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

Pine Crest’s Podkoscielny Double Winner, SOFLO’s Dinehart Seventh On Final Day Of USA Swimming Futures Championships

By Sharon Robb

GREENSBORO, N.C., August 4, 2019—Julia Podkoscielny of Pine Crest Swimming made a lasting impression at the USA Swimming Futures Championships at Greensboro Aquatic Center.

The 14-year-old won two events on Sunday, the final night of competition. Podkoscielny won the 200-meter backstroke in a lifetime-best 2:15.07 with a total time drop of 5.25. She was the top seed after prelims in 2:18.21, shaving 2.11 off her previous best.

Podkoscielny also won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:18.24, another lifetime-best with a 1.47 drop.

Her double victories came on the heels of her winning the 400-meter individual medley by nearly three seconds with an Olympic Trials qualifying standard time of 4:50.42, an 11-second drop from her previous best of 5:01.34. The qualifying standard is 4:51.79.

It was the first time the talented swimmer flew to a competition, competed in an indoor meet and raced at a national level meet. She swam a total of eight individual and relay events.

Swimming DNA runs in the family. Her father, Pine Crest coach Mariusz Podkoscielny is a two-time Olympian for Poland. He finished fifth in both the 1500 and 400-meter freestyles at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He set the Olympic record in the 400 prelims. He also competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He was also a successful collegiate swimmer at University of Arizona.

Pine Crest Swimming was the top Florida Gold Coast team placing sixth among 55 girls teams with 115.5 points. Podkoscielny scored 76 of those points.

SOFLO’s Olivia Dinehart, 14, was seventh in the 1500-meter freestyle in 17:23.56. Teammate Mallory Schleicher was 15th in 17:43.09.

South Florida Aquatic Club boys’ 4×100-meter medley relay finished sixth in 4:01.53 with Dominic Bono, Juan Pablo Pineda, Miguel Sierra and Robert Wilson.

South Florida Aquatic Club girls finished 13th with 78 points.

TAC Titans won the men’s team title with 236 points to top a field of 69 teams. Lake Lytal Lightning was the top Florida Gold Coast boys finisher placing 20th with 43 points. Sarasota Sharks won the women’s team title with 267 points.

: 1. TAC Titans 236, 2. Marlins of Raleigh 228, 3. Nashville 125, 4. Academy Aquatic 124, 5. Sarasota Tsunami 113.

WOMEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. Sarasota Sharks 267, 2. Blue Dolfins 235, 3. Marlins of Raleigh 228, 4. TAC Titans 173.5, 5. Dynamo 119, 6. Pine Crest 115.5, 9. North Palm Beach 88, 13. South Florida Aquatic Club 78.


100-meter freestyle:
1. Sophie Housey, GPG 57.24, 2. Savannah Barr, SYS 57.82, 3. Blair Stoneburg, TCA 58.06; SOFLO: 65. Paige Lane 1:00.76, 74. Gaby Banks 1:01.25.

200-meter backstroke:
1. Julia Podkoscielny, Pine Crest 2:15.07, 2. Morgan Jones, EAC 2:16.81, 3. Alaina Skellett, CANE 2:16.98; SOFLO: 45. Elena Dinehart 2:25.53

200-meter individual medley:
1. Julia Podkoscielny, Pine Crest 2:18.24, 2. Jennifer Secrest, NPB 2:20.27, 3. Hannah Holman, TNAQ 2:20.33; SOFLO: 46. Molly Golding 2:27.70, 50. Olivia Dinehart 2:27.98, 77. Mallory Schleicher 2:31.63.

1500-meter freestyle:
1. Madison Murtagh, FSLA 17:05.56, 2. Adrianna Cera, MOR 17:11.24, 3. Polina Rukosuev, FSLA 17:12.71; SOFLO: 7. Olivia Dinehart 17:23.56, 15. Mallory Schleicher 17:43.09.

4×100-meter medley relay:
1. TAC Titans 4:20.45, 2. Sarasota Sharks 4:21.38, 3. Marlins of Raleigh 4:21.94, 24. South Florida Aquatic Club 4:34.76 (Elena Dinehart, Olivia Dinehart, Paige Lane, Gaby Banks).


