Australia, Italy Break World Records; Dylan Carter Finishes Second In Butterfly Semifinals On Day One Of FINA Short Course World Championships

By Sharon Robb
MELBOURNE, Australia, December 13, 2022—In front of its hometown crowd, Australia dominated opening day action at the 16th FINA Short Course World Championships Tuesday at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatics Centre.

Two world records were broken by Australia’s women and Italy’s men relay teams.

Australia women’s 400-meter freestyle relay broke the first world record of the meet with Emma McKeon splitting the fastest 100 ever on anchor leg (in 49.96).

The U.S. was in the lead until the final 50 meters when the Aussies went on to win in 3:25.43. The foursome of Mollie O’Callaghan, Madison Wilson, Meg Harris and McKeon broke the previous record of 3:26.53 set in 2014 by the Netherlands. The U.S. (Torri Huske, Kate Douglas, Claire Curzan, Erika Brown) was second in 3:26.29.

“For me it was just about getting my hand on the wall and then looking to see that we had not only won but also set a world record,” McKeon said.

Added Madi Wilson, “To be able to do this in front of a home crowd was absolutely amazing. Thank you Australia.”

The Italian foursome of Alessandro Miressi, Paolo Conte Bonin, Leonardo Deplano and Thomas Ceccon with a 45.13 anchor split broke the second world record in the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay in 3:02.75, lowering the Americans’ record set in 2018. It was the first time the Italians won the event since 2006.

“We talked about the world record and then we went out and swam a world record,” Ceccon said.

Aussie Lani Pallister won the first gold medal of the meet in the 400-meter freestyle in 3:55.04. Her mother, Janelle Elford competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

“My parents are in the stands and winning this first medal in front of a home crowd in Australia is special,” Pallister said.

“It was an amazing day and I was very very nervous this morning. I just wanted to be sure that Australia had a fun night tonight. It was the coolest environment. At the 300 mark I realized that I had legs and I made sure to use them and take a stab at the gold medal.”

American Kate Douglass won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:02.12 ahead of long course world champion Alex Walsh in 2:03.37. Douglass and Walsh train together at University of Virginia.

“It’s definitely nerve wracking to be racing in the first swim of the meet so to be able to swim well is honestly an awesome feeling,” Douglass said.

South African Matthew Sates won the men’s 200-meter individual medley in a national record 1:50.15, second fastest on the all-time list behind Ryan Locjte (1:49.63). American favorite Shaine Casas was a disappointing fourth in 1:51.31.

“I genuinely don’t know what to say,” Sates said. “I’m so pleased with this swim and want to thank everyone for coming out to watch us race. I swam this race, especially for my Mom and I want to thank my friends and my family.”

Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri came from behind to won the 1500-meter freestyle in 14:16.88 ahead of Henrik Christinsen.

Plantation American Heritage alum Dylan Carter of Trinidad & Tobago, silver medalist in last year’s meet in Abu Dhabi, won his heat and was second fastest qualifier in the men’s 50-meter butterfly semifinals in 22.02. World record holder Szebasztian Szabo was top qualifier in 21.90, just 0.15 off the world record. The finals are early Wednesday morning at 3:30 a.m.

2020 Honduran Olympian Julio Horrego, 24, of SOFLO will compete in the 100-meter breaststroke prelims on Wednesday.

The meet, which ends Sunday, is being live streamed on FINA’s YouTube channel. Meet prelims are 7 p.m. EST. Finals each day are 3:30 a.m. EST. Melbourne is 16 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

U.S. Swimmers Wrap Up FINA World Aquatics Championships With Record Medal Haul; Sarasota’s Emma Weyant Takes Bronze

By Sharon Robb
BUDAPEST, Hungary, June 25, 2022–The final night of the 19th FINA World Aquatics Championships was an emotional roller coaster for swimmers and coaches Saturday night at Duna Arena.

In a dramatic turn of events, American Justin Ress was disqualified after winning the gold medal in the 50-meter backstroke for being completely submerged at the finish only to be re-instated less than a hour later after a closer review of the race by officials.

U.S. teammate and world record holder Hunter Armstrong gladly returned the gold medal after finishing 2/100ths of a second behind Ress who won in 24.12. Poland’s 17-year-old Ksawery Masiuk took the bronze in a national record 24.49. It was Ress’ first individual long course gold medal.

“It was definitely an emotional roller coaster,” Armstrong said before the ruling was reversed. “I am really proud of Justin. That was a great race. There was only 2/100ths of second separating us.

