SOFLO’s Rafael Rodriguez Wins Crippen Sunset Mile At Open Water Festival

By Sharon Robb

FORT MYERS, April 16, 2018—Rafael Rodriguez of South Florida Aquatic Club won the Crippen Sunset Mile during the Open Water Festival this past weekend at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club.

Rodriguez, 16, representing the Florida Gold Coast Open Water All-Stars, won the men’s and age group titles and was second overall in 16:06. Rodriguez was also second in his age group in the 5K open water swim in 59:21 and Leonardo Mateus was fourth in 1:02.

SOFLO teammate Leonardo Mateus was third in his age group in the Crippen Sunset Mile in 16:11.

Bailey Sampson of Central Florida Marlins won the overall and women’s title in 15:15. SOFLO’s Mallory Schleicher was fifth in 17:39 and was sixth in the 5K open water race in 28:47.

SOFLO’s Fiorella DiSalvo was fourth in the 1K open water swim in 10:04.

The Sunset Mile Swim is named after Fran Crippen, a top American long distance swimmer and U.S. national team member, who transitioned from pool swimming to open water in 2006. He died in 2010 at age 26 during a FINA 10K World Cup race in the United Arab Emirates.

Swimmers from Florida, Maryland and Texas competed in the Open Water Festival. The two-day event was hosted by Gulf Coast Swim Team and featured several top open water elite and age group swimmers.

RESULTS (Times Unofficial)

GIRLS TEAM TOTALS: 1. Florida Swimming 138, 2. Maryland Swimming 78, 3. Florida Gold Coast 71, 4. Gulf Swimming 37, 5. South Texas Open Water 15.


1. Bailey Sampson, Central Florida 15:15; SOFLO: 5. Mallory Schleicher 17:39, 44. Emma Twombly 20:46, 62. Fiorella DiSalvo 26:50

1. Haley Anderson, Trojan Swim Club 2:02:21, 2. Rebecca Mann, Trojan Swim Club 2:02:48, 3. Kathryn Campbell, TSM 2:03:01.

Open, 1. Erica Sullivan, Sandpipers 26:35; 15-16, 1. Shannon Campbell, Florida Swimming 29:30.70; 13-14, 1. Kelsey Swartout, Florida Swimming 28:24.10; SOFLO: 6. Mallory Schleicher 28:47.20, 35. Emma Twombly 33:18.

11-12, 1. Emma Guglielmello, Gulf Coast 31:00.

10-and-under, 1. Brooke Billitto, Florida Swimming 9:33.50; SOFLO: 4. Fiorella Di Salvo 10:04.10.

3×333-meter freestyle relay:
10-and-under, 1. Maryland Swimming 11:09.90.

3×333-meter freestyle team pursuit
14-and-under, 1. Florida Swimming 16.51, 2. Maryland Swimming B 17.21, 3. Florida Gold Coast A 17.42 (Emily Trieschmann, Mallory Schleicher, Rylie Barnhardt, Reese Andres), 4. Maryland Swimming B 18.05, 5. Florida Gold Coast B 18.18 (Paige Munna, Sarah Acevedo, Maris Proscia, Emma Twombly).

3×333-meter freestyle team pursuit
1. Florida Swimming 32.58, 4. Florida Gold Coast A 36.50, 6. Florida Gold Coast B 39.25.

1. Caroline Benda, Maryland Swimming 16:43; SOFLO: 16. Mallory Schleicher 17:01, 46. Emma Twombly 19:00


BOYS TEAM TOTALS: 1. Florida Swimming 150, 2. Florida Gold Coast 66, 3. Maryland Swimming 55, 4. Gulf Swimming 54, 5. South Texas Open Water 52.


1. Rafael Rodriguez, SOFLO 16:06; SOFLO: 3. Leonardo Mateus 16:11, 24. Enrique Rodriguez 18:32, 69. Alejandro Mateus 23:37, 71. Gavin Sheyda 23:37.7.

1. Taylor Abott, Tennessee 1:55:02, 2. Brennan Gravley, Sandpipers 1:55:04, 3. David Heron, Tennessee 1:56:19.

Open, 1. Cale Russell, Florida Swimming 1:01:01; 15-16, 1. Ryan Staunch, Florida Swimming 59:18.80; SOFLO: 2. Rafael Rodriguez 59:21.60, 4. Leonardo Mateus 1:02:15; 13-14, 1. Spencer Howery, Florida Swimming 1:00.36; SOFLO: 12. Enrique Rodriguez 1:07.40.

11-12, 1. Dean Jones, Gulf Coast 29:36; SOFLO: 6. Alejandro Mateus 32:08.

1. Cale Russell, Florida Swimming 31:21; SOFLO: 11. Rafael Rodriguez 32:27, 20. Leonardo Mateus 32:59.

1. Spencer Howery, Florida Swimming 16:12; SOFLO: 10. Enrique Rodriguez 16:46, 23. Alejandro Mateus 17:34, 84. Gavin Sheyda 20:42.

10-and-under, 1. Parker Seluk, Florida Swimming 8:43.

1,000-meter freestyle relay:
10-and-under, 1. Florida Swimming 9:27.50, 2. Maryland Swimming 9:48.30, 3. Florida Gold Coast 10:39.30 (no names listed).

3×333-meter freestyle team pursuit
14-and-under, 1. Florida Swimming 16.22, 4. Florida Gold Coast 17.39, 8. Florida Gold Coast 20.42 (Chipper Edwards, Enrique Rodriguez, Alejandro Mateus, Gavin Sheyda).

3×333-meter freestyle team pursuit relay
1. Florida Swimming 32.08, 4. Florida Gold Coast 33.16 (Leonardo Mateus, Christian Perez, Rafael Rodriguez), 8. Florida Gold Coast B 41.19.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Swimmers Hit The Road This Weekend

By Sharon Robb

NORTH MIAMI, April 13, 2018–South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers will be competing at the North Miami Swim Team Open Invitational and Open Water Festival in Fort Meyers this weekend.

Twenty-one swimmers (12 boys and 9 girls) will compete in 96 individual events and two relays at Miami-Dade College North Campus pool.

Swimmers entered are: Sarah Bedoya, 10; Sebastian Bozeman, 12; Erick Esser, 11; Caterina Fogli, 10; Matias Galarraga, 10; Ethan Hill, 10; Gel’esa Lewis, 10; Brandon Lozano, 8; Gabriela Marin, 9; Jade McVeigh, 13; Matt McVeigh, 10; Julien Perdigon, 12; Francesca Perry, 7; Isabella Perry, 9; Martin Petkov, 9; Jaime Quintana, 12; Juan-Esteban Ramirez, 12; Adrian Sowma, 9; Alexandra Strong, 9; Juan Vallmitjana, 9; and Elizabeth Volovich, 11.

Two sessions will be held at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.


SOFLO will be well-represented on the Florida Gold Coast Open Water All-Star team at this weekend’s Open Water Festival at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club in Fort Myers Saturday and Sunday.

Rafael Rodriguez, Leonardo Mateus, Enrique Rodriguez, Gavin Sheyda and Alejandro Mateus will represent SOFLO. Emma Twombly, Alana Acevedo, Sarah Acevedo, Mallory Schleicher and Fiorella DiSalvo will represent the girls.

It is one of SOFLO’s strongest open water contingents.

On Saturday, relays, team pursuit, Buddy Swim, Youth 500 and Crippen Sunset Mile Benefit Race will be held. On Sunday, the age group events in the 800 meter, 1,000 meters, 2.5K and 5K races will be held. Age groups are 10-and-under, 11-12, 13-14 and 15-18.


What: FGC Open Sprint Meet Invitational

When: Saturday, two sessions, 830 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Where: Miami Dade College North Campus pool, 11380 NW 27th Ave., Miami.

Of note: Admission is $4 per session. Heat sheets are free on the host North Miami Swim Team website or Meet Mobile. For information call 786-255-5301.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

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’s Rafael Rodriguez, Alana Acevedo Win Age Group Titles At Open Water Festival

By Sharon Robb

April 26, 2015—-Rafael Rodriguez and Alana Acevedo of South Florida Aquatic Club won their age group divisions in the LSC All-Star Challenge during the Open Water Festival this past weekend in Fort Myers.

Rodriguez won the 5,000-meter race in 1 hour, 6 minutes and 23 seconds. Teammate Leonardo Mateus was second in 1:07.16. Both competed in the 13-14 boys.

Acevedo won the girls 13-14 age group.

Kevin Porto was tenth among the 15-18 boys in 1:11.35.

Alejandro Mateus was first in the 800 meters.

Rodriguez was also second in his age group at the Crippen Mile Sunset Swim. Rodriguez finished in 19 minutes and 27 seconds to place second in the 13-14 age group.

Leonardo Mateus was fourth in 19:40 and Acevedo was 12th in the girls 13-14 age group in 24:40. The course was a 1-mile loop swim with the finish on the beach. Proceeds from the Crippen Mile benefit the Fran Crippen Elevation Foundation.

The events were held over three days during the Open Water Festival.

In the USA Swimming Open Water 5K National Championships on Sunday at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club in Fort Myers, Haley Anderson made her move at the final turn to reel in Ashley Twichell to win her third title.

Anderson overtook Twichell and the rest of the field around the the final buoy and pulled away down the stretch to the finish line.

Anderson, who was runner-up in the 10K, finished in 1:01:51.29 seconds to qualify for the world championships later this summer in Kazan, Russia. Twichell of Triangle Aquatics finished second in 1:01:53.63 and former Clearwater swimmer and 10K champion Becca Mann of North Baltimore was third in 1:01:56.66.

Anderson last competed in the world championships in 2013 when she won a gold medal in the 5K.

“I didn’t know if anybody was close behind,” Anderson told the media after the race. “I don’t like to look behind me. I just like to keep looking forward in racing.

“Today was more about changing it up, seeing how I felt,” Anderson said. “I knew if I swam well I would get to swim the 5K at worlds, but if not I still have the 10K so there were no worries today.”

Miami-born and Bishop Verot alum Stephanie Peacock of Mission Viejo and Cape Coral was the early leader during the race lap but faded to ninth in 1:02:21.

In the men’s competition, Olympian and former 10K world champion Alex Meyer won his second consecutive 5K title in 57:43.940. Meyer had just missed making the 10K world team finishing third by .006.

“The first lap was really fast and I thought I was pretty much going to fall off the group at that point,” Meyer said. “But it kind of slowed down and it just played out to a very close finish and it was fun.

“I almost died a bit on the backstretch but I tried to stay up front. When David swam up beside me it ended up being a perfect scenario for us for the finish.”

Meyer’s Tennessee Aquatics’ teammate David Heron was second in 57:44.23. Andrew Gemmell was third in 57:44.39.

Robert Finke, 15, of St. Petersburg Aquatics won the 18-and-under national title. He was seventh overall in 57:51 ahead of Brendan Casey, second among 18-and-unders, in 57:51.19. Mann, at 17, won the girls 18-and-under national title with her third place overall in 1:01:56.


1.Alex Meyer, Tennessee Aquatics 57:43.940, 2. David Heron, Tennessee Aquatics 57:44.229, 3. Andrew Gemmell, Nation’s Capital 57:44.393, 4. Arthur Frayler, Unattached 57:48.610, 5. Chip Peterson, North Carolina Aquatics 57:49.247; FLORIDA: 7. Robert Finke, St. Petersburg Aquatics 57:51.006, 12. Blake Manganiello, Unattached 58:06.340, 13. Joey Pedraza, RallySport Aquatic Club 58:10.864, 24. Zane Grothe, Club Seminole 1:01:52, 29. Eric Geunes, Gator Swim Club 1:02:19,


1.Haley Anderson, Trojan Swim Club 1:01:51, 2. Ashley Twichell, Triangle Aquatics 1:01:53, 3. Becca Mann, North Baltimore 1:01:56, 4. Eva Fabian, Greenwood 1:02:09, 5. Christine Jennings, RallySport Aquatic Club 1:02:09; FLORIDA: 9. Stephanie Peacock, Mission Viejo 1:02:21, 15. Hannah Burns, Gator Swim Club 1:05:22, 18. Kahra Wiliams, Gator Swim Club 1:06:34, 32. Katelyn Kilpatrick, Central Florida Marlins 1:10:37.


13-14, 1. Ivan Puskovitch 1:01:39, 2. Michael Calvillo 1:05:39, 3. Gavin Bloch 1:06.38; 15-18, 1. Logan Houck 1:01:02, 2. Riley Molina 1:01:16, 3. Nicholas McDowell 1:01:25.


13-14, 1. Erica Sullivan 1:07:00, 2. Isabel Ivey 1:09:51, 3. Julia Byrnes 1:12:48; 15-18, 1. Erin Emery 1:06:16, 2. Sidney Kennedy 1:08:07, 3. Flo Almanda 1:10:51.


BOYS 11-12, 1. Connor Hughes 34:58, 2. Jared Carter 35:41, 3. Byron Keller 35:54; GIRLS 11-12, 1. Eliot Kennedy 35:01, 2. Julia Heimstead 35:07, 3. Meghan Lynch 36:01.


BOYS 11-12, 1. Mathew Tannenberger 20:42, 2. Jorge Guerra 20:51, 3. Byron Keller 21:35,

GIRLS 11-12, 1. Sydney Young 22:36, 2. Abigal Foreman 22:41, 3. Roxana Nolte 23:07.

BOYS 13-14, 1. Ivan Puskovitch 19:22, 2. Rafael Rodriguez 19:27, 3. Michael Calvillo 19:38, 4. Leonardo Mateus 19:40.

GIRLS 13-14, 1. Rachel Hicks 21:02, 2. Diana Dunn 21:25, 3. Julian Hill 21:29, 12. Alana Acevedo 24:40.

BOYS 15-16, 1. Abbott Taylor 19:04, 2. Eric Geunes 19:36, 3. Cameron Anderson 19:43.

GIRLS 15-16, 1. Sidney Kennedy 19:50, 2. Anne Norris 20:21, 3. Grace Kowal 20:36.

SENIOR MEN: 1. Jordan Wilmovsky 18:05, 2. Daniel O’Connor 18:19, 3. Kyle Nash 19:38.

SENIOR WOMEN: 1. Casey Francis 19:45, 2. Dorothy Halmy 19:46, 3. Ella Bryan 20:23.

Former Florida Swimmer Becca Mann Wins 10K Open Water National Championship

April 24, 2015—In near-perfect weather conditions at Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club, former Clearwater swimmer Becca Mann of Homer Glen, Ill. captured USA Swimming’s 10K Open Water National Championship for the second year in a row on Friday.

Mann, 17, of North Baltimore Aquatic Club outsprinted Haley Anderson of Granite Bay, Calif. in the final stretch to win the women’s title in for the 6.2-mile course.

Last year Mann won the 10K national title in Castaic Lake, California.

Under overcast skies in 75-degree weather, the race came down to a sprint between the four leaders on the fifth and final lap. Anderson was leading but Mann reeled her in to finish less than a half-body length ahead in 2:02.38.344 for 6.2 miles.

“I didn’t feel great out there,” Mann admitted. “I was really struggling the first 5K. After that 5K I sort of built into it. I found that I had enough speed at the end to finish it.”

Anderson, an Olympic silver medalist, was second in 2:02.38.709 followed by Ashley Twichell of Fayetteville, N.Y. in 2:02.39.903 and Emily Brunemann of Crescent Springs, Ky. in 2:02.45.022.

In the men’s 10K, Jordan Wilimovsky, 21, of Team Santa Monica, Calif. and junior at Northwestern, 1:54:27.928 out-touching Sean Ryan, 22, of Club Wolverine, second in 1:54:40.334 and Alex Meyer, 26, of Tennessee Aquatics was third in 1:54:40.340. The top five finishers all finished in the 1:54-range.

“I was just trying to kick as hard as I could the last little bit,” Wilimovsky said. “I’d rather just go for it and see what happens.”

Miami’s Blake Manganiello was ninth in 1:58:57.973. Former Florida swimmer Joey Pedraza, 27, of RallySport Aquatic Club was 16th in 2:02:14:042. Ben Lawless, 18, of University of Florida was 19th in 2:04:03.052. T.C. Smith, 16, of Sarasota Tsunami Swim Team was 30th in 2:07:52.921.

Mann, Anderson, Wilimovsky and Ryan will represent the U.S. at this summer’s FINA World Aquatic Championships in Kazan, Russia. The top two men and women in the 10K qualify. At the world championships the top 10 men and top 10 women finishers qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Mann, a high school senior, had already made the U.S. world team in a pool event, the 800-meter freestyle.

The open water nationals is also a selection meet for the Pan American Games and World University Games, senior and junior national teams.

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

Twichell, Gemmell Win 10K Open Water National Titles; SOFLO Swimmers Compete Saturday

Twichell, Gemmell Win 10K Open Water National Titles; SOFLO Swimmers Compete Saturday


April 27, 2012

Ashley Twichell and Haley Anderson kept their Olympic dream alive on a sun-drenched Friday at Miromar Lakes during the Open Water Festival in Fort Myers.

