FSU-Bound Swimmers Diaz, Banks Make It Fun For Dippers, AKS Swimmers

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, May 28, 2020–SOFLO’s David Diaz and Gabby Banks took turns talking about swimming for fun and importance of education with the help of moderator and SOFLO coach Andrea Golding during a Zoom presentation this past week.

Diaz and Banks are among nine high school seniors sharing their advice and experiences to younger SOFLO swimmers before they head off to college in the fall.

Diaz opened the presentation by asking swimmers what they did for fun. Archery, fishing and computer games were a few of their answers.

“You want to have fun with swimming, too,” Diaz said. “You don’t want to do something that you don’t want to do or forced to do.”

One way to make workouts fun is to challenge another swimmer in the next lane during a set, Diaz suggested.

“Racing each other is the greatest thing you can do to push yourself. It helps you get to the next level and it’s a friendly rivalry you develop. I got a lot of entertainment trying to race my friends.”

Diaz, Banks and Golding agreed the sport becomes a lot easier if you have fun with it. That you need it to be fun or you wouldn’t be good at it.

“Fun is so vital in the sport,” Diaz said. “At practice you may not be feeling it, but having a teammate support you makes the sport more fun and the competition with a friend is entertaining.

“Right now you should be enjoying the fun in swimming,” Diaz said. “Keep trying and don’t give up. Have fun with your teammates and support each other.”

Banks, who represents Jamaica internationally, stressed the importance of education.

“It’s important to stay in school and focus on your studies,” Banks said. “No matter how good you get in swimming, it is very important. Swimming is second to your education, that’s what’s going to help you in your career.”

Banks said it’s important to manage your time wisely. Set goals and keep up with schoolwork.

“You need to be so disciplined about going to practice, organizing your time and doing homework. You have to create a mental mindset. When in school you need to focus on your schoolwork and at swim practice you need to focus on swimming.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO Olympian Natasha Moodie Shares Her Struggles, Accomplishments As Student-Athlete

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, May 13, 2020—Resilience is not letting setbacks destroy you, learning from them and trying again. It’s one of life’s great skills which Natasha Moodie has mastered since she was a little girl.

The Jamaican Olympian, University of Michigan and Miramar High School alum and former South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer shared her trials and tribulations with SOFLO swimmers, parents and coaches recently on Zoom.

Moodie, 29, is SOFLO’s full-time college advisor. Her life’s story is remarkable. She never rejoiced in easy victories because there were no easy victories for the injury-plagued swimmer. She recovered from failure and learned something about herself along the way. She is tough. And, that’s how confidence is built. She is confident in anything she takes on.

For nearly an hour she shared her own stumbles and showed swimmers that mistakes are totally normal and helps them take their own in stride. She also proves that being a good role model doesn’t mean you have to be perfect.

The theme of her motivational talk was “determine your success by committing to the development of your character.”

Moodie started elementary school in Kingston, Jamaica at 4 and was one of only three 6-and-under swimmers at the center.

“We made it from one end of the 50-meter pool,” said Moodie, who by age 6 was swimming year-round for a club. At 12, her family moved to New Jersey where she joined an age group team. In 2005, she moved to Miramar and joined the Comets/SOFLO club.

“It was very tough for me at first,” Moodie said. “Having Chris (CEO and head coach Chris Anderson) as a coach really changed my life. He consistently pushed me. There was not really a limit on our goals. Coach did not put a cap on me on what I could achieve.”

Early on Moodie injured her shoulder. “I had no endurance, I was slowest in practice,” she said. “It was the first time I was truly challenged. I made a commitment to swimming and to what I was doing. I really wanted to be better and meet Chris’ expectations.”

Moodie said that meant giving 100 percent at every practice, getting to the pool at 4:45 in the morning, going to school and then returning for afternoon practice.

“Every meet I gave my best even though I had to swim the 400 IM and 200 fly,” Moodie said. “I had to be humble enough to accept correction to improve as an athlete.”

At the high school state meet, she won the 50-yard freestyle and had the pool deck buzzing.

“Most people didn’t even know my high school had a swim team,” Moodie said. “No one knew who I was. I was beating people who were suppose to win.”

At that meet Moodie made her U.S. Open cut and it all snowballed from there. “I had no idea what the U.S. Open was and here Chris is asking me if I wanted to go and I said ‘sure, yeah.” The next two years I went to juniors and seniors. If Chris said jump, I jumped.”

Moodie only missed two days of practice for prom and graduation. She competed in several U.S. Opens, senior nationals, made the Jamaican national team, 2006 World Championships in Australia, 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil, 2008 Seoul Olympics and 2009 World Championships. She retired from the Jamaican national team in 2010.

Moodie was 15 her senior year of high school when she was being recruited by colleges. “At that time recruiting was different,” Moodie said.

At only 16, Moodie started her collegiate career at Michigan on a full scholarship. She is the youngest SOFLO swimmer to earn a Division I scholarship. She made several college visits but it was Michigan she had her heart set on.

“I went to Michigan on a recruiting trip and it was the most boring trip,” she said. “It was 20 degrees and I was shaking the whole weekend. But I needed a place with minimal distractions to be successful in college and that environment didn’t have distractions.”

