SOFLO Swimmers Ring In Holidays With Two Weekend Meets At Home And Sunrise

By Sharon Robb

December 13, 2017—Before the holidays commence, more than 100 South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers will compete this weekend at two festive meets.

Fifty-five swimmers (32 boys and 23 girls) will compete in 291 individual events and 11 relays over three days at the Sunrise Swimming Holiday Champs at Sunrise Civic Center Pool.

Among SOFLO’s top seeds at the Sunrise meet are:

Bryan Rivero, 16, 400-yard individual medley, 4:21.89; 100-yard backstroke, 58.68; 200-yard backstroke, 1:57.81.

CJ Kopecki, 18, 50-yard butterfly, 25.13; 100-yard individual medley, 56.68; 200-yard butterfly, 1:53.79; 100-yard butterfly, 52.53.

Joseph Lee, 200-yard individual medley, 2:04.06; 200-yard breaststroke 2:21.46.

In addition to SOFLO and host Sunrise Swimming, among other Florida Gold Coast teams competing are Pine Crest Swimming and Cooper City.

South Florida Aquatic Club will host its final Florida Gold Coast meet of the year on Saturday with the Sprint Holiday TYR Classic.

Two sessions will be held–developmental sprints in the morning session at 8:30 a.m. and 8-and-under sprint championships at 11 a.m.

Another 82 SOFLO swimmers (45 girls and 37 boys) will compete in their Academic Village home pool in 354 individual events and five relays.

SOFLO’s top seeds are:

Paige Lane, 15, 100-yard freestyle, 52.82; 50-yard butterfly, 26.22.

Luke Lezotte, 16, 100-yard freestyle, 47.49; 50-yard freestyle, 21.06; 50-yard butterfly, 23.36; 50-yard backstroke, 25.21; 100-yard individual medley, 53.88.

Alejandro Mateus, 12, 100-yard freestyle, 57.40; 50-yard backstroke, 29.72; 100-yard individual medley, 1:06.86.

Kaitlyn Barrios, 11, 100-yard freestyle, 1:02.68; 50-yard freestyle, 28.50.

Katrina Del Vecchio, 14, 100-yard individual medley, 1:02.12.

Jonathan Lozano, 10, 100-yard freestyle, 1:03.88.

Juan Vallmitjana, 8, 50-yard freestyle, 36.83; 50-yard butterfly 45.35: 50-yard breaststroke, 49.50; 100-yard individual medley, 1:32.92.

WHAT: Holiday Champs
WHEN: Friday-Sunday
SCHEDULE: Friday, timed finals; Saturday, prelims 9 a.m., finals 5 p.m.; Sunday, prelims 9 a.m., finals 5 p.m.
WHERE: Sunrise Civic Center Pool, 10610 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise.
ADMISSION: $3 per session, heat sheets $3 per session. For information call the Sunrise Swimming Office 954-747-4635.

WHAT: Sprint Holiday TYR Classic
WHEN: Saturday, 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
WHERE: Academic Village Swimming Pool, 17191 Sheridan Street, Pembroke Pines
ADMISSION: $5 per session. Heat sheets will be available free of charge online at classic and on Meet Mobile.

Sharon Robb can be reached at


By Sharon Robb

June 14, 2017—Working toward a common goal with teammates who share the same vision has helped Kelley Heron raise the bar in her swimming.

Heron, 17, a senior-to-be at Pembroke Pines Charter this fall, realized that added motivation her sophomore year of high school.

“Swimming high school helps you realize how it’s going to be in college,” Heron said. “You can’t take vacations whenever you want, you have to be consistent, you have to train and be focused if you want to go to a good college and swim there.”

Training with South Florida Aquatic Club’s national group and head coach Chris Anderson for the past three years has not only helped the backstroker improve, but focus on her future in the sport.

“Training with good people every day where everyone has the same mindset and same goals where they want to be has definitely helped my swimming,” Heron said.

At the March 24-27 Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships held in her home pool at Academic Village, Heron turned in a Wonder Woman-like effort. She won the 200-yard backstroke in 2:00.86, placed second in the 50-yard backstroke in 26.64 and 100-yard backstroke in 57.95, all three best times.

She was also second in the 50-yard breaststroke in a best time 31.03; second in the 100-yard individual medley in a best time 58.02; fifth in the 100-yard butterfly in a best time 57.84, the first time she broke 1 minute (her previous best was 1:00.37); was eighth in the 50-yard butterfly and swam a best time 26.44 in prelims; and was fifth in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:08.54. She was a member of the winning 200-yard medley relay (1:42.97), one of three relays she swam.

Heron won her first high point award since age 10 with 159 points and played a key role in SOFLO defending its team title.

Heron is now diligently training for next month’s sectionals, hoping to get her Junior National cut time in the backstroke. She will also compete in her third Futures Championships.

“Getting all best times gave me confidence,” Heron said. “It was the training I did for the meet. It was a combination of everything with workouts, dryland, running and watching my diet. I have gotten older and stronger. I have more muscle and I am swimming more. I am disciplined which helps when I am in school and doing homework.”

Anderson has been pleased with Heron’s progress through the years. She started swimming with SOFLO at age 8 and is one of the swimmers who has been with the club the longest.

“She has done a great job,” Anderson said. “She is physically fit and is consistently in the weight room. She has become a better athlete and that translates into fast swims. She leads by example and is a great role model for our younger swimmers.”

Heron stumbled on to swimming by process of elimination. She tried softball, tennis and several other sports before a friend suggested swimming.

“I wasn’t coordinated at all and I didn’t do good in any of them,” Heron said. “I liked swimming and I was good at it and that helped. I am glad I stayed with the sport.

“When I was 8 I wasn’t thinking about a college scholarship and now I am. It’s been good working with Coach. I think probably my endurance and technique have improved with him. When I was younger I didn’t understand pace at all, I just knew to go fast. But now I see a change in the 200 and 100 back.”

Each TYR Swimmer of the Month receives a free TYR backpack.

SOFLO sponsor TYR is a USA manufacturer of recreational and competitive swimwear, caps, goggles, triathlon gear and accessories and one of the nation’s top companies.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Lance Lesage Leads SOFLO In Session II Of Gulliver Summer Invitational

By Sharon Robb

May 20, 2017—-Lance Lesage of South Florida Aquatic Club was the top finisher during Session II of the Gulliver Summer Invitational on Saturday at Gulliver Prep Aquatics Center.

Lesage, 14, after swimming the 200- and 50-meter freestyles, finished second in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:23.78.

Lesage has three events remaining: 100-meter backstroke, 100-meter freestyle and 400-meter freestyle.

Other top SOFLO finishers were:

Molly Golding, 14, third, 100-meter breaststroke 1:19.86 and fifth 400-meter individual medley 5:30.20.

Kayla Cunningham, 14, third, 200-meter backstroke, 2:33.86, time drop of 1.70.

Paige Lane, 14, fourth, 200-meter freestyle, 2:15.29, time drop of 1.43; seventh in the 50-meter freestyle in 29.20

Mallory Schleicher, 13, fourth, 400-meter individual medley, 5:27.92, time drop of 8.19.

Luke Lezotte, 16, fourth, 50-meter freestyle, 25.41.

SOFLO has 59 boys and 53 girls entered in 569 individual events during the three-day meet. All events are timed finals.

The third session continues at 2:45 p.m. Two more sessions are scheduled for Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

In addition to SOFLO and host Gulliver Swim Club, other Florida Gold Coast teams competing include AquaKids Sharks, Azura, Miami Swimming, Metro Aquatics, Heritage Aquatics, Swim Fort Lauderdale, FIU, Hurricanes, Sunrise and North Miami.



200-meter freestyle:

1.Mary Smutny, AK Sharks 2:07.64; SOFLO TOP 20: 4. Paige Lane 2:15.29, time drop, 9. Mallory Schleicher 2:18.16, 12. Kyana Castro 2:18.92, 13. Katrina Del Vecchio 2:19.33, time drop, 16. Molly Golding 2:21.82, 17. Kayla Cunningham 2:22.73, time drop.

100-meter breaststroke:

1.Nicole Hunnewell, FIU 1:17.86; SOFLO TOP 20: 3. Molly Golding 1:19.86, 20. Valentina Carrion 1:32.20.

200-meter butterfly:

1.Mary Smutny, AK Sharks 2:20.65; SOFLO TOP 20: 7. Daniela Curbelo 2:36.42, time drop, 11. Mallory Schleicher 2:39.00, time drop, 15. Kyana Castro 2:41.95, 16. Sarah Acevedo 2:43.08, 17. Kayla Cunningham 2:44.70.

50-meter freestyle:

1.Cathy Cooper, Swim Fort Lauderdale 27.28; SOFLO TOP 20: 7. Paige Lane 29.20, 8. Katrina Del Vecchio 29.48, 21. Jacqueline Lugo 30.68.

200-meter backstroke:

1.Roxanne Yu, Hurricanes 2:23.10; SOFLO TOP 20: 3. Kayla Cunningham 2:33.86, time drop, 14. Kyana Cunningham 2:45.06, 16. Rebekah Ling 2:45.55, time drop, 19. Jena Legaspi 2:46.51.

400-meter individual medley:

1.Mary Smutny, AK Sharks 5:14.85; SOFOLO TOP 20: 4. Mallory Schleicher 5:27.92, time drop, 5. Molly Golding 5:30.20, 7. Daniela Curbelo 5:37.06, 9. Katrina Del Vecchio 5:39.72, 12. Jacqueline Lugo 5:59.05, 17. Natasha Testa 6:37.48.


200-meter freestyle:

1.Miguel Cancel, Gulliver 1:59.75; SOFLO TOP 20: 9. Michael Arias 2:05.40, time drop, 13. Leonardo Mateus 2:07.38, 15. Lance Lesage 2:08.60, time drop.

100-meter breaststroke:

1.Teo Darias, Gulliver 1:09.33; SOFLO TOP 20: 12. Sebastian Lares 1:19.34, time drop, 13. Leonardo Mateus 1:19.69, time drop.

200-meter butterfly:

1.Brandon Vives, Metro Aquatics 2:10.77; SOFLO TOP 20: 18. Leonardo Mateus 2:28.36.

50-meter freestyle:

1.Erik Risolvato, Swim Fort Lauderdale 24.07; SOFLO TOP 20: 4. Luke Lezotte 25.41, 8. Michael Arias 26.34, time drop, 12. Lance Lesage 26.82, 19. David Avalos Aday 27.20, 20. Tomas Pelaez 27.37.

200-meter backstroke:

1.Trey Gribble, Gulliver 2:21.32; SOFLO TOP 20: 2. Lance Lesage 2:23.78, 6. Sebastian Lares 2:29.41, 7. Nicolas Munoz 2:30.35, 17. John Paul Handal 2:38.36, time drop, 20. Brennan Binder 2:40.41, 21. Marcos Vazquez 2:40.63, time drop, 22. Ty Lezotte 2:42.31.

400-meter individual medley:

1.Miguel Cancel, Gulliver 4:42.43; SOFLO TOP 20: 17. John Paul Handal 5:26.48, time drop.


What: Gulliver Summer Invitational

When: Saturday-Sunday. All timed finals.

Schedule: Saturday, Session 3, 2:45-6:40 p.m. p.m.; Sunday, Session 4, 8:30 a.m.-1:35 p.m., Session 5, 2:30 p.m.-5:45 p.m.

Where: Gulliver Prep Aquatics Complex, 6575 North Kendall Drive, Pinecrest.

Admission: $3 per session, heat sheets available free at For information call 305-666-7937, ext. 1465.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Mallory Schleicher Posts Huge Time Drop As SOFLO’s Top Finisher On Day One Of Gulliver Summer Invitational

By Sharon Robb

May 19, 2017—-Mallory Schleicher was South Florida Aquatic Club’s top finisher during opening day action of the Gulliver Summer Invitational Friday at Gulliver Prep Aquatic Center.

Schleicher, 13, was seventh in the 800-meter freestyle in 9:46.96. Seeded 13th, Schleicher shaved 37.23 seconds off her previous best of 10:24.19. It was the first time she dipped under 10 minutes in the long course distance event.

It was the first of seven events for the teenager.

SOFLO’s top boys’ finisher in the 1500-meter freestyle was Nicolas Rossi, 14, placing 16th in 19:07.44.

Alejandro Mateus, 12, was 22nd in 19:59.65 with a drop of 32.68 seconds. Chris Vasquez, 13, was 23rd in 20:13.24.

Metro Aquatics swept the distance events. Venezuela national record holder Andreina Pinto, 25, won the women’s 800 freestyle in 9:10.17 just ahead of Mary Smutny of AquaKids Sharks in 9:11.29. Pinto, who trained with the Gator Swim Club, competed in the 2008 Olympics.

Carlos Omana, 24, won the men’s 1500 freestyle in 16:31.27. The Belen Jesuit and University of Florida alum also competes for Venezuela internationally.

SOFLO’s full squad of more than 100 swimmers begin competing on Saturday during the first full day of schedule of events.

SOFLO has 59 boys and 53 girls entered in 569 individual events over the three-day meet.

All events are timed finals.

In addition to SOFLO and host Gulliver Swim Club, other Florida Gold Coast teams competing include AquaKids Sharks, Azura, Miami Swimming, Metro Aquatics, Heritage Aquatics, Swim Fort Lauderdale, FIU, Hurricanes, Sunrise and North Miami.



800-meter freestyle:

1.Andreina Pinto, Metro Aquatics 9:10.17, 2. Mary Smutny, AK Sharks 9:11.29, 3. Alicia Mancilla, Gulliver 9:18.96; SOFLO: 7. Mallory Schleicher 9:46.96, time drop.


1500-meter freestyle:

1.Carlos Omana, Metro Aquatics 16:31.27, 2. Adrian Aguilar, Metro Aquatics 16:53.07, 3. Miguel Cancel, Gulliver 17:03.38; SOFLO: 16. Nicolas Rossi 19:07.44, 22. Alejandro Mateus 19:59.65, 23. Chris Vasquez 20:13.24.


What: Gulliver Summer Invitational

When: Saturday-Sunday. All timed finals.

Schedule: Saturday, Session 2, 8:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m., Session 3, 2:45-6:40 p.m. p.m.; Sunday, Session 4, 8:30 a.m.-1:35 p.m., Session 5, 2:30 p.m.-5:45 p.m.

Where: Gulliver Prep Aquatics Complex, 6575 North Kendall Drive, Pinecrest.

Admission: $3 per session, heat sheets available free at For information call 305-666-7937, ext. 1465.

Sharon Robb can be reached at


By Sharon Robb

February 23, 2017—Victoria Torres is a quick study.

The South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer only started competitive swimming two years ago and has already made remarkable progress in Coach Luis Soler’s Asteroids Group.

Torres, 12, a seventh grader at Pembroke Pines Charter, switched from martial arts including Ju Jitsu and Muy Thai to swimming in 2015 and has yet to regret her decision.

“I was getting really tired of martial arts and decided I wanted to transfer to a new sport,” Torres said. “My cousin Anna in Colorado is a really good swimmer on a travel team so I decided to follow in her footsteps and give swimming a try.”

Torres’ progress in the pool has been remarkable. She attributes her athleticism and fitness level from martial arts to helping her pick up swimming quickly.

“I think martial arts helped me a lot with my endurance and ability to do things longer because it’s really hard,” Torres said.

“I am a quick learner,” she said. “I love being in the water. I like swimming and I love getting tired after a workout. I hate it and I love it at the same time. You can’t really get injured unless you do your stroke wrong.”

Her time improvements keep her motivated, she said. They have been impressive drops.

At the Jan. 27-29 TYR SOFLO Open, Torres had five best times. Torres dropped 1.57 in the 50-yard breaststroke in 34.91; 0.51 in the 50-yard freestyle in 30.43; 3.20 in the 50-yard backstroke in 37.35; 0.83 in the 50-yard butterfly in 38.15; and 1.86 in the 100-yard individual medley in 1:16.81.

At the Feb. 11-12 Pine Crest Panther Invite earlier this month, she had a huge 5.74 time drop in the 200-yard freestyle for a best time 2:29.82. She also dropped 4.44 in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:17.77 to finish third and 0.68 in the 50-yard freestyle in 29.75, just shy of her JO cut.

“Dropping times motivates me,” Torres said. “I don’t know why I perform really well. I think when I am with my friends they encourage me to do well and I relax.”

Torres started in SOFLO’s Dippers and is working her way up the ladder. Her goal is to get to Bronze Group before she turns 13 in October.

She would also like to get a few more Junior Olympic qualifying times. She has her JO cuts in the 50- and 100-yard breaststroke events. She is knocking on the door in the 50-yard freestyle.

“I want to try to get more JO times,” said Torres, who competes next in the March 3-5 Area 3 Championships with her SOFLO teammates in her home pool at Academic Village. The meet is a short course developmental championship meet.

“I would like to improve my strokes, too,” she said. “I want to stay with swimming for a long time.”

Each TYR Swimmer of the Month receives a free TYR backpack.

SOFLO sponsor TYR is a USA manufacturer of recreational and competitive swimwear, caps, goggles, triathlon gear and accessories and one of the nation’s top companies.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK: USA Swimming Extends Sponsorship With TYR

By Sharon Robb

January 24, 2017—USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body, has extended its’ sponsorship with TYR through 2020.

The global swimming brand will serve as an official sponsor of USA Swimming for technical products and performance apparel.

“TYR Sport is honored to continue its’ role as a sponsor of USA Swimming,” said CEO Matt DiLorenzo.

“Through our collaborative efforts we are confident that we will continue to advance the sport of swimming well into the future.”

South Florida Aquatic Club, one of the state’s largest and most diverse USA Swimming clubs, signed with TYR in July 2015. SOFLO was among the first teams in Florida to sign.

TYR, a USA manufacturer of recreational and competitive swimwear, caps, goggles, triathlon gear and accessories, