SOFLO’s Rafael Rodriguez, Alana Acevedo Win Age Group Titles At Open Water Festival

By Sharon Robb

April 26, 2015—-Rafael Rodriguez and Alana Acevedo of South Florida Aquatic Club won their age group divisions in the LSC All-Star Challenge during the Open Water Festival this past weekend in Fort Myers.

Rodriguez won the 5,000-meter race in 1 hour, 6 minutes and 23 seconds. Teammate Leonardo Mateus was second in 1:07.16. Both competed in the 13-14 boys.

Acevedo won the girls 13-14 age group.

Kevin Porto was tenth among the 15-18 boys in 1:11.35.

Alejandro Mateus was first in the 800 meters.

Rodriguez was also second in his age group at the Crippen Mile Sunset Swim. Rodriguez finished in 19 minutes and 27 seconds to place second in the 13-14 age group.

Leonardo Mateus was fourth in 19:40 and Acevedo was 12th in the girls 13-14 age group in 24:40. The course was a 1-mile loop swim with the finish on the beach. Proceeds from the Crippen Mile benefit the Fran Crippen Elevation Foundation.

The events were held over three days during the Open Water Festival.

In the USA Swimming Open Water 5K National Championships on Sunday at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club in Fort Myers, Haley Anderson made her move at the final turn to reel in Ashley Twichell to win her third title.

Anderson overtook Twichell and the rest of the field around the the final buoy and pulled away down the stretch to the finish line.

Anderson, who was runner-up in the 10K, finished in 1:01:51.29 seconds to qualify for the world championships later this summer in Kazan, Russia. Twichell of Triangle Aquatics finished second in 1:01:53.63 and former Clearwater swimmer and 10K champion Becca Mann of North Baltimore was third in 1:01:56.66.

Anderson last competed in the world championships in 2013 when she won a gold medal in the 5K.

“I didn’t know if anybody was close behind,” Anderson told the media after the race. “I don’t like to look behind me. I just like to keep looking forward in racing.

“Today was more about changing it up, seeing how I felt,” Anderson said. “I knew if I swam well I would get to swim the 5K at worlds, but if not I still have the 10K so there were no worries today.”

Miami-born and Bishop Verot alum Stephanie Peacock of Mission Viejo and Cape Coral was the early leader during the race lap but faded to ninth in 1:02:21.

In the men’s competition, Olympian and former 10K world champion Alex Meyer won his second consecutive 5K title in 57:43.940. Meyer had just missed making the 10K world team finishing third by .006.

“The first lap was really fast and I thought I was pretty much going to fall off the group at that point,” Meyer said. “But it kind of slowed down and it just played out to a very close finish and it was fun.

“I almost died a bit on the backstretch but I tried to stay up front. When David swam up beside me it ended up being a perfect scenario for us for the finish.”

Meyer’s Tennessee Aquatics’ teammate David Heron was second in 57:44.23. Andrew Gemmell was third in 57:44.39.

Robert Finke, 15, of St. Petersburg Aquatics won the 18-and-under national title. He was seventh overall in 57:51 ahead of Brendan Casey, second among 18-and-unders, in 57:51.19. Mann, at 17, won the girls 18-and-under national title with her third place overall in 1:01:56.


1.Alex Meyer, Tennessee Aquatics 57:43.940, 2. David Heron, Tennessee Aquatics 57:44.229, 3. Andrew Gemmell, Nation’s Capital 57:44.393, 4. Arthur Frayler, Unattached 57:48.610, 5. Chip Peterson, North Carolina Aquatics 57:49.247; FLORIDA: 7. Robert Finke, St. Petersburg Aquatics 57:51.006, 12. Blake Manganiello, Unattached 58:06.340, 13. Joey Pedraza, RallySport Aquatic Club 58:10.864, 24. Zane Grothe, Club Seminole 1:01:52, 29. Eric Geunes, Gator Swim Club 1:02:19,


1.Haley Anderson, Trojan Swim Club 1:01:51, 2. Ashley Twichell, Triangle Aquatics 1:01:53, 3. Becca Mann, North Baltimore 1:01:56, 4. Eva Fabian, Greenwood 1:02:09, 5. Christine Jennings, RallySport Aquatic Club 1:02:09; FLORIDA: 9. Stephanie Peacock, Mission Viejo 1:02:21, 15. Hannah Burns, Gator Swim Club 1:05:22, 18. Kahra Wiliams, Gator Swim Club 1:06:34, 32. Katelyn Kilpatrick, Central Florida Marlins 1:10:37.