“I would rather take second and have him with me, then getting the title with a disqualification. It’s not how I wanted it. He is an amazing athlete, completely talented. To have that taken away from him, it sucks.”

Italy came up with two of the biggest upsets of the night.

Veteran distance freestyler Gregorio Paltrinieri, 27, flirting with the world record in Lane 1, pulled away early in the race and never faltered to win in championship and European record time of 14:32.80, second fastest time in history.

University of Florida’s Bobby Finke, the Olympic champion and favorite, could not pull off his patent comeback down the stretch, that’s how far the Italian was ahead. Finke took silver breaking his own American record 14:36.70 and Germany’s Florian Wellbrock was third in 14:36.94.

“I knew that they were coming, but I had quite a big lead, so that was enough for me,” Paltrinieri said. “That was my strategy, actually, to go out fast and try to open a gap with the others. So I’m really glad I did it.”

Ironically, Paltrinieri was the seventh fastest qualifier for the final, just three seconds away from not making the final.

“In the beginning, I was just trying to keep up with him, but he just kept getting farther and farther ahead,” Finke said. “Hats off to Greg. I wasn’t able to run him down. He had a great race, and I’m really proud of him.”

“Greg had a great race, starting from the get go,” Finke said. “I broke the record by three seconds so I’m happy with it. I was just trying the do best I could. I am going away happy after this meet. It was stressful. I have never been in this scenario as expected to take the title again and being reigning Olympic champion.”

The Italian 4×100-meter relay of world record holder backstroker Thomas Ceccon, 100 breaststroke gold medalist Nicolo Martinenghi, Federico Burdisso and Alessandro Miressi upset the U.S. team of Ryan Murphy, Nic Fink, Michael Andrew and Ryan Held, 3:27.51-3:27.79. Great Britain was third in 3:31.31 just ahead of the Aussies in 3:31.81.

There were 23 Florida Gold Coast swimmers that competed on one of swimming’s biggest international stages.

Four swimmers, including University of Florida’s Anna Auld of West Palm Beach, are entered in open water events which begin on Sunday with the 6K team relay (4×1500) off Lupa Beach. The 5K is Monday, 10K on Wednesday and 25K on Thursday.

In other finals Saturday night:

WOMEN’S 50 BREASTSTROKE: Ten years after winning gold at the London Olympics, Ruta Meilutyte, 25, of Lithuania came out of retirement in 2021 after missing three doping tests and serving a 24-month suspension, started training again and ended up winning another title in 29.70. Italy’s world record holder Benedetta Pilato was second in 29.80 and Lara van Niekerk of South Africa was third in 29.90. American Lilly King was seventh in 30.40.

“It’s nice to be a world champion, I’m super proud of myself,” said Meilutytė, who won her second world title nine years after winning the 100 breaststroke in 2013. “I’m grateful for every step taken in my life, the bad ones and the good ones as well.”

WOMEN’S 400 IM: Canadian teenager sensation Summer McIntosh won her second gold medal, fourth overall and broke her third world junior record en route to the win in 4:32.04. McIntosh, 15, held off another outstanding teenager, American Katie Grimes, 16, second in 4:32.67. Sarasota’s Emma Weyant, who waited all week to swim, took the bronze in 4:36. It’s been 17 years since two Americans won medals in the same race. Hungarian Katinka Hosszu was unable to win her fifth straight gold in the event fading to fourth.

“Since it was the last day, I definitely felt, not the freshest in the water,” McIntosh said. “But I just tried my best to get my hand on the wall first and I’m so happy with the placement.”

50-METER FREESTYLE: Swedish world record holder Sarah Sjostrum won her 20th career gold medal in 23.98. It was her second world title of the meet. Poland’s Katarzyna Wasick took the silver in 24.18 and Meg Harris of Australia and American Erika Brown tied for the bronze in 24.38.

“It means so much to me,” Sjostrum said. “Every journey is different to winning a gold medal. I am super proud of achievening this medal. I came off a broken elbow and struggled with motivation, but now I remember why it was worth putting in all the time.”

WOMEN’S 4×100 MEDLEY RELAY: The U.S. won its third straight world title with Regan Smith, Lilly King, Torri Huske and Claire Curzan in 3:53.78. It was Curzan who broke open a tight race and pulled away on anchor. The U.S. had only qualified seventh and was in the outside lane. Australia was second in 3:54.24 and Canada was third in 3:55.01.

“The faster we finish, the faster we get pizza,” King joked after the race.

The U.S. finished with a record 45 medals (17 gold, 12 silver and 16 bronze. Australia was second with 17 total (6 golds, 9 silver, 2 bronze). Canada was third with its best-ever world finish with 11 (3 gold, 4 silver, 4 bronze). Italy was fourth with 9 (5 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze).

The U.S. team’s 45 medals eclipsed the previous record of 38 medals the U.S. won at the 2017 world championships.

“We have crushed it this whole week,” said Regan Smith, who led off the relay and also won the individual 100 backstroke earlier in the meet. “We’ve had such good energy. This team is really special. It’s like no other team I’ve ever been on.”

The aquatics championships that also feature diving, water polo, high diving, open water swimming and synchronized swimming end July 3. Although the pool racing is done action continues with diving and open water swimming, both beginning Sunday. Meanwhile, the water polo tournaments are ongoing.

A highlights show will be on NBC at noon on June 26.

Sunday, June 26: Open water, 6K team relay.
Monday, June 27: Open water, men’s and women’s 5K.
Wednesday, June 29: Open water, men’s and women’s 10K.
Thursday, June 30: Open water, men’s and women’s 25K.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Italian Thomas Ceccon Breaks World Record; Katie Ledecky Wins 17th Title At FINA World Aquatics Championships

By Sharon Robb
BUDAPEST, Hungary, June 20, 2022–In an exciting finish, Italy’s Thomas Ceccon pulled off the shocker breaking the world record in the 100-meter backstroke Monday night at the 19th FINA World Aquatics Championships at Duna Arena.

Ceccon, 21, stunned the field that included the former world record holder by putting on the after burners in the final 25 meters to win in 51.60, bettering the previous record by 0.15 seconds set by American Ryan Murphy at the 2016 Olympics.

“I have no words for this,” Ceccon said. “There is an Olympic champion from 2016 so no I did not expect to win. The world record is not a simple thing. It’s a nice step I’ve taken.

“Yesterday I swam 52.1 very easy,” Ceccon said. “I am feeling good in the water and just doing my race, staying calm and focused on my race. And that’s it.”

Ceccon is only the second Italian to set a world record in long course swimming. Giorgio Lambert was the first in the 200 freestyle.

Murphy finished second, just 0.37 seconds off the winning pace in 51.97. Murphy has yet to win an individual world long course title. U.S. teammate Hunter Armstrong was third, 0.38 seconds behind in 51.98.

“Hats off to Thomas,” said Murphy, a Bolles alum. “That’s a really, really fast time. It’s going to be an exciting couple of years.”

Katie Ledecky of Gainesville won her 17th world title winning her fourth gold medal in the 1,500-meter freestyle. Ledecky led from start-to-finish to win in 15:30.15, just 10 seconds under her world record set in 2018. U.S. teammate Sixteen-year-old American teenager Katie Grimes was second, 14.74 seconds behind her in a best time 15:44.89. Aussie Lani Pallister was third in 15:48.96, also a best time.

“To share this moment with her is really special,” said Ledecky referring to Grimes, her future heir apparent. Grimes is the second youngest medalist in the 1,500 at worlds since Ledecky won it for the first time in 2013.

“It takes a lot of hard work,” said Ledecky, a grad assistant coach at University of Florida. “It’s about doing all the right things in and out of the pool to have that longevity. You can’t get complacent.”

Said Grimes, “I was really nervous leading up to it because it’s my first world championship and Team USA has been doing a great job. I wanted to keep that going.”

South Florida Aquatic Club Honduran Olympian Julio Horrego, 23, was disqualified in the 50-meter breaststroke in his final event at worlds. He has now been disqualified in three of his last four races in the U.S. and Hungary. Earlier in the meet, he was 32nd in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02.07.

There are 21 past and present Florida Gold Coast swimmers competing on one of swimming’s biggest international stages.

Other swimmers who competed on Monday with Florida Gold Coast ties were:

Izaak Bastian, 21, Bahamas (St. Andrew’s, Florida State), 50 breaststroke, 32nd in 28.47.

Kito Campbell, 19, Jamaica (Azura), 50 breaststroke, 39th in 29.06.

FGC swimmers competing on Tuesday are:

Patrick Groters, 23, Aruba, (NSU University School, Pine Crest Swim Club, University of South Carolina), 200 IM.

Dylan Carter, 26, Trinidad & Tobago, (Plantation American Heritage), 100 freestyle.

Esteban Nunez del Prado, 18, Bolivia, (Azura), 200 IM.

Jayhan Odlum-Smith, 20, St. Lucia, (Azura), 100 freestyle.

