SOFLO Swimmers Shine For Florida Gold Coast All-Stars At Weekend Open Water Festival

By Sharon Robb

May 2, 2017—South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers represented the team well as Florida Gold Coast All-Stars at this past weekend’s Open Water Festival at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club in Fort Myers.

One of the nation’s top open water events was held in Miromar Lakes’ 700-acre freshwater lake and featured USA Swimming Open Water Relays, Open Water Clinic, Crippen Sunset Mile and Youth Buddy Swim on the first day.

Sunday events included the Florida Swimming Open Water Championships, Local Swim Club All-Star Challenge and Open Water Festival Race.

In the boys’ 15-18 LSC Challenge, Michael Fernandez outsprinted SOFLO’s Leonardo Mateus to finish first in 59:29. Mateus second-place time was 59:31.

In the Crippen Mile, Mateus finished fifth overall and in the 13-and-over diivision in 15:56.1. Mallory Schleicher was 40th in 18:33, Sarah Acevedo was 81st in 20:13 and Alejandro Mateus was 90th in 21:09.

Sarah Acevedo was also 29th in the 13-and-over division in the mile event. Alejandro Mateus was 20th in the 13-and-under division.

Mallory Schleicher was sixth in the LSC Challenge 13-14 Girls 5K in 1:08.51. Sarah Acevedo was 16th in 1:14:28.

Alana Acevedo was 16th in the LSC Challenge 15-18 Girls 5K event in 1:14:40.

In the LSC Challenge Boys’ 11-12 2K event, SOFLO’s Enrique Rodriguez was third in 33:36; Alejandro Mateus was sixth in 33:59 and Aldo Zepeda was 12th in 35:58.

More than 300 swimmers competed in the two-day event. One of the highlights was two-time Olympic medalist Haley Anderson working with swimmers during the open water clinic.

Miromar Lakes hosted the 2007 USA Swimming Championship Trials because of its ideal climate and lake conditions.



Overall, 1. Bora Unalmis 15:38.5, 2. Taylor Uselis 15:41.8, 3. Michael Fernandez 15:47.4, 4. Cameron Dafoe 15:56.1, 5. Leonardo Mateus 15:56.1, 40. Mallory Schleicher 18:33, 81. Sarah Acevedo 20:13, 90. Alejandro Mateus 21:09.

Male, 13-and over, 1. Bora Unalmis 15:38.5, 2. Taylor Uselis 15:41.8, 3. Michael Fernandez 15:47, 4. Cameron Dafoe 15:56, 5. Leonardo Mateus 15:56.1.

Female, 13-and-over, 1. Alix Roy 16:45, 2. Rebecca Rivers 17:54, 3. Tonni McNeese 17:59, 4. Emil Moylan 18:05, 5. Nicolette Wickes 18:10, 29. Sarah Acevedo 20:13.

Under-13 Male and Female: 1. Kylee Grafmiller 17:36, 20. Alejandro Mateus 21:09.

Girls 5K:

1.Morgan Tankersley, Greater Tampa 1:03:23, 2. Jordan Gorham, West Florida 1:03:52, 3. Madison Murtagh, Fast Lane 1:04:20.

Boys 5K:

1.Theodore Smith, Sarasota 55:57, 2. Taylor Uselis, Clearwater 56:29.7, 3. Cale Russell, Central Florida 1:00:43.

Girls 15-16: 1. Alixandra Roy, Highlander 1:02:40.5, 2. Polina Rukosuev, Fast Lane 1:02:42, 3. Taylor Ward, Clearwater 1:03:35.

Boys 15-16, 1. Andrew Kalaman, Sarasota 59:23, 2. Nicholas Hernandez, Sarasota 59:30, 3. Marshall Webster, Sarasota 59:35.

Girls 13-14: 1. Olivia McMurry, Swim Florida 1:04:20, 2. Carin Sanchez, Greater Tampa 1:08:16, 3. Mckenna Fiore, Gulf Coast 1:08.22.

Boys 13-14, 1. Ryan Staunch, Swim Florida 1:02:47, 2. Jacob Pishko, Bolles 1:04:05, 3. Antonio Medina, Gulf Coast 1:04:21.

Girls 11-12 (2K), 1. Michelle Fernandez, SAS 36:01, 2. Christina King, Tampa Bay 36:07, 3. Julian Balbi, SAS 36:51.

Boys 11-12 (2K), 1. Andrew Billitto, West Florida 32:17, 2. Andrew Taylor, Tampa Bay 32:45, 3. Ethan Russell, Central Florida 33:57.

