SOFLO’s Atkinson Takes Silver At FINA/Airweave World Cup Series In Doha

By Sharon Robb

November 3, 2015—South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson worked her way back on the medal podium in her signature event and Pine Crest’s Marta Ciesla swam against an American icon in her international debut Monday at the FINA/Airweave World Cup Series.

Atkinson, 26, a three-time Jamaican Olympian, finished second in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:07.83. American Molly Hannis won the event cracking 1:07 in 1:06.94 at the Hamad Aquatic Center in Doha, Qatar.

Atkinson was also 17th in the 50-meter freestyle in 26.88 and 20th in the 200-meter individual medley in 2:23.63.

Ciesla, 17, competing against 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin, working towards her fourth Olympics, finished sixth in her first international final in 25.60. Ciesla earned the fifth seed in prelims and swam faster in the final.

The high school All-American is representing the U.S. as a member of USA Swimming’s 14-member 18-and-under squad.

The junior gave up competing in the high school region and state meets to represent her country.

In other championship finals:

South African Chad le Clos, after a short layoff from racing, came back strong to win the 100-meter freestyle in 48.96. Florida-bound Maxime Rooney, competing on the USA Swimming 18-and-under team, was sixth in 49.77. Le Clos also won the 200-meter butterfly in 1:55.80 and 50-meter butterfly in 23.43.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu dominated the women’s 200-meter freestyle field to win in 1:56.60. She also won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:10.22.

FINA World Cup points leader Cameron van der Burgh won the 50-meter breaststroke in 26.96. American Kevin Cordes, training in Singapore, was third in 27.81 and Michael Andrew was fourth in 28.73.

American Felicia Lee won the 100-meter butterfly in 58.83.

Aussie Mitch Larkin broke the national and Commonwealth records to win the 100-meter backstroke in 52.26. Michael Andrew was sixh in 55.52.

Aussie teammate Emily Seebohm won the 50-meter backstroke in 27.85. Coughlin took silver in 28.23 and Hosszu the bronze in 28.40.

Great Britain’s James Guy won the 400-meter freestyle in 3:46.76.

Frenchwoman Anna Santamans won the 50-meter freestyle in 24.95. Coughlin was third in 25.40.

Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta won the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:10.33.

Seebohm won another gold in the 200-meter backstroke knocking off Hosszu, 2:07.19 to 2:08.73.

New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle won the 800-meter freestyle in 8:24.76.

Hungarian David Verraszto won the 400-meter individual medley in 4:16.67.

This is the third and final cluster that finishes in Doha and Dubai this week. The Doha event concludes on Tuesday. The Dubai event is Friday and Saturday. Prelims are 3 a.m. EST and finals 11 a.m. EST.

The full eight-leg World Cup is being held in long course leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The top three finishers in each event earn $1,500, $1,000 and $500. There is also a $10,000 payout for world records and cluster bonuses awarded from $50,000 to $5,000 among the top six.

The World Cup events are being live-streamed for free on FINATV.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 151: Phelps, Lochte, Coughlin In Final Stretch At Charlotte UltraSwim

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 151: Phelps, Lochte, Coughlin In Final Stretch At Charlotte UltraSwim


May 9, 2012

With less than seven weeks remaining until the U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha, the nation’s top swimmers are heading down the final stretch of their preparations.

Only the top two swimmers in each individual event at the June 25-July 2 trials at Qwest Center will stamp their ticket to the Summer Olympics in London.

And that makes every meet, starting with this week’s Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix, so very important.

Only two Grand Prix events remain, the other is in Santa Clara, Calif., May 31-June 3.

Swimmers are now focused on fine tuning, honing strokes, starts and walls, and above all looking for confidence-building going into the Trials, the final stepping stone to the world’s biggest stage for swimming.

Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Natalie Coughlin head the field for the Charlotte UltraSwim in North Carolina that begins on Thursday.

The sixth stop on the Grand Prix Series will be held at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center.

Most of the nation’s top swimmers and Olympic favorites including Rebecca Soni, Katie Hoff, Brendan Hansen, Allison Schmitt, Jessica Hardy and Ricky Berens are in the field.

Timed finals are on Thursday beginning at 4 p.m. Prelims and finals are Friday through Sunday with finals at 6 p.m. The meet will be webcast at Universal Sports will broadcast the event live, 6-8:30 p.m. on Saturday and 6-8 p.m. on Sunday.

FINA Diving, ISHOF Inductions This Weekend

South Florida will have an Olympic-feel to it this weekend with the USA Diving Grand Prix at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex. Most of the world’s top divers including the U.S. begin competing on Thursday. The meet will serve as a tune-up for the June 17-24 U.S. Olympic trials in Seattle. Six members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team will battle the best from China, Australia, Mexico and Canada. Former Plantation diver Kassidy Cook, who turned 17 on Wednesday, will compete in the individual and synchro 3-meter events…

Brazilian four-time Olympian Gustavo Borges heads an impressive lineup for the 48th annual induction ceremony for the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale Saturday night. Joining Borges are Domenico Fioravanti, Jozsef Szabo, Tian Liang, Jill Sudduth, Jesus Miguel Rollan Prada, Chad Hundeby, Laszlo Kiss, Frank Kurtz, Eldon Godfrey and Dr. Julio Maglione, current FINA president. For tickets call 954-462-6536.