It wasn’t easy when she arrived on-campus. She called her first semester “an absolute disaster.” She was reprimanded for being late her first day of practice. After the first two weeks, she injured her left arm and couldn’t swim in practice. She had the least endurance and was the weakest in dryland which she said her teammates thought she wasn’t working hard.

“I was injured and terrible in practice,” Moodie said. “My teammates didn’t think I was putting in the effort. They didn’t know my character yet.”

In addition to being constantly injured, she did not do well on her final exams and failed her first semester with an F average, making her ineligible to compete her second semester.

“It was devastating and really hard for me,” she said. “I disappointed myself, my family and my teammates. After that first semester I got tutors, made weekly appointments with my professors, met with my academic advisor and joined study groups. I had to humble myself and take those steps to meet my goals.”

Moodie said she took time to reflect on how badly “did I want that degree from Michigan.”

Moodie nearly failed another semester her junior year but met with a tutor every day and professors three times a week.

“I did whatever it took to get there,” Moodie said. “I couldn’t spend time comparing myself to others. I had to stay true to myself and character.”

Even though she had only her electives left her senior year she never got overconfident. Just because she was doing better, she never let up. She was also named team captain.

“It wasn’t my GPA or amount of team points I scored, it was my character,” Moodie said. “Even when I was failing I maintained my integrity. I didn’t cheat or cut corners. I made the necessary changes to make it through and become better. I started at the bottom and now I am here.”

Injuries continued to plague her body that senior year. She was the only swimmer on the team not to earn an academic award or any individual swimming honors. And, she fell short of her goal of winning the Big 10 Championships by .02.

“It did not change my character or goals, I always put in 100 percent,” Moodie said. “I never missed a pratice and never let go of my goals.”

Moodie walked away with her college diploma finishing with a 2.6 GPA or C average. She went on to grad school at Johns Hopkins University.

“My coach said my professor reached out to him and said how much he enjoyed having me as a student,” Moodie said. “I barely graduated but they saw my dedication and character. Despite my difficulties I stayed true to myself and developing my character. It was my character that set me apart from my peers. It’s not about my grades or accomplishments, it was my dedication to get things done.”

Moodie stressed achievements are not the only measure of success.

“We are taught to push past our limits,” Moodie said. “You have an opportunity to show what you are made of. To be able to push yourself past your perceived boundaries are privileges. You get a chance to prove what you are made of for yourself, not your coaches or parents or teammates.

“I urge you to commit to developing yourself and giving your very best at every practice. Be able to humble yourself to accept corrections. These are valuable lessons to you for the rest of your life.

“If you fully commit to yourself and future self regardless of what your accomplishments say on paper, give everything to accomplishing that goal and character, at the end of the day you can say you are successful.

“I made sure that my 2.6 GPA told my story of resilience, it wasn’t a story of failure,” Moodie said. “It was a sign I didn’t give up. I was able to exercise humility and was willing to work hard and face not being the best. My life was filled with defining moments and you will have those moments that will define you, too.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Shares Her Journey With SOFLO, FGC Swimmers On Zoom

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, May 4, 2020–In front of a captive audience of nearly 300 Florida Gold Coast swimmers including several South Florida Aquatic Club teammates, Alia Atkinson shared her trials and tribulations in swimming.

The four-time Jamaican Olympian and world short course record holder made a special appearance recently on the Zoom platform for the Florida Gold Coast.

Atkinson, 31, is focusing on her fifth appearance at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, an historic feat for a Jamaican swimmer. She made her first Olympic team at age 15 under the watchful eye of SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson who has coached her for most of her career.

Atkinson spoke for 30 minutes and then opened it up for a question-and-answer session with Jennifer Gibson of Swim Fort Lauderdale as moderator. She talked about her early years as an age group swimmer and college career at Texas A&M. She started swimming at age 4. She said she liked the feel of the water and “hearing that swish.”

“I know you guys are busy doing something even though you are home and not training with your team,” Atkinson said, referring to the quarantine.

Atkinson stressed the importance of learning something from every swim.

“No matter whether you win or lose, you can find something to learn from that swim,” she said. “I have a lot of failures, and I am still learning. I turned those failures into a learning experience.

“The road is going to be rough but your journey is your journey. You can find little things to get better with every race.

“Swimming is very fickle, you have to be patient. Your body will get stronger. It’s really about being patient and persevering.”

Atkinson admits she came to a crossroads after just missing a medal in the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games. She was eighth at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“From 23rd to fourth put that fire back,” Atkinson said. “I realized I wasn’t finished now. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I now realize I need to swim for another reason.”

Atkinson also touched about signing with her first major sponsor, Speedo, her first world record and competing on the pro circuit around the world.

While swimmers are at home, she suggested they use YouTube as a source to check out elite swimmers and their strokes.

“I have started to understand more about other strokes,” she said. “Break down your strokes and fine tune. Use YouTube as a reference, watch the swimmers and their strokes and then compare your strokes to theirs.”

Atkinson talked about the mental aspects of swimming and how it can be a roller coaster.

“I believe in positive reinforcement,” she said. “Do the little things to change your outlook to positive.

“Have small goals during quarantine,” she told swimmers. “Help yourself so you get excited, help yourself physically and mentally. For me, I focus on the small things, things I can control.”

The Olympics being moved to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic threw everyone for a loop including Atkinson but she is adjusting.