Jenebi Benoit, 19, Grenada, (Azura) 100 freestyle.

Julimar Avila, 25, Honduras, (Azura), 200 butterfly.

Leon Seaton, 18, Guyana, (Azura), 100 freestyle.

Matheo Mateos, 21, Paraguay, (Azura), 200 IM.

Steven Aimable, 23, Senegal, (Azura), 100 freestyle.

In Monday night’s final events:

200 men’s free: Romania’s David Popovici broke his own world junior record to win gold in 1:43.21, 1.26 seconds ahead of the field. His previous record was 1:44.40. Korean teenager Hwang Sunwoo was second in 1:44.47 and Brit Tom Dean was third in 1:44.98.

100 women’s backstroke: American Regan Smith won gold in 58.22, 0.18 seconds ahead of Canadian two-time world champion Kylie Masse in 58.40. American Claire Curzan took the bronze in 58.67. It was the first time Americans won two medals in the event since the 2008 Olympics.

100 women’s breaststroke: The Italians’ success continued with teenager Benedetta Pilato, 17, winning a tight race in 1:05.93, 0.05 ahead of Germany’s Anna Elendt in 1:05.98 and 0.09 ahead of Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte in 1:06.02 for her first career world title. Pilato is the youngest Italian swimmer to win a gold medal at worlds. American two-time defending world champion Lilly King was fourth in 1:06.07. “It’s really a surprise,” Pilato said. “I’m obviously happy. I really didn’t expect it. It’s been my dream. Before I swam I watched Thomas’ swim and I was crying for him. Then I realized I had to race and ran to the call room.”

Tuesday prelim events are women’s 50 backstroke, men’s 100 freestyle, men’s 200 IM, women’s 200 butterfly and mixed 4×100 medley relay.

The swimming runs through June 25 with the pool events. The aquatics championships that also features diving, water polo, high diving, open water swimming and synchronized swimming end July 3.

The Olympic Channel and Peacock, on the NBC platform, is televising the finals at noon each day. A highlights show will be on NBC at noon on June 26. The FINA facebook page is also posting competition news. Canada’s CBC will also broadcast the swimming.

There are huge cheers for any Hungarian swimmers from spectators at Duna Arena. FINA, the sport’s governing body, has asked fans each day to clap rather than cheer as a precaution against coronavirus infections. There were no other requests or restrictions.
Tuesday, June 21: 800 men’s free, 200 women’s free, 200 men’s fly, 50 men’s breast, 4×100 mixed medley relay.

Wednesday, June 22: 200 women’s fly, 100 men’s free, 50 women’s back, 200 men’s IM, 4×200 women’s free relay.

Thursday, June 23: 100 women’s free, 200 women’s breast, 200 men’s back, 200 men’s breast, 4×200 men’s free relay.

Friday, June 24: 50 women’s fly, 50 men’s free, 100 men’s fly, 200 women’s back, 800 women’s free, 4×100 mixed free relay.

Saturday, June 25: 50 men’s back, 50 women’s breast, 1500 men’s free, 50 women’s free, 400 women’s IM, 4×100 men’s and women’s medley relay.

Sunday, June 26: Open water, 6K team relay.

Monday, June 27: Open water, men’s and women’s 5K.

Wednesday, June 29: Open water, men’s and women’s 10K.

Thursday, June 30: Open water, men’s and women’s 25K.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Italy Wins First Gold Medal At FINA Short Course World Championships; SOFLO’s Atkinson, Horrego Race Thursday

By Sharon Robb
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, December 15, 2021–Italy won the inaugural open water mixed team relay Wednesday at the 15th FINA Short Course World Championships at Yas Bay.

It was the first time the new open water event was held at the championships.

Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy led his relay team in the 6K event. His split of 15:49.1 was the fastest of the nine teams that competed. He was 3.2 seconds faster than Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky, who challenged him in the final lap.

“It was a tough race,” Paltrinieri said. “Since Tokyo, I have been focusing on pool training, mostly on the 1500 meters. Today was a race in the sea, but it was also a 1500-meter race so I decided to swim the relay.

“Relays are always fun. I won’t be swimming the 10K Thursday. I battled with Kristof for the last 200 meters and he was trying to stay close to me. After the last buoy I gave it everything I had and he wasn’t able to pass me.”

Hungary was second in 1:06.51 and Germany was third in 1:07.29. The Italian team will split $20,000 in prize money. Hungary earned $16,000 and Germany $12,000.

Martina De Memme led off the Italian relay in 17:23.8 and was the sixth fastest lead-off swimmer in the event. De Memme was also the oldest swimmer on the Italian relay at age 30. Giulia Gabrielleschi, 25, the youngest Italian swam the second leg in 17:24.60 and was fifth fastest swimmer in the second leg. Domenico Acerena swam the third leg in a time of 16:10.6, second-fastest third leg swimmer.

Longtime St. Andrew’s Aquatics director and coach Sid Cassidy of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee directed the open water event.

The five-day meet continues Thursday with the pool competition and ends Tuesday, Dec. 21.

SOFLO and Florida Gold Coast will be well-represented. SOFLO Olympians Alia Atkinson of Jamaica and Julio Horrego of Honduras will represent their countries. Both will compete Thursday. Atkinson, the world record holder in the 50-meter breaststroke, is seeded second in 28.88. Horrego will compete in the 100-meter breaststroke. His entry time is 1:01.18, seeded 37th.

Other FGC swimmers competing are:

Steven Aimable, Senegal, Azura.
Julimar Avila, Honduras, Azura.
Nicole Frank, Uruguay, Azura.
Yeziel Morales, Puerto Rico, Azura.
Maria Fe Munoz, Peru, Azura.
Kerry Ollivierre, Grenada, Azura.
Joaquin Vargas, Peru, Azura.
Sidrell Williams, Jamaica, Azura.
Dylan Carter, Trinidad and Tobago, American Heritage Plantation alum.
Izaak Bastian, Bahamas, Florida State, St. Andrew’s alum.
Miguel Cancel, Puerto Rico, University of Florida, Gulliver Prep alum.

FINA will offer a prize money pool of $2.8 million, a 50 percent increase in prize money for individual swimmers. There will also be a $50,000 bonus for any swimmer who breaks a world record.

The top eight individual payoffs for first through eighth place are $10,000, $8,000, $7,000, $6,000, $5,000, $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000.

There are 943 swimmers from 183 countries competing. The swimming is part of the Aquatics Festival which includes open water swimming, high diving and diving team competition.

Final sessions of the pool swimming will be streamed on NBC Sports’ Olympic Channel. Eurovision Sport’s All Aquatics will air the heats.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Atkinson Takes Third, Fourth, Sixth In London Roar’s Sixth Match Of ISL Pro Series

By Sharon Robb
NAPLES, Italy, September 11, 2021–SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson had three top six finishes in the ISL London Roar’s sixth match of the season Saturday at Piscina Felice Scandone.

The five-time Jamaican Olympian was sixth in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:22.11. Lilly King of the Cali Condors won in 2:16.83.

Atkinson was fourth in the 50-meter breaststroke in 29.82. Arianna Castiglioni of the Centurions won in 29.46. King was second in 29.62.

Atkinson salvaged the day with a third place finish on the 400-meter medley relay in 3:50.43 behind the Cali Condors and Aqua Centurions.

London teammate Dylan Carter of Trinidad & Tobago was a member of the winning 400-meter freestyle relay that won in 3:05.05.

After Day One, the London Roar is first with 277 points followed by reigning ISL champion Cali Condors with 263.5, Tokyo Frog Kings, 187.0 and Aqua Centurions, 181.5. Action will continue on Sunday with the same four teams.

Earlier in the week in the ISL’s fifth match of the season, Alberto Razzetti broke the oldest Italian short course record in the 400-meter individual medley in 4:01.57. The Toronto Titans swimmer broke the previous record if 4:01.71 by Luca Marin at the 2006 European Championships.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Germany’s Florian Wellbrock Wins Men’s Olympic 10K Open Water Swim

By Sharon Robb
TOKYO, Japan, August 4, 2021—Florian Wellbrock was determined not to let his third race of the Tokyo Olympics slip away.

The 23-year-old German world 10K champion won the Olympic men’s 10K open water gold medal by 25 seconds in 1 hour, 48 hours and 33.7 seconds at Odaiba Marine Park.

The victory more than made up for his fourth place in the 800-meter freestyle after leading until the last 50 meters only to finish fourth and settling for a bronze medal in the 1500 meters.

Wellbrock had the lead for most of the 6.2-mile race, trailing France’s Marc-Antoine Olivier briefly. Going into the seventh and final lap, six swimmers were together but it was Wellbrock who surged after making the final turn around a red buoy at the far end of the course and broke away for the win. No one was going to catch him on Wednesday.

Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky took the silver medal in 1:48.59, just edging out Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri in 1:49.01.1. Defending champion Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands was seventh. American Jordan Wilimovsky, 27, was tenth in 1:51.40.2. He was the only U.S. entry.