Girls 10-and-under (800 meters), 1. Brooke Billitto, West Florida 11:57, 2. Talia Herron, Gator Swim Club 12:32, 3. Sophia Pellegrino, Swim Florida 12:46.

Boys 10-and-under (800 meters), 1. Nathan Jacobs, Gator Swim Club 10:53, 2. Giovanni Medina, Gulf Coast 10:56, 3. David Fishberg, Fast Lane 11:23.

LSC Challenge 15-18 Boys (5K), 1. Michael Fernandez, Florida Gold Coast 59:29, 2. Leonardo Mateus, Florida Gold Coast 59:31, 3. Bora Unalmis, Gulf Swimming 1:00.34, 16. Joshua Balbi, Florida Gold Coast 1:08:31.

LSC Challenge 15-18 Girls (5K), 1. Polina Rukosuev, Florida Swimming 1:02:43, 2. Jordan Gorham, Florida Swimming 1:03:52, 3. Noa Heron, Florida Swimming 1:06:17, 15. Delaney Biro, Florida Gold Coast 1:12:59, 16. Alana Acevedo, Florida Gold Coast 1:14:40.

LSC Challenge 13-14 Girls (5K), 1. Carolina Benda, Maryland All-Stars 1:07:13, 2. Evelyn Krall, Maryland All-Stars 1:08:10, 3. Mckenna Fiore, Florida Swimming 1:08:22, 6. Mallory Schleicher, Florida Gold Coast 1:08.51, 16. Sarah Acevedo, Florida Gold Coast 1:14:28, 19. Madelyn Hebert, Florida Gold Coast 1:15:23.

LSC Challenge 13-14 Boys (5K), 1. Matthew Tannenberger, Gulf Swimming 1:00.24, 2. Cameron Dafoe, Gulf Swimming 1:01:02, 3. Ryan Staunch, Florida Swimming 1:02:47, 9. Pace Edwards, Florida Gold Coast 1:06:04, 11. Dominic Bono, Florida Gold Coast 1:06:45, 18. Benjamin Carey, Florida Gold Coast 1:12:00, 19. Carson Neidert, Florida Gold Coast 1:17:44.

LSC Challenge Girls 11-12 (2K), 1. Kylee Grafmiller, Gulf Swimming 33:19, 2. Storrie Kulynych-Irvin, Maryland All-Stars 34:05, 3. Emmalee Gettys, South Texas All-Stars 34:09, 7. Anabela Schearer, Florida Gold Coast 35:55, 9. Maris Proscia, Florida Gold Coast 36:53, 10. Rachel Lilenthal, Florida Gold Coast 36:54, 17. Maci Hebert, Florida Gold Coast 44:52.

LSC Challenge Boys 11-12 (2K), 1. Brendan Studdert, Gulf Swimming 32:44, 2. Andrew Taylor, Florida Swimming 32:45, 3. Enrique Rodriguez, Florida Gold Coast 33:36, 4. Chipper Edwards, Florida Gold Coast 33:45, 6. Alejandro Mateus, Florida Gold Coast 33:59, 8. John Trieu, Florida Gold Coast 35:13, 12. Aldo Zepeda, Florida Gold Coast 35:58.

LSC Challenge Boys 10-and-under (800 meters), 1. Henry Shoemaker, Florida Swimming 10:10, 2. Geoffrey Cradock, Maryland All-Stars 10:18, 3. Farouk Musa, Florida Gold Coast 10:34, 10. William Connors, Florida Gold Coast 11:41, 11. Owen Williams, Florida Gold Coast 12:22.

Team results

Male: 1. Gulf Swimming All-Stars 1:31:29, 2. Maryland All-Stars 1:33:43, 3. West Florida 1:39:07.

Female: 1. West Florida 1:38:16, 2. Gulf Swimming 1:41:20, 3. Maryland 1:43:34.

Mixed: 1. Sandpipers of Nevada 1:28:49, 2. South Texas 1:32:28, 3. Florida Gold Coast A 1:38:17 (Michael Fernandez, Leonardo Mateus, Delaney Biro, Joshua Balbi, Alana Acevedo). 4. Gator Swim Club 1:40:16, 5. Florida Gold Coast B 1:42:00 (Enrique Rodriguez, Chipper Edwards, Alejandro Mateus, Mallory Schleicher, Sarah Acevedo).

Team results

14-and-under male, 1. Maryland All-Stars 47:40.3, 2. Gulf Swimming All-Stars 50:27.6.