“You cannot change your circumstances, but you can change your mindset,” Atkinson said. “It’s about how mentally tough can you get no matter what the world throws at you.

“I am looking forward to 2021,” Atkinson said. “I’m not sure what the future holds. You guys are all in the same boat as me. Just stay connected to your teammates and coaches.

“Start working on things that you lacked before, be a little ahead of the curve. Even though circumstances may hinder your mental state, there is always a chance to get back up and get tougher. Make your weakness into your strength. This is a great time to do it.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Natasha Moodie Enjoying Role As SOFLO College Advisor; Seven SOFLO Seniors Headed To College This Fall

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, April 30, 2020–With the college application process and recruiting rules frequently changing, South Florida Aquatic Club CEO and head coach Chris Anderson was looking to help SOFLO parents and swimmers.

Twenty years ago, when the club was in its beginning stages, there were fewer swimmers and college guidelines to contend with.

Now, with ever-changing rules and regulations and to educate swimmers and parents on the various NCAA Division I, II and III and NAIA colleges, Anderson hired his former swimmer Natasha Moodie as a full-time college advisor. Moodie is believed to be the first full-time college advisor at a USA Swimming club in the Florida Gold Coast.

Moodie, 29, a 2008 Olympian and three-time national record holder for Jamaica and alum of University of Michigan, where she was an NCAA All-American, is sharing her vast knowledge with SOFLO swimmers and parents.

Moodie, who has a strong background in education, develops college prep programs as program director for public schools in Miami-Dade. She is currently on a leave of absence and devoting her time to assisting SOFLO swimmers and parents through the maze of college research and preparation.

A day before College Signing Day (May 1), seven SOFLO seniors have committed to college. They are: Leonardo Mateus, Yale; Gabby Banks and David Diaz, Florida State; Sophia Bedoya, New York University; Rafael Rodriguez, Purdue; Roby Garrido, Rochester Institute of Technology; and Nick Chaimowicz, Broward College.

While most of the seniors already had a good idea of what college they would be attending when Moodie started last fall, she was there to answer any and all questions. She is currently working with SOFLO high school freshmen, sophomores and seniors.

“The team is much bigger now than when I was there in the early 2000s,” Moodie said. “Only three of us at the time wanted to swim in college. I am really thankful for Chris’ help with the college process. All my knowledge from recruiting came from Chris. No one in my family swam Division I. I was exposed to a lot of colleges at the U.S. Open, Junior Nationals and international meets.

“The club is so much larger now. There was definitely a need for my job. Today students need more guidance because the rules and college process has changed quite a bit just in the last five years when it comes to college application and recruiting.”

Moodie had been visiting with swimmers and parents before the COVID-19 pandemic but now communicates on the ZOOM platform.

Several swimmers would like to swim in college but may not have had the exposure to college coaches that Moodie had on the U.S. and international scene. She discusses the student’s goals in high school in terms of courses and activities and talks about the various collegiate programs that would be a good fit with their interests.

“It’s all centered around college,” Moodie said. “All the students who said they wanted to swim we look for a good fit. Some of them are not seen by college coaches on the national or international level, sectionals or Futures. My primary focus is serving the student-athletes who don’t get that exposure or had face-to-face meetings with college coaches. We want them to know there are colleges out there for them.

“I am a resource for families and kids to come to me for what they need,” Moodie said. “I am working with the junior class now. Quite a few students and parents have put together a college list. We talk about their priorities, what’s important, tuition, expenses, whether they want to stay in Broward, the state of Florida or outside the state.”

Unlike college football and basketball that dominate the headlines, collegiate swimming does not get a lot of exposure.

“There’s not a lot of national recognition,” Moodie said. “I’m not surprised that these students may not know about Division II schools. And NAIA is still quite young. The whole college system changes so much every year. I want to help them with their research.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, there are expected to be changes in the fall at colleges across the country. There is also talk of student-athletes taking a gap year. But SOFLO’s college-bound athletes are still planning on starting college in the fall whether it’s on campus or online.

Many colleges are supporting students by deferring deadlines, waiving fees and making standardized tests such as ACT and SAT optional. Still, no one knows what the fall semester will look like just yet.

“I am telling them everyone is in the same boat across the world, which is a position of waiting,” Moodie said. “I trust whatever decision the NCAA, USA Swimming, Florida Gold Coast and colleges make. I trust they will make the right decisions to protect the students and universities. It’s in the best interest of everyone. When things do resume we will all re-start wherever we are.”

Despite the challenging times, Moodie is enjoying her new role with SOFLO.

“It has been great being around swim families again, the parents have been so welcoming,” Moodie said. “I feel a close connection with them. Swimming and education are two things I love. I am excited for the future and excited to see what the future holds for these kids.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

New Date Announced For 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics, Athletes Now Have Target Date

By Sharon Robb

TOKYO, Japan, March 30, 2020—And now SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson, fellow Olympians and Olympic hopefuls from around the world have a target date.

The Summer Olympics and Paralympics have been rescheduled for nearly one year later with the date set for July 23-Aug. 8, 2021. The Paralympics were rescheduled for Aug. 24-Sept. 5.

The new Olympic dates would conflict with the scheduled world championships in track and swimming, but those events are now expected to also be pushed back. The IAAF World Track Championships are expected to be rescheduled for 2022. No word on the swimming event just yet.

The delay will cost at least $5.8 billion.

“The IOC has had close discussions with the relevant international federations,” organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said. “I believe the international federations have accepted the games being held in the summer.

“It is fantastic news that we could find new dates so quickly for the Tokyo 2020 Games. The new dates provide certainty for the athletes, reassurance for the stakeholders and something to look forward to for the whole world.”

Tokyo organizers said Monday the Opening Ceremony will take place July 23, 2021, almost exactly one year after the Games were scheduled to start this year.

“The schedule for the Games is key to preparing for the Games,” Tokyo organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said. “This will only accelerate our progress.”

Last week, the IOC and Japanese organizers postponed the Olympics until 2021 because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Mori said a spring Olympics was considered but holding the games later gives more space to complete the many qualifying events that have been postponed by the virus outbreak.

Muto said the decision was made Monday and the IOC said it was supported by all the international sports federations and was based on three main considerations: to protect the health of athletes, to safeguard the interests of the athletes and Olympic sport, and the international sports calendar.

According to FINA, the sport’s international governing body, announced several guidelines on Monday:

*All athletes and teams who already had qualified for the Olympic Games will keep their status for the 2021 Games.

*FINA was informed all test events that were postponedare expected to be rescheduled in 2021.

*FINA will finalize the dates and program for the 2021 World Aquatic Championships in Fukuoka.

Atkinson, a four-time Jamaican Olympian and world short course record holder, along with her SOFLO coach Chris Anderson, will be making their fifth historic Olympic appearance for Jamaica. Atkinson is already qualified.

“I think for me it’s just getting back my mindset, not thinking about the short-term goals in five months, but thinking of it in a year,” Atkinson said. “Plus, trying to get back to the things that I was working on without thinking that time is running out. Now I have much more time.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

2020 Summer Olympic Games Postponed, Moved To 2021

By Sharon Robb

TOKYO, Japan, March 24, 2020–South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson will have to wait a little longer to make a historic fifth Olympic appearance.

After weeks of speculation, it’s official: the 2020 Summer Olympics, originally scheduled to begin on July 24 in Tokyo, Japan and end Aug. 9, have been postponed to a later date because of the global coronavirus pandemic and will not take place until 2021.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, made what athletes, coaches and parents knew was inevitable official on Tuesday.

This is the first time the Olympic Games have been postponed although the major international event has been canceled three times because of war.

At 31, the four-time Jamaican Olympian was looking forward to competing in her fifth and probably final Olympics. SOFLO aquatics director and head coach Chris Anderson has coached Atkinson at all four Olympics.

“I do believe it was the best choice,” said the short course breaststroke world record holder. “A great majority of athletes across the board were on the same page. There is such a sense of relief.

“I don’t really have mixed emotions,” Atkinson said. “I think you have to consider everything. If every country competed there was a high probability of getting it. If one person has it, everyone in the Athletes’ Village is confined so that would increase the odds of getting it even more. And if the virus had died down in an athlete’s country and that athlete returned home with it, a whole second wave of the virus would start.”

Canadian Olympic swimming hopeful Bill Pisani already knew his country wasn’t going to the Summer Olympics, but it really hit home on Monday when he learned the Games were being postponed.

Pisani, 21, of West Palm Beach received an email from his swim federation on Sunday night that Canada was boycotting the Olympics because of COVID-19.

“For sure I have mixed emotions,” said Pisani, who grew up swimming in the Florida Gold Coast with the Lake Lytal Lightning and graduated from Florida State last year.

“The most emotion came when I was reading the email that it was postponed. I thought ‘oh wow this is the reality now.’ The more I think about it, it was absolutely the right decision.”

Pisani was pleased to see Canada join forces with Australia boycotting the Games and pressuring the International Olympic Committee to postpone the event until 2021.

“As the son of a Canadian who’s working in a hospital right now at the forefront of this invisible war and as an Olympic hopeful who has dedicated so much of his life to chase the Olympic dream, I am more proud than ever to be Canadian,” said Pisani, referring to his country’s boycott.

Pisani’s mom Lisa is a physical therapist. Recently, her hospital, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, had its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

“I think there was more of a sigh of relief for all athletes around the world,” Pisani said. “There were just too many questions left unanswered. Hosting the Olympics would have put so many people in danger. It makes us as athletes feel more secure and safe.”

The Canadian Olympic Trials were scheduled for March 30-April 5 in Toronto. Pisani was a favorite to at least make a relay.

“Over the past two years, the Olympic dream had become so close to reality for me,” Pisani said. “It was getting exciting as time went on and this year the closer we got to our Olympic trials it was the most excited I have been about swimming. Everything has definitely changed.”

Sid Cassidy of Boca Raton, St. Andrew’s School aquatics director and longtime swim coach, is vice chairman of the FINA technical open water swimming committee. He has been working Olympic events since 2008.

“I think at this point the athletes had it right,” said Cassidy, who was set to serve as referee for the men’s and women’s 10K races.

“It is hard when you see athletics taking a back seat,” Cassidy said. “Of course, I am disappointed they are not going to do it this year, but it certainly seems to be the best decision.

