SOFLO Swimmers Begin Competing Wednesday At USA Swimming Futures Championship

By Sharon Robb
CARY, N.C., July 26, 2022—South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers will be among a talented field when the USA Swimming Futures Championship begins Wednesday at Triangle Aquatic Center.

The Futures Championship is designed as an intermediate step between Sectional Championships and Junior Nationals or National Championships, and open to swimmers of all ages who have time standards.

SOFLO’s talented contingent includes Javier Colmenares, 16; Elena Dinehart, 17; Olivia Dinehart, 17; Natalie Gembicki, 17; Alex Golding, 18; Sophia Grubbs, 17; Austin Nelson, 16; Wisthon Rendon, 18; Ricardo Roche, 22; Rafael Rodriguez, 20; Mallory Schleicher, 18; Maddie Smutny, 17; and Izzy Wilson, 15.

SOFLO swimmers (seven girls and six boys) will compete in 48 individual events and one relay.

Other notable swimmers competing are: Julia Podkoscielny of Pine Crest Swimming; Kaii Winkler of Eagle Aquatics; Heidi Smithwick, Jupiter Dragons; Addison Sauickie and Gracie Weyant of Sarasota Sharks; Jillian Crooks of TS Aquatics; Hannah Bellard of Club Wolverine; Davidson Vincent of Azura; and Lismar Lyon of Midtown Weston

Podkoscielny, 17, seeded first in the 400 IM (4:43.57) and 200 backstroke (2:12.42) is prepping for Junior Pan Pacs.

The seventh edition of Futures is one of five around the nation. In previous years, there were four hosting sites for four designated regions. The Board of Directors added another site and adjusted the boundary map to accommodate the fifth region.

Swimmers from the following LSCs are eligible to compete including Florida Gold Coast, Florida Swimming, Southeastern, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Michigan, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Indiana.

The other Futures sites are Geneva, Ohio; Minneapolis; College Station, Tex. and Santa Clara, Calif. The meets are capped at 800 swimmers.

Wednesday events are men’s and women’s 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter breaststroke, 200-meter butterfly, 800-meter freestyle and 1500-meter freestyle. The 800, 1500 and all relays are timed final events. Prelims are 9 a.m. and finals at 5:30 p.m.

Stanford-bound Josh Zuchowski of FAST is competing in this week’s U.S. Summer Nationals in Irvine, Calif. The meet, which began Tuesday, is a lead-up to the Junior Pac Pacific Championships in Hawaii in August for him. He is entered in the 100 and 200 backstrokes, 100 butterfly and 200 IM. He is coming off last week’s FGC Senior Championships. In Tuesday morning’s prelims, Erika Pelaez, 16, of Eagle Aquatics turned in a 54.65 lifetime best in the 100-meter freestyle prelims of U.S. Nationals to move from No. 38 to seventh in the 15-16 year-old rankings.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

St. Andrew’s Aquatics Captures First-Ever Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships, SOFLO Finishes Second

By Sharon Robb
CORAL SPRINGS, August 1, 2021—In one of the closest Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships, St. Andrew’s Aquatics won its first-ever combined team title Sunday at Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.

Defending seven-time champion South Florida Aquatic Club finished runner-up in combined with 1,295.50, 151.50 points behind St. Andrew’s Aquatics with 1,446. Jupiter Dragons were third with 1,064.50. They were the only teams to crack the 1,000-point barrier among a field of 35 teams.

St. Andrew’s Aquatics also won the boys team title with 1,143. SOFLO was second with 790 and Swim Fort Lauderdale was third with 675.

Jupiter Dragons, led by Heidi Smithwick, winner of seven individual and relay events, won the girls’ team title with 710.50 points, just 41.50 points ahead of Gulliver Swim Club with 669. Pine Crest was third with 665.50. SOFLO was fourth with 505.50 and St. Andrew’s Aquatics was sixth with 303.

Because of bad weather and impending storms moving in from the Everglades, the final night session was cancelled and results were morning timed finals. The 400-meter medley relays and fast heats of the 1500 freestyles were not contested.

St. Andrew’s swimmers dedicated the win to longtime head coach Sid Cassidy, who underwent coronary angioplasty and stent surgery and was unable to be at the meet.

“We wanted to make him happy and feel better so we wanted to do well,” said St. Andrew’s sprinter and U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier Maximilian Zum Tobel, anchor leg of the Florida Gold Coast record-breaking 200-meter freestyle relay in 1:32.48, just missing the national age group record by .05. The previous FGC record was 1:32.87 set by Westminster Academy in 2013.

“We weren’t talking about the title too much but we were pretty confident because we knew we had a stacked finals in the 50 free and 100 back,” Zum Tobel said. “Our mindset was that we were ready to take on what we wanted to do. I’m happy, this is awesome.”

Despite missing several top swimmers competing at both Futures Championships and Speedo Summer Championships that begin Tuesday, SOFLO swimmers rose to the occasion during the three-day meet.

“Our kids were phenomenal,” SOFLO coach Chris Anderson said from Greensboro, N.C. “They swam really well and stepped it up.”

SOFLOs Top 10 finishers were:

Michelle Marinheiro, 1500-meter freestyle, first 18:41.11.

Gaby Banks, 50-meter freestyle, second 27.10.

Christian Tijero, 1500-meter freestyle, second 17:40.12.

Michelle Fernandez, 100-meter breaststroke, fifth, 1:16.82.

Nathaniel Garrick, 1500-meter freestyle, seventh 18:14.87, time drop 38.82.

Alex Golding, 200-meter individual medley, seventh 2:14.44.

Rafael Rodriguez, 100-meter backstroke, eighth, 1:01.15; 50-meter freestyle, ninth 24.66, time drop 0.51.

SOFLO also had two swimmers, Alex Golding and Sebastian Lares make their Futures cuts during the meet.

For the summer’s last local long course meet, 41 SOFLO swimmers, ages 15-and-over, (26 men and 15 women) competed in 174 individual and eight relay events.

The top three girls high points leaders were: Heidi Smithwick, Jupiter Dragons, 215; Riley Botting, Pine Crest 141; and Paola Gonzalez of Metro Aquatics, 134. SOFLO’s top girl was Natalie Gembicki, 16, with 70 points.

The top three boys high point leaders were: Kaii Winkler, Eagle Aquatics 165.50; Gabriel Araya, Azura, 159; and Dario Martin, Olympus Swimming 147. SOFLO’s top boy was Alex Golding, 17, with 91 points.

: 1. St. Andrew’s Aquatics 1,446, 2. South Florida Aquatic Club 1,295.50, 3. Jupiter Dragons 1,064.50, 4. Pine Crest 894.50, 5. Gulliver 832, 6. Swim Fort Lauderdale 745, 7. Midtown Weston 652, 8. Azura Florida Aquatics 588, 9. Metro Aquatics 586, 10. TS Aquatics 430.

MEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. St. Andrew’s Aquatics 1,143, 2. South Florida Aquatic Club 790, 3. Swim Fort Lauderdale 675, 4. Eagle Aquatics 401.50, 5. Jupiter Dragons 354, 6. Azura Florida Aquatics 348, 7. Metro Aquatics 289, 8. TS Aquatics 244, 9. Olympus Swimming Club 242, 10. Boca Raton Swim Team 235.50.

WOMEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. Jupiter Dragons 710.50, 2. Gulliver 669, 3. Pine Crest 665.50, 4. South Florida Aquatic Club 505.50, 5. Midtown Weston 460, 6. St. Andrew’s 303, 7. Metro Aquatics 297, 8. TS Aquatics 291, 9. Wahoos of Wellington 248, 10. Flood Aquatics 242.50.

1500-meter freestyle: 1. Michelle Marinheiro, SOFLO 18:41.11, 2. Lillian Smith, SAS 18:55.69, 3. Addison Byrne, PB 19:31.34.

100-meter backstroke: 1. tie, Hanna Smith, PC 1:07.91 and Kiersten Munna, FAST 1:07.91, 3. Solana Capalbo, AZFL 1:08.39; SOFLO: 28. Sally Golding 1:12.81, time drop 1.41, 31. Sara Quintero 1:13.18, 41. Jena Legaspi 1:14.44, 45. Mariann Catalasan 1:15.73, time drop 0.08, 50. Sofia Osorio 1:16.90.

100-meter breaststroke: 1. Micaela Sierra, AZFL 1:13.30, 2. Heidi Smithwick, JUP 1:14.74, 3. Delaine Goll, GPA 1:14.88; SOFLO: 5. Michelle Fernandez 1:16.82, 26. Sabrina Osorio 1:23.11, 28. Mariann Catalasan 1:23.24, 33. Sara Quintero 1:24.21, time drop 0.16, 51. Ana Frable 1:29.50.

50-meter freestyle: 1. Heidi Smithwick, JUP 26.36, 2. Gaby Banks, SOFLO 27.10, 3. Kiara Caamano, JUP 27.17, 20. Nat Gembicki 28.44, 34. Michelle Fernandez 28.92, 47. Jennamarie Brames 29.50, 49. Sally Golding 29.52, time drop 0.53, 58. Michelle Marinheiro 29.83, 83. Sophia Bedoya 30.97.

200-meter individual medley: 1. Heidi Smithwick, JUP 2:24.51, 2. Riley Botting, PC 2:27.31, 3. Paola Gonzalez, MAC 2:27.50; SOFLO: 17. Nat Gembicki 2:33.76, time drop 4.89, 35. Jennamarie Brames 2:38.44, 41. Sabrina Osorio 2:41.25, 49. Mariann Catalasan 2:47.29.

1500-meter freestyle: 1. Thomas Powers-Hammond, SFTL 17:31.09, 2. Christian Tijero, SOFLO 17:40.12, 3. Mateo Shearer, HAT 17:40.37; SOFLO: 7. Nathaniel Garrick 18:14.87, time drop 38.82.

100-meter backstroke: 1. Josh Zuchowski, FAST 57.44, 2. Kaii Winkler, EA 58.62, 3. Joshua Balbi, SAS 59.45; SOFLO: 8. Rafael Rodriguez 1:01.15, 11. Sebastian Lares 1:01.84, time drop 2.41, 15. Alejandro Mateus 1:02.51, 17. Aldo Zepeda 1:02.78, 22. Philo Ibrahim 1:03.26, 27. Austin Nelson 1:04.46, 29. Adrian Hernandez 1:04.87, 38. Diego Nazario-Vazquez 1:06.33, time drop 2.85, 49. Nathaniel Garrick 1:07.31, 52. Nicolas Sanchade 1:07.83, 67. Nicholas Chaimowicz 1:11.06.

100-meter breaststroke: 1. Diego Jesus Duarte, AZFL 1:05.84, 2. Dylan Brisco, SAS 1:05.84, 3. Dario Martin, OSC 1:05.91; SOFLO: 16. Manuel Melendez 1:10.52, 18. Javier Roman 1:11.39, 38. Christopher Hau 1:14.40, 41. Alan Bertea 1:14.66, 43. Zackary Harris 1:15.46, time drop 0.81, 52. Adrian Hernandez 1:16.16, 66. Vinay Gurnani 1:19.57.

50-meter freestyle: 1. Josiah Morales, PAQ 23.29, 2. Reese Branzell, SAS 23.30, 3. Max Zum Tobel, SAS 23.86, 9. Rafael Rodriguez 24.66, time drop 0.51, 25. Philo Ibrahim 25.45, 27. Aldo Zepeda 25.50, time drop 0.19, 47. Brennan Binder 26.20, time drop 0.30, 83. Robert Wilson 27.19, 89. Christopher Hau 27.96.

200-meter individual medley: 1. Josh Zuchowski, FAST 2:08.93, 2. Dario Martin, OSC 2:10.93, 3. Gabriel Araya 2:11.80; SOFLO: 7. Alex Golding 2:14.44, 15. Javier Roman 2:16.84, 18. Sebastian Lares 2:18.07, time drop 3.80, 20. Alejandro Mateus 2:19.41, time drop 2.54, 21. Enrique Rodriguez 2:19.49, 25. Adrian Hernandez 2:20.83, time drop 0.85, 32. Brennan Binder 2:22.54, time drop 4.78, 42. Manuel Melendez 2:23.95, 50. Christian Tijero 2:25.59, 52. Garrett Oliver 2:25.79, 56. Zackary Harris 2:26.32.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alex Golding, Relays Top Finishers; Golding, Lares Make Futures Cuts; SOFLO Remains In Lead After Day Two Of FGC Senior Championships

By Sharon Robb
CORAL SPRINGS, July 31, 2021—Alex Golding led South Florida Aquatic Club at the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships Saturday at Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.

Golding, 17, finished runner-up in the 400-meter individual medley in a best time 4:41.74, shaving 3.88 seconds off his previous best of 4:45.62 and making his Futures cut. His splits were 1:05.92 (100 fly), 1:13.03 (100 back), 1:20.32 (100 breast) and 1:02.47 (100 free). Dario Martin, 16, of Olympus Swimming Club won in 4:35.98.

Golding was also 11th in the 200-meter freestyle in another best time, 2:00.00, with a 0.61 time drop and member of the third place 400-meter freestyle relay.

Also making his Futures cut was Sebastian Lares, 17, finishing ninth in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:57.09, time drop 4.64.

After two days, defending South Florida Aquatic Club continues to lead the combined team standings with 1,077.5, closely followed by St. Andrew’s Aquatics with 1,035.

“Our kids are having a spectacular meet,” SOFLO coach Chris Anderson said. “Our depth is winning it. Our star swimmers are at Futures and going to nationals tomorrow yet we are doing what we need to do at Senior Champs and that’s winning the combined. That’s huge. I know St. Andrew’s is very close, but that’s the best of the best. We have 10, 12 athletes that are the best of the best going to bigger meets. Our kids are really stepping it up and emerging into new stars.”

St. Andrew’s Aquatics leads the men’s competition with 770 followed by SOFLO with 639.

Gulliver Swim Club leads the women’s team standings with 567. SOFLO is fourth with 438.5.

SOFLO’s Top 10 finishers were:

Nat Gembicki, 16, 400-meter individual medley, sixth, 5:18.73.

The men’s 400-meter freestyle relay was third in 3:38.70 with Rafael Rodriguez, Alex Golding, Philo Ibrahim and Sebastian Lares.

The women’s 400-meter freestyle relay was fourth in 4:04.19 with Gembicki, Sally Golding, Michelle Marinheiro and Gaby Banks.

Javier Roman, 17, 200-meter breaststroke, ninth 2:32.39.

In March, SOFLO won its seventh title at its home pool. SOFLO swept the combined (2,007 points), women (1,013.50) and men (993.50) team titles.

The meet concludes on Sunday. Prelims are 8:30 a.m. and finals 5 p.m. The men’s and women’s 1500 freestyle distance finals are 11:25 a.m.

For the three-day long course meet in the Michael Lohberg Pool of Champions, 41 SOFLO swimmers, ages 15-and-over, (26 men and 15 women) have qualified for 174 individual and eight relay events.

Everyone is encouraged to wear face coverings or face masks while at the facility. Hand sanitation stations are available throughout the facility.

: 1. South Florida Aquatic Club 1,077.5, 2. St. Andrew’s Aquatics 1,035, 3. Jupiter Dragons 833, 4. Gulliver Swim Club 725, 5. Pine Crest 689, 6. Swim Fort Lauderdale 607, 7. Midtown Weston 567, 8. Metro Aquatics 485, 9. TS Aquatics 472, 10. Coral Springs Swim Club 389.

MEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. St. Andrew’s Aquatics 770, 2. South Florida Aquatic Club 639, 3. Swim Fort Lauderdale 556, 4. Jupiter Dragons 312, 5. Metro Aquatics 267.

WOMEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. Gulliver Swim Club 567, 2. Jupiter Dragons 521, 3. Pine Crest 492, 4. South Florida Aquatic Club 438.5, 5. Midtown Weston 392, 6. St. Andrew’s 265, 7. TS Aquatics 242, 8. Coral Springs 220, 9. Metro Aquatics 218, 10. Sunrise Swimming 197.

200-meter freestyle: 1. Heidi Smithwick, JUP 2:05.45, 2. Ella Martinez, SAS 2:08.54, 3. Riley Macvane, NPB 2:08.90.

200-meter breaststroke: 1. Micaela Sierra, AZFL 2:35.76, 2. Paola Gonzalez, MAC 2:41.77, 3. Riley Botting, PC 2:43.92; SOFLO: 13. Sabrina Osorio 2:50.49, time drop 0.64, 19. Mariann Catalasan 2:57.62, 23. Sara Quintero 3:00.86.

100-meter butterfly: 1. Heidi Smithwick, JUP 1:01.69, 2. Nicole Aguilar, WOW 1:03.74, 3. Anelis Roque, MAC 1:03.75; SOFLO: 20. Michelle Marinheiro 1:07.47, time drop 1.84.

400-meter individual medley: 1. Riley Botting, PC 5:07.19, 2. Paola Gonzalez, MAC 5:08.02, 3. Sophia Perez, GRSC 5:13.39; SOFLO: 6. Nat Gembicki 5:18.73.

400-meter freestyle relay: 1. Jupiter A 3:57.87, 2. Pine Crest 4:00.61, 3. St. Andrew’s 4:03.57, 4. SOFLO A 4:04.19 (Nat Gembicki, Sally Golding, Michelle Marinheiro, Gaby Banks), 11. SOFLO B 4:12.14 (Mariangela Cincotti, Sara Quintero, Michelle Fernandez, Jennamarie Brames).

200-meter freestyle: 1. Kaii Winkler, EA 1:53.14, 2. Dylan Brisco, SAS 1:53.88, 3. Reese Branzell, SAS 1:53.99; SOFLO: 9. Sebastian Lares 1:57.09, time drop 4.64, 11. Alex Golding 2:00.00, time drop 0.61, 12. Philo Ibrahim 2:00.02, 20. Enrique Rodriguez 2:01.66, 27. Adrian Hernandez 2:02.51, 29. Ivan Grass 2:02.90, time drop 3.46.

200-meter breaststroke: 1. Dario Martin, OSC 2:19.83, 2. Dylan Brisco, SAS 2:21.15, 3. Yona Rubin, SFTL 2:22.78; SOFLO: 9. Javier Roman 2:32.39, 15. Manuel Melendez 2:36.12, 21. Alan Bertea 2:40.67, time drop 3.02.

100-meter butterfly: 1. Josh Zuchowski, FAST 55.01, 2. Gabriel Araya, AZFL 55.69, 3. Caleb Petranchuk, JUP 56.28; SOFLO: 18. Philo Ibrahim, time drop 1.58, 20. Alejandro Mateus 1:00.29, time drop 1.58.

400-meter individual medley: 1. Dario Martin, OSC 4:35.98, 2. Alex Golding, SOFLO 4:41.74, time drop 3.88, 3. Aitor Arrese-Igo, SAS 4:46.27.

400-meter freestyle relay: 1. St. Andrew’s 3:29.37, 2. Swim Fort Lauderdale 3:37.49, 3. SOFLO A 3:38.70 (Rafael Rodriguez, Alex Golding, Philo Ibrahim, Sebastian Lares), 13. SOFLO B 3:49.87 (Adrian Hernandez, Enrique Rodriguez, Ivan Grass, Brennan Binder).

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Leads Combined After Day One Of FGC Senior Championships

By Sharon Robb
CORAL SPRINGS, July 30, 2021—Defending champion South Florida Aquatic Club took the early lead after opening day of the Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships Friday at Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.

In what promises to be a close competition, SOFLO leads the combined team standings with 648 points followed by St. Andrew’s Aquatics with 567 and Jupiter Dragons with 483 points.

St. Andrew’s Aquatics leads the men’s competition with 428 followed by SOFLO with 388 and Swim Fort Lauderdale with 342 points.

Jupiter Dragons leads the girls field with 314 points followed by Gulliver with 302. SOFLO is fourth with 260.

After a challenging 16 months of COVID-19 protocols, empty pools and restrictions, parity has returned to Florida Gold Coast swimming.

Four different girls teams and four different boys teams won senior titles on the first of three days of competition.

Pine Crest had two individual champions with Paige Maceachern in the 200-meter butterfly in 2:19.47 and Riley Botting in the 400-meter freestyle in 4:29.40.

St. Andrew’s dominated the boys competition with individual champion Reese Branzell in the 100-meter freestyle in 50.92. St. Andrew’s swept the 200-meter freestyle and 200-meter medley relays.