100-meter freestyle:
SOFLO: 46. Miguel Sierra 54.36, time drop 1.53, 51. Robert Wilson 54.50, 73. Juan Mora 55.11, 96. Juan Pablo Pineda 56.98, time drop.

200-meter backstroke:
1. Braeden Haughey, TAC 2:02.17, 2. Erek Nelson, FINS 2:04.82, 3. Lance Norris, Unattached 2:05.17.

200-meter individual medley:
1. Phillip Meffert, MMA 2:07.06, 2. Bryar Long, ACAC 2:07.15, 3. Evan Petty, NAC 2:08.08.

800-meter freestyle:
1. Grant Davis, GOLD 8:17.79, 2. Riley Sampson, CFM 8:19.94, 3. Andrew Jordan, CMSA 8:20.03; SOFLO: 40. Dominic Bono 8:45.35, time drop 7:52.71.

4×100-meter medley relay:
1. Mid Michigan Aquatics 3:54.93, 2. Waves of Wilmington 3:57.77, 3. TAC Titans 3:58.48, 6. South Florida Aquatic Club 4:01.53 (Dominic Bono, Juan Pablo Pineda, Miguel Sierra, Robert Wilson).

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Pine Crest Wins Big In Season Opener Against Somerset

By Sharon Robb

FORT LAUDERDALE, September 7, 2018—Pine Crest, the county’s top-ranked swimming and diving team, opened the 2018 season Friday with a lopsided victory over Somerset.

The girls team won 148-31 and boys team won 139-37 at their home pool. Both teams won every individual event and all three relays.

The season-opening wins also marked the successful debut of new head coach Mariusz Podkoscielny who takes the reins from veteran Hall of Fame coach Jay Fitzgerald who retired after last season.

The girls team was led by double winners Lara Jones and Andrea Santander.

Jones, 14, a freshman, won the 200-yard freestyle in 2:02.81 and 500-yard freestyle in 5:30.61.

Santander, 16, who represents Venezuela internationally and qualified for the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct. 7-12, won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:06.32 and 100-yard freestyle in 52.53.

Nicholas Vale, a national age group record holder for Jamaica, was a double winner for the boys team. Vale 17, won 100-yard freestyle in 47.66 and 200-yard freestyle in 1:45.17. Six other boys won individual swimming events.

Pine Crest swept the 1-meter diving titles. Ishani Singh won the girls event with 232.50 and Denny Gulia-Janovski won the boys event with 264.00. The Panthers had 10 divers in the girls and boys field, picking up 26 points.

Several South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers competed for Somerset. SOFLO’s Kyana Castro was Somerset’s top finisher, placing second in the girls’ 100-yard butterfly in 1:04.34. SOFLO’s Diego Nazario-Vazquez, 12, was third in the boys’ 200-yard freestyle in 2:06.15 and fourth in the 50-yard freestyle in 26.70.

Pine Crest’s next opponent is NSU University School on Sept. 12 at the Nova Southeastern Aquatic Complex.

Pine Crest 148, Somerset 31

200-yard medley relay: 1. Pine Crest 1:52.45 (Simone Vale, Sara Lin, Esther Lin, Daniela Munoz), 2. Pine Crest 1:54.06, 3. Somerset 2:01.99 (Isabella DiSalvo, Elise Larin, Katrina Del Vecchio, Kyana Castro).

200-yard freestyle: 1. Lara Jones, PC 2:02.81, 2. Flora Beleznay, PC 2:09.61, 3. Emma Gomez, PC 2:15.28, 4. Elise Larin, SOM 2:18.63.

200-yard individual medley: 1. Andrea Santander, PC 2:06.32, 2. Julia Podkoscielny, PC 2:13.33, 3. Riley Botting, PC 2:15.44, 4. Isabella Di Salvo, SOM 2:27.46.

50-yard freestyle: 1. Rachel Botting, PC 24.56, 2. Hanna Smith, PC 25.11, 3. Daniela Munoz, PC 26.02, 4. Katrina Del Vecchio, SOM 26.08, 5. Kaitlyn Barrios, SOM 28.24, 6. Kyana Castro, SOM 28.79.

1-meter diving: 1. Ishani Singh, PC 232.50, 2. Shiraz Shiff, PC 210.15, 3. Kaylee Greenberg, PC 206.40.