Brady Bunch Does Torres, Lochte In

Olympians Dara Torres of the Coral Springs Swim Club and Ryan Lochte of Daytona Beach teamed up on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” this past week. When the topic was “The Brady Bunch,” Torres and Lochte decided to rely on the audience for the right answer. The swimmers were eliminated on the fifth question after being asked, “If the opening credits of “The Brady Bunch” were a tic-tac-toe board, which of the groupings would make a winning combination. The correct answer was Jan, Alice and Peter. Torres and Lochte had hoped to win $1 million for the U.S. Olympic Committee but left instead with $10,000. “We didn’t get that far but at the end of it we got $10,000 for charity,” Lochte said. “I was hoping Dara would answer that because she’s way older than me.” Gymnasts Dominique Dawes and Jonathan Horton won $25,000 for the USOC….Also earlier this week, Lochte also appeared with his mother Ileana on NBC’s Today Show with Matt Lauer and other Olympic hopefuls and their moms. Lochte’s mom was his first swim coach. The appearance was part of Procter and Gamble’s series about the Mom Behind the Olympic athlete.


USA Swimming national team coach Frank Busch said that all ten lanes will be used during prelims of the U.S. Olympic trials. He also said that fly-over starts would be used during prelims as well….Gary Hall Jr. was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 136: SOFLO’s Polyakov Makes Second “B” Final; Phelps, Coughlin Win Again

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 136: SOFLO’s Polyakov Makes Second “B” Final; Phelps, Coughlin Win Again


March 10, 2012

Michael Phelps continued his one-man show Saturday night at the USA Swimming Columbus Grand Prix.

Phelps won the 200-meter butterfly in a meet record 1:55.32, the world’s fastest time this year. He bettered the time of 1:55.94 swam by Joseph Roebuck at Britain’s Olympic trials at London’s Olympic Aquatics Center on Tuesday.

Phelps said he has plenty of room for improvement before this Summer’s Olympics in London after breaking a four-year-old meet record.

“We haven’t done too much work in finishing the 200 butterfly,” Phelps said. “We’re just trying to sort of get my stroke back and I think we finally found that. Now, it’s time to sort of fine-tune some things.”

For the second consecutive night, SOFLO’s Vlad Polyakov was second in the “B” final and tenth overall in the men’s 200-meter breaststroke in 2:17.19, faster than her morning time of 2:18.11. He was also second in the “B” final of the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02.59.

In other championship finals where seven meet records were set:

U.S. women did well. Olympian Natalie Coughlin won the 100-meter backstroke in a meet record 1:00.81. Christine Magnuson won the 50-meter freestyle in a meet record 25.06. Allison Schmitt won the 400-meter freestyle in 4:08.88. Andrea Kropp won the 200-meter breaststroke in a meet record 2:28.85. Big Pine Key’s Myhria Miller was third in 2:30.82.

Two-time double Olympic gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima of Japan won the 200-meter breaststroke in a meet record 2:10.35, fourth fastest in the world this year. Kitajima also won the 100-meter breaststroke the night before which is a good pre-cursor to the Olympic qualifying national championships next month in Tokyo. No swimmer has earned a berth on Japan’s Olympic team that will be decided April 2-8.

“I strained too much in the final,” Kitajima told reporters after the race. “I’ve gained horsepower. Now I am thinking of my strategy to move a step further.”

Japanese teammate Masayuki Kishida won the 50-meter freestyle in 22.62.

Hungary’s Zsuzsanna Jakabos won the women’s 200-meter butterfly in 2:08.09, sixth fastest time in the world.

American David Plummer won the 100-meter backstroke in 53.73, fifth fastest in the world this year. Matt Grevers was second in 53.79. American Matt Patton won the 400-meter freestyle in 3:51.83.


Indian River State College won its 38th consecutive men’s and 30th straight national titles Saturday night at the NJCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Fort Pierce.

The men’s streak is the nation’s longest at any college level. It was also the women’s 34th title in school history.

The men totaled 1,704 points ahead of runner-up Daytona Beach State (1,253). The women won with 1,724 points, again ahead of Daytona Beach State with 1,195.

“It’s a pretty cool thing just to be a part of it,” Indian River coach Ryan Mallam said. “It’s kind of surreal. This is one for the books. I’m just so proud of these guys.”

The Pioneers won 10 events on the final night of competition including four national record swims. Bradley Tandy broke the national record in the 100-yard freestyle in 42.76 off the first leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay that also set a national record in 2:54.59. Rounding out the relay were Logan Mosley, Luis Flores and Caleb Weir.

Puerto Rico’s Solyvette Lizardi and Tryshia Centeno also broke national records. Lizardi, a freshman, broke a 21-year-old national record in the 200-yard butterfly in 2:02.45. The previous mark of 2:02.70 was set in 1991 by Broward Community College’s Gomariz Montserrat.

Centeno, a sophomore, broke the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:14.48, bettering the previous mark of 2:16.53. It was her second national record of the meet.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 133: Maryland Swim Team Forced To Forfeit Title For Shaving On-Site

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 133: Maryland Swim Team Forced To Forfeit Title For Shaving On-Site


February 23, 2012

A Maryland high school girls’ varsity swim team was forced to forfeit its county title after it was discovered that one of its swimmers broke a national rule by shaving on-site before the start of her event.

Broadneck High School has been the center of national attention ever since news broke that the team was forced to give up its Anne Arundel County title and its coach Colleen Winans was suspended for this past Saturday’s Class 4A-3A Regional Championships because of an unnamed swimmer’s violation.

National Federation of State High School Association rules for swimming, diving and water polo stipulates that athletes cannot shave before, during or after a meet once a team is on-site. Should an athlete be caught violating this rule, they are disqualified from the entire meet.

The no-shaving on-site policy was instituted to protect swimmers from possible blood transmission or doing full-body shaves in high school locker rooms which would maximize the possibility of unsafe practices like sharing razors.

In a release, the Anne Arundel School District cited the failure of Winans’ squad to abide by the rules of the game and promote ethical relationships among coaches and players as the reason for the discipline taken against the coach which included the one-meet ban.

It’s not known whether the coach plans to petition to change some of the rules that seem out of touch.

Severna Park High School was awarded the county title and Broadneck was dropped to third after the implicated swimmer’s points were eliminated. However, in the regional meet, a highly-motivated Broadneck team came back to defeat Severna for the title by 16.5 points.

Lochte Hits Race Track

Six-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte served as Grand Marshal of Thursday’s Gatorade Duel 150 in Daytona Beach, where Lochte grew up. After hearing he once went 175 miles per hour in one of his cars on a highway, Lochte was asked by reporters whether he would consider a career in auto racing. “The only kind of racing I will do is in the swimming pool,” said the 27-year-old. “I’ve been coming to NASCAR races pretty much my whole life and it’s fun. I love just going fast.”

Coughlin Featured In SI Swimsuit Issue

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Natalie Coughlin is featured in the new swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. Coughlin, along with pro golfer Natalie Gulbis and soccer player Alex Morgan are in body painted suits.

“It feels like something in between a swimsuit and being naked,” Coughlin said. It took 11 hours to apply the body paint in a New York photo studio. Coughlin stood the entire time while the bright blue paint-designed suit was being applied.

“I wasn’t really nervous about that aspect of it at all,” she said. “I was just so honored that they thought of me. It’s awesome to be able to say I have done a Swimsuit issue.”

Olympic phenom Michael Phelps is also featured in a normal suit with swimsuit models in the issue along with NBA star Chris Paul and tennis standout Rafael Nadal.

Hey Swimmers, Free Pancakes

In honor of National Pancake Day, International House of Pancakes restaurants are giving away pancakes, 7 a.m.-10 p.m., on Tuesday. Each diner will receive a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes. While it’s not mandatory, IHOP hopes to collect a donation for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. You can find your nearest IHOP at

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 131: Florida, Florida State Among Nation’s Top 25 College Swim Teams

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 131: Florida, Florida State Among Nation’s Top 25 College Swim Teams

January 26, 2012


In the recently released College Swimming Coaches Association of America Top 25 women’s poll, University of Florida and Florida State are ranked among the best in the nation.

The Gators are ranked second in the nation, while Florida State, with several South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers, is ranked 25th.

Sophomore Tiffany Oliver leads the SOFLO contingent that also includes Ashley Hicks and Melissa Cooper.

California was the unanimous choice for No. 1 in the January poll. The PAC-12 Conference has four teams in the Top 10 and five teams in the Top 25.

Arizona State, with SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski, enjoying her best college season, is ranked No. 21 after a tough road trip at Cal-Berkeley and Stanford.

Former No. 1-ranked Georgia fell to No. 5 while the Gators moved up seven spots.

Indiana, with SOFLO’s Brittney Phelan, dominates the Big Ten and is ranked No. 12. The Big Ten has the most teams ranked with six in the Top 25.

In the men’s poll, University of Florida is the only state college moving up several spots ranked at No. 7. Arizona is No. 1 after their big wins over Pac-12 rivals.

Indiana, with SOFLO’s Olympic hopeful Nick Schwab is ranked No. 11 followed by No. 12 Louisville with former Coral Springs Swim Club swimmer Kevin Bandy.

Women’s poll: 1. Cal-Berkeley, 2. Florida, 3. Auburn, 4. Texas, 5. Georgia, 6. Texas A&M, 7. Southern California, 8. Stanford, 9. Arizona, 10. Tennessee, 11. Virginia, 12. Indiana, 13. SMU, 14. Ohio State, 15. Minnesota, 16. North Carolina, 17. Michigan, 18. Missouri, 19. Wisconsin, 20. Penn State, 21. Arizona State, 22. Maryland, 23. Louisiana State, 24. Louisville, 25. Florida State.

Men’s poll: 1. Arizona, 2. Texas, 3. Stanford, 4. Michigan, 5. Southern California, 6. Cal-Berkeley, 7. Florida, 8. Auburn, 9. Ohio State, 10. Georgia, 11. Indiana, 12. Louisville, 13. North Carolina, 14. Iowa, 15. Virginia, 16. Minnesota, 17. Purdue, 18. Texas A&M, 19. LSU, 20. Tennessee, 21. Virginia Tech, 22. Southern Methodist, 23. North Carolina State, 24. Princeton, 25. Missouri.

Euro Meet Begins Friday

Luxembourg’s Euro Meet, one of the best international meets particularly in the Olympic year, has attracted a talented field that begins competing in the three-day meet on Friday. The meet, that features prelims and finals, has attracted some of the best talent from Central and Eastern Europe including Germany, Czech Republic, Greece and Ukraine in addition to a few top swimmers from France, Israel, Great Britain and Aussie Ian Thorpe, still trying to work his way back onto the scene after a long layoff.


Seven Canadian swimmers will compete at the FINA World Cup Sunday in Brazil, an Olympic open water qualifier for the Canadian federation. Pan American Games gold medalist Richard Weinberger leads the Canadian contingent. Swimming Canada will select a team of four (two men, two women) to compete in the Olympic marathon qualifier in Portugal next June…Most of the top Australian swimmers will be competing in the South Australia Open State Championships Friday through Sunday, less than two months before Australia’s Olympic trials. James Magnussen, Eamon Sullivan, Matthew Abood and Emily Seebohm head the Aussie lineup…

Michael Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman left Miami after training for a week and headed back to North Baltimore Aquatic Club on Thursday….Olympian Natalie Coughlin, also part of the Miami training camp, headed to New York City for the day on Thursday to promote her latest sponsor, Pantene. A video of her Pantene commercial can be found on her website at…Arena has signed 40-year-old Janet Evans, who came out of retirement and qualified for two events for the U.S. Olympic trials…Maryville University in St. Louis has added women’s swimming and diving to its athletic program for 2013. Maryville will compete at the NCAA Division II level.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

USA Swimming Team Builds Up Steam For 2012 Olympics; Rout Europeans At Duel In The Pool

USA Swimming Team Builds Up Steam For 2012 Olympics; Rout Europeans At Duel In The Pool

December 17, 2011


With the crowd chanting, “USA, USA, USA,” the United State’s obliteration of the European All-Stars continued Saturday at the Mutual of Omaha Duel InThe Pool.

In front of a good crowd at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta and national television audience, Team USA routed the Europe All Star Team, 181.5-80.5 and now holds a commanding 5-0 in meet history dating back to 2003.

“It’s Team USA baby, it’s the greatest country in the world,” said  Garrett Weber-Gale after the U.S. completed the two-day meet with an exciting come-from-behind victory in the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay.

The U.S. men and women broke one world record and seven American records in short course meters over two days.

“I think the whole team is in a great position to set itself up for a wonderful Olympic Games,” U.S. team coach Dave Marsh said. “We know the spotlight will be on swimming at the Olympics and this group is embracing that.”

The Olympic Countdown is now at 36 weeks.

Many U.S. swimmers, including Ricky Berens and Kathleen Hersey, who both had a breakout meet, threw their gear in the stands to appreciative swimming fans and loved ones.

The U.S. team looked just as impressive on the second day of the one-sided competition as they did on opening day.

In the individual event second-day action:

Women’s 800-meter freestyle: Denmark’s world champion Lotte Friis set the tone early and led from wire-to-wire to win in 8:04.77. Chloe Sutton was second in 8:14.29 and Grainne Murphy of Great Britain was third in 8:18.03.

Men’s 800-meter freestyle: European Pal Joensen of the Faroe Islands distanced himself at the halfway mark to go on and win in 7:36.24 followed by Michael Klueh in 7:39.90 and Mads Glaesner of Denmark in 7:42.27.

Women’s 200-meter freestyle: Teenager Missy Franklin went out fast for a big lead and won in 1:53.19 to lead a U.S. sweep with Dana Vollmer in 1:53.92 and Katie Hoff in 1:54.24.

Men’s 200-meter freestyle: Ricky Berens won his second event of the meet dominating the 200 to win in 1:42.68 and led another U.S. sweep with Matt McLean in 1:44.26 and Conor Dwyer in 1:44.45. 

Women’s 100-meter backstroke: Two-time Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin took the lead early, being chased by Brit Lizzie Simmons who overtook Coughlin in the final 25 meters to win in 56.82. Coughlin finished in 56.92 and Franklin, still wet on the blocks from warming down after the 200 freestyle, was third in 57.49. “I kind of went for it, hoping I had a bit left on the back end,” Simmons said.

Men’s 100-meter backstroke: In a tight race, Matt Grevers (49.85), Nick Thoman (50.13) and Ryan Lochte (50.65) completed another U.S. sweep moving within one point of clinching the meet. Lochte put in a 5K morning practice before competing in the afternoon. “I have to find new ways to get better and new ways to hurt myself,” Grevers said. “It’s going to be an exciting journey to the Trials.”