SOFLO’s Top 10 finishers were:

Sebastian Lares, 200-meter backstroke, fifth 2:12.82, time drop 6.37.

Alex Golding, 200-meter backstroke, sixth 2:13.09, time drop 1.44.

Gaby Banks, 100-meter freestyle, sixth 1:00.31.

Michelle Marinheiro, 200-meter butterfly, seventh 2:31.76, time drop 4:57.22.

Nat Gembicki, 400-meter freestyle, seventh 4:38.37, time drop 13.18.

Javier Roman, 200-meter butterfly, seventh 2:11.95, time drop 1.77.

Ivan Grass, 400-meter freestyle, seventh 4:18.37.

Rafael Rodriguez, 100-meter freestyle, ninth 53.68, time drop 3.19.

Enrique Rodriguez, 200-meter butterfly, tenth 2:11.99, time drop 0.57.

SOFLO’s women’s relays finished fourth in the 200-meter medley relay and fifth in the 200-meter freestyle relay. The men’s relays finished fourth in the 200 medley and fifth in the 200 freestyle.

In March, SOFLO won its seventh title in at its home pool. SOFLO swept the combined (2,007 points), women (1,013.50) and men (993.50) team titles.

The meet continues on Saturday. Prelims are 8:30 a.m. and finals 5 p.m. each day. On Sunday, the men’s and women’s 1500 freestyle distance finals are 11:25 a.m. with the remaining finals at 5 p.m.

For the three-day long course meet in the Michael Lohberg Pool of Champions, 41 SOFLO swimmers, ages 15-and-over, (26 men and 15 women) have qualified for 174 individual and eight relay events.

Everyone is encouraged to wear face coverings or face masks while at the facility. Hand sanitation stations are available throughout the facility.

1. South Florida Aquatic Club 648.5, 2. St. Andrew’s Aquatics 567, 3. Jupiter Dragons 483, 4. Pine Crest 437, 5. Gulliver 373, 6. Swim Fort Lauderdale 370, 7. Midtown Weston 349, 8. TS Aquatics 283, 9. Coral Springs Swim Club 245, 10. Metro Aquatics 228.

MEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. St. Andrew’s Aquatics 428, 2. SOFLO 388, 3. Swim Fort Lauderdale 342, 4. Jupiter Dragons 169, 5. Metro Aquatics 166, 6. Eagle Aquatics 162, 7. TS Aquatics 144, 8. Pine Crest Swimming 142, 9. Pompano Beach Piranhas 106, 10. Coral Springs Swim Club 99.

WOMEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. Jupiter Dragons 314, 2. Gulliver 302, 3. Pine Crest Swimming 295, 4. SOFLO 260.5, 5. Midtown Weston 255, 6. Coral Springs Swim Club 146, 7. tie, TS Aquatics, St. Andrew’s 139, 9. Golden Panther Aquatics 127, 10. Sunrise Swimming 110.

200-meter backstroke: 1. Solana Capalbo, AZFL 2:23.86, 2. Riley Macvane, NPB 2:27.41, 3. Sophia Perez, GRSC 2:27.83; SOFLO: 12. Sally Golding 2:33.07, 20. Sara Quintero 2:34.70, 21. Mariann Catalasan 2:35.09, time drop 3.64.

100-meter freestyle: 1. Heidi Smithwick, JUP 57.41, 2. Eriana Temperino, GPA 58.49, 3. Nicole Aguilar, WOW 59.24; SOFLO: 6. Gaby Banks 1:00.31, 26. Nat Gembicki 1:00.91, time drop 0.13.

200-meter butterfly: 1. Paige Maceachern, PC 2:19.47, 2. Julian Atkinson, MTSC 2:19.80, 3. Heidi Smithwick, JUP 2:21.27; SOFLO: 7. Michelle Marinheiro 2:31.76, time drop 4.57, 22. Jennamarie Brames 2:40.34.

400-meter freestyle: 1. Riley Botting, PC 4:29.40, 2. Faith Mutschler, WOW 4:33.10, 3. Helvina Huet, GPA 4:33.56; SOFLO: 7. Nat Gembicki 4:38.37, time drop 13.18, 12. Michelle Marinheiro 4:42.78, time drop 1.08, 13. Mariangela Cincotti 4:43.20, 18. Jennamarie Brames 4:46.00, time drop 5.81.

200-meter freestyle relay: 1. Jupiter 1:47.16, 2. Pine Crest 1:51.09, 3. Midtown Weston 1:51.15, 5. SOFLO 1:53.47 (Nat Gembicki, Mariangela Cincotti, Sally Golding, Gaby Banks), 21. SOFLO B 2:05.49 (Jennamarie Brames, Sabrina Osorio, Sofia Osorio, Jena Legaspi).

200-meter medley relay: 1. Midtown Weston 2:01.78, 2. Jupiter 2:01.98, 3. Pine Crest 2:02.84, 4. SOFLO A 2:06.41 (Jena Legaspi, Michelle Fernandez, Michelle Marinheiro, Gaby Banks), 17. SOFLO B 2:13.93 (Jennamarie Brames, Sabrina Osorio, Mariangela Cincotti, Nat Gembicki).

200-meter backstroke: 1. Joshua Zuchowski, FAST 2:01.62, 2. Lance Lesage, PC 2:11.35, 3. Jack Faulkner, SFTL 2:11.87; SOFLO: 5. Sebastian Lares 2:12.82, time drop 6.37, 6. Alex Golding 2:13.09, time drop 1.44.

100-meter freestyle: 1. Reese Branzell, SAS 50.92, 2. Kaii Winkler, EA 51.51, 3. Jorge Depassier, AZFL 51.94; SOFLO: 9. Rafael Rodriguez 53.68, time drop 3.19

200-meter butterfly: 1. Gabriel Araya, AZFL 2:03.6, 2. Dario Martin, OSC 2:04.49, 3. Caleb Petranchuk, JUP 2:07.98; SOFLO: 7. Javier Roman 2:11.95, time drop 1.77, 10. Enrique Rodriguez 2:11.99, time drop 0.57, 15. Alejandro Mateus 2:17.61, 17. Adrian Hernandez 2:15.15, 23. Brennan Binder 2:17.89, time drop 3.80, 24. Christian Tijero 2:20.04, time drop 6.03.

400-meter freestyle:1. Dylan Felt, SFTL 4:04.02, 2. Kaii Winkler, EA 4:07.40, 3. Dylan Brisco, SAS 4:07.54; SOFLO: 7. Ivan Grass 4:18.37, 15. Christian Tijero 4:26.12, time drop 12.81, 22. Nathaniel Garrick 4:28.08, time drop 6.95, 30. Zachary Harris 4:34.64.

200-meter freestyle relay: 1. St. Andrew’s Aquatics A 1:32.48, 2. Eagle Aquatics 1:37.54, 3. St. Andrew’s B 1:38.55, 5. SOFLO A 1:40.31 (Alex Golding, Brennan Binder, Sebastian Lares, Rafael Rodriguez), 12. SOFLO B 1:42.55 (Philo Ibrahim, Zackary Harris, Adrian Hernandez, Aldo Zepeda).

200-meter medley relay: 1. St. Andrew’s Aquatics A 1:44.47, 2. St. Andrew’s Aquatics B 1:47.51, 3. Pine Crest 1:50.96, 4. SOFLO A 1:51.33 (Sebastian Lares, Javier Roman, Rafael Rodriguez, Alex Golding), 12. SOFLO B 1:55.10 (Alejandro Mateus, Manuel Melendez, Enrique Rodriguez, Brennan Binder).

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Olympians, Bono, Men’s Relay Win On Day Two Of Southern Zone South Sectional Championships

By Sharon Robb
PLANTATION, July 9, 2021—After opening day action was postponed because of bad weather, the USA Swimming Southern Zone South Sectional Championships resumed on Friday at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

South Florida Aquatic Club 2020 Olympians Alia Atkinson and Julio Horrego got the tuneup in their signature events that they were looking for just two weeks before the Tokyo Olympics.

Atkinson, 32, a five-time Olympian for Jamaica, won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:09.15.

Horrego, 22, of Honduras also won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02.10

Horrego was also a member of the winning 200-meter freestyle relay that won in 1:36.88. Horrego led off the relay and was followed by Rafael Rodriguez, Matthew Tarafa and Juan Mora.

Dominic Bono, 17, won the 400-meter individual medley in a best time 4:38.12, dropping 0.34.

The 800-meter freestyle and 50-meter backstroke were moved from Thursday to Friday with Anna Auld, 18, of St. Andrew’s (8:53.10) and Sebastian Gonzalez, 16, of Midtown Weston (8:45.46) winning the 800 and U.S. Olympic trials qualifiers Aspen Gersper, 15, of St. Andrew’s (30.94) and Josh Zuchowski, 17, of FAST (26.83) winning the 50 backstroke.

Another U.S. Olympic trials qualifier Erika Pelaez, 14, of Eagle Aquatics won the 100-meter butterfly in 1:02.50.

Michelle Morgan, 16, of Winter Haven-based Pipeline Swimming was a double winner in the 200-meter freestyle in 2:03.22 and 400-meter individual medley in 4:50.02.

The meet, split between two sites, is also being held at (Site 1) the O’Connell Center in Gainesville. The top 24 places in finals in the combined results will be scored from both sites.

SOFLO has the largest contingent of 43 swimmers (27 male and 16 female) competing in 170 individual events and four relays.

Among FGC teams entered at the Plantation site are Pine Crest, St. Andrew’s, Boca Raton Swim Team, Coral Springs Swim Club, Eagle Aquatics, Florida Keys, Gulliver, Jupiter Dragons and North Palm Beach.

Saturday’s events are men’s and women’s 100 backstroke, 200 IM, 50 freestyle, 400 freestyle, 50 butterfly and 200 medley relay.

The meet is being live streamed on ISWIM.TV. The charge is $12.99 for the Plantation meet and $6.99 for the Gainesville meet. Heat sheets are available on Meet Mobile.

In conjunction with the City of Plantation, Plantation Aquatic Complex is no longer requiring facial coverings. However, no fans are allowed on the pool deck, only coaches, officials, volunteers and swimmers.


800-meter freestyle: 1. Anna Auld, SAS 8:53.10, 2. Brynn Stoneburg, TCA 9:17.86, 3. Erin Miller, SAS 9:26.85.

50-meter backstroke: 1. Aspen Gersper, SAS 30.94, 2. Solana Capalbo, Unattached 31.85, 3. Leeann Ranalli, PST 32.24.

200-meter freestyle: 1. Michelle Morgan, PS 2:03.22, 2. Anna Auld, SAS 2:03.73, 3. Erika Pelaez, EA 2:05.77; SOFLO: 4. Mallory Schleicher 2:05.94, 17. Maddie Smutny 2:08.58, 22. Elena Dinehart 2:11.43, 25. Nat Gembicki 2:12.81.

100-meter breaststroke: 1. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 1:09.15, 2. Anna Auld, SAS 1:12.36, 3. Molly Golding, SOFLO 1:14.01, time drop 1.53; SOFLO: 4. Olivia Dinehart 1:14.43, 13. Sophia Grubbs 1:17.90.

100-meter butterfly: 1. Erika Pelaez, EA 1:02.50, 2. Anelis Roque, MAC 1:03.56, 3. Aino Otava, CANE 1:03.69; SOFLO: 6. Molly Golding 1:05.08, time drop 0.58, 11. Elena Dinehart 1:04.56, 17. Maddie Smutny 1:04.43.

400-meter individual medley: 1. Michelle Morgan, PS 4:50.02, 2. Anna Auld, SAS 4:50.22, 3. Alexandra Stern, RATS 5:05.55; SOFLO: 5. Olivia Dinehart 5:09.22, 8. Gabriella DeLuna 5:17.16, time drop 5.42, 9. Nat Gembicki 5:17.39.

200-meter free relay: 1. Hurricane Aquatics 1:50.71, 2. SOFLO A (Gaby Banks, Elena Dinehart, Mallory Schleicher, Olivia Dinehart) 1:51.45, 3. St. Andrew’s 1:51.53, 7. SOFLO B (Nat Gembicki, Maddie Smutny, Sophia Grubbs, Sally Golding) 1:55.92.

800-meter freestyle: 1. Sebastian Gonzalez, MWA 8:45.46, 2. Carlos Lezcano, MAC 8:55.59.

50-meter backstroke: 1. Josh Zuchowski, FAST 26.83, 2. Mykhailo Semenov, SDA 27.02, 3. Ricardo Roche, SOFLO 28.00; SOFLO: 8. Hernan Gonzalez 28.62, 13. Alejandro Mateus 29.11, time drop 0.55.

200-meter freestyle: 1. Colton Rasmussen, SWIM 1:54.53, 2. Mitchell Ledford, TSSC 1:55.13, 3. Kaii Winkler, EA 1:55.49; SOFLO: 12. Philopatier 1:59.79, 14. Agustin Rodriguez 2:00.45, 18. Matthew Tarafa 2:00.70, 24. Adrian Hernandez 2:01.96.

100-meter breaststroke: 1. Julio Horrego, SOFLO 1:02.10, time drop 0.18, 2. Juan Mora, SOFLO 1:04.18, time drop 0.25, 3. Dylan Brisco, Unattached 1:04.89; SOFLO: 5. Javier Colmenares 1:07.12, time drop 1.85, 12. Manuel Melendez 1:09.56, time drop 0.58, 13. Javier Roman 1:09.89, 17. Anthony Robaina 1:10.08, 23. Christopher Hau 1:12.46.

100-meter butterfly: 1. Mitchell Ledford, TCSC 55.02, 2. Josh Zuchowski, FAST 55.79, 3. Mykhailo Semenov, SDA 56.27; SOFLO: 21. Philopatier Ibrahim 59.88.

400-meter individual medley: 1. Dominic Bono, SOFLO 4:38.12, time drop 0.34, 2. Sebastian Gaonzalez, MWA 4:43.66, 3. Alex Golding, SOFLO 4:45.62; SOFLO: 5. Javier Colmenares 4:47.01, 6. Javier Roman 4:54.49, 7. Enrique Rodriguez 4:55.73.

200-meter free relay: 1. SOFLO A (Julio Horrego, Rafael Rodriguez, Matthew Tarafa, Juan Mora) 1:36.88, 2. St. Andrew’s 1:37.37, 3. Plantation Swim Team 1:37.69, 6. SOFLO B (Hernan Gonzalez, Adrian Hernandez, Agustin Rodriguez, Philopatier Ibrahim) 1:40.66.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Swimmers Have Fun Racing Each Other In Intrasquad Training Meet Opener; Juan Mora Triple Winner

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, July 28, 2020—After more than four months of not racing, South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers got in some much-needed competition in a unique format.

Observing stringent COVID-19 guidelines, SOFLO hosted its first intrasquad training meet Saturday at Academic Village Pool after ten weeks of training with some good results, bettering several seed times.

In a safe environment, thirty 15-and-over athletes in the Gold and National/Pro groups competed with ten in each heat, another ten warming up or warming down and ten in the bullpen area. The same seeded heats were maintained to avoid any cross contamination between heats. Every swim was about thirty minutes apart.

“We are excited about hosting our first meet,” SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson said. “We are doing these meets within our training sessions. The great thing is we can test them in a few events and see where they are at as far as our training goals moving into the future.

“I also wanted them to understand the meet flow to see how this works,” Anderson said. “We do feel this will be a model going into the fall. It’s important that we take these swims very seriously.

“There are things we can control right in front of us,” Anderson said. “One of them is their conduct, the way they are focused and basically what they are doing in the pool right now as far as training and improving themselves. I want them to pick that one thing they need to do better and focus on that.

“And, if we can keep focusing on what we are doing and improving ourselves, whenever the time is going to come for high school swimming, Nationals, Futures, Juniors, Winter Champs and all the other icon meets we may go to and compete at, we will be ready. The only thing right now is improving ourselves.

“Coach Lou and the rest of the coaching staff are very proud of where we are at. I really do feel our coaching staff and officials have worked very hard of trying to set up a template for us to at least get in some checks down during this pandemic in a safe manor to see where they are at.”

Juan Mora, 16, was impressive as a triple winner in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:46.18 (1:46.19 seed time); 200-yard individual medley in 2:01.16, (2:04.68 seed time); and 50-yard breaststroke in 27.78 (27.82 seed time).

In the mixed 15-and-over 50-yard breaststroke National/Pro competition, Julio Horrego finished first in 26.94 just ahead of Alia Atkinson in 26.99. Horrego was a double winner. He also won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:44.22 (1:55.01 seed time).

Rafael Rodriguez was also a double winner in the 200-yard individual medley in 1:57.12 and 50-yard backstroke in 24.48.

Mora finished first in the men’s point standings for Gold in the pentathlon with 1,837 ahead of Juan Colmenares, 16, with 1,475.

JennaMarie Brames, 16, finished first in the women’s point standings for Gold with 1,222. Daniela Curbelo, 17, is second with 1,094.

Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson, 31, was first in the women’s National/Pro point standings with 2,712 followed by Gabby Banks with 1,877 and Molly Golding, 17, with 1,795.

Rafael Rodriguez, 18, was first in the men’s National point standings with 2,022. Julio Horrego, 21, was second with 2,016.

The second SOFLO Training Intrasquad meet for the same 15-and-over groups is set for Aug. 1, 6-10:45 a.m. The 15-and-under groups including Silver and younger 13-14 age groups will have the opportunity to do the same format Aug. 15 and Aug. 22. Some events will be scaled down.

“We are very, very lucky and very fortunate that we are still able to train in a healthy atmosphere,” Anderson said.

Intrasquad Meet One Results

Mixed 15-and-over
200-yard Freestyle:
1. Juan Mora 1:46.18, 2. Juan Colmenares 1:50.53, 3. Zackary Harris 1:54.45.

200-yard individual medley:
1. Juan Mora 2:01.16, 2. Juan Colmenares 2:07.42, 3. Manuel Melendez 2:08.72.

50-yard butterfly:
1. Juancamilo Rivero 25.13, 2. Alejandro Mateus 26.05, 3. Ryan Alfonso 27.46.

50-yard backstroke:
1. Juan Colmenares 26.54, 2. Nathaniel Garrick 28.20, 3. Matthew Kim 30.45.

50-yard breaststroke:
1. Juan Mora 27.78, 2. Manuel Melendez 29.05, 3. Anthony Robaina 30.16.

200-yard freestyle:
1. Julio Horrego 1:44.22, 2. Rafael Rodriguez 1:44.48, 3. Sebastian Lares 1:45.36.

200-yard individual medley:
1. Rafael Rodriguez 1:57.12, 2. Julio Horrego 1:58.40, 3. Philopatier Ibrahim 1:59.44.

50-yard butterfly:
1. Miguel Sierra 23.38, 2. Philopatier Ibrahim 24.82, 3. Matthew Tarafa 25.04.

50-yard backstroke:
1. Rafael Rodriguez 24.48, 2. Sebastian Lares 25.85, 3. Dominic Bono 26.94.

50-yard breaststroke:
1. Julio Horrego 26.94, 2. Alia Atkinson 26.99, 3. Joseph Lee 28.66.

Combined Events Open Points

Women 15-and-over Pentathlon (Gold)
1. JennaMarie Brames 1,222, 2. Daniela Curbelo 1,094, 3. Sabrina Osorio 972.

Women 15-and-over Pentathlon (National)
1. Alia Atkinson 2,712, 2. Gabby Banks 1,877, 3. Molly Golding 1,795.

Men 15-and-over Pentathlon (Gold)
1. Juan Mora 1,837, 2. Juan Colmenares 1,475, 3. Manuel Melendez 1,323.

Men 15-and-over Pentathlon (National)
1. Rafael Rodriguez 2,022, 2. Julio Horrego 2,016, 3. Miguel Sierra 1,871.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Sends Seniors Off In Style At Academic Village Pool Celebration; Thanks For The Memories

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, July 20, 2020–In a charming, intimate setting at Academic Village Pool Friday night, South Florida Aquatic Club hosted a send-off for its high school graduates headed off to college this fall.

Observing every COVID-19 safety precaution including masks, social distancing and limiting it to the graduates and SOFLO coaches, nine graduates were honored in lieu of the standard banquet.

There was a fun drive-by parade of SOFLO teammates and parents in decorated cars with balloons, streamers and handmade signs to bid farewell to the seniors and celebrate the 2019-2020 team accomplishments, highlighted by the 2020 USA Swimming Silver Medal National Club Excellence award.

There was a well-done senior highlight video with senior interviews, action shots and photos of the swimmers when they were growing up around the pool. During the video, the seniors also thanked the SOFLO coaches who made an impact in their lives in and out of the pool.

There was a celebration of the club’s 20th anniversary with another emotional video segment of several SOFLO former collegiate swimmers including Olympians Natasha Moodie and Alia Atkinson, Alex Estrada and Jonathan Strod.

There was a catered meal served by coaches on personalized place mats and gifts for the seniors.

“It was a one-of-a-kind celebration,” SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson said.

“To the Class of 2020, I will tell you it’s a very, very special class,” Anderson said during the final minute of the seniors video. “I have seen you guys grow up and progress. And for real, you guys have come together.

“Some of the things that you did with the Booster Club and setting yourselves up to do talks with the younger kids. Even though they are not here, they really are still talking about it, even the Dippers. It was really inspirational.

“The special thing about our class this year is that you guys are going in such diverse directions to some great universities, great schools and great opportunities. We are all really proud of you. Your parents are proud.

“Sad to see you go…jump in the water…we’re done,” Anderson said, choking back the tears.

Congratulations SOFLO Class of 2020:

Gabrianna Banks, Florida State

Sophia Bedoya, New York University

Nicholas Chaimowitz, Broward College

David Diaz, Florida State

Roberto (Robby) Garrido, Rochester Institute of Technology

Ruth Kaufman, Lycoming College

Leonardo Mateus, Yale

Juan Pablo Pineda, Florida International

Rafael Rodriguez, Purdue

Thanks for the memories and good luck in the next chapter of your academic and athletic careers.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Mateus, Rodriguez Pave The Way For SOFLO Swimmers

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, June 7, 2020—Leonardo Mateus and Rafael Rodriguez took turns talking about academic excellence and extra curricular activities in high school during a recent zoom presentation for SOFLO’s Bronze Group and AK Sharks Group.

The swimmers were a perfect age (11, 12, 13) to learn how to handle high school classes and plan for the future in college. Rodriguez is headed to Purdue and Mateus is off to Yale this fall.

After it was determined that both Mateus and Rodriguez are Coach Rose’s favorites (pause for laughter), the talented student-athletes got down to business sharing what they learned when they got to high school and what worked and what didn’t while highlighting important tasks to get ready for college.

“Knowledge is power,” said Mateus, who outlined several key points and illustrated how swimming helps in the classroom.

1. Discipline comes from training.

2. Leadership is built from teamwork. Think about the relays you do. “I’ve seen you get organized for relays, that is teamwork,” Mateus said.

3. Proactivity comes from persistence. Be proactive. Give your best from the beginning.

“You will do well in what you enjoy in high school,” Rodriguez said. “Whether it’s the sciences, math, challege yourself by taking AICE/AP and IB courses.”

AICE or Advanced International Certificate of Education offers the value of broad and balanced study in four groups (math and sciences, language, arts and humanities and interdisciplinary.

AP or Advanced Placement Program offers college-level curriculum and examinations to high school students. American colleges and universities may grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high schools on the exams.

IB or International Baccalaureate is often compared with the AP program. The IB program allows students to take college-level courses while in high school.

Rodriguez said “the most important thing is don’t choose classes because your friends are taking them. Choose something that you actually enjoy and that will translate into you doing better. When choosing classes focus on yourself.”

Mateus discussed GPA (grade point average, a measure of individual ability), class ranking (academic ability compared to everyone else), and how grading works in quarters and semesters, unweighted (4.0) and weighted (6.0), depending on honors classes.

“It’s important your first year in high school that you don’t slack off,” Mateus said. “It’s easy to bring your GPA down if you do slack off and once it is down it’s hard to get your average back up. Focus on the things you can do easily that first year and wait a year maybe to take the harder classes.”

Mateus also talked about PSAT, SAT and ACT tests and suggested taking each exam once to see how you do and take it more than once to feel more comfortable while taking it.

There are resources and online educational tools such as Khan Academy, Naviance and YouTube to use to study for classes and standardized tests.

Rodriguez and Mateus also emphasized the importance of extracurricular activities such as swimming.

“Swimming is your most important extra curricular, it looks amazing on your resume,” Rodriguez said.

“Community service is difficult because of the number of service hours you have to do, but important to integrate on your resume. It expands your horizons. It’s unpaid work and looks good on your resume. Jobs, internships and paid work also looks good on your resume and shows that you have experience.”

Clubs and organizations, memberships in honor societies and leadership positions in clubs are also important, they said.

“You don’t have to do all these things to be successful,” Mateus said. “It just helps to combine academics and activities.

“Find the learning connection,” Mateus said. “It teaches you discipline, leadership and productivity and that’s what you take away from swimming. You learn to balance academics and swimming.

“You learn all about making time with time management skills. You break time into sections dedicated to swimming, service, clubs and getting straight A’s.”

Added Rodriguez, “If you’re not good at managing your time it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s important to find the perfect balance of what you are capable of handling.

“Make sure you have time for yourself, too. It shouldn’t be all about swimming, classes, work and clubs. Hang out with your friends. It’s important, it helps you mentally.”

The pair suggested to ask teachers and coaches to write recommendation letters. It helps colleges form an image of you through those letters, they said.

“There’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it,” Rodriguez said.

The final topic outlined information about applying for scholarships.

1. Money is important for your future education.

2. Applying for scholarships is easy. It is a quick and easy source of money to pay for tuition and expenses.

3. There are scholarships available at the local, regional, collegiate and national level.

“It’s important to write down everything you have to do,” Mateus said. Whether it’s homework, practice or meetings, it’s easy to forget if you don’t have an agenda.”

Rodriguez added, “you don’t have to be a straight A student to have opportunities for college. You just have to work hard.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at


By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, May 22, 2020—For eleven years, Rafael Rodriguez had the drive, dedication and passion it took to be a swimmer at South Florida Aquatic Club.

Rodriguez, 18, a recent Pembroke Pines Charter graduate, is headed to Purdue to study engineering and continue his competitive swimming career.

Rodriguez forged friendships and memories at SOFLO that will last a lifetime.

“I think what I will remember the most is all the relays I swam with my friends in Bronze and JOs,” Rodriguez said. “I won a lot of relays with a group of friends who are still my friends. Going on road trips like nationals was really fun. I really liked all the travel meets with the team.”

Rodriguez was a member of Florida Gold Coast record-breaking relay teams in 11-12. He went on to do well at JOs, Seniors, Summer and Winter Juniors, Zones, Futures, Open Water and high school meets. He is ranked among the Top 25 swimmers in the state in several events. He earned a $1,100 Senior Commitment & Loyalty Scholarship from the Comets Swim Team Booster Club, Inc. ($100 per year as a SOFLO student-athlete).

“It’s been super fun,” Rodriguez said. “I couldn’t have asked for any better sport to do.”

Before he discovered his love for swimming, he competed in soccer, basketball and baseball.

“But for whatever reason I got into swimming lessons and really enjoyed it,” Rodriguez said. After taking lessons with Coach Luis, Rodriguez quit all his other sports at age 7 to focus on swimming.

“I think it was I really liked the water,” Rodriguez said. “It’s one of the hardest sports to keep up with. I’m really competitive and it was the hardest thing I could do, so I stuck with it.”

Rodriguez knew he had potential when he broke his first FGC record in the 1,000. “That’s when I started to push myself harder physically and mentally,” he said.

Rodriguez credits SOFLO CEO and head coach Chris Anderson for playing a key role in his success.

“I think I will miss Coach Chris yelling at me the most,” Rodriguez said with a smile. “It was a loving yell. I had some rough patches at some meets. I swam really, really bad at Summer Juniors. There were times I would get in my head to quit and move on, but Coach would always fix my mind. He wouldn’t let me quit. He knows how to push my buttons the right way. He made me become a better swimmer and better person. I will always appreciate that.”

Rodriguez has been staying fit with SOFLO’s Zoom workouts. He’s been keeping his mind sharp by not focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic, choosing instead to stay distracted with doing dryland and playing basketball and video games. He also is planning to talk with SOFLO’s younger swimmers to help motivate them once they return to the pool. “I’ve just been doing a lot of stuff to keep busy,” he said.

Rodriguez is looking forward to the next chapter in his life. He hopes to make an impact his freshman season, but college campuses are still in a state of flux whether they will open in the fall.

“I think my college coach is figuring out what is going to happen and what’s going on in the world right now,” Rodriguez said. “I really like the school and I talked to the coach a couple times and we really connected.”

Former SOFLO teammate and Canadian national Lance Lesage, who still has one year left at St. Thomas Aquinas, verbally committed to Purdue and will join Rodriguez in the fall of 2021. “It’s nice to know someone will be there that you have known for a really long time,” Rodriguez said.

While he was able to graduate last week from Pembroke Pines Charter (observing six feet of distancing, of course), where he has attended since kindergarten, he was “bummed” that he missed Grad Bash at Orlando theme parks with his schoolmates.

It will be bittersweet for Rodriguez when he leaves for college in August and says good bye to SOFLO teammates and coaches.

“I am going to miss everybody,” Rodriguez said. “I hope to come back and train during school breaks. I am super happy with what I have been able to accomplish so far and I hope to do more in college.

“My goals are to get a college degree and I want to make NCAAs and final there,” Rodriguez said. “I want to help the team do well. Whatever Coach wants me to swim I will be fine with.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Natasha Moodie Enjoying Role As SOFLO College Advisor; Seven SOFLO Seniors Headed To College This Fall

By Sharon Robb

PEMBROKE PINES, April 30, 2020–With the college application process and recruiting rules frequently changing, South Florida Aquatic Club CEO and head coach Chris Anderson was looking to help SOFLO parents and swimmers.

Twenty years ago, when the club was in its beginning stages, there were fewer swimmers and college guidelines to contend with.

Now, with ever-changing rules and regulations and to educate swimmers and parents on the various NCAA Division I, II and III and NAIA colleges, Anderson hired his former swimmer Natasha Moodie as a full-time college advisor. Moodie is believed to be the first full-time college advisor at a USA Swimming club in the Florida Gold Coast.

Moodie, 29, a 2008 Olympian and three-time national record holder for Jamaica and alum of University of Michigan, where she was an NCAA All-American, is sharing her vast knowledge with SOFLO swimmers and parents.

Moodie, who has a strong background in education, develops college prep programs as program director for public schools in Miami-Dade. She is currently on a leave of absence and devoting her time to assisting SOFLO swimmers and parents through the maze of college research and preparation.

A day before College Signing Day (May 1), seven SOFLO seniors have committed to college. They are: Leonardo Mateus, Yale; Gabby Banks and David Diaz, Florida State; Sophia Bedoya, New York University; Rafael Rodriguez, Purdue; Roby Garrido, Rochester Institute of Technology; and Nick Chaimowicz, Broward College.

While most of the seniors already had a good idea of what college they would be attending when Moodie started last fall, she was there to answer any and all questions. She is currently working with SOFLO high school freshmen, sophomores and seniors.

“The team is much bigger now than when I was there in the early 2000s,” Moodie said. “Only three of us at the time wanted to swim in college. I am really thankful for Chris’ help with the college process. All my knowledge from recruiting came from Chris. No one in my family swam Division I. I was exposed to a lot of colleges at the U.S. Open, Junior Nationals and international meets.

“The club is so much larger now. There was definitely a need for my job. Today students need more guidance because the rules and college process has changed quite a bit just in the last five years when it comes to college application and recruiting.”

Moodie had been visiting with swimmers and parents before the COVID-19 pandemic but now communicates on the ZOOM platform.

Several swimmers would like to swim in college but may not have had the exposure to college coaches that Moodie had on the U.S. and international scene. She discusses the student’s goals in high school in terms of courses and activities and talks about the various collegiate programs that would be a good fit with their interests.

“It’s all centered around college,” Moodie said. “All the students who said they wanted to swim we look for a good fit. Some of them are not seen by college coaches on the national or international level, sectionals or Futures. My primary focus is serving the student-athletes who don’t get that exposure or had face-to-face meetings with college coaches. We want them to know there are colleges out there for them.

“I am a resource for families and kids to come to me for what they need,” Moodie said. “I am working with the junior class now. Quite a few students and parents have put together a college list. We talk about their priorities, what’s important, tuition, expenses, whether they want to stay in Broward, the state of Florida or outside the state.”

Unlike college football and basketball that dominate the headlines, collegiate swimming does not get a lot of exposure.

“There’s not a lot of national recognition,” Moodie said. “I’m not surprised that these students may not know about Division II schools. And NAIA is still quite young. The whole college system changes so much every year. I want to help them with their research.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, there are expected to be changes in the fall at colleges across the country. There is also talk of student-athletes taking a gap year. But SOFLO’s college-bound athletes are still planning on starting college in the fall whether it’s on campus or online.

Many colleges are supporting students by deferring deadlines, waiving fees and making standardized tests such as ACT and SAT optional. Still, no one knows what the fall semester will look like just yet.

“I am telling them everyone is in the same boat across the world, which is a position of waiting,” Moodie said. “I trust whatever decision the NCAA, USA Swimming, Florida Gold Coast and colleges make. I trust they will make the right decisions to protect the students and universities. It’s in the best interest of everyone. When things do resume we will all re-start wherever we are.”

Despite the challenging times, Moodie is enjoying her new role with SOFLO.

“It has been great being around swim families again, the parents have been so welcoming,” Moodie said. “I feel a close connection with them. Swimming and education are two things I love. I am excited for the future and excited to see what the future holds for these kids.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at