100-yard butterfly: 1. Esther Lin, PC 59.96, 2. Kyana Castro, SOM 1:04.34, 3. Madison Kozel, PC 1:05.48, 5. Natalia Sibug, SOM 1:14.72.

100-yard freestyle: 1. Andrea Santander, PC 52.53, 2. Rachel Botting, PC 54.85, 3. Katrina Del Vecchio, SOM 57.03, 5. Kaitlyn Barrios, SOM 1:01.29.

500-yard freestyle: 1. Lara Jones, PC 5:30.61, 2. Flora Beleznay, PC 5:41.73, 3. Emma Gomez, PC 6:00.98.

200-yard freestyle relay: 1. Pine Crest 1:43.47 (Andrea Santander, Esther Lin, Lara Jones, Flora Beleznay), 2. Pine Crest 1:44.10, 3. Pine Crest 1:50.99, 4. Somerset 1:51.27 (Katrina Del Vecchio, Kaitlyn Barrios, Payola Inestroza, Natalia Sibug).

100-yard backstroke: 1. Julia Podkoscielny, PC 1:01.42, 2. Isabella Di Salvo, SOM 1:06.87, 3. Madison Kozel, PC 1:09.82.

100-yard breaststroke: 1. Sara Lin, PC 1:06.83, 2. Riley Botting, PC 1:08.12, 3. Esther Lin, PC 1:11.76, 4. Natalia Sibug, SOM 1:15.94, 5. Elise Larin, SOM 1:16.39.

400-yard freestyle relay: 1. Pine Crest 3:45.59 (Julia Podkoscielny, Flora Beleznay, Simone Vale, Rachel Botting), 2. Pine Crest 3:50.44, 3. Somerset 4:10.03 (Isabella Di Salvo, Kyana Castro, Kaitlyn Barrios, Elise Larin).

Pine Crest 139, Somerset 37

200-yard medley relay: 1. Pine Crest 1:40.23 (Elvis Kotikovski, Jacob Silberman, Matthew Petreski, Joshua Hanks), 2. Somerset 2:03.03.

200-yard freestyle: 1. Nicholas Vale, PC 1:45.17, 2. Victor Lago, PC 2:01.93, 3. Diego Nazario-Vazquez, SOM 2:06.15.

200-yard individual medley: 1. Joshua Hanks, PC 2:00.17, 2. Jimmy Hart, PC 2:05.36, 3. Gabriel Munoz, SOM 2:28.09.

50-yard freestyle: 1. Luc Ferrara, PC 24.54, 2. Victor Lago, PC 25.62, 3. Nicholas Santana, SOM 26.49, 4. Diego Nazario-Vazquez, SOM 26.70.

1-meter diving: 1. Denny Gulia-Janovski, PC 264.00, 2. Allen Levitis, PC 207.30, 3. Adam Shiff, PC 159.45.

100-yard butterfly: 1. Jacob Silberman, PC 53.47, 2. Luc Ferrara, PC 1:01.05, 3. Gabriel Munoz, SOM 1:07.35.

100-yard freestyle: 1. Nicholas Vale, PC 47.66, 2. Elvis Kotikovski, PC 52.70, 3. Christopher Martinez, PC 57.15.

500-yard freestyle: 1. Antony Novak, PC 5:08.47, 2. Joshua Hanks, PC 5:14.90, 3. Roman Ferrara, PC 5:50.70

200-yard freestyle relay: 1. Pine Crest 1:29.47 (Joshua Hanks, Nicholas Vale, Jacob Silberman, Jimmy Hart), 2. Somerset 1:44.87 (Diego Nazario-Vazquez, Nicholas Santana, Edwin Reyes, Gabriel Munoz), 3. Pine Crest 1:47.00.

100-yard backstroke: 1. Elvis Kotikovski, PC 55.19, 2. Antony Novak, PC 1:05.36, 3. Ronin Jones, PC 1:16.85.

100-yard breaststroke: 1. Matthew Petreski, PC 1:00.87, 2. Jimmy Hart, PC 1:02.00, 3. Jacob Silberman, PC 1:02.11.

400-yard freestyle relay: 1. Pine Crest 3:21.58 (Nicholas Vale, Jimmy Hart, Matthew Petreski, Elvis Kotikovski), 2. Pine Crest 3:42.87, 3. Somerset 4:23.67.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com