Ryan Capote Top South Florida Aquatic Club Finisher At Swim Miami 2014

Ryan Capote Top South Florida Aquatic Club Finisher At Swim Miami 2014


April 19, 2013

Ryan Capote of South Florida Aquatic Club won his age group and was second overall among men’s finishers Saturday at Swim Miami 2014 presented by Nike.

Capote, 16, won his age group (15-16) and was second overall in the mile event in 21 minutes and 31 seconds. Only U.S. national open water team member Joey Pedraza was ahead of Capote winning in 20:17.

SOFLO teammate Leonardo Mateus, 12, defended his title winning the 11-12 age group in 21:36. Mateus was third overall.

SOFLO’s Juan Osorio, 13, was second in the 13-14 age group and was eighth overall in 22:47.

Both Mateus and Osorio had great time drops. Last year Mateus won the 11-12 age group title in 28:26 and Osorio was second in 29:51.

SOFLO age group coach George Mersinger, 61, was fourth in his age group (60-64) in 35:58 and was 125th among men’s finishers and 238th overall.

Pedraza of Azura Florida Aquatics and Power Bar Team Elite pulled off a hat trick by sweeping the men’s titles in the 800-meter, 1,500-meter and 10,000-meter races.

Pedraza, 26, won the 10K win in 1:54:02, the mile in 20:17 and 800 meters in 7:59. He was the only swimmer under two hours in the 10K.

Florencia Melo, 24, of Miami won the women’s 10K title in 2:10.26 ahead of Rose Smiddy, 15, of Aqua Kids Sharks in 2:17:56.

William Pisani, 16, of Lake Lytal Lightning won the overall 5K title in 1:00.56. Teammate Richard Andrews, 21, was third in 1:01:12.

Nicole Urquidi, 16, of Miami won the women’s 5K title in 1:10:12 just ahead of Alexa Rivera, 15, of Boynton Beach in 1:10:17.

Megan Moroney, 16, of St. Andrew’s Swimming passed all but three men and finished with the fastest mile of the day for women in 20:57.

Gaia Fella, 14, of Miami won the women’s 800-meter race ub 10:41.

More than 1,000 swimmers competed in the various races off the Miami Yacht Club on Watson Island.

The course was patterned after the 2012 London Olympics open water course. Conditions may be rough because of predicted bad weather.

Race proceeds benefitted the H2Os Foundation (Helping Others Swim).



OVERALL: 1. Joey Pedraza 1:54:02, 2. Harry Stephenson 2:00:03, 3. Miguel Alberto Portes 2:01:31, 4. Armando Casilla 2:07:37, 5. Florencua Melo 2:10.26, 6. Morgan Wolfe 2:13:02, 7. Luke Smutny 2:15:22, 8. Rose Smiddy 2:17:56, 9. Alan Bell 2:25:08, 10. Christopher Johansen 2:25:15.

WOMEN: 1. Florencia Melo 2:10:26, 2. Rose Smiddy 2:17:56, 3. Katie Kramer 2:31:29, 4. Sonja Koppenwallner 2:32:58, 5. Ginger Tompkins 2:33:01.

MEN: 1. Joey Pedraza 1:54:02, 2. Harry Stephenson 2:00:03, 3. Miguel Alberto Portes 2:01:31, 4. Armando Casilla 2:07:37, 5. Morgan Wolfe 2:13:02.


OVERALL: 1. William Pisani 1:00:56, 2. Glauco De Oliveira Rangel 1:01:12, 3. Richard Andrews 1:01:12.76, 4. Nick Sharp 1:03:53, 5. Andreas Rintel 1:03:58, 6. Roland Samuelson 1:04:16, 7. Thomas O’Connor 1:04:24, 8. Joseph Perez 1:04:56, 9. Nick Carter 1:05:49, 10. Tamer Ibrahim 1:07:11.

MEN: 1. William Pisani 1:00:56, 2. Glauco De Oliveira 1:01:12, 3. Richard Andrews 1:01:12.76, 4. Nick Sharp 1:03:53, 5. Andreas Rintel 1:03:58.