Women’s 100-meter breaststroke: The U.S. team clinched the meet title in this event, 138.5-46.5. Jessica Hardy went out quickly and was on world record pace early until late in the race but managed to knock off Rebecca Soni by a body length in 1:03.33. Soni, who didn’t have enough time to make up for her start in short course, was second in 1:04.53. Rikke Pedersen of Denmark was third in 1:05.50. “I did it for my entire team, it was so much fun and I am excited,” Hardy said. “That was a blast.”

Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: For the second day in a row, Brendan Hansen knocked off world champion Daniel Gyurta of Hungary to sweep the breaststroke events and win in 57.47. Gyurta was second in 57.62 and American Mike Alexandrov was third in 57.81. “I need more of this, getting on the blocks, in the water and racing  the best in the water,” Hansen said. “That’s what fun is about in this sport and makes this summer that much more fun.”

Women’s 200-meter butterfly: Hometown crowd favorite Kathleen Hersey set her first career American record in 2:03.49. She opened up a solid lead in the final 25 meters. Elaine Breeden moved into second in 2:04.98 and Martina Granstroem of Sweden was third. “I never swam short course meters so to be able to do this is perfect and my favorite scenario,” Hersey said. “Every event, every meet is a stepping stone. To do this six months before the Olympics I am so excited. I also know it’s going to fuel the fire for a lot of people. I did things well in that race but I have things to work on.”

Men’s 200-meter butterfly:  Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh overtook early leader Davis Tarwater to win in 1:51.18. Tarwater faded in the end but still broke an American record to finish second in 1:51.90 among the small five-swimmer field. Hungary’s Bence Biczo was third in 1:55.26. American Tyler Clary was forced to scratch from the meet with an inflamed left rotator cup. Clary will be forced to take time off to rehab which will affect his training.

Women’s 50-meter freestyle: With three great starts, European swimmers swept the event’s top four places. Marleen Veldhuis of the Netherlands won in 23.43 followed by Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands in 23.61 and Britain’s Francesca Halsall in 23.73. Belarus’ Aliaksandra Herasimenia was fourth in 24.13. Hardy, Coughlin and Amanda Weir faded to the last three places.

Men’s 50-meter freestyle: American Nick Brunelli, who turns 30 on Sunday, won a close race at the end in 21.28. Russia’s Vladimir Morozov was second in 21.29 and Matt Grevers was third in 21.38. Only 6/10ths of a second separated the top eight swimmers.

Women’s 200-meter individual medley: Caitlin Leverenz pulled away from the field to win in 2:04.91, an American record and just 3/10ths off the world record. It was the fastest time in the world this year by two seconds. Liz Pelton was second in 2:07.27 and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu was third in 2:07.64.

Men’s 200-meter individual medley: In an exciting race, world record holder Ryan Lochte built up a good lead and held on for his third win of the meet in 1:52.98, scoring 16 points overall for the U.S. Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh was second in 1:53.31 and Austria’s Markus Rogan was third in 1:53.93. “It’s my time, all the hard work and training I have been doing is paying off,” Lochte said. 

Women’s 400-meter freestyle relay: Europe finishes the meet with its first relay win in 3:27.53, a world best. The time does not count as a world record since the swimmers (Jeanette Ottesen, Halsall, Herasimenia and Kromowidjojo) were from different countries. For the U.S., Coughlin led off and touched second. Hardy trailed by a half body length after her leg. Dana Vollmer, despite a great start, was still trailing when she touched. Missy Franklin took off with a poor start and was body length behind and had too much room to make up. Still, the U.S. finished second in an American record of 3:28.46.

Men’s 400-meter freestyle relay: Grevers gave the U.S. a slight lead (47.0) for second leg swimmer Garrett Weber-Gale who kept the U.S. close (46.9 leg), trailing by 5/100ths of a second. Third leg Nick Brunelli was still behind (47.0) when anchor leg Ricky Berens, after a great start, took unleashed a 46.1 split and pulled away for the U.S. to end the meet with a victory. “I had no idea where the guy (Europe anchor Krisztian Takacs) was,” Berens said. “I put my head down and kicked out and swam as fast as I could.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 74: USAS Convention Under Way In Jacksonville

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 74: USAS Convention Under Way In Jacksonville

September 13, 2011


More than 1,000 coaches, officials, athletes, volunteers and staff members from five national governing bodies have converged on the Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville for the annual United States Aquatic Sports Convention.

USAS was formed to become the U.S. member of FINA in 1980, when the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act of 1978 took effect in the United States and required restructuring of many sports organizations.

Coaches and officials from USAS’ five aquatic sports national governing bodies are in attendance including USA Swimming, Inc., USA Diving, U.S. Synchronized Swimming, USA Water Polo and U.S. Masters Swimming.

USAS hosts the annual convention where the five NGBs meet to discuss sport-specific concerns, conduct training sessions and honor outstanding performances and participation in the sport.

Approximately 1,250 representatives from all five governing bodies are in attendance.

SOFLO is represented by CEO and coach and Florida Gold Coast chairman Chris Anderson and Mike McGoun, Director of Aquatic Services for the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.

Anderson is scheduled to attend the General Chairs’ luncheon on Thursday where there will be table discussions and remarks from U.S. National Team director Frank Busch; and General Chairs’ workshop and LSC leadership workshop, both on Friday.