Wellbrock was the second German to win a medal in the 10K, held in the Olympics for just the fourth time after making its debut at the 2012 London Games. Thomas Lurz won bronze in 2008 and silver in 2012.

The temperature was 81 degrees with 80 percent humidity. The water temperature was 84 degrees. The stifling heat forced two swimmers to drop off including France’s David Aubry. Great Britain’s Hector Pardoe also was unable to finish.


  1. Florian Wellbrock, Germany 1:48.33.7
  2. Kristof Rasovszky, Hungary 1:48.59.0
  3. Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy 1:49.01.1
  4. Matan Roditi, Israel 1:49.24.9
  5. Athanasios Kynigakis, Greece 1:49.29.2
  6. Marc-Antoine Olivier, France 1:50.23.0
  7. Ferry Weertman, Netherlands 1:51.30.8
  8. Michael McGlynn, South Africa 1:51.32.7
  9. Hau-Li Fan, Canada 1:51.37.0
  10. Jordan Wilimovsky, USA 1:51.40.2

Sharon Robb can be reached at


By Sharon Robb
PEMBROKE PINES, June 23, 2021–After quitting the sport for karate, Giorgio Rusconi returned to competitive swimming five years ago.

And, the 14-year-old is very glad he did.

At the SoFlo Memorial Day Intrasquad Long Course Challenge at Academic Village Pool, Rusconi got his spring sectionals cut in the 100-meter breaststroke, winning the 13-14 age group in 1:14.07. It was his first long course cut.

“Making the sectional cut was an added bonus,” Rusconi said. “I didn’t really know the sectional cut before that. It gave me a lot of confidence. That has to be my biggest meet so far. I got to JOs before but I did total garbage at them. I just had a bad day and was psyched out.”

On the third and final day of the intrasquad meet, Rusconi won the 50-meter breaststroke in 34.80 and 200-meter breaststroke in 2:50.25. He posted new Junior Olympic cuts in the 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke.

At the two-day Boca Blossoms Closed Invite at Boca Raton High School Aquatic Center, Rusconi won the 100-yard breaststroke in a best time 1:06.69, dropping 0.45. Rusconi was also third in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:07.74 and tenth in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:29.21.

Training with the Silver Group, Rusconi has developed a tremendous work ethic.

“Giorgio’s recent successes, culminating in his first spring sectionals cut, is the result simply of his impeccable attention to detail at practice,” said his age group coach Jack Davies.

“His ability to consistently produce, assess and adjust his stroke makes him very easy to coach. He is always respectful and fun to engage with on the pool deck.

“I look forward to seeing him continue to grow and rise to new challenges as he progresses.”

Rusconi will be a junior this fall at Somerset Academy in Pembroke Pines. He was able to skip a grade while living in Jamaica. While attending high school he is trying to complete his AP and ACE college requirements. “I have this plan and I have been doing pretty well on it so far,” Rusconi said.

After getting his brown belt in karate, second only to a black belt in the sport’s ranking system, Rusconi resumed swimming in Jamaica with his friends. He is now focused solely on swimming.

Rusconi joined South Florida Aquatic Club in late 2019 and has made remarkable progress. He plans to swim the high school season but likes the challenges and harder workouts club swimming provides.

Rusconi’s favorite stroke is breaststroke but added he is “trying to get a lot better at butterfly.”

Asked what he likes the most about swimming, Rusconi said “it makes me kind of feel like I’m flying. I like the feel of the water and my teammates.

“My teammates are so nice,” Rusconi said. “They are always super supportive. I love those guys.”

When Rusconi moved to the U.S., his teammates made it easier for him to adjust.

“I didn’t really know anybody at all when I moved but swimming at SOFLO I made a lot of friends there,” Rusconi said. “It was easy for me to adjust.”

Rusconi was born in Atlanta, Ga. His father is Italian, a former competitive snow skier, and his mother is Jamaican. He has triple citizenship. He speaks Italian and is learning Spanish.

His biggest goal currently is to move up to Gold Group. “That’s been my goal for the past six, seven months,” he admitted. “I really want to make it on that team.”

Eventually, he would like to represent Jamaica at the CCCAN and CARIFTA meets and compete internationally. His times are nearing the meet qualifying cuts. He would also like to compete in college, he said.

Each TYR Swimmer of the Month receives a free TYR backpack.

SOFLO sponsor TYR is a USA manufacturer of recreational and competitive swimwear, caps, goggles, triathlon gear and accessories and one of the nation’s top companies.