13-14, 1. Ivan Puskovitch 1:01:39, 2. Michael Calvillo 1:05:39, 3. Gavin Bloch 1:06.38; 15-18, 1. Logan Houck 1:01:02, 2. Riley Molina 1:01:16, 3. Nicholas McDowell 1:01:25.


13-14, 1. Erica Sullivan 1:07:00, 2. Isabel Ivey 1:09:51, 3. Julia Byrnes 1:12:48; 15-18, 1. Erin Emery 1:06:16, 2. Sidney Kennedy 1:08:07, 3. Flo Almanda 1:10:51.


BOYS 11-12, 1. Connor Hughes 34:58, 2. Jared Carter 35:41, 3. Byron Keller 35:54; GIRLS 11-12, 1. Eliot Kennedy 35:01, 2. Julia Heimstead 35:07, 3. Meghan Lynch 36:01.


BOYS 11-12, 1. Mathew Tannenberger 20:42, 2. Jorge Guerra 20:51, 3. Byron Keller 21:35,

GIRLS 11-12, 1. Sydney Young 22:36, 2. Abigal Foreman 22:41, 3. Roxana Nolte 23:07.

BOYS 13-14, 1. Ivan Puskovitch 19:22, 2. Rafael Rodriguez 19:27, 3. Michael Calvillo 19:38, 4. Leonardo Mateus 19:40.

GIRLS 13-14, 1. Rachel Hicks 21:02, 2. Diana Dunn 21:25, 3. Julian Hill 21:29, 12. Alana Acevedo 24:40.

BOYS 15-16, 1. Abbott Taylor 19:04, 2. Eric Geunes 19:36, 3. Cameron Anderson 19:43.

GIRLS 15-16, 1. Sidney Kennedy 19:50, 2. Anne Norris 20:21, 3. Grace Kowal 20:36.

SENIOR MEN: 1. Jordan Wilmovsky 18:05, 2. Daniel O’Connor 18:19, 3. Kyle Nash 19:38.

SENIOR WOMEN: 1. Casey Francis 19:45, 2. Dorothy Halmy 19:46, 3. Ella Bryan 20:23.

Former Florida Swimmer Becca Mann Wins 10K Open Water National Championship

April 24, 2015—In near-perfect weather conditions at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club, former Clearwater swimmer Becca Mann of Homer Glen, Ill. captured USA Swimming’s 10K Open Water National Championship for the second year in a row on Friday.

Mann, 17, of North Baltimore Aquatic Club outsprinted Haley Anderson of Granite Bay, Calif. in the final stretch to win the women’s title in for the 6.2-mile course.

Last year Mann won the 10K national title in Castaic Lake, California.

Under overcast skies in 75-degree weather, the race came down to a sprint between the four leaders on the fifth and final lap. Anderson was leading but Mann reeled her in to finish less than a half-body length ahead in 2:02.38.344 for 6.2 miles.

“I didn’t feel great out there,” Mann admitted. “I was really struggling the first 5K. After that 5K I sort of built into it. I found that I had enough speed at the end to finish it.”

Anderson, an Olympic silver medalist, was second in 2:02.38.709 followed by Ashley Twichell of Fayetteville, N.Y. in 2:02.39.903 and Emily Brunemann of Crescent Springs, Ky. in 2:02.45.022.

In the men’s 10K, Jordan Wilimovsky, 21, of Team Santa Monica, Calif. and junior at Northwestern, 1:54:27.928 out-touching Sean Ryan, 22, of Club Wolverine, second in 1:54:40.334 and Alex Meyer, 26, of Tennessee Aquatics was third in 1:54:40.340. The top five finishers all finished in the 1:54-range.

“I was just trying to kick as hard as I could the last little bit,” Wilimovsky said. “I’d rather just go for it and see what happens.”

Miami’s Blake Manganiello was ninth in 1:58:57.973. Former Florida swimmer Joey Pedraza, 27, of RallySport Aquatic Club was 16th in 2:02:14:042. Ben Lawless, 18, of University of Florida was 19th in 2:04:03.052. T.C. Smith, 16, of Sarasota Tsunami Swim Team was 30th in 2:07:52.921.

Mann, Anderson, Wilimovsky and Ryan will represent the U.S. at this summer’s FINA World Aquatic Championships in Kazan, Russia. The top two men and women in the 10K qualify. At the world championships the top 10 men and top 10 women finishers qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Mann, a high school senior, had already made the U.S. world team in a pool event, the 800-meter freestyle.

The open water nationals is also a selection meet for the Pan American Games and World University Games, senior and junior national teams.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 16: Women’s 10K Open Water Gold Comes Down To A Sprint

OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 16: Women’s 10K Open Water Gold Comes Down To A Sprint


August 9, 2012

The women’s 10K open water swimming gold medal came down to a sprint in the Serpentine at Hyde Park.