“There is no easy way to redirect your life. A lot of the talk is to be stronger and learn from it but it doesn’t take away any of the pain. This is very different from the 1980 Olympic boycott, this involves the whole world. I am happy for the athletes knowing but not happy with the reality.”

The U.S. swimming trials were scheduled for June 21-28 in Omaha. The pandemic had already disrupted the training of every elite athlete and Olympic hopeful in the U.S.

The postponement and rescheduling to no later than the summer of 2021 will already add to a crowded 2021 schedule that features the 2021 FINA World Aquatic Championships in Fukuoka, July 16-Aug. 1. Track and field will also have a conflict with its Aug. 6-15, 2021 World Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.

Florida State swim coach Neal Studd echoed Cassidy’s sentiments after watching his swim program’s NCAA season end early because of COVID-19. The men’s team was expected to finish in the Top 10 for the first time.

FSU had eight swimmers at World Championships and six at University Games. Studd was the 2012 St. Lucia Olympic coach and has coached several student-athletes on the international level.

“If anything this gives it some clarity,” Studd said. “Now we get to re-set and plan accordingly.

“There are bigger problems than sports right now. There is a big picture here and bigger place in the world. Obviously though I would rather be at NCAAs and Canadian trials.”

Mariusz Podkoscielny, two-time Olympian for Poland in 1988 and 1992, now head swim coach at Pine Crest School, said problems were already beginning to surface because of the lack of out-of-competition drug tests during the pandemic.

“There is the aspect that the Olympic competition would not be fair, that the way of preparation is not on a level playing field,” Podkoscielny said. “There are issues of people taking advantage of illegal supplements without conducting the out-of-competition drug testing. It would give athletes a green light to do it.”

Podkoscielny said the COVID-19 is bigger than any sports event including the Olympics.

“The majority of athletes are going to feel relieved,” Podkoscielny said. “These are not the circumstances to get ready for the Olympics or think about the Olympics. People’s lives are changing daily.

“If I were an athlete right now I would be heartbroken not going. There will be disappoitment but it is right thing to do. Everyone agrees with that.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Atkinson, Schleicher Lead SOFLO On Day Three Of Southern Zone South Sectionals

By Sharon Robb

PLANTATION, March 7, 2020—Alia Atkinson of South Florida Aquatic Club won two more events at the Southern Zone South Sectional Championships Saturday at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

The four-time Jamaican Olympian and one of the oldest swimmers in the meet at age 31, won the 50-meter breaststroke in 31.37 and 50-meter butterfly in 27.30. She also won the 100-meter breaststroke on Friday in 1:09.36. She scratched from the 100-meter butterfly.

Atkinson, who has 96 points in high point, has the 100-meter freestyle and 200-meter breaststroke left to swim on Sunday, the fourth and final day of the USA Swimming meet.

Mallory Schleicher, 16, was third in the 400-meter freestyle in 4:21.95, shaving 0.96 off her previous best time. She has 99 points in high point.

SOFLO women’s 400-meter medley relay of Elena Dinehart, Olivia Dinehart, Maddy Smutny and Schleicher was fourth in 4:28.41.

Defending champion Azura Florida Aquatics regained the combined team standings lead with 1,671.5 points. Bluefish Swim Club is second with 1,622.

SOFLO is fifth among combined teams with 1,022.5 points. The women’s team is fourth with 661.5 and men’s team eighth with 361.

SOFLO has 31 qualified swimmers (16 boys and 15 girls) competing in 140 individual events and 12 relay events race in the long course meet.

A large field is competing over four days in one of four designated USA Swimming zones. The others are Eastern, Central and Western Zone Sectionals. The meet attracts some of the top swimming talent from across the United States and internationally.

Among Florida Gold Coast teams entered are Azura Florida Aquatics, FAST, North Miami Swim Team, North Palm Beach, Coral Springs Swim Club, Gulliver, TS Aquatics and host Plantation Swim Team.

Defending champions are Azura Florida Aquatics (1,116.5) and Sarasota YMCA (1,432). SOFLO, with 35 swimmers, was third among both the girls (852) and boys (776) teams last year.

: 1. Azura Florida Aquatics 1,671.5, 2. Bluefish 1,622, 3. Bolles 1,216, 4. Scarlet 1,090, 5. South Florida Aquatic Club 1,022.5, 6. Colorado Stars 981.5, 7. Spartan 945, 8. Mesa 680, 9. Pine Crest Swimming 514, 10. Unattached Azura 437.

WOMEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. Bluefish 1,059, 2. Azura 744, 3. Bolles 673, 4. SOFLO 661.5, 5. Scarlet 569, 6. Pine Crest Swimming 384, 7. Mesa 378, 8. Colorado Stars 360, 9. Spartan 275, 10. Gator Swim Club 249.

MEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. Azura 927.5, 2. Spartan 670, 3. Colorado Stars 621.5, 4. Bluefish 563, 5. Bolles 543, 6. Scarlet 521, 7. Unattached Azura 362, 8. SOFLO 361, 9. Mesa 302, 10. Race Aquatics 240.


100-meter backstroke:
1. Celina Marquez, Azura 1:03.54, 2. Anna Freed, SRQ 1:04.08, 3. Julia Podkoscielny, PCS 1:04.45; SOFLO: 14. Elena Dinehart 1:07.40.

50-meter breaststroke:
1. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 31.37, 2. Carly Schwab, BSS 33.69, 3. Lucia Miller, SAS 33.91; SOFLO: 11. Molly Golding 35.24, time drop, 0.53.

50-meter butterfly:
1. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 27.30, 2. Lismar Lyon, Unattached 27.52, 3. Olivia Peoples, BSS 28.20.

200-meter individual medley:
1. Summer Smith, ABF 2:19.02, 2. Celina Marquez, Azura 2:21.73, 3. Andrea Santander, PCS 2:22.13; SOFLO: 11. Mallory Schleicher 2:22.53, time drop 3.20, 19. Olivia Dinehart 2:23.41, time drop 4.01, 26. Molly Golding 2:28.52.

50-meter freestyle:
1. Erika Pelaez, EA 26.10, 2. Allyson Ponson, Azura 26.12, 3. Manita Satianchokwisan, BSS 26.52; SOFLO: 11. Gaby Banks 27.28.

400-meter freestyle:
1. Michelle Morgan, PS 4:18.02, 2. Olivia McMurray, SWIM 4:18.05, 3. Mallory Schleicher, SOFLO 4:21.95, time drop 0.96; SOFLO: 19. Olivia Dinehart 4:34.23.

400-meter medley relay:
1. Bluefish A 4:22.62, 2. Azura 4:22.90, 3. Bluefish B 4:26.79, 4. SOFLO A 4:28.41 (Elena Dinehart, Olivia Dinehart, Maddy Smutny, Mallory Schleicher), 10. SOFLO B 4:37.27 (Lucy Smutny, Molly Golding, Sara Quintero, Gaby Banks).


100-meter backstroke:
1. Yeziel Morales, Azura 57.60, 2. Fernando Ruvalcaba Cruz, SASA 58.01, 3. Josh Zuchowski, FAST 58.13.

50-meter breaststroke:
1. Raphael Windmuller, Unattached 28.92, 2. Tomas Peribonio, GSC 29.33, 3. Matteo Zampese, Azura 29.42; SOFLO: 15. Juan Mora 31.46.

50-meter butterfly:
1. Runar Borgen, PAQ 24.58, 2. Kent Olsen-Stavrakas, STAR 24.80, 3. Abbas Qali, Azura 25.26; SOFLO: 13. Miguel Sierra 26.51, time drop, 0.10.

200-meter individual medley:
1. Tomas Peribonio, GSC 2:03.88, 2. Josh Zuchowski, FAST 2:06.89, 3. Matheo Mateos, Unattached 2:09.92; SOFLO: 16. Dominic Bono 2:16.30, 29. Philopatier Ibrahim 2:18.59.

50-meter freestyle:
1. Bruno Fratus, CSSC 22.16, 2. Renzo Tjon-A-Joe, CSSC 22.39, 3. Emir Muratovic, CS 23.18.

400-meter freestyle:
1. Santiago Corredor, GSC 3:55.38, 2. Joaquin Vargas, Unattached 3:55.95, 3. Gabriel Araya, Azura 3:59.34; SOFLO: 32. John Paul Handal 4:23.59.

400-meter medley relay:
1. Azura 3:48.64, 2. Spartan AC 3:52.71, 3. Colorado Stars 3:57.94, 7. SOFLO A 4:02.49 (Dominic Bono, Juan Mora, Miguel Sierra, Michael Arias), 18. SOFLO B 4:18.86 (Juan Colmenares, John Paul Handal, Philopatier Ibrahim, Sebastian Lares).


What: 2020 Southern Zone South Sectional Championships

When: Sunday, prelims 9 a.m. and finals 5 p.m.

Where: Plantation Central Park Aquatic Complex, 9151 NW Second Street.

Of note: Admission is $5. For more information call 954-452-2526.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO’s Atkinson, Schleicher, Dinehart Shine; SOFLO Fourth Among Teams After Day Two Of Southern Zone South Sectionals

By Sharon Robb

PLANTATION, March 6, 2020—Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson got South Florida Aquatic Club off to a good start Friday at the Southern Zone South Sectional Championships at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

Atkinson, 31, won the 100-meter breaststroke, her signature event, in 1:09.36. SOFLO teammate Olivia Dinehart, 15, was third in 1:13.05. She went a best time 1:12.99 in morning prelims, dropping 0.45.

Mallory Schleicher, 16, had another good finals night, placing second in the 400-meter individual medley in a best time 4:53.96, shaving 4.13 seconds off her previous best and giving Pine Crest state champion Julia Podkoscielny, 15, a run for her money in the final 50 meters. Podkoscielny won the event in 4:52.49, also a best time dropping 1.40 seconds.

Schleicher and Olivia Dinehart were also members of the runner-up women’s 800-meter relay team along with Elena Dinehart and Maddy Smutny that won in 8:41.60, faster than their seed time of 8:42.62.

SOFLO’s top boys’ finisher was Dominic Bono, 16, in the 400-meter individual medley. He finished 11th in a best time 4:42.20, dropping 0.94 off his previous best.

After two days of competition, SOFLO is fourth in combined with 676, fourth in the women’s with 412 and seventh in the men’s with 264. In the combined, Bluefish Swim Club overtook defending champion Azura for the lead, 1,126-1,037. Azura leads the men’s team standings with 570 and Bluefish leads the women’s with 710.