Twichell, a newcomer to the sport a year ago, turned on the after jets with 1,500 meters to go to win the USA Swimming 10K Open Water National Championship. The Duke University graduate won the 6.2-mile race in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 6.03 seconds for her first open water national title.

With Twichell leading by 50 seconds, Anderson fought off a strong pack of swimmers and took off with 300 meters left to clinch second place in 2:03:50.44.

By securing the top two spots, Twichell and Anderson earned a trip to Setubal, Portugal for the June 9th Olympic Qualifier Event. They must finish in the Top 15 at the final Olympic qualifier to go to the London Olympics.

In the men’s race with no Olympic qualifying significance since Alex Meyer earned the men’s berth for London, Andrew Gemmell, 20, of Georgia and 2009 World 10K silver medalist, won the men’s race with a strong kick to win in 1:58:03.87. Fort Lauderdale’s Joey Pedraza of Davie Nadadores was fourth in 1:58:15.91 and was named to the national team. Pedraza was just out-touched at the finishing pad by David Heron of Mission Viejo for third.

Janardan Burns of Mission Viejo was second.

Meyer, the defending 10K national champion coming off a broken collarbone, played it safe and finished tenth in 1:58:47.35.

With 25 swimmers in the field including 14-year-old Becca Mann of Clearwater, the women’s race took center stage. Water temperature was 78 degrees and weather conditions were ideal.

Twichell was one of the pre-race favorites. She won two medals at the 2011 World Swimming Championships and moved to California to train under Coach Bill Rose of the Mission Viejo Nadadores after college. She trained in high altitude before the national championships.

“I am really excited about qualifying,” Twichell said after the race. “This past year has been a whirlwind. I’m really excited to continue the experience.

“I was debating where to make my move the whole time,” Twichell said. “I was telling myself to do it at the 5K at first, but I tried to conserve as much energy as possible and at the last turn I picked up the tempo and felt really strong. I felt really good and comfortable.”

Anderson of University of Southern California, was one of eight swimmers contending for second place.

“I knew it was going to be a race to get second,” Anderson said. “I like to stay relaxed for the first 5K, I don’t care where I am in the first 5K. I like to be in the back and work my way up. I have some speed. I was in the back and at the halfway I was in the Top 10. It worked out. Each race I keep learning even more. I’m really excited to qualify.”

Mann, the youngest swimmer in the race, led a lead pack of six swimmers for the first two laps and finished 11th in 2:06.32.

The top six qualifying for the U.S. national team are Twichell, Anderson, Christine Jennings (2:03:56.4), Eva Fabian (2:03:56.5), Tristan Baxter (2:03:57) and Gillian Ryan (2:03:58).

The top three 18-and-under finishers who qualified for this year’s Junior Pan Pacs team are Gillian Ryan, Rachel Zilinskas and Mann.

On Saturday, age group open water swimmers will take center stage with nine South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers, members of the Florida Gold Coast All-Star team taking on Florida Swimming in the annual All-Star Challenge Cup.

Representing SOFLO are Kelley Heron, Jessica Rodriguez, Sophia Bucaro, Melissa Marinheiro, Leonie Davies, Kevin Porto, Nicholas Perera, Ricardo Roche and Julien Pinon.

The 15-18 5K begins at 8 a.m. followed by the 13-14 5K at 9:30 a.m. and 2.5K for 11-12 swimmers at 11 a.m. A 1K race for kids 10-and-under will finish up the youth races. The second annual Crippen Sunset Mile, named after distance swimmer Fran Crippen, who died tragically during a FINA event in Abu Dhabi in 2010, tops off the day’s events.

The races will be webcast online at Florida Swim Network.

SOFLO age group coach Megan Garland is a member of the All-Star coaching staff.

Elite swimmers return on Sunday for the 5K open water national championship at 8:30 a.m. The Gulf Coast Swim Team will host its event for local swimmers at 11 a.m.

The race returned to southwest Florida this year after being relocated last year to Fort Lauderdale because of concerns over water temperatures and heat exhaustion.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Julien Pinon, Juan Lucas Finish 1-2 To Lead Florida Gold Coast Open Water All-Stars

SOFLO’s Julien Pinon, Juan Lucas Finish 1-2 To Lead Florida Gold Coast Open Water All-Stars

June 12, 2011


South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers had nine top eight finishes and Florida Gold Coast All-Stars nearly pulled off the upset Sunday at the Florida Cup Open Water Challenge off Fort Myers Beach.

Florida Swimming All-Stars edged Florida Gold Coast All-Stars, 114.5-107.5, in the annual challenge race, part of the 10th annual Open Water Festival.

Florida Gold Coast 11-12 All-Stars won the 2K, 39-35; Florida Swimming 13-14 All-Stars won the 4K, 55-19, and Florida Gold Coast 15-18 All-Stars won the 4K, 49.5-24.5 including sweeping the top five boys places led by individual winner Sam Smiddy.

“Our kids did great,” said SOFLO age group coach Josh Laban.

Said FGC All-Star head coach Julie Smiddy, “The kids were unbelievably outstanding, fantastic. The kids trained hard for this and they did a great job.”

SOFLO’s Julien Pinon and Juan Lucas finished 1-2 in the boys 11-12 age group to highlight the day.

Swimmers had ideal race conditions with calm water, low wind and water temperature at 81 degrees.

Pinon, making his All-Star open water debut, had a little added motivation to win.

“There was this girl behind me and she kept hitting me,” Pinon said. “I just kept thinking about keeping a constant pace and not getting tired. When I started the race I wanted to win so bad.”

Pinon veered off course at the midway mark but quickly corrected himself.

“I was trying to swim like I was in a pool, but went off course in the middle of the race and dropped back because the current kept pushing me toward the shore,” Pinon said. “I was practically first for the whole way.

“It was both smooth water and going against the current. At the end, the waves started picking up and I was aiming for the waves to help me and pull me to shore. I like open water, it is different. I would do another one but nothing too long.

“I feel great,” Pinon said. “I feel like I accomplished something. After the race I thought I was going to die but it was a good experience even though I am extremely tired right now.”

Lucas was also making his All-Star debut.

“I felt great, I tried to keep up with Julien but I kind of went off course when I was following him,” Lucas said. “Then we got back on course. The waves were pushing us.

“Most of the race I was riding the waves. I like open water better than the pool. You never know what’s going to pop up. The conditions were really nice and it was really a good experience. I thank my coach for giving me the opportunity.”

SOFLO’s Kevin Porto won the 2K Gulf Coast Open Swim.

SOFLO finishers were:

11-12 Girls: Sophia Bucaro, fifth, 34:32; Allison Kopas, seventh, 34:51; Jessica Rodriguez, eighth, 35:06.

11-12 Boys: Julien Pinon, first, 33:34; Juan Lucas, second; Carlos Rodriguez, fifth, 36:08; Alfredo Mesa Jr., seventh, 36:17.

13-14 Girls: Leonie Davies, fourth, 55:59; Amber Hunter, ninth, 58:14.

13-14 Boys: Dylan Sell, eighth, 56:22; Blake Kelley, did not swim.

Race organizers did not report the final official results or finish times for any race.

5K National Championships at Fort Lauderdale

After finishing second by two seconds in the 10K swim in rough water on Friday, Sean Ryan, 18, of Chattanooga, Tenn. had calmer seas and won the USA Swimming Open Water National 5K Championships Sunday morning off Fort Lauderdale beach.

Ryan, who built an early lead, led from start to finish and won by more than a second in 53 minutes, 11.79 seconds. Chip Peterson was second in 54:42 and Ryan Feeley was third in 54:43.

“I just knew that I had to keep building and I had to swim my own race,” Ryan said. “I just had to try to keep it long and not overworking but try to keep it fast. Coming in second was a confidence-boost for me coming into today.”

Ashley Twichell, 21, of Fayetteville, N.Y. avoided a mistake at the end of the race when she nearly missed the chute entrance, to win the women’s 5K in 58:11.

Twichell pulled away from Christine Jennings, 24, and 13-year-old Becca Mann of Clearwater Aquatic Team late in the race with 400 meters left.

“My strategy worked well today,’ Twichell said. “I wanted to stay strong for about three-quarters of the race then pick up and try to break away.

“From probably about 400 yards out I could see the finish board, and every time I looked up it didn’t seem like it got any closer,” Twichell said. “I just kept going in that general direction and then finally when I got probably 25 yards out I heard the whistles and saw the guys motioning me in.”

There were 103 in the men’s field and 77 in the women’s field.

Sharon Robb can be reached at