South Florida Aquatic Club Ranked Among Best In Nation; Celebrates 15th Anniversary

By Sharon Robb

October 20, 2014–On a day when South Florida Aquatic Club is celebrating its 15th anniversary, the team is also celebrating its ranking among the Top 12 USA Swimming clubs in the nation.

After competing in the IMR-IMX Challenge earlier this month at Academic Village Pool, SOFLO has been ranked 12th in the nation in the Virtual Club Championship.

Only two Florida clubs, Tampa Bay Aquatics (11th) and SOFLO are ranked in the Top 12. SOFLO compiled 109,906 points for the ranking.

SwimAtlanta of Lawrenceville, Ga. is ranked No. 1 with 165,919 points. Irvine Novaquatics is ranked second with 152,419 points and Boulder City Henderson Swim Team is ranked third with 144,271 points. All three clubs have been in existence longer than SOFLO.

The Virtual Club Championship ranks all USA Swimming member clubs based on swimmer performance. Clubs can see how they stack up against others in the LSC, Zone and nationally.

It recognizes and highlights clubs that are developing athletes and achieving success at multiple levels emphasizing the team element in club swimming. The program serves as a key part of the Athlete Development and Performance component of the Club Recognition Program.

SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson, responsible for building the program into one of the best, was hired Oct. 20, 1998-99 by the City of Cooper City as aquatics supervisor.

The City of Pembroke Pines in conjunction with Cooper City named Anderson head coach of the Comets Swim Team in 2001.

“We are a lot stronger program than a year ago and a lot better program than we were five years ago,” Anderson said. “The hard work is paying off. The coaches are a lot more comfortable pushing our kids to reaching their limits and what we are doing with the program.”

The Nike-sponsored team name was changed to South Florida Aquatic Club four years ago to show a true reflection of the team’s diversity.

In fifteen years, the coaching staff has built the program into one of Florida’s top clubs that feature elite swimmers at every level including Olympians such as Alia Atkinson of Jamaica, collegiate swimmers including Marc Rojas and Tiffany Oliver, junior national qualifiers such as Melissa Marinheiro and Kathleen Golding, top high school swimmers such as Kelley Heron and Julien Pinon, up-and-coming age groupers including Rafael Rodriguez and Sara Quintero and young up-and-comers Erika Pelaez, Isabella Di Salvo and Farouk Musa.

As a team, SOFLO continues to make history every year.

In July, SOFLO swept the combined, boys and girls team titles at the Florida Gold Coast Junior Olympics. It was SOFLO’s fifth consecutive JO title and 11th overall JO title.

SOFLO also became the first club in FGC history to sweep the Junior Olympics and Senior Championships during the same year.

With overall depth, talent, balance and good coaching, SOFLO swimmers have dominated most of the FGC meets while improving times, winning events and qualifying for various meets including JOs, seniors, junior and senior nationals and zones.

Sharon Robb can be reached at



Leonardo Mateus of South Florida Aquatic Club is the Nike Swimmer of the Month for April.

Mateus, 12, turned in some amazing swims this past month at three competitions. When he wasn’t competing, he was training hard with his teammates at Academic Village Pool.

At the 2014 Florida Gold Coast-Florida Swimming All-Star Championship Meet at Florida Gulf Coast, Mateus equaled his 100 freestyle time in 57.44 and swam career-best times in the 100 backstroke in 1:03.56 and 100 butterfly in 1:05.08.

During the Swim Miami presented by Nike open water event, Mateus defended his age group title winning the 11-12 age group division in 21:36. He was also third overall among men, sharing the awards podium with winner and U.S. national open water team member Joey Pedraza.

At this past weekend’s IMX Challenge in his home pool, he swam lifetime-best times in all five of his events. He swam 4:47.29 in the 400 freestyle, 2:37.18 in the 200 individual medley, 1:13.52 in the 100 backstroke, 1:32.28 in the 100 breaststroke and 1:15.53 in the 100 butterfly.

For the two-day IMX event, Mateus totaled 3,103 for his Herculean effort and is currently ranked seventh nationally and second in both the LSC and SOFLO.

“He has been training hard in practice,” SOFLO coach Chris Anderson said.

Mateus joins other SOFLO Swimmers of the Month sisters Kathleen and Molly Golding for January, Sebastian Sierra for February and Jessica Rodriguez for April.

The Nike Swimmer of the Month award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, is awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at both swim meets and practice sessions.—Sharon Robb

SOFLO Swimmers Will Compete Saturday In Swim Miami 2014

SOFLO Swimmers Will Compete Saturday In Swim Miami 2014


April 18, 2013

Ryan Capote, Leonardo Mateus and Juan Osorio of South Florida Aquatic Club will compete in the Swim Miami 2014 presented by Nike.

The open water event begins Saturday at 8 a.m. at the Miami Yacht Club on Watson Island.

The first event start is the 800-meter races at 8 a.m. followed by the 10K start at 8:15 a.m., 5K at 10 a.m., and Miami Mile at 10:15 a.m.

The awards ceremonies will be held simultaneously as the events finish.

Last year Mateus won the 11-12 age group title in 28:26 and Osorio was second in 29:51. Mateus was also 11th overall in the entire men’s field.

The trio will be joined by SOFLO age group coach George Mersinger, who will also swim the mile.

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

SOFLO will be joined by other Florida Gold Coast teams Aqua Kids Sharks, Azura Florida Aquatics, Flying Fish, Gulliver, Lake Lytal Lightning, Miami-Dade, St. Andrew’s, Titan Aquatics and Wahoos of Wellington.

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

Sharon Robb can be reached at



February 5, 2014

Kathleen and Molly Golding are the first recipients of the inaugural Nike Swimmer of the Month Award for January.

The sisters, Kathleen, 12, and Molly, 10, share the honor after outstanding three-day meet performances at the Florida Gold Coast Open Invitational at Academic Village Pool.

The highlight for Kathleen was qualifying for her first USA Swimming Grand Prix in the 400-yard individual medley in a lifetime-best 4:28.10. She will compete in the Feb. 13-15 Orlando Grand Prix with several other SOFLO teammates.

Kathleen had four lifetime-best times, won ten events and finished second in another. She swam 11 events.

Molly swam six lifetime-best times in her events and won nine events, finished second twice and third once. She competed in 12 events.

The award, chosen by the SOFLO coaching staff, will be awarded each month to the swimmer who excels at various swim meets and practice sessions. –Sharon Robb

With Four Meets, FGC Banquet Busy Weekend For SOFLO Swimmers

With Four Meets, FGC Banquet Busy Weekend For SOFLO Swimmers


April 17, 2012

South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers, parents and coaches will be busy this weekend.

Swimmers will either participate in the Comets Sizzler, Sunrise Sizzler, IMX Challenge or Swim Miami 2012 on Friday and Saturday.

Thirty of the club’s top swimmers will be honored at the annual Florida Gold Coast Age Group Awards Ceremony on Sunday.

Swim Miami 2012 presented by Nike is one of the top events of the open water swimming circuit along the east coast.

The multi-race event features distances of 800 meters, 1 mile, 5K and 10K and attracts swimmers of all ages from 10-and-under to 60-and-over at every level from newcomers to Olympians at the Miami Yacht Club off Watson Island in Biscayne Bay.

The event, scheduled for Saturday for Florida Gold Coast teams only, will have an in-water start and beach finish.

Two race courses will be used.

For the 800-meter race, swimmers will proceed from the Miami Yacht Club Beach, around the T-Dock and straight along the shore west towards Jungle Island Beach.

In the one mile, 5K and 10K events swimmers will follow a rectangular course totaling 1,665 meters per loop. A feeding station will be provided and the use of feed sticks by coaches will be permitted.

SOFLO has nine boys and seven girls competing. The girls are Lilliana Calero, 13; Leonie Davies, 15; Kylie Herman, 14; Andrea Melendez, 15; Clarisa Melendez, 15; Stephanie Mlujeak, 13; and Samantha Stinemire, 13.

SOFLO’s Leonie Davies was recently added to the Florida Gold Coast All-Star roster for the April 27-28 Open Water Festival in Fort Myers.

The boys are Roger Capote, 16; Ryan Capote, 14; Jack Davies, 13; Estaban Diaz-Velasco, 12; Matthew Gonzalez, 17; Alexander Monti, 13; Julien Pinon, 13; Daniel Reyna, 16; and Marc Rojas, 18.

One of the more inspiring athletes entered is Hector Picard of Fort Lauderdale. Picard is a double arm amputee who competes in swims, triathlons and road and bike races. Picard is entered in the 5K.

The top three male and female finishers will receive awards for overall. Medals will be awarded for first through third in all age groups.

Proceeds benefit the H20S (Helping Others To Swim) Foundation, a non-profit organization.


What: Swim Miami 2012 presented by Nike

When: Saturday, 8 a.m. 800 meters; 8:15 a.m. Miami Mile; 8:30 a.m., 5K; 8:45 a.m., 10K.

Where: Miami Yacht Club, 1001 MacArthur Causeway, Miami.

Admission: Free to the public. Parking is $5 per car at Jungle Island. For questions call 305-273-1129 or email

IMX Challenge

Top seeds Ricardo Roche, 12, Isabella Pittinger, 12, Sarah Schimansky, 8, Joshua Hanks, 8, Kelley Heron, 12, Kevin Porto, 12, and Rafael Rodriguez, 10, head a large field of more than 100 SOFLO, Comets and Coral Springs Swim Club swimmers for Saturday’s in-house 12-and-Under IMX Challenge at Academic Village Pool.

All heats will be mixed girls and boys in the fun meet.

The relays will also be mixed girls and boys and mixed age groups. Instead of the coaches picking the relays, it will be up to the swimmers to select the relay members. It’s a way for the swimmers to socialize and get to know each other.

The IMX Challenge is a motivational program that allows swimmers across the nation to compare themselves to the thousands of other athletes in their age group.


What: IMX Challenge

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. Warm-up is 9 a.m.

Where: Academic Village Swimming Pool, 17191 Sheridan Street, Pembroke Pines

Admission: Free. Heat sheets will be posted around the pool. For information call 954-538-3721 or email

Comets Sizzler

The Comets Swim Team and Booster Club will host the Broward County Sizzler for south Broward and Dade County teams Friday at 5:30 p.m.

The meet is fun and also a learning experience for young swimmers learning stroke technique, pacing and breathing during races. It’s a way for coaches to gauge how their swimmers are learning the sport during practice sessions.

The meet also introduces what swim meets are all about to swimmers in a non-competitive environment.

Events include 25-yard butterfly, 25-yard backstroke, 25-yard breaststroke, 25-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle relay.

SOFLO has 21 swimmers entered. The girls are Daniela Barreto, 8, Marcela Bucaro, 7, Marli Crichton, 7, Jena Legaspi, 8, Isabella Lizarazo, 8, Gretchen Montgomery, 8, Sara Quintero, 8, and Analucia Raimont, 8.

The boys are Fernando Barreto, 6, Jake Cavanagh, 7, Dennis Dale, 8, Mark Andre De Gracia, 8, Tanner Gibson, 8, Zackary Harris, 7, Ryan Heron, 8, Noah Hew, 7, Luca Hincapie, 5, Sebastian Lares, 7, Alejandro Mateus, 6, Ariel Sanchez, 8, and Ian Torres, 7.

Coral Springs Swim Club swimmers from Mullins Park will compete in the Broward Sizzler at Sunrise.


What: Comets Sizzler/Broward County South and Dade County.

When: Friday, 5:30 p.m. Warm-up is 5 p.m.

Where: Academic Village Swimming Pool, 17191 Sheridan Street, Pembroke Pines.

Admission: $2. Heat sheets $2. For questions call 954-538-3721.

Florida Gold Coast Banquet

Thirty South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers will be among 235 swimmers honored Sunday at the annual 14-and-under Florida Gold Coast Age Group Awards Ceremony at St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, noon-4 p.m.

Those being honored for outstanding seasons are Sarah Bucaro, Sophia Bucaro, Steph Campo, Tristan Celestin, Catharine Cooper, Leonie Davies, Kylie Herman, Kelley Heron, Marco Hosfeld, Amber Hunter, Kelly Kealty, Blake Kelley, Emma Lincoln, Juan Lucas, Melissa Marinheiro, Audrey Mason, Alfredo Mesa, Delanie Perez, Julien Pinon, Samuel Quintero, Ricardo Roche, Carlos Rodriguez, Diego Rodriguez, Jessica Rodriguez, Rafael Rodriguez, Cristian Rossi, Samantha Stinemire, Carly Swanson, Gustavo Valery and Sebastian Vargas.

SOFLO’s national record-breaking boys relays will be recognized along with swimmers who were members of the FGC vs. Florida team, FGC Zone All-Stars, FGC record breakers and national Top 10 single age group ranked swimmers.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alcaide, Atkinson Top Seeds At Nike Swim Team Challenge

SOFLO’s Alcaide, Atkinson Top Seeds At Nike Swim Team Challenge

January 19, 2012


Jessie Alcaide and Alia Atkinson will get in a little extra racing Friday and Saturday at the Nike Swim Team Challenge at the Orlando YMCA Aquatic Center.

Alcaide, 27, and Atkinson, 23, head the field of 701 swimmers and 23 teams.

Nike-sponsored SOFLO is one of two Florida Gold Coast teams competing. The other is Boca Raton-based Performance Aquatics. The remaining teams are from Florida Swimming.

Alcaide is entered in three events. She is the No. 1 seed in the 100-yard butterfly (54.61) and 100-yard freestyle (49.86) and No. 2 seed in the 50-yard freestyle (23.08).

Atkinson, a two-time Jamaican Olympian, will compete in five events. She is the top seed in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:00.44), 200-yard individual medley (2:04.29) and 200-yard breaststroke (2:11.90).

Atkinson is seeded second in the 100-yard backstroke (1:03.07) and third in the 200-yard freestyle (1:50.85).

Atkinson Award Finalist

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson, a runner-up last year, is among finalists for the RJR Sports Foundation National Sportswoman of the Year Award Friday night.

The 51st annual event will honor the top male and female athletes from

Jamaica at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

Track and field stars Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake are the favorites for the men’s honor.

Track star Veronica Campbell-Brown, boxer Alicia Ashley and Atkinson, silver medalist at the Pan American Games, are the leading favorites for the women’s award.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK: Issue 31, Nike Swim Miami Set For April 9 At New Site

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK: Issue 31, Nike Swim Miami Set For April 9 At New Site


March 25, 2011

Nike Swim Miami will have a new site for its 2011 event.

The Saturday, April 9 open water swims, with an all-star field of competitors, will be held at the Miami Yacht Club on Watson Island at 1001 MacArthur Causeway.

Pre-race registration will be held Friday, April 8, noon-6 p.m. at the Miami Yacht Club.

On Saturday, check-in is 6-9:45 a.m. and Sponsor Expo will be open from 7 a.m.-2 p.m.

Race time is 7:30 a.m. for the Miami Mile, 8:30 a.m. for the 800-meter swim, 9 a.m. for the 4K and 10 a.m. for the 10K swim. Swimmers must show proof they have completed a 1,650 or mile swim if they want to compete in the 10K.

Each race will have a separate start time for male and female swimmers within appropriate intervals.

There will be two racing courses. In the 800-meter and one-mile events swimmers will head out and return back in a narrow course designed for optimum observation of large numbers of competitors. There are no feeding stations in these races.

The Florida Gold Coast will also use the event as its Junior Olympics  open water swim. The top four in each age group (11-12, 13-14 and 15-18) will be invited to compete as members of the FGC Open Water All-Star Team at the June 10-11 Florida Cup Challenge against Florida Swimming in Fort Myers.

In the 4K and 10K events, swimmers will follow a rectangular course totaling 2000 meters per loop. A feeding station will be provided and use of feed sticks by coaches is permitted.

All registration will be closed Friday, April 1. Late entries with added cost will be accepted through noon on Friday, April 8. There is also race day registration.

The event will have a live webcast courtesy of La Ley Sports, hosted by one of the former Dos Amigos of 790 The Ticket.

Last year, SOFLO’s Kelley Heron won the 800-meter swim in 13:13, six seconds ahead of Fort Lauderdale Aquatics’ Greg Fernandes. Jesus Marin of Davie Nadadores won the Miami Mile in 20:18. University of Florida-bound Carlos Omana of Metro Aquatic Club won the 5K in 1:01:18. Alex Meyer of Massachusetts Bay Marlins won the 10K in 1:57:58.

The Miami Sports International event will also host Board Up, which features product demonstrations, all-day entertainment from some of the area’s top musicians, bikini fashion show and action sports professionals, skateboard and BMX contests.

Jungle Island is offering a 25 percent discount for general admission with the promo code 8860.

For more information, contact event director Jonathan Strauss at 305-273-1129 or


Fred Bousquet, fresh off his training camp at Pine Crest Swimming and tune-up meet in Plantation, posted the world’s best time in the 50-meter freestyle during the French Long Course Nationals in Strasbourg.

France is using the meet as a qualifier for the world championships in Shanghai this summer.

Bousquet, the former world record holder, posted the first sub-22 second 50-meter freestyle of the year. He won in 21.82 and teammate Alain Bernard was second in 21.98.

In other fast swims:

Yannick Agnel swam the world’s fastest 400-meter freestyle in 3:43.85, breaking his own national record of 3:46.17.

Camille Lacourt swam the fastest 100-meter backstroke in 52.44, the fastest time this year.

Camille Muffat became the first Frenchwoman to crack 54 seconds in a textile suit when she won the 100-meter freestyle in 53.97.

Olympic medalist Hugues Duboscq won the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:11.99.


The University of New Orleans has decided to eliminate swimming and diving as part of its NCAA re-classification from Division I to Division II.

UNO, which plans to add three sports next month, will be in the Gulf South Conference which does not sponsor swimming or diving.

“Ultimately, we could not make swimming and diving work within our plan for properly supporting ten sports needed in order to comply with Division II membership standards in 2011-2012,” said Athletic Director Amy Champion, who worked with swim coach James Winchester to come up with budget-saving ideas.

This past season UNO competed as a Division I independent school.


After three years away from competitive swimming, two-time Olympic trials finalist Chris DeJong, 26, has come out of retirement to train for the Trials in the 200-meter backstroke and 200-meter freestyle.

The former University of Michigan swimmer will make his debut next month at the Ann Arbor, Mich. Grand Prix event named for the late Michigan swimmer and coach Eric Namesnik, a former Spanish River High and Mission Bay swimmer, who grew up competing in the Florida Gold Coast. DeJong was fourth in the 200-meter backstroke in the 2004 trials and sixth in 2008.

Sharon Robb can be reached at