SOFLO has 31 qualified swimmers (16 boys and 15 girls) competing in 140 individual events and 12 relay events race in the long course meet.

A large field is competing over four days in one of four designated USA Swimming zones. The others are Eastern, Central and Western Zone Sectionals. The meet attracts some of the top swimming talent from across the United States and internationally.

Among Florida Gold Coast teams entered are Azura Florida Aquatics, FAST, North Miami Swim Team, Coral Springs Swim Club, Gulliver, TS Aquatics and host Plantation Swim Team.

Defending champions are Azura Florida Aquatics (1,116.5) and Sarasota YMCA (1,432). SOFLO, with 35 swimmers, was third among both the girls (852) and boys (776) teams last year.

: 1. Bluefish Swim Club 1,126, 2. Azura 1,037, 3. Bolles 838, 4. SOFLO 676, 5. Scarlet Aquatics 643, 6. Colorado Stars 636, 7. Spartan Aquatics 575, 8. Mesa Aquatics 483, 9. Gator Swim Club 291, 10. Pine Crest Swimming 257.

WOMEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. Bluefish 710, 2. Azura 467, 3. Bolles 436, 4. SOFLO 412, 5. Scarlet Aquatics 322, 6. tie, Mesa, Colorado Stars, 8. Gator Swim Club 194, 9. Pine Crest Swimming 183, 10. Spartan Aquatic Club 181.

MEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. Azura 570, 2. Bluefish 416, 3. Bolles 402, 4. Spartan Aquatic 394, 5. Colorado Stars 374, 6. Scarlet Aquatics 321, 7. SOFLO 264, 8. Mesa Aquatics 221, 9. Race Aquatics 163, 10. FAST 141.


200-meter freestyle:
1. Erika Pelaez, EA 2:03.88, 2. Brynn Wright, ABF 2:04.72, 3. Summer Smith, ABF 2:05.30.

100-meter breaststroke:
1. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 1:09.36, 2. Allison Henry, NRG 1:12.75, 3. Olivia Dinehart, SOFLO 1:13.05; SOFLO: 13. Molly Golding 1:15.79.

50-meter backstroke:
1. Celina Marquez, Azura 29.84, 2. Emma Harvey, PSU 30.29, 3. Gabriela Donahue, BD 30.54; SOFLO: 14. Gaby Banks 32.48.

100-meter butterfly:
1. Madeline Burt, SWIM 1:01.62, 2. Erika Pelaez, EA 1:01.86, 3. Lismar Lyon, Unattached 1:02.22; SOFLO: 23. Molly Golding 1:06.24, 31. Elena Dinehart 1:07.31.

400-meter individual medley:
1. Julia Podkoscielny, PCS 4:52.49, 2. Mallory Schleicher, SOFLO 4:53.96, time drop, 4.13, 3. Anna Freed, SRQ 4:54.95.

800-meter freestyle relay:
1. Bluefish 8:32.28, 2. SOFLO A 8:41.60 (Mallory Schleicher, Olivia Dinehart, Elena Dinehart, Maddy Smutny), 3. Azura 8:42.43.


200-meter freestyle:
1. Santiago Corredor, GSC 1:51.56, 2. Joaquin Vargas, Unattached 1:51.60, 3. Gabriel Araya, Azura 1:52.61.

100-meter breaststroke:
1. Raphael Windmuller, Unattached 1:03.54, 2. William Heck, BSS 1:04.84, 3. Tomas Peribonio, GSC 1:05.03; SOFLO: 15. Juan Mora 1:08.14, time drop, 0.27.

50-meter backstroke:
1. Blake Wilton, STAR 26.59, 2. Josh Zuchowski, FAST 27.38, 3. Raphael Santos, PCS 27.85, SOFLO: 16. Juan Colmenares 29.69.

100-meter butterfly:
1. Daniel Ramirez, WA 55.16, 2. Martin Espernberger, BSS 55.20, 3. Abbas Qali, Azura 55.32; SOFLO: 21. Rafael Rodriguez 58.21, 27. Miguel Sierra 58.62.

400-meter individual medley:
1. Hector Ruvalcaba Cruz, SASA 4:23.88, 2. Tomas Peribonio, GSC 4:26.45, 3. Joshua Parent, ABF 4:29.09; SOFLO: 11. Dominic Bono 4:42.20, time drop, 0.94.

200-meter backstroke time trial:
1. Leonardo Mateus, SOFLO 2:19.80.

800-meter freestyle relay:
1. Azura 7:48.15, 2. Bluefish Swim Club 7:58.79, 3. Gulliver 8:01.74, 7. SOFLO A 8:11.64 (Rafael Rodriguez, Philopatier Ibrahim, Sebastian Lares, Dominic Bono).


What: 2020 Southern Zone South Sectional Championships

When: Saturday-Sunday

Schedule: Saturday and Sunday, prelims 9 a.m. and finals 5 p.m.

Where: Plantation Central Park Aquatic Complex, 9151 NW Second Street.