14-and-under mixed: 1. Gulf Coast Swim Team 48:30.5, 2. Gator Swim Club 52:29.4, 3. Florida Gold Coast A 52:48.7 (Dominic Bono, Pace Edwards, Benjamin Carey, Madelyn Hebert, John Treu), 4. South Texas All-Stars 55:07.8, 5. Florida Gold Coast B 55:58.2 (Rachel Lilienthal, Aldo Zepeda, Maris Proscia, Carson Neidert, Maci Hebert).

14-and-under girls: 1. Maryland All-Stars 50:14.1, 2. Gulf Swimming All-Stars 50:53.6, 3. South Texas All-Stars 54:09.8.

Sharon Robb can be reached at


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

SOFLO’s Davies Leads Race, Gets Out-Touched At Finish Of Open Water All-Star Challenge

SOFLO’s Davies Leads Race, Gets Out-Touched At Finish Of Open Water All-Star Challenge


April 29, 2012

Leonie Davies, a late addition to the All-Star roster, was leading the 5K girls’ race until the finish when she got out-touched by Casey Francis by 1/10th of a second Saturday at the annual Florida Swimming-Florida Gold Coast All-Star Challenge at Miromar Lakes in Fort Myers.

Francis, 17, of Pine Crest Swimming, won the 15-18 age group title in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 7 seconds.

Davies, 15, one of South Florida Aquatic Club’s top swimmers competing in her final Florida All-Stars event, finished in 1:05:08. Davies was also fifth in the Fran Crippen Mile Saturday night in 22:29.

Davies is moving to Texas with her family on June 9, two days after her last day of school at West Broward High School. Davies plans to continue her swimming career with The Woodlands Swim Team.

“After leading the 5K for 4,999 yards, I got out-touched, but still happy with second,” Davies tweeted after the race on Twitter.

At the finish, Francis had the advantage of reaching the finish board first by positioning herself inside. Davies was more at an angle coming in more from the outside, according to SOFLO coach Megan Garland, a member of the All-Star coaching staff.

“It happens,” Davies said during the bus ride home. “It’s something I learned for next time. We were both going into the board. I was just at a strange angle to the board and she was closer. She is a very good swimmer in the pool. Everyone thinks so highly of her. If I had to lose to someone, I am glad it was her.

“It was a great race. I think I had a pretty good swim. It’s one of my smartest races. I have to work on the back end with my coach. I can work on sprinting the back end. I can do better on it next time when I am in that situation.”

Racing conditions were ideal for the race with the water temperature at 79 degrees.

“There were parts where I could see the bottom of the lake,” Davies said. “I’m not a big fan of that. I am glad it wasn’t salt water.”

Davies has enjoyed great success in several open water swims including Swim Miami. She hopes one day to swim the English Channel. “I want to do that, it’s a long range goal,” Davies said.

For Davies, her runner-up finish was another confidence-booster.

“It felt good to know I can compete with these girls,” Davies said. “I barely made the team and to know I was leading all the girls shows me just because you don’t have a specialty in one event, you can be very good in another thing.

“I do like open water, it’s not as restricted as the pool. Every open water swim is different. Time doesn’t matter because every course is different and the conditions always change. Hopefully, it’s one of my strengths.”

Davies said she will miss her team and teammates.

“It’s bittersweet,” Davies said. “I did a lot better this year than previous years. I am glad our team did well and I was a member of the team. I wish the best for SOFLO.”

Davies was one of nine SOFLO swimmers named to the FGC All-Star open water team.

In other SOFLO results:

Kelley Heron, 12, tied for second in the 11-12 2.5K race in 38 minutes and 12 seconds. Andrea Bucaro, 12, was eighth in 41:46 and Bianca Monti, 12, was ninth in 42:03.

Nicholas Perera, 12, was the top boys’ finisher placing third in the 11-12 2.5K race in 37:35 just ahead of teammate Kevin Porto, 12, in 37:36. CJ Kopecki was seventh in 38:44.

In the boys’ 5K, Julien Pinon, 13, was sixth in 1:09:10. Alfedo Mesa was seventh in 1:12:41.

In the team results, Florida Gold Coast boys edged Florida Swimming, 56-55; Florida Swimming girls defeated Florida Gold Coast, 57.50-53.50; and Florida Swimming won the combined team title, 112.50-109.50, in one of the closest finishes in race history.

