Former St. Andrew’s Swimmer Beats Cancer, To Resume Competing For Florida State, Earn Degree

By Sharon Robb

BOCA RATON, January 6, 2019—-McKenna Keith and her family had plenty to celebrate over the holidays.

The Florida State senior swimmer and St. Andrew’s School All-American alum was given a clean bill of health after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in July.

After undergoing chemotherapy at Lynn Cancer Institute near her home in Boca Raton, Keith is scheduled to have the port in her neck removed in less than a week and is back at FSU where she plans to finish her collegiate swimming career and graduate with her senior class.

“I can already say it’s the best Christmas ever because nothing can top my gift of life this year,” Keith said.

“The results won’t matter to me, I will be happy enough to just be back in that pool again with my teammates.”

Keith was first diagnosed in Germany where she was staying with her boyfriend Fynn Minuth and his family while training with his club team. When she found “a strange lump” on her neck she went to a doctor who told her to get an MRI.

“It was never even a thought in my mind that this was something serious,” Keith said. “The MRI pictures were up on the screen…something I didn’t need a translation for. All I could see was a huge lump on my neck about the size of an apple. When the doctor walked in I could really tell something was wrong. Through a translation, and the help of google, I found out I had cancer. The doctor said she didn’t know what the diagnosis was called in English so we translated it and found out it was lymphoma. I typed it into google and all I had to read was ‘Lymphoma is a type of cancer…’ and my stomach dropped.”

Her boyfriend’s family provided her emotional support but it was the doctor who gave her hope.

“I don’t remember much from that day but I do remember the most comforting and encouraging words from that doctor: ‘You are an athlete who knows how to fight. You have faced challenges in the pool your whole life. Now, you have a new challenge to face and you will fight the same way.’ Those words have stuck with me this entire process and I can’t wait to tell that doctor I just won the fight.”

The eight-hour flight home was “the longest of my life,” Keith said. The next three weeks were filled with endless doctor appointments, three surgeries and preparation tests for chemo.

“From the first chemo to the last I tried to make myself feel as normal as possible,” Keith said. “It was hard seeing all my friends at school and feeling like I was missing out on my senior season but that only gave me motivation to get through treatment and be able to swim in the senior meet in January.”

While undergoing treatment, Keith took two online classes because she wanted to graduate on time. She finished with a 4.0 GPA for the semester.

“The support from my family, friends, teachers, and coaches has kept me afloat and I can truly say I wouldn’t have made it through this journey without them by my side every step of the way,” she said. “From my roommates setting up a GoFundMe to surprise visits from friends throughout treatment, the support I’ve received is unbelievable. My faith in Christ has also kept me assured in His plan for me and has given me a will to fight. Having that crutch to lean on gave me hope when I felt there was nothing left in my tank.

“Overall, this journey has given me a new perspective on life and how precious every moment is. I like to think of this journey as a blessing in disguise because I have never been more grateful for my life and everyone in it than I am today. I now know exactly what I want to do after I graduate.”

Keith plans to attend an accelerated nursing program “so I can help others the way I was gracefully helped by my nurses,” she said.

When Keith got her final pet scan results, she waited until her dad got home from work to share the good news.

“I walked into the kitchen and she said, ‘Dad, guess what? The cancer is gone.

“I just lost it,” Michael Keith said. “I was crying like a baby, hugging her and praising God. It was incredibly overwhelming.”

Keith lettered in swimming and water polo for four years at St. Andrew’s in Boca Raton. She was a three-time All-American in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays and 400-yard medley relay.

She transferred to FSU last season after starting her collegiate career at South Carolina where she swam her freshman and sophomore seasons, competed in four events and had six Top 10 finishes during the regular season. As a freshman she was the team’s top sprinter. She was named to the 2017 Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll.

After her FSU teammates learned of her diagnosis, they set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for her rent payments. She has a lease at her school apartment and was responsible for rent in addition to medical expenses. The page was shut down after raising more than enough money in three days.

Florida State head swim coach Neal Studd said Keith contacted him over the summer.

“She gave me a call and we talked about our swim camps where she was doing a great job,” Studd said. “She was the big sister at the camp. We talked for a few minutes and then she dropped the bomb on me. I couldn’t believe we had this whole conversation about other stuff before she told me. She never made it out to be this big dramatic thing.

“It’s one of those things you hope never happens to one of your kids,” Studd said. “Anyone who knows her knows how special and wonderful she is.”

Studd never filled her spot on the roster. She came to the Seminoles “Think Pink Weekend” at Morcom Aquatics Center in late October and talked to the team. Studd said she inspired them and played a role in their 161-139 victory over Arizona State to remain undefeated.

“It would be ridiculous not to give someone a chance, to give them another shot,” Studd said. “I know she has been doing some light work and swimming already. I want this to be fun for her. I want her to enjoy the process and see where it goes. When she gets back I am not putting any stress on her, she doesn’t need any more stress in the world.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

St. Andrew’s Sweeps Palm Beach County Championships, Wins Record Ninth Combined Team Title; Secrest, Nersicio, Balbi Swimmers of the Meet

By Sharon Robb

WEST PALM BEACH, October 6, 2018—Boca Raton St. Andrew’s School owns the Palm Beach County High School Swimming and Diving Championship Series at Lake Lytal Family Aquatic Complex.

On Saturday night, with both talent and depth, the Scots captured a record ninth straight county combined swim title sweeping both the boys and girls team titles.

The Class 1A private school won the girls title with 361 points and boys title with 337.5. No other team in the field managed to score 300 points, but that’s not to say there wasn’t plenty of talent to go around.

Seniors Chade Nersicio of Trinity Christian and Jennifer Secrest of Oxbridge Academy were double winners and both shared Girl Swimmer of the Meet honors.

Nersicio defended her county titles winning the 50-yard freestyle in 22.89 and 100-yard freestyle in 50.34. She was a member of the winning 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays. She finished with 40 points in high point.

Secrest won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:01.23 and 100-yard butterfly in 54.81 and also finished with 40 points.

St. Andrew’s won the 200-yard medley relay in 1:46.33. Defending state breaststroke champion Shayna Fetes was the Scots lone individual girls winner in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:03.43.

St. Andrew’s senior Josh Balbi was named the Male Swimmer of the Meet and finished with 40 points. He won the 100-yard butterfly in 50.12 and 100-yard backstroke in 50.16. He was also a member of the winning 400-yard freestyle relay as the anchor leg.

The Scots swept all three relays to pile up the points.

Jupiter’s Varis Malone and Josh Zuchowski of King’s Academy were also double winners.

The diving competition was held Friday at Wellington Aquatic Complex.

Trinity Christian sophomore Chloe Bishop won the girls 1-meter title with 413.35, the only diver to crack 400 points. Boca Raton’s Emilie Moore was second with 394.25.

Jupiter senior Will Lefebvre won the boys diving title with 493.90 points followed by Jupiter junior Tyler Coffey with 454.05 and St. Andrew’s junior Jack Patton with 406.65. The trio were the only divers to score more than 400.

A record 909 high school swimmers and divers from 32 schools competed in the well-organized two-day meet which featured Division II Championships with 549 lower-seeded swimmers on Friday and 360 swimmers in the Division I prelims and finals on Saturday.

Unlike the Broward County Athletic Association which features only BCAA-member schools, the Palm Beach County Championships feature private and public schools to determine a true county champion.

1. St. Andrew’s 361, 2. Trinity Christian 293, 3. Jupiter 273.5, 4. Forest Hill 167, 5. Boca Raton 158, 6. Wellington 140, 7. King’s Academy 139.5, 8. Suncoast 118, 9. Park Vista 88, 10. tie, Atlantic, West Boca Raton 66, 12. Palm Beach Central 59, 13. Dreyfoos School of the Arts 47, 14. Oxbridge 40, 15. Spanish River 29, 16. tie, Benjamin, Palm Beach Gardens 24, 18. A.D. Henderson University School 16, 19. Lake Worth Christian 10, 20. Lake Worth 5.


200-yard medley relay: 1. St. Andrew’s 1:46.33, 2. Forest Hill 1:49.71, 3. Jupiter 1:51.63.

200-yard freestyle: 1. Nicole Gomez, TC 1:49.05, 2. Emily Trieschmann, SA 1:49.87, 3. Anna Auld, FH 1:52.20.

200-yard individual medley: 1. Jennifer Secrest, OXB 2:01.23, 2. Eriana Temperino, TC 2:04.65, 3. Shayna Fetes, SA 2:05.93.

50-yard freestyle: 1. Chade Nersicio, TC 22.89, 2. Heidi Smithwick, JUP 23.79, 3. Megan Murphy, FH 23.80.

1-meter diving: 1. Chloe Bishop, TC 413.35, 2. Emilie Moore, BR 394.25, 3. Amelia Lehel, WBOC 385.25.

100-yard butterfly: 1. Jennifer Secrest, OXB 54.81, 2. Madison Cummings, ATL 55.34, 3. Eriana Temperino, TC 55.76.

100-yard freestyle: 1. Chade Nersicio, TC 50.34, 2. Aspen Gersper, SA 51.53, 3. Naima Dessout, TC 53.60.

500-yard freestyle: 1. Anna Auld, FH 4:50.95, 2. Emily Trieschmann, SA 4:52.20, 3. Nicole Gomez, TC 4:52.42.

200-yard freestyle relay: 1. Trinity Christian 1:34.97 (Nicole Gomez, Naima Dessout, Eriana Temperino, Chade Nersicio), 2. St. Andrew’s 1:36.73, 3. Forest Hill 1:42.38.

100-yard backstroke: 1. Megan Murphy, FH 55.09, 2. Madison Cummings, ATL 56.98, 3. Aspen Gersper, SA 57.29.

100-yard breaststroke: 1. Shayna Fetes, SA 1:03.43, 2. Heidi Smithwick, JUP 1:04.69, 3. Lucy Miller, SA 1:06.18.

400-yard freestyle relay: 1. Trinity Christian 3:28.11 (Nicole Gomez, Shauna Abair, Eriana Temperino, Chade Nersicio), 2. St. Andrew’s 3:29.01, 3. Jupiter 3:36.78.

1. St. Andrew’s 337.5, 2. Jupiter High 243, 3. King’s Academy 232, 4. Boca Raton 201, 5. Suncoast 184, 6. Spanish River 125, 7. Park Vista 119, 8. Wellington 101, 9. West Boca Raton 100.5, 10. Dreyfoos School of the Arts 93, 11. Palm Beach Central 77, 12. A.D. Henderson University School 66, 13. Trinity Christian 62, 14. Atlantic 60, 15. Benjamin 44, 16. tie, Lake Worth, John I. Leonard, 18, 18. Cardinal Newman, 14, 19. Seminole Ridge 13, 20. American Heritage Delray Beach 3.


200-yard medley relay: 1. St. Andrew’s 1:37.82 (Julian Balbi, Matthew Aronsohn, Ryan Nordheim, Zachary Moore), 2. Jupiter 1:40.02, 3. King’s Academy 1:40.98.

200-yard freestyle: 1. Varis Monroe, JUP 1:43.71, 2. John Hollowell, SA 1:43.93, 3. Ted Ho, PV 1:44.46.

200-yard individual medley: 1. Josh Zuchowski, KA 1:54.00, 2. Ethan Roach, SR 1:57.08, 3. Nicolas Gallego, JUP 2:00.33.

50-yard freestyle: 1. Caleb Petranchuk, JUP 21.43, 2. tie, Ryan Nordheim, SA 21.91 and Michael Fernandez, WBOC 21.91.

1-meter diving: 1. Will Lefebvre, JUP 493.90, 2. Tyler Coffey, JUP 454.05, 3. Jack Patton, SA 406.65.

100-yard butterfly: 1. Josh Balbi, SA 50.12, 2. Ted Ho, PV 51.38, 3. Caleb Petranchuk, JUP 52.60.

100-yard freestyle: 1. Varis Monroe, JUP 48.06, 2. Ryan Nordheim, SA 48.38, 3. Benjamin Wang, SUN 48.88.

500-yard freestyle: 1. Pace Edwards, KA 4:44.96, 2. Cameron Taddonio, BR 4:45.11, 3. Nicolas Gallego, JUP 4:49.28.

200-yard freestyle relay: 1. St. Andrew’s 1:27.79, 2. Suncoast 1:33.03, 3. Park Vista 1:33.79.

100-yard backstroke: 1. Josh Balbi, SA 50.16, 2. Josh Zuchowski, KA 50.18, 3. John Hollowell, SA 53.20.

100-yard breaststroke: 1. Michael Fernandez, WBOC 58.69, 2. Will Jason, BR 1:00.53, 3. Bora Hurst, KA 1:03.69.

400-yard freestyle relay: 1. St. Andrew’s 3:09.67 (Tom Piza, John Hollowell, Zachary Moore, Josh Balbi), 2. Jupiter 3:16.37, 3. King’s Academy 3:20.97.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

FSU Swimmer, Former St. Andrew’s Swimmer, Water Polo Standout McKenna Keith Diagnosed With Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

By Sharon Robb

TALLAHASSEE, September 6, 2018—McKenna Keith, a St. Andrew’s School All-American swimmer and now a Florida State senior, has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The disease is a cancer of the lymphatic system. She is undergoing chemotherapy through December and hopes to return after her treatment is complete.

Keith, whose family lives in Boca Raton, lettered in swimming and water polo for four years at St. Andrew’s in Boca Raton. She was a three-time All-American in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays and 400-yard medley relay.

Keith transferred to FSU last season after starting her collegiate career at South Carolina where she swam her freshman and sophomore seasons, competed in four events and had six Top 10 finishes during the regular season. As a freshman she was the team’s top sprinter. She was named to the 2017 Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll.

Her FSU teammates have set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for her rent payments. Keith has a lease at her school apartment and is responsible for rent in addition to medical expenses.

The page reads “on top of all of the medical costs she is already facing, we do not want rent and utilities to be an extra burden for her family.

“We want McKenna to be able to come back and be able to live in her room in our apartment without any worry about violating or cancelling the lease. The Seminole family is behind her every step of the way as we anticipate her healthy return next semester.”

As of Thursday, $6,175 has been raised.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Kopas Sisters, Martin, Torres, Hosfeld Head Field For September Splash Meet At St. Andrew’s

SOFLO’s Kopas Sisters, Martin, Torres, Hosfeld Head Field For September Splash Meet At St. Andrew’s

 September 9, 2011


A Who’s Who in high school swimming from around South Florida will converge on the Duff Tyler Aquatic Center Saturday for St. Andrew’s fifth annual September Splash Swimming and Diving Invitational in Boca Raton.

In only the second week of the season, the meet has an impressive lineup of club swimmers and divers.

The four-hour meet is expected to be competitive and serve as an early gauge for the season’s top dogs.

The South Florida Aquatic Club will be well-represented with Luke Torres of American Heritage Plantation, Emily and Allison Kopas and Marco Hosfeld of University School and Tyla Martin of Pine Crest.

Martin, a club swimmer who represents Trinidad and Tobago internationally, is making her high school debut as a freshman at Pine Crest this season. She is seeded second in the 100-yard backstroke (59.80) and fifth in the 200-yard freestyle (1:57.50).

Torres, a senior, is seeded second in the 200-yard individual medley (2:00.00) and second in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:02.48).

Hosfeld, a sophomore, will make his debut for University School after transferring from Douglas. He is seeded third in the 200-yard freestyle (1:49.00) and seventh in the 100-yard freestyle (51.00).

University School seventh grader Allison Kopas, coming off an outstanding summer season of club meets and Southern Zone Championships, is seeded sixth in the 500-yard freestyle (5:11.50) and seventh in the 100-yard butterfly (1:01.00).

Last year as a sixth grader, Kopas qualified for the FHSAA State Class 1A meet on a relay.

Big sister Emily Kopas, a freshman, is seeded second in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:03.38 behind former clubmate Lindsey McKnight of American Heritage (1:02.03) and third in the 200-yard individual medley (2:05.90).

Kopas is coming off an excellent summer where she picked up her second Olympic trials cut in California.

One swimmer to watch is sixth grader Emily Reback of Benjamin. The Reback family has been the first family of swimming and triathlons in Palm Beach County for decades and feature Laura Reback Bennett, John Reback, David Reback and Paul Reback.

The meet has attracted seventeen teams from Broward and Palm Beach counties.

They are American Heritage Delray Beach Middle School, American Heritage Plantation, Benjamin, Boca Raton, Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Forest Hill, Grandview Prep, John I. Leonard, King’s Academy, Palm Beach Central, Park Vista, Pine Crest, St. Andrew’s, Spanish River, Suncoast, University School and West Boca Raton.

State champion Boca Raton has the largest contingent with 145 swimmers including 45 boys and 37 girls.

Riviera Beach Suncoast, one of the top Palm Beach County high school teams, has 86 swimmers and St. Andrew’s with 83 and American Heritage Plantation with 81.

As always, American Heritage Plantation has some quality swimmers this season including newcomer Alina Schulhofer, who transferred from Pine Crest.


What: Fifth annual September Splash Swimming and Diving Invitational

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., time finals.

Where: St. Andrew’s School, Reid Family Pool at the Duff Tyler Aquatic Center, 3900 Jog Road, Boca Raton.

Admission: $3 admission. Sid Cassidy, meet director. For questions call 561-210-2128.

SOFLO Swimmers Ready For Westminster Academy Relays

SOFLO’s Maria Lopez of Hialeah Gardens heads the field for the relay-only meet on Saturday morning.

SOFLO will also have a large contingent swimming for South Florida Heat including sisters Kimberly, Lindsey and Kristin Sauer, Brendon Peters and Bryce Pierce. Julie Smiddy is coaching the team this season.

SOFLO’s Kaitlin Armstrong and Matthew Gonzalez will compete for Archbishop McCarthy.


What: 18th annual Westminster Academy Relays

When: Saturday, 10 a.m.

Where: Westminster Academy O’Brien Pool, 5601 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale

Of note: Team scores are not kept but the meet hosts give awards and ribbons for each relay event. All relays are timed finals. Warm-up is 8:15-9 a.m. for Broward schools and 9:05-9:50 a.m. for out-of-county schools. One relay per school per swimming event; two per diving event.

Admission: $2 adults includes heat sheets. No charge for students or children.

Sharon Robb can be reached at