Of note: Admission is $5. For more information call 954-452-2526.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO’s Atkinson Heads Field For Speedo Championship Series Southern Zone South Sectionals That Begin Thursday

By Sharon Robb

PLANTATION, March 4, 2020—Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson will be among South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers at the Speedo Championship Series Southern Zone South Sectional Championship that begins Thursday at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

Atkinson, 31, will compete in six events, including her signature event 100-meter breaststroke. She is seeded first in the event in 1:06.83. She is also seeded first in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:00.13; 50-meter breaststroke in 30.19; 50-meter butterfly in 26.54; 100-meter freestyle in 55.41; and 200-meter breaststroke in 2:31.

SOFLO will have 31 qualified swimmers (16 boys and 15 girls) compete in 140 individual events and 12 relay events race in the long course meet.

Atkinson will be joined by teammates Sarah Acevedo, 16; Michael Arias, 17; Dominic Bono, 16; JennaMarie Brames, 16; Juan Colmenares, 16; Alana Deo, 16; Elena Dinehart, 15; Olivia Dinehart, 15; Alex Golding, 15; Molly Golding, 16; Sally Golding, 15; Sophia Grubbs, 14; John Paul Handal, 17; Christopher Hau, 15; Sebastian Lares, 15; Jena Legaspi, 16; Alejandro Mateus, 14; Leonardo Mateus, 18; Manuel Melendez, 16; Yannai Michael, 15; Juan Mora, 15; Garrett Oliver, 17; Sabrina Osorio, 15; Sara Quintero, 16; Rafael Rodriguez, 16; Nicolas Rossi, 16; Mallory Schleicher, 16; Miguel Sierra, 16; Lucy Smutny, 16; and Madeline Smutny, 14.

Six events will open the meet on Thursday. They are the 1,500 freestyle, 800 freestyle, 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, 200 mixed medley relay and 200 mixed free relay.

A large field will compete over four days in one of four designated USA Swimming zones. The others are Eastern, Central and Western Zone Sectionals. The meet attracts some of the top swimming talent from across the United States and internationally.

Heading the elite field are Santiago Corredor, 20, of Gator Swim Club, seeded first in the 800- 400- and 200-meter freestyles; Josh Zuchowski, 15, of FAST, seeded first in the 50-meter backstroke; Celina Marquez, 20, of Azura, seeded first in the 50-meter backstroke and 100-meter backstroke; Gabriel Araya, 20, of Azura, seeded first in the 100-meter butterfly; Aruba’s Allyson Ponson, 24, of Azura, seeded first in the 50-meter freestyle; and Brazil’s Bruno Fratus, 30, of Coral Springs Swim Club, seeded first in the 50-meter freestyle.

Among Florida Gold Coast teams entered are Azura Florida Aquatic, East Coast Aquatic Club, North Palm Beach, Martin County, Coral Springs Swim Club, Sunrise, TS Aquatics and host Plantation Swim Team.

Defending champions are Azura Florida Aquatics (1,116.5) and Sarasota YMCA (1,432). SOFLO, with 35 swimmers, was third among both the girls (852) and boys (776) teams last year.


What: 2020 Southern Zone South Sectional Championships

When: Thursday-Sunday

Schedule: Thursday, timed finals 5 p.m.; Friday, Saturday and Sunday, prelims 9 a.m. and finals 5 p.m.

Where: Plantation Central Park Aquatic Complex, 9151 NW Second Street.

Of note: Admission is $5. For more information call 954-452-2526.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO’s Gaby Banks Wraps Up UANA Swimming Cup Appearance

By Sharon Robb

LIMA, Peru, February 24, 2020–South Florida Aquatic Club’s Gaby Banks of Jamaica wrapped up her final day action at the Union Americana De Natacion (UANA) Swimming Cup Sunday at Videna Aquatic Complex in Lima, Peru.

Banks, 16, was eighth in the 15-17 100-yard freestyle in 1:00.54, off her entry time of 59.50. She was seeded tenth in the event.

Banks was also 13th in the 50-meter butterfly in 30.47.

Jamaica’s five-member women’s team finished tenth overall with 39 points. Mexico won the combined and women’s team titles and Argentina won the men’s team title.

On her first day of competition on Saturday, Banks’ highest finish was sixth in the 50-meter freestyle in 27.36, off her entry time of 26.65.

Banks was also 15th in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:10.01 and 17th in the 50-meter breaststroke in 37.87.

Banks had an impressive outing last year in the FINA World Junior Championships where she posted her 50-meter freestyle best time becoming the fifth-fastest Jamaican female of all time on the short-course circuit.

Banks is a year-to-year national age group representative and multi-medalist at Carifta and CCCAN.

UANA Swimming Cup is a biennial premier swimming event hosted by the Swimming Union of the Americas. UANA’s existence dates back to the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

UANA Swimming Cup is held in three age groups, 11-12, 13-14 and 15-17, the same age categories as the Carifta and CCCAN Swimming Championships.

1. Mexico 718.5, 2. Brazil 618, 3. Argentina 599.5, 4. Peru 269.5, 5. Colombia 215.00.

MEN: 1. Argentina 300, 2. Mexico 293, 3. Brazil 239.5, 4. Bahamas 158.5, 5. St. Lucia 148.

WOMEN: 1. Mexico 383.5, 2. Brazil 334.5, 3. Argentina 265.5, 4. Peru 153.5, 5. Colombia 122.5, 10. Jamaica 39.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com