In the Fran Crippen Mile Saturday night, SOFLO’s Vanessa Mesa, 10, won the 10-and-under age group in 3:42 for 500 meters and teammate Kelley Heron, 12, won the 11-12 mile in 23:10. Garland, 25, was eighth in 25:33. In the boys’ mile competition, Alfredo Mesa won the 13-14 age group in 22:13. Perera was second in the 11-12 in 22:59.



11-12: 1. Maria Ruppert-Gomez, Florida 38.02; SOFLO: 2. Kelley Heron 38.12, 8. Andrea Bucaro 41:46, 9. Bianca Monti 42:03.


13-14: 1. Megan Moroney, FGC 1:08:54; 15-18: 1. Casey Francis, FGC 1:05:07; SOFLO: 2. Leonie Davies 1:05:08.


11-12: 1. Santiago Corredor, Florida 37:18; SOFLO: 3. Nicholas Perera 37:35, 4. Kevin Porto 37:36, 7. CJ Kopecki 38:44.


13-14: 1. Eric Ordaz, Florida 1:06:05; SOFLO: 6. Julien Pinon 1:09:10, 7. Alfredo Mesa 1:12:41; 15-18: 1. Sam Smiddy, FGC 1:03:30.



10-and-under: 1. Vanessa Mesa, SOFLO 3:42, 500 meters; 11-12: 1. Kelley Heron, SOFLO 23:10; SOFLO: 4. Bianca Monti 23:50, 5. Andrea Bucaro 24:07; 13-14: 1. Jordan Stout, Unattached 22:22; 15-16: 1. Isabella Paez, FGC 22:11; SOFLO: 5. Leonie Davies 22:29; 17-and-over pro: 1. Ashley Twichell, Unattached 19:40; 17-and-over: 1. Kaitlin Pawlowicz, Unattached 21:39; SOFLO: 8. Megan Garland 25:33.


10-and-under: 1. Zachary Brewer, Unattached 3:46; 11-12, 1. Santiago Corredor, Unattached 21:49; SOFLO: 2. Nicholas Perera 22:59, 4. Kevin Porto 23:11, 7. CJ Kopecki 24:07; 13-14: 1. Alfredo Mesa, SOFLO 22:13; SOFLO: 6. Julien Pinon 23:01; 15-16: 1. Ronald Santos, FGC 20:50; 17-and-over pro: 1. Dan O’Connor, Unattached 19:36; 17-and-over: 1. Sam Smiddy, FGC 20:57.

Twichell Doubles At USA Swimming Nationals

After winning the women’s 10K title on Friday and Fran Crippen Mile on Saturday, Duke alum Ashley Twichell won the women’s 5K Open Water National Championship on Sunday at Miromar Lakes.

Twichell made her move at the start for the front of the pack and broke away at the 2.5K mark.

In the final 500 meters, former Michigan swimmer Emily Brunemann caught up and made it a race getting out-touched by Twichell by 3/100ths of a second in 58:54.17. Brunemann finished in 58:54.47. Christine Jennings was third in 59:11.01.

“That’s how these races go,” Twichell said. “You race really hard for 40 minutes and then you push yourself harder for the final 15 minutes. For the last 500 meters it was pretty much an all-out sprint.

“I got touched-out like three times at the world championships last summer. That kind of replays in my mind weekly. That was good for me to be able to finish strong.”

Twichell is the first swimmer to sweep both national titles since Chloe Sutton in 2007.

“I was definitely tired,” Twichell admitted. “The last 1,000 meters was pretty painful.”

California teenager David Heron, 17, a junior in high school, outkicked the field in the fall 500 meters to win the men’s title in 57:50.92. Jordan Wilimovsky was second in 57:53.97 and Daniel O’Connor third in 57:55.83. Heron had finished third in Friday’s 10K.

Alex Meyer, coming off a broken collarbone, led early in the race for the first 1500 meters and ended up eighth. Meyer, the men’s Olympic qualifier for London 2012, is working his way back from the injury.

“I didn’t know where I was at the end,” Heron said. “I just wanted to pass as many people as I could and finish first. I was a little tired from the 10K but I felt pretty good. I didn’t really use my legs. I’m not good kicking.”

In the Masters 5K competition, Olympic gold medalist Brooke Bennett won the race in 1:06:57. Bennett is training on a regular basis and expected to come out of retirement and begin competing on a regular basis in the fall. She did a recent photo shoot for FINIS, one of her sponsors. She got the chance recently to work out with her old coach, Peter Banks, while he was visiting the Tampa area.

Sharon Robb can be reached at