TYR, created by athletes, is named for the Norse god of warriors in Germanic mythology. Among its male-sponsored athletes are newly-minted 2020 Olympians Michael Andrew, Tom Shields, Nic Fink, Townley Haas and Jordan Wilimovsky and other elite swimmers Matt Grevers, Maxime Rooney, Jacob Pebley and Ryan Lochte.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Italy Sweeps Top Five; Lares, Acevedo Top SOFLO Finishers Friday At Senior Long Course Sectional Qualifier

By Sharon Robb

February 7, 2020–Two-time Italian Olympian and current world champion Gabriele Detti opened the Florida Gold Coast Senior Long Course Sectional Qualifier Friday with a win at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

Detti, 25, world champion in the 800-meter freestyle, won the event in 7:55.49, slower than his 7:45 seed time.

Italian swimmers swept the top five places. Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri, 25, was second in 8:02.14.

SOFLO’s top finishers were Sebastian Lares, 15, and Sarah Acevedo, 16. Lares was 13th in 9:07.43, bettering his previous time of 9:25.19, dropping 17.76 seconds. Acevedo was 26th in 9:51.87.

Lares and Acevedo are among 42 swimmers (22 girls and 20 boys) competing in 196 individual events and one relay event in timed finals.

Two sessions are scheduled for Saturday at 8:45 for the 400-meter individual medley, 10 a.m. for the 1,500-meter freestyle and 3:45 p.m. for the 400-meter freestyle, all timed finals.

In addition to SOFLO, the field features a mix of international swimmers and Florida Gold Coast teams including Azura, Pine Crest, East Coast Aquatic, SwimFast, North Palm Beach, Metro Aquatics, Flood Aquatics, Boca Raton Swim Team, Eagle Aquatics, Jupiter Dragons, TS Aquatics and Italy.

800-meter freestyle

1. Gabriele Detti, Italy 7:55.49, 2. Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy 8:02.14, 3. Domenico Acerenza, Italy 8:04.93, 4. Marco De Tullio, Italy 8:07.77, 5. Nicola Roberto, Italy 8:17.76, 6. Yeziel Morales, Azura 8:18.25, 7. Joaquin Vargas, Unattached 8:21.16, 8. Simona Quadarella, Italy 8:27.07, 9. Gabriel Araya, Azura 8:28.17, 10. Matheo Mateos, Azura 8:39.68.

SOFLO: 13. Sebastian Lares 9:07.43, time drop, 15. Robert Wilson 9:12.70, 18. Yannai Michael 9:23.90, time drop, 19. Leonardo Mateus 9:28.06, 26. Sarah Acevedo 9:51.87.


What: FGC Senior Long Course Sectional Qualifier

When: Saturday

Schedule: Saturday, Session II, 8:45 a.m. and 10 a.m., Session III, 3:45 p.m.

Where: Plantation Aquatic Complex, 9151 NW Second Street, Plantation

Of note: Admission is $5 per person, per session. All sessions passes are available. Heat sheets will be posted online and Meet Mobile. For more information, call 954-452-2526.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Swimmers Among Field For Senior Long Course Sectional Qualifier In Plantation

By Sharon Robb

February 6, 2020–South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers will compete Friday and Saturday in the Florida Gold Coast Senior Long Course Sectional Qualifier at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

SOFLO has 42 swimmers (22 girls and 20 boys) competing in 196 individual events and one relay event in timed finals.

Among SOFLO swimmers are Paige Lane, Mallory Schleicher, Philopatier Ibrahim, Miguel Sierra, Sebastian Lares, Gaby Banks, Alex Golding, Molly Golding, John Paul Handal, Robert Wilson, Rafael Rodriguez and Nicolas Rossi.

SOFLO teammates Maddie Smutny and Sarah Acevedo are seeded one-two in the 200-meter butterfly.

Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson is seeded first in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:05.59. SOFLO teammate Olivia Dinehart is seeded second in 1:13.03.

Atkinson is also seeded first in the 50-meter butterfly in 26.65 and 200-meter breaststroke in 2:23.45.

Italian swimmers dominate the top seeds including Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri. He is seeded first in the 1500-meter freestyle in 14:34 and 800-meter freestyle in 7:39.

The meet begins 4:15 p.m. on Friday with the 800-meter freestyle in Session I. Two sessions are scheduled for Saturday at 8:45 for the 400-meter individual medley, 10 a.m. for the 1,500-meter freestyle and 3:45 p.m. for the 400-meter freestyle, all timed finals.