WOMEN: 1. Nicole Urquidi 1:10:12, 2. Alexa Rivera 1:10:17, 3. Eliana Disla 1:10:33, 4. Jana Mangimelli 1:10:41, 5. Lindsay Manganiello 1:10:45.


OVERALL: 1. Joey Pedraza 20:17, 2. Megan Moroney 20:57, 3. Alicia Mancilla 21:14, 4. Luane Rowe 21:30, 5. Ryan Capote, SOFLO 21:31, 6. Leonardo Mateus, SOFLO 21:36, 7. Carson Fregosi 22:29, 8. Juan Osorio, SOFLO 22:47, 9. Jonathan Rodriguez 22:50, 10. Eric Mattheus 22:56.

MEN: 1. Joey Pedraza 20:17, 2. Ryan Capote, SOFLO 21:31, 3. Leonardo Mateus, SOFLO 21:36, 4. Carson Fregosi 22:29, 5. Juan Osorio, SOFLO 22:47.

WOMEN: 1. Megan Moroney 20:57, 2. Alicia Mancilla 21:14, 3. Luane Rowe 21:30, 4. Marin Mullen 23:22, 5. Brenna Ruth 23:44.


OVERALL: 1. Joey Pedraza 7:59, 2. Carlos Dolabella 10:08, 3. Gaia Fella 10:41, 4. Alessandro Marchesani 11:35, 5. Gabriella Marchesani 12:04, 6. Christian Perez 12:05, 7. Matt Poppell 12:12, 8. Nathalie Carby 12:13, 9. Colleen Healy 12:18, 10. Phillip Meira 12:30.

MEN: 1. Joey Pedraza 7:59, 2. Carlos Dolabella 10:08, 3. Alessandro Marchesani 11:35, 4. Christian Perez 12:05, 5. Matt Poppell 12:12.

WOMEN: 1. Gaia Fella 10:41, 2. Gabriella Marchesani 12:04, 3. Nathalie Carby 12:13, 4. Colleen Healy 12:18, 5. Isabel Meira 12:45.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO Well-Represented At Open Water Festival This Weekend

SOFLO Well-Represented At Open Water Festival This Weekend

By Sharon Robb

April 9, 2014

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

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

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

The SOFLO contingent is part of the Florida Gold Coast All-Star Team that will compete against Florida Swimming in the Open Water All-Star Challenge Cup in Miromar Lakes on Sunday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Porto, Kopecki SOFLO’s Top Finishers On Day One Of Sectional Qualifier

Porto, Kopecki SOFLO’s Top Finishers On Day One Of Sectional Qualifier

By Sharon Robb

February 21, 2014

Kevin Porto was the top finisher for the South Florida Aquatic Club Friday night on the opening night of the Long Course Sectional Qualifier at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

Porto, 14, finished eighth in the 1500-meter freestyle in a lifetime-best 17:47.63, bettering his previous best and seed time of 18:17.61.

SOFLO teammate CJ Kopecki, 14, was ninth in 17:55.08.

Porto and Kopecki are among thirty SOFLO swimmers competing in the two-day meet.

U.S. national team swimmer Joey Pedraza, 26, of Azura, won the event in 16:04.97.

Geena Squartino, 18, of SwimFast won the women’s event in 18:28.32. Host Plantation Swim Team had nine finishers among the top 12 in the women’s event.

On Saturday, session two begins at 9 a.m. and session three at 10 a.m.

Seventeen teams are competing including Azura Florida Aquatics, FLA, Lake Lytal, Pine Crest and Swim Fort Lauderdale.


What: Long Course Sectional Qualifier

When: Saturday

Timeline schedule: Saturday, Sessions Two and Three, 9 a.m.-1:40 p.m.

Where: Plantation Aquatic Complex, 9151 NW Second St.

Admission: $3 per session, heat sheets $3 per session. For information call 954-452-2526.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

SOFLO Swimmers Shine At Rough Water Swim

SOFLO Swimmers Shine At Rough Water Swim

By Sharon Robb

January 5, 2014

Vanessa Mesa and CJ Kopecki of South Florida Aquatic Club braved rough conditions to win their age group titles Saturday at the 45th annual Fort Lauderdale Rough Water Swim off Fort Lauderdale beach.

Mesa, 11, won the 11-12 age group and was 30th overall in 28 minutes and 26.1 seconds.

Kopecki, 13, won the 13-14 age group and was third overall in 23:14. In the same age group, teammate Matthew Menocal, 13, was third in his age group and eighth overall in 24:00.

Alfredo Mesa, Jr., 15, was third in the 15-17 age group and 14th overall in 23:21.8.

Joey Pedraza, 26, a member of the U.S. national open water team, won the overall men’s title in 20:31. Former Alabama All-American swimmer Ricardo Valdivia, 49, was second in 22:58.

The field attracted international, national, college and local age group swimmers.

Conditions were challenging with four to six-foot waves, wind and plenty of jellyfish.



10-and-under, 1. Rylie Barnhardt 38:04; 11-12, 1. Vanessa Mesa, SOFLO 28:26; 13-14, 1. Alice Leoni 25:37; 15-17, 1. Megan Moroney 25:12; 18-24, 1. Yuhsyra Dazzia 36:29; 25-29, 1. Mandi Nilsen 40:29; 30-34, 1. Ara Bergillos 31:01; 40-44, 1. Debra Robenhymer 33:12; 45-49, 1. Valerie Yaeger 46:23; 55-59, 1. Kathleen Coolman 59:04; 60-64, 1. Helen Ederen 36:39.


10-and-under, 1. Simone Vale 38:03; 11-12, 1. Nicholas Vale 29:34; 13-14, 1. CJ Kopecki, SOFLO 23:14, 3. Matthew Menocal, SOFLO 24:00; 15-17, 1. Luis Martinez 22:59, 3. Alfredo Mesa, Jr., SOFLO 23:21; 18-24, 1. Anton Kuzjomkin 24:17; 25-29, 1. Joey Pedraza 20:31; 30-34, 1. Tristran Jordan 28:43; 35-39, 1. Jeff Henderson 23:48; 40-44, 1. Kit Koenig 27:45; 45-49, 1. Ricardo Valdivia 22:58; 50-54, 1. Hugo Villa 28:27; 55-59, 1. Carlos Lloreda 28:18; 60-64, 1. George Brenco 35:22; 65-69, 1. Johns Peck 45:22; 75-and-over, 1. David Nicholas 42:35.



Freshmen: 1. Lucy Emerson, UND 26:20; Sophomores: 1. Jackie Crawford, James Madison 25:20; Juniors: 1. Amiee Hooper, James Madison 24:13; Seniors: 1. Morgan Johnson, James Madison 24:28.


Freshmen: 1. Noah Lucas, UND 22:58; Sophomores: 1. Shahar Resman, Keene State 22:04; Juniors: 1. Macian Campbell, UND 23:20; Seniors: 1. Drew Ledwith, Keene State 21:54.


Old Dominion won the men’s team title with 687 points at the Florida International University Invitational Saturday in Miami. Grand Valley State was second with 659 and Eastern Michigan was third with 610. New Mexico won the women’s title with 554 points. Florida International, Florida Atlantic and North Florida also competed in the holiday meet. Host FIU was second with 458.5 points and four individual wins. Diver Sabrina Beaupre swept the 1- and 3-meter events, freshman Jennifer Alfani won the 50-yard butterfly in 26.07 and was also a member of the winning 200-yard freestyle relay. Next weekend FIU hosts Central Connecticut at noon at the Biscayne Bay Vista campus.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 227: Pedraza, Cunha Win ISHOF Rough Water Swim

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 227: Pedraza, Cunha Win ISHOF Rough Water Swim

By Sharon Robb

January 5, 2013

World champion Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil and Joey Pedraza of Davie won the women’s and men’s overall titles Saturday at the 45th annual International Swimming Hall of Fame Fort Lauderdale Rough Water Mile Swim.

Cunha outsprinted U.S. national team member Emily Brunemann in the last five meters to win the women’s division in 21 minutes and 57.7 seconds.

Pedraza, a Pine Crest and University of Florida alum, won the men’s race in 20:42.4.

Cunha and Pedraza were tuning up for the 50th annual Travessia Mar

Grande Salvador 15K in Brazil on Jan. 13. Cunha, the defending overall champion, is an overwhelming favorite for the coastal swim.

Pedraza will represent the USA Swimming national team along with U.S. teammate Lexie Kelly.

The complete results for the ISHOF events will be released this week at ishof.org.

Orange Bowl Swimming

University of Michigan swept the men’s and women’s titles at the annual Orange Bowl Swimming Classic in Key Largo.

It was the fifth consecutive men’s title for the Wolverines ranked among the nation’s top teams.

Michigan swimmers won all 24 events and broke fifteen individual and two men’s and two men’s Orange Bowl meet records at Jacobs Aquatic Center.

West Virginia was second and George Mason finished third among the eight-team field.


Olympians Ryan Lochte and Connor Dwyer and the University of Florida men’s swim team trained with the 920th Guardian Angels para-rescuers Friday at Patrick Air Force Base. The 10-week training regimen the para-rescuers go through is some of the most grueling conditioning in the armed forces. It included CrossFit training, kettlebell shuttling, group push-ups in sand, pull-ups, beach running and underwater swimming. Lochte told reporters afterwards it was one of the toughest workouts he has ever gone through. “That was officially my hardest workout I have ever done. The hardest part for me was the running, I don’t do much running,” Lochte said. “The whole spraying water in our face, we’re not used to. But the yelling? We get a lot of that with our coach. I knew it was going to be hard. It’s teamwork. I’m used to a lot of the stuff, but some of it was new. This is something I definitely might look into when swimming is all said and done.”…

Olympian Katie Hoff, who is currently taking classes at University of Miami, has made it clear she has not retired from competitive swimming. After her former coach Paul Yetter of T2 Aquatics in Naples told Swimming World Magazine that Hoff’s move to Miami signals the end of her swimming career, Hoff got on Twitter and tweeted, “To clarify, I am not retired. I am taking some time to go to school at the University of Miami and focus on my studies…

Chase Kalisz made a successful college debut Saturday winning three events for Georgia in the Bulldogs’ wins over North Carolina State and Savannah in Savannah, Ga. The No. 12-ranked Bulldogs men’s team (5-1) defeated N.C. State, 144-112 and Savannah, 206-46. The women’s team also swept the tri-meet to improve to 7-0. The No. 3-ranked women defeated N.C. State, 151-99 and Savannah, 178-73. Kalisz won the 200 butterfly in 1:50.33, 200 breaststroke in 1:59.58 and 200 individual medley in 1:48.61. Georgia will meet Texas on Jan. 12 in its final dual meet of the season…

Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin were named Swimmers of the Year by FINA, the sport’s international governing body. It was the second straight year Franklin earned the honors. Wu Minxia and Ilya Zakharov were named Divers of the Year. Stanford’s Maggie Steffens, a member of the 2012 Olympic gold medal water polo team and MVP at the London Games, was named the Best Female Water Polo Player of 2012 by FINA. The freshman scored 21 goals in the Olympic Games including five in the gold medal match. Josip Pavic was named Men’s Player of the Year. 10K Olympian champions Ous Mellouli and Eva Risztov were named Open Water Swimmers of the Year…Aussie Ian Thorpe who failed to qualify for his 2012 Olympic team after coming out of retirement is continuing his training for the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona. “I enjoy what I have been doing, I intend to continue,” Thorpe told reporters.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

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 sha11cats@aol.com


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 sha11cats@aol.com