Olympian Ryan Lochte is also scheduled to make an appearance on Friday for a luncheon and meet-and-greet along with U.S. Olympic coach Gregg Troy.

Also, the R. Max Ritter Award, donated by the Ritter Family, will be presented by USAS to the organization or individual of a FINA member country who has contributed the most to the advancement of understanding and good will among nations through international participation in amateur aquatic sports.

The convention ends on Sunday.

Dylan Carter Shines At Youth Commonwealth Games

Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago, who trained at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex for a month, broke his own national record in the 100-meter backstroke at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man.

Carter, who trained and competed with SOFLO’s Keegan Boisson-Yates, also of Trinidad and Tobago, broke the 13-14 boys national record of 55.82 in 55.05, just missing a bronze medal by half of a second.

Carter, the youngest swimmer in the race, also erased the National Open Record of Nicholas Bovell of 55.33 set in February 2007.

It was Carter’s second fourth-place finish in his Games debut. In three day of competition, Carter has accumulated four age group records and one national open record.

Carter is expected to compete in both the 2013 FINA World Junior Championships in Morocco and 2014 Youth Olympics in China.

SOFLO’s O’Shaughnessy, Seton Hall Host Swim Stars

Ryan O’Shaughnessy and his Seton Hall teammates and coaches played host to swimming’s top three stars, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Natalie Coughlin last week for a Speedo photo shoot on its new line of swimwear.

Seton Hall’s Arthur E. Imperattore Natatorium was the ideal location for Speedo and its staff. It was also an ideal opportunity for Seton Hall to showcase its aquatic facilities.

After a day, Sept. 7, to set up which included installation of cameras and lights above and below the water line of the pool, the athletes were photographed on Sept. 8.

Coughlin, Phelps and Lochte, who have a total of 21 Olympic gold medals between them, spent most of the day shooting video and posing for photos with Speedo’s photo staff.

“The facility was perfect,” said Lochte, who took time to pose with several of Seton Hall’s swimmers including O’Shaughnessy and Seton Hall coach Ron Farina.


University of Florida signed Ashlee Lin of the Sarasota YMCA. The backstroker made her first U.S. Olympic trials cut this past summer in the 200-meter backstroke (2:16.07) that also landed her in the “C” final. She competes in both the 100 and 200 backstroke and 100 and 200 freestyles…Swimming Australia, the country’s governing body in swimming, is reaching out to swim clubs by distributing equipment to more than 50 swim clubs in the 2011 Club Equipment Grant program. Aussie officials, looking to the future, realize that swim clubs are the backbone of the sport and want to make sure every swimmer is given the opportunity to do his or her best in the sport. The goal is more growth in the sport and develop a larger talent pool at the club level.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Lochte Overtakes Phelps For Gold At World Aquatic Championships; SOFLO’s Polyakov Makes Semifinals

Lochte Overtakes Phelps For Gold At World Aquatic Championships; SOFLO’s Polyakov Makes Semifinals

July 26, 2011


Ryan Lochte had the perfect race strategy to surge past Michael Phelps on the second turn to win the 200-meter freestyle at the XIV FINA World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai, China.

Lochte had never beaten Phelps at a world championships or Olympic Games before Tuesday.

“I guess it was my time tonight,” said the University of Florida alum who lives and trains in Gainesville with 2012 Olympic men’s coach Gregg Troy. “It’s a big confidence boost.”

Lochte overtook Phelps, the defending Olympic champion, and held off Germany’s Paul Biedermann, the defending world champion, to win in 1 minutes, 44.44 seconds.

Phelps settled for the silver medal in 1:44.79 and Biederman took the bronze in 1:44.88, nearly three seconds slower than when he broke Phelps’ world record at the 2009 world championships wearing the now banned high-tech suit.

“I’m bummed I didn’t win,” Phelps said. “I can’t complain, at the same time with what I’ve done over the last six to eight months, I’m headed in the right direction and very pleased. I’m over a second faster than where I was last year and a second a half off my best time in a polyurethane suit.”

Lochte has had a strategy in and out of the pool since he emerged out of Phelps’ huge shadow and dominated most of 2010. The well-liked free spirit was the world’s top swimmer, winning six gold medals at the Pan Pacific Championships and beating Phelps head-to-head. He won five golds and broke two world records at short course worlds.

It was only a matter of time before his dedication to his training regimen, some of it off-beat, and focus on the big picture paid off on a world stage.

“I am definitely a completely different swimmer than I was in 2008,” said Lochte, who won two gold and two bronze medals at the 2008 Beijing Games. “I’m a lot stronger and a lot smarter just going into my races.”

Lochte had the perfect strategy. He knew that Phelps would go out hard so Lochte sat back within striking range. On the second turn Lochte came off the wall with plenty left in the tank and turned it on by more than 0.4 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. In the last 50 meters, Phelps swam 0.29 seconds faster than Lochte but could not catch him.

“I knew Michael wanted to go out just to get clean water, so I knew I had to be in striking distance and just work what I’m good at, those underwaters on each turn,” Lochte said. “That’s what I did and it paid off.”

“Hopefully, this win tonight will help me carry on through my other races,” Lochte said. “I’ve still got a big, heavy load.”

Lochte is expected to go head-to-head against Phelps again in the 200-meter individual medley, whose heats are scheduled for Wednesday. He also has two other individual events and a relay.

“Michael and I have been battling head-to-head for about eight years,” Lochte said. “”We definitely build a good rivalry, he’s a great competitor and I am just privileged to swim on the same team, even in the same event as him.

“Today, at this level we’re at, we both want to win, we don’t like to lose and no matter what the outcome is, we’re still going to be friends and we’re definitely going to be pushing each other for 2012.”

In one of the most exciting and bizarre finishes, French swimmers Camille Lacourt and Jeremy Stravious tied for the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke. Both finished in 52.76 with Japan’s Ryosuke Irie taking the bronze in 52.98.

It was the first time swimmers from the same country shared a medal at the world championships and also the first time a French male swimmer won a gold medal at the event.

U.S. swimmer Rebecca Soni defended her world title in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:05.05. Aussie Leisel Jones had to settle for silver in 1:06.25 and Ji Liping of China took the bronze medal in 1:06.52.

“I was really happy with the swim overall,” Soni said. “It wasn’t too far off what I went last night so I really can’t complain about the time and world title. It’s always hard being the defending champion and racing the 2008 gold medalist.

“I’m really confident with the swimming portion, but there are all the little odds and ends I feel I can work on over the next year,” Soni said.

China’s Zhao Jing won the 100-meter backstroke after coming behind from fifth place to win 59.05.  Russian Anastasia Zueva took the silver in 59.06 and American Natalie Coughlin, who led for the first 70 meters, took the bronze in 59.15.

“I’m very, very happy with that swim,” Coughlin said. “Fifty-nine-point-one right now is very promising for the next year. I’m just going to take that and build upon that in training and competition.”

Denmark’s Lotte Friis won the 1,500-meter freestyle in 15:49.59 ahead of American Kate Zeigler in 15:55.60 and China’s Li Zuanxi in an Asian record 15:58.02.

In the men’s 50-meter breaststroke prelims, SOFLO’s two-time Olympian Vlad Polyakov finished 16th in 28.00 and advanced into the semifinals, where he finished 14th in 27.81 and missed making finals, 0.91 seconds behind top qualifier Cameron Van der burgh of South Africa (26.90).

Competition continues on Wednesday with prelims and semifinals of the women’s 50-meter backstroke, men’s 100-meter freestyle, women’s 200-meter butterfly and men’s 200-meter individual medley. Wednesday’s finals will include the men’s 200-meter butterfly, women’s 200-meter freestyle, men’s 800-meter freestyle and men’s 50-meter breaststroke.

Water polo

The top four teams in the world expected to make the semifinals have lived up to predictions.

Croatia defeated Montenegro in a hotly-contested game, 9-6; Hungary edged the United States, 9-8; Serbia beat Germany, 9-4 and Italy defeated Spain, 10-6. The U.S. men have never won a medal at worlds. The gold medal final is Saturday.

On Wednesday, women’s water polo resumes with the semifinal games between Russia vs. China and Greece vs. Italy.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

XIV FINA World Aquatic Championships Get Under Way Saturday In Shanghai, China

XIV FINA World Aquatic Championships Get Under Way Saturday In Shanghai, China

July 14, 2011


With the Summer Olympics a year away, the 14th FINA World Aquatic Championships which begin on Saturday in Shanghai, China will serve as a litmus test for athletes and coaches looking toward the 2012 London Games.

More than a dress rehearsal, the sixteen-day event featuring diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, open water swimming and pool swimming, will gauge training and size up aquatic competition around the world.

Swimmers will get the opportunity to compete in textile suits in a world-class event. Thankfully, there is no longer a swim suit issue that dominated the 2009 Rome World Championships where forty-three world records were broken in the pool.

FINA, the sport’s international governing body, banned the suits after officials realized how much they improved buoyancy and speed. Few swimmers have approached the marks set either in Rome or in the time before the ban went into effect on Jan. 1, 2010.

The swimming events, featuring SOFLO’s two-time Olympian Vlad Polyakov, a St. Thomas Aquinas alum representing Kazakhstan, begin July 24th at the Oriental Sports Center. Polyakov will compete in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events. Polyakov and his teammates leave July 18th for a training camp in Shangahi. He will begin competing on July 24th.

The U.S. team, led by Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps, Rebecca Soni and Natalie Coughlin, expected to dominate, is in the midst of a camp in Brisbane, Australia with its new national team director Frank Busch.

“This won’t be the same team to go to London that went to Beijing,” Busch said. “There are no guarantees.

“We’ll be good in Shanghai,” Busch said. “We’re battle-tested. Those swimming to their expectations will feel prepared for the Trials. Those who don’t will have ample motivation to adjust and improve.”

Australia, expected to be the Americans top rivals, is looking to improve its dismal performance in 2009 where the team won only four gold medals. As host country, China, which finished third in swimming events in 2009, would like to challenge the swim powers.

“The importance of these championships can never be overstated in that it is a key leg before the London Olympics and our athletes are competing on the home court,” said Li Hua, secretary general of the China Swimming Association.

More than 2,200 athletes from 181 countries will compete. The first medal to be decided on Saturday will be the women’s three-meter springboard synchro event.

China’s diving powerhouse, competing on its homeland, is expected to dominate men’s and women’s diving. British teenager Tom Daley, who won the platform title in Rome at the age of 15, could be the only non-Chinese diver to win a gold medal.

Daley, 17, is still dealing with the death of his father, Rob, after a five-year battle with cancer. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2006, he passed away with his son and family at his side.

Daley’s chief rival, Olympic gold medalist Matthew Mitcham of Australia, was forced to withdraw from worlds with an abdominal injury.

University of Miami alum Brittany Viola will compete on the 10-meter platform for the U.S. The U.S. men’s team is led by David Boudia, Thomas Finchum and 31-year-old Troy Dumais, a four-time world silver medalist competing in his eighth and last worlds.

Synchronized swimming begins on Sunday with solo and duet events with the Russians expected to dominate. In open water swimming, Americans Alex Meyer and Eva Fabian, who put on a show at nationals in Fort Lauderdale, are among medal favorites.

“I am very excited to represent the United States,” Fabian said.

In water polo, the U.S. men’s team is coming off a fourth place finish at the 2011 FINA World League Super Final and will open competition against Germany on July 18th. Super Final gold medalist Serbia, Italy and

Croatia are expected to battle it out for medals. The U.S. women’s team is a favorite to win gold along with Italy and Australia.

What would any world event be without a few controversies and drug scandal? A potential suspension is hanging over the head of Brazilian Olympic and world freestyle champion Cesar Cielo.

Cielo and three of his teammates tested positive for the banned diuretic Furosemide but got off with just a warning from their own federation. FINA, however, has intervened and Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport will hold a special meeting on July 20 to determine whether they will receive a stiffer penalty. The final decision is due no later than July 22, just two days before swimming begins.

Cielo is the world record holder in the 50 and 100 freestyle and had turned in the fastest 50 freestyle and second fastest 100 this year in Paris last month.

The World Championships will be broadcast in the U.S. on Universal Sports. You can find Universal Sports channel listings by checking out Code.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 44: FINA World Championships Week Away, SOFLO’s Polyakov Is Ready

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 44: FINA World Championships Week Away, SOFLO’s Polyakov Is Ready

July 8, 2011


One week from today the 14th FINA World Aquatic Championships begin in Shanghai, China with a record turnout of countries.

According to FINA, the sport’s international governing body, 181 countries are entered, up from 172 at the 2009 Rome Championships.

However, this is the first time swimmers have had to meet qualifying times for the first time which explains why there are only 2,220 swimmers entered compared to 2,438 in 2009.

Several teams including the United States and Kazakhstan, with South Florida Aquatic Club’s two-time Olympian Vlad Polyakov, are leaving over the next few days for training camps before the swim competition begins on July 24th at the Oriental Sports Centre.

The world championships begin July 16th with diving, water polo, open water swimming and synchronized swimming and end July 31.

The United States team leaves July 11th for camp in Australia. Kazakhstan leaves July 18th for a six-day training camp in Shanghai.

Polyakov has been in Astana, Kazakhstan training and competing in the 3d Sports Games, held once every four years. Polyakov is competing in the 50, 100- and 200-meter breaststroke, the same events he will be swimming at worlds. He qualified for all three events at last year’s Asian Games in November.

“I will prioritize the 100 and just go with the flow in the other races,” Polyakov said. “The reason I will focus on the 100 is because I think I have the closest shot at making the Olympics in that event.”

The FINA “A” qualifying time is 1:00.79. Polyakov swam 1:01.03 at the Asian Games.

“If I could repeat that I wouldn’t be too far away,” Polyakov said. “I have a good feeling about this (world) meet. I feel like I have plenty of speed and power, I just need to have every bit of it available on the day of the race.”

Polyakov is still getting over fatigue from travelling but should be ready by worlds, he said.

Former University of Miami diver Brittany Viola is finishing up her training for worlds. Viola will represent the U.S. in the women’s 10-meter platform event. Former local diver Kassidy Cook will also compete in the women’s 10-meter synchro with teammate Christina Loukas.

Local fans will get a chance to watch the world championships on television. The schedule is July 24, 2-4 p.m., NBC; July 25-29, Universal Sports; July 30, 1-3 p.m., NBC and July 31, 1-3 p.m., NBC.


While Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin have a ways to go to catch up with No. 1-rated Shaquille O’Neal and No. 2-rated Chad Ochocinco, the pair were still the only swimmers rated among’s Must-Follow Sports Personalities on Twitter.

To make the list, the tweeter needed to be interactive, informative, charitable, funny and not oblige his or her followers’ requests for re-tweets because the athlete is the “fan’s favorite player.”

The top fifty were ranked followed by The Best of the Rest which listed Phelps and Coughlin, the only swimmers, listed under “Other” sport athletes along with Lance Armstrong, Usain Bolt, Apolo Ohno and Andy Roddick.

Sharon Robb can be reached at