In addition to SOFLO, the field features a mix of international swimmers and Florida Gold Coast teams including Azura, Pine Crest, East Coast Aquatic, SwimFast, North Palm Beach, Metro Aquatics, Flood Aquatics, Boca Raton Swim Team, Eagle Aquatics, Jupiter Dragons, TS Aquatics and Italy.


What: FGC Senior Long Course Sectional Qualifier

When: Friday-Saturday

Schedule: Friday, Session I, 4:15 p.m.; Saturday, Session II, 8:45 a.m. and 10 a.m., Session III, 3:45 p.m.

Where: Plantation Aquatic Complex, 9151 NW Second Street, Plantation

Of note: Admission is $5 per person, per session. All sessions passes are available. Heat sheets will be posted online and Meet Mobile. For more information, call 954-452-2526.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Swimmers More Than Ready For This Weekend’s State, Region Meets

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, November 7, 2019—South Florida Aquatic Club will have a record 65 swimmers competing in the State 2A and State 1A and Region 4-4A and Region 4-3A FHSAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

The hard work and dedication paid off for SOFLO swimmers and coaches.

After a full season of high school swimming meets, ninety-five percent of SOFLO swimmers who swim on high school teams qualified for either the district, region or state meets.

At Friday’s State 2A meet, SOFLO swimmers competing are American Heritage Plantation’s Sebastian Lares, 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard backstroke; and Nicolas Rossi, 200- and 500-yard freestyles and relays; Juan Camilo Rivero of Monsignor Pace will compete in the 100-yard butterfly; and Juan Pablo Pineda of Mater Lakes will compete in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke and relays.

In the State 1A meet on Saturday, Sagemont’s Sara Quintero will swim the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard butterfly; eighth grader Anastasia Lutz of NSU University School, 500-yard freestyle and South Florida Heat’s Hartley Pitters-Hinds will swim the 100-yard freestyle and relays; Cutler Bay’s Elena Dinehart, 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and relays; Olivia Dinehart, 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard breaststroke and relays; Madeline Smutny, 100-yard butterfly, 500-yard freestyle and relays; Miguel Sierra, 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard backstroke and relays; Lucy Smutny, 500-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke and relays alternate; and Sophia Grubbs, 100-yard breaststroke.

At the Region 4-3A meet, among dozens of the qualified SOFLO swimmers are Lance Lesage of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rafael Rodriguez, Zackary Harris and Victoria Torres of Pembroke Pines Charter; and Sydney Sever of Terra Institute.

At the Region 4-4A meet, leading SOFLO’s contingent are Molly Golding, Sally Golding, Robert Wilson and Mallory Schleicher; Sarah Acevedo and Juan Colmenares of Everglades; Philopatier Ibrahim, Gaby Banks, Paige Lane and Jacqueline Lugo of Cypress Bay; John Paul Handal of West Broward; Maddy Schain, 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke; Tristan Wilson, 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke; Maia Vatinelle, 200-yard individual medley and 500-yard freestyle; Dominic Bono, 200-yard individual medley and 500-yard freestyle; Garrett Oliver, 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke; Jose Hermida, 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard breaststroke; and Ana-Luisa Frable, 100-yard freestyle.


When: Friday

Host: Treasure Coast Sports Commission.

Where: Sailfish Splash Waterpark and Aquatics Center, 931 SE Ruhnke St., Stuart.

Start times: 9 a.m. swimming prelims and women’s diving, 1:30 p.m. men’s diving, finals 5:30 p.m.

Admission: $12 per session. $10 parking.


When: Saturday

Host: Treasure Coast Sports Commission.

Where: Sailfish Splash Waterpark and Aquatics Center, 931 SE Ruhnke St., Stuart.

Start times: 9 a.m. swimming prelims and women’s diving, 1:30 p.m. men’s diving, finals 5:30 p.m.

Admission: $12 per session. $10 parking.


When: Friday
Host team: St. Thomas Aquinas
Where: Plantation Central Park Aquatic Center, 9151 NW Second St., Plantation (swimming) and Boca Raton High School (diving).
Start times: 10:35 a.m. diving, 11 a.m. swimming
Admission: $7. Host contact Alec Wathen (


When: Friday
Host team: Boca Raton
Where: Boca Raton High School Aquatic Center, 1501 NW 15th Court.
Start times: 10:35 p.m. diving, 5:30 p.m. swimming.
Admission: $7, $3 heat sheets. Host contact Allan Williams,

Sharon Robb can be reached at