 50:14.1, 2. Gulf Swimming All-Stars 50:53.6, 3. South Texas All-Stars 54:09.8.

Sharon Robb can be reached at


SOFLO Well-Represented At Open Water Festival This Weekend

SOFLO Well-Represented At Open Water Festival This Weekend

By Sharon Robb

April 9, 2014

South Florida Aquatic Club will have seven swimmers competing on the Florida Gold Coast Open Water Boys and Girls All-Star Team this weekend at the Open Water Festival at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club in Fort Myers.

Five boys and two girls were invited based on short course times in the 500-yard freestyle and 1,650-yard freestyle events.

The SOFLO swimmers are Annita Huang, Vanessa Mesa, Leonardo Mateus, Rafael Rodriguez, Gabriel Segui, C.J. Kopecki and Kevin Porto.

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 in Miromar Lakes on Sunday.

Sunday’s schedule is: 9 a.m., 10-and-under 800-meter races; 10 a.m., 11-12 2.5K races; 11 a.m. start for all 5K races

On Saturday, the inaugural Crippen Cup 10K Marathon Invitational will be held. The men’s race is 9 a.m. and women’s race is 11 a.m. An open water clinic and practice session and team pursuit races are 2-4 p.m. The 500-yard Crippen Kids Buddy Swim is 6:15 p.m. and the Crippen Mile is 6:30 p.m.

The event is named in honor of open water star Fran Crippen who died during an international open water race four years ago.

The Crippen Cup is offering $10,000 in prize money to the top four men and women finishers. The field includes Joey Pedraza of Azura Florida Aquatics, Emily Brunemann, Christine Jennings, Ashley Twichel, Arthur Frayler and Chip Peterson.

Several international swimmers from Europe and Canada are also expected to compete. For Canadian swimmers, the race will serve as a selection race for the national open water Pan Pacs team. The American selection meet is the Open Water Nationals in June.

The full Florida Gold Coast open water all-star roster is:

Girls 11-12: Rachel Contich, Annita Huang, Vanessa Mesa, Julianna Talamo.

Girls 13-14: Marissa Brannan, Ashley Crouse, Alexis Hicks, Alicia Mancilla, Nicole Regueira.

Girls 15-18: Samantha Breistol, Sophia Oliva, Caroline Schirmer, Rose Smiddy, Aly Pacitti.

Boys 11-12: Leonardo Mateus, Rene Peralta, Rafael Rodriguez, Gabriel Segui, Kevin Barranco.

Boys 13-14: C.J. Kopecki, Kevin Porto, Fernando Rodriguez, Kaden Shover, Nicholas Pacitti.

Boys 15-18: Alexander Arrieta, David Stoddard, Miguel Basalo, Mitchell Posk, Cameron Anderson.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Twichell, Gemmell Win 10K Open Water National Titles; SOFLO Swimmers Compete Saturday

Twichell, Gemmell Win 10K Open Water National Titles; SOFLO Swimmers Compete Saturday


April 27, 2012

Ashley Twichell and Haley Anderson kept their Olympic dream alive on a sun-drenched Friday at Miromar Lakes during the Open Water Festival in Fort Myers.

Twichell, a newcomer to the sport a year ago, turned on the after jets with 1,500 meters to go to win the USA Swimming 10K Open Water National Championship. The Duke University graduate won the 6.2-mile race in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 6.03 seconds for her first open water national title.

With Twichell leading by 50 seconds, Anderson fought off a strong pack of swimmers and took off with 300 meters left to clinch second place in 2:03:50.44.

By securing the top two spots, Twichell and Anderson earned a trip to Setubal, Portugal for the June 9th Olympic Qualifier Event. They must finish in the Top 15 at the final Olympic qualifier to go to the London Olympics.

In the men’s race with no Olympic qualifying significance since Alex Meyer earned the men’s berth for London, Andrew Gemmell, 20, of Georgia and 2009 World 10K silver medalist, won the men’s race with a strong kick to win in 1:58:03.87. Fort Lauderdale’s Joey Pedraza of Davie Nadadores was fourth in 1:58:15.91 and was named to the national team. Pedraza was just out-touched at the finishing pad by David Heron of Mission Viejo for third.

Janardan Burns of Mission Viejo was second.

Meyer, the defending 10K national champion coming off a broken collarbone, played it safe and finished tenth in 1:58:47.35.

With 25 swimmers in the field including 14-year-old Becca Mann of Clearwater, the women’s race took center stage. Water temperature was 78 degrees and weather conditions were ideal.

Twichell was one of the pre-race favorites. She won two medals at the 2011 World Swimming Championships and moved to California to train under Coach Bill Rose of the Mission Viejo Nadadores after college. She trained in high altitude before the national championships.

“I am really excited about qualifying,” Twichell said after the race. “This past year has been a whirlwind. I’m really excited to continue the experience.

“I was debating where to make my move the whole time,” Twichell said. “I was telling myself to do it at the 5K at first, but I tried to conserve as much energy as possible and at the last turn I picked up the tempo and felt really strong. I felt really good and comfortable.”

Anderson of University of Southern California, was one of eight swimmers contending for second place.

“I knew it was going to be a race to get second,” Anderson said. “I like to stay relaxed for the first 5K, I don’t care where I am in the first 5K. I like to be in the back and work my way up. I have some speed. I was in the back and at the halfway I was in the Top 10. It worked out. Each race I keep learning even more. I’m really excited to qualify.”

Mann, the youngest swimmer in the race, led a lead pack of six swimmers for the first two laps and finished 11th in 2:06.32.

The top six qualifying for the U.S. national team are Twichell, Anderson, Christine Jennings (2:03:56.4), Eva Fabian (2:03:56.5), Tristan Baxter (2:03:57) and Gillian Ryan (2:03:58).

The top three 18-and-under finishers who qualified for this year’s Junior Pan Pacs team are Gillian Ryan, Rachel Zilinskas and Mann.

On Saturday, age group open water swimmers will take center stage with nine South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers, members of the Florida Gold Coast All-Star team taking on Florida Swimming in the annual All-Star Challenge Cup.

Representing SOFLO are Kelley Heron, Jessica Rodriguez, Sophia Bucaro, Melissa Marinheiro, Leonie Davies, Kevin Porto, Nicholas Perera, Ricardo Roche and Julien Pinon.

The 15-18 5K begins at 8 a.m. followed by the 13-14 5K at 9:30 a.m. and 2.5K for 11-12 swimmers at 11 a.m. A 1K race for kids 10-and-under will finish up the youth races. The second annual Crippen Sunset Mile, named after distance swimmer Fran Crippen, who died tragically during a FINA event in Abu Dhabi in 2010, tops off the day’s events.

The races will be webcast online at Florida Swim Network.

SOFLO age group coach Megan Garland is a member of the All-Star coaching staff.

Elite swimmers return on Sunday for the 5K open water national championship at 8:30 a.m. The Gulf Coast Swim Team will host its event for local swimmers at 11 a.m.

The race returned to southwest Florida this year after being relocated last year to Fort Lauderdale because of concerns over water temperatures and heat exhaustion.

Sharon Robb can be reached at