Eva Risztov of Hungary outsprinted American Haley Anderson by 4/10ths of a second to win in 1 hour, 57 minutes and 38.2 seconds on the 1.6K loop course lined with an estimated crowd of 30,000.

It was Hungary’s second medal of the Games.

Martina Grimaldi of Italy took the bronze 3.6 seconds behind the winner and Great Britain favorite and two-time world champion Keri-Anne Payne was fourth, .4 seconds out of a medal.

Risztov, 26, took it out hard early in the race and remained in control of the race. As Risztov and Anderson entered the finish chute they were nearly shoulder-to-shoulder. Anderson veered off to the left while Risztov kept on swimming straight and touched first.

The six loop splits were 19:22, 19:47, 20:00, 19:49, 19:33 and 19:05 during the physical race that featured five yellow cars and referee whistle warnings.

“I decided to make it a very clean race,” Risztov said. “This is the toughest way to win. If I am leading, they can’t say I did anything. This was my tactic.”

The three-time Hungarian Olympian had retired in 2005 after competing in the 2004 Olympics but decided to make a comeback in open water swimming in 2009.

It was Anderson, 20, a senior at University of Southern California, who out-touched Risztov in the June Olympic qualification race in Portugal by 1.4 seconds.

“I usually start off in the back and work my way up,” Anderson said. “I was towards the front from the beginning, so it wasn’t rough. I put in a good race. It took a lot of energy to catch up to Eva. I gave it everything I had. I’m really happy with the results. She had a really good race.”

Anderson’s sister Alyssa won a gold medal as part of the U.S. 800-meter freestyle relay during the pool swimming.

The men’s 10K event is Friday. Among the field is American Alex Meyer.


Nineteen-year-old Chen Ruolin got China back on the gold medal winning track capturing the women’s 10-meter platform title at Aquatic Centre, completing a sweep of platform events for the second consecutive Olympics.

Only China’s Fu Mingxia and Americans Dorothy Poynton-Hill and Patty McCormick have won individual 10-meter titles at consecutive Games.

Chen finished with 422.30 points during the five-dive final finishing with a 55.80 margin of victory. She also won the platform synchro gold medal.

“I feel very pleased to have another gold medal for China, the more, the better,” Chen said. “I was very relaxed. It’s like it’s not the Olympic Games. I didn’t feel any pressure.”

Aussie Brittany Broben took silver. Broben is 16 competing in her first Olympics. She finished with 366.50 points. At 16, she is also Australia’s youngest Olympian in London.

“Please don’t pinch me because I never want to wake up,” Broben said. “It’s amazing. My coach was holding his breath on the last dive.”

Pandelela Pamg of Malaysia took the bronze with 359.20. It was her country’s first Olympic medals in diving and first in any sport besides badminton.

Former University of Miami diver Brittany Viola didn’t make it out of the semifinals. Viola finished 15th in the semifinals with 300.50 points. U.S. teammate Katie Bell also failed to advance with a 16th place with 296.80 points. Viola started strong but had less than stellar dives in later rounds.

“My mind felt right, my body felt right, it just didn’t come together,” Viola said. “Still, to be here was just incredible. I’m going to celebrate this journey. I never thought I’d be here.”

Water polo

For the first time in the sport’s history, the U.S. women’s team won the gold medal. The top-seeded Americans defeated Spain, 8-5, in the championship final.

After the first 15 minutes of the game, the U.S. dominated. Stanford freshman Maggie Steffens scored five goals in the final to finish with 21 goals for the tournament. She put the U.S. in the lead, 3-2, with 5:36 left in the half. The U.S. led the remainder of the game.

The U.S. was 8-for-17 on shots compared to Spain’s 5-for-28 and dominated despite losing ground on time of possession, 16:58 to 15:02.

The U.S. men’s team failed to reach the semifinals after losing to Croatis in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 162: Haley Anderson Wins Portugal Olympic Qualifier, Going To London

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 162: Haley Anderson Wins Portugal Olympic Qualifier, Going To London


June 9, 2012

Haley Anderson, the newest member of the U.S. Olympic swimming team, left no doubt she belongs in London.

Anderson, 20, of Granite Bay, Calif. won the women’s 10K title Saturday at the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier in Portugal’s Setubal Bay. She will be a senior at University of Southern California in the fall, where she is a top distance freestyler.

Anderson edged Hungarian Eva Risztov by 1.4 seconds in 1 hour, 44 minutes, 30.6 seconds. Risztov finished in 1:44:32.0, ahead of her teammates Anna Olasz to clinch her country’s spot for London.

“To qualify for the London Olympics is amazing,” Anderson said. “I’m speechless. I called my Dad after the race and said ‘I did it,’ but that was about all I could get out of my mouth.”

Ashley Twichell of Fayetville, N.Y., who turns 23 on June 16th, was fourth in 1:44.37.7 but was not named to the team because only one swimmer from each country out of the Top 10 qualifies for the Olympics. The Duke alum won gold in the 5K team pursuit and bronze in the 5K race at the world championships last year.

Anderson is both a national open water and distance team member. A three-time PAC-10 champion, she holds school record in the 1000-yard and 1,650-yard freestyles, 800-yard free relay and pool record in the 500-yard freestyle.

Anderson had finished second at the USA 10K National Championships in Fort Myers in April to secure a spot in the Olympic qualifier. She finished in 2:03:50 behind Twichell’s 2:03:06.

“I knew I was going to have a good race after swimming well at our nationals in April,” Anderson said. “I’m happy to have won the race. I am especially happy with the last stretch where I was able to dig deep.

“I was working with a lot of adrenaline and knew I had to put my head down and drive hard to the finish line.”

Anderson will also compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 19 days in Omaha, Neb. along with several other current, former and incoming Trojans.

Venezuela’s Yanel Pinto, who trains at Florida with Gator Swim Club, was South America’s top qualifier in 1:45:09.5, good for 18th place.

The U.S. will have swimmers in both the men’s and women’s 10K in London.  Anderson joins Alex Meyer, who qualified earlier, on the team.

Anderson made her move with 500 to go. Late in the race, the top four were two Americans and two Hungarians.

Many suggest that the course was short rather than extremely fast, estimated to be at least 15 minutes faster than the normal world-class 10K course. Water temperature was colder than expected at 61 degrees. A field of 41 women competed.

More open water news

Aussie Codie Grimsey, 22, a member of the Australian National Open Water Swimming Team, took the better line to edge Joey Pedraza of Davie Nadadores to win the 20th annual Flowers Sea Swim in the Cayman Islands. Luane Rowe, also from Australia, won the women’s race.

Mutual Of Omaha Invitational

Matt Grevers looks more than ready for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

The Olympian from Tucson Ford shaved nearly four seconds off his prelim time to win the 200-meter backstroke in 2:00.82 Saturday night at the Mutual of Omaha Swim Invitational, the first test event and dress rehearsal for the Trials.

Grevers told reporters he plans to battle Tyler Clary for the second spot in the event at the Trials behind favorite Ryan Lochte.

“Ryan Lochte is going to be very fast,” Grevers said. “I hope I’m not close to him. I hope he just kills everyone because that would be great for the United States.

“Second place is a little more open. Ty Clary, that’s his spot. I don’t think it would be easy to take, but maybe I’ll put a little pressure on him.”

The 200-meter backstroke was Grevers’ best event until he took a silver in the 100-meter backstroke at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“The 200 was my bread-and-butter event,” Grevers said. “As soon as I graduated college I got away from it because it was a little painful. So now I’m just coming back to it and seeing where I’m at.”

In other races:

Margo Geer won the 50-meter freestyle in 25.20 ahead of Rebecca Thompson in 25.55 and former Florida Gold Coast swimmer Rhi Jeffrey third in 25.62.

South African Roland Schoeman won his second event of the meet in the 50-meter freestyle in 22.00.

Lacey Locke won the 200-meter backstroke in 2:17.05.

Monika Stitski of Wisconsin won the 400-meter individual medley in 4:50.78.

Michael Weiss, also of Wisconsin, won the men’s 400-meter individual medley in 4:27.33, just edging Young Tae Seo of Swim Pasadena in 4:27.48.

Alyssa Anderson of Arizona, younger sister of new U.S. open water Olympian Haley Anderson, won the 200-meter freestyle in 2:00.68. She led from start to finish.

South African Darian Townsend of Tucson Ford won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:49.66.

Mare Nostrum Series

Canadian Olympian Katerine Savard won the 100-meter butterfly by 1/10th of a second over Brit Francesca Halsall, in 58.89-58.99 at the third and final stop of the Mare Nostrum Series in Monte Carlo.

South Africa’s Chad Le Clos and Yannick Agnel of France each won two events and Camile Muffat of France broke a meet record in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:55.21.

Agnel won the 100-meter freestyle on 49.14 and 400-meter freestyle in 3:46.14, the fifth fastest time in the world this year.

Le Clos won the 200-meter butterfly in 1:55.77 and 200-meter individual medley in 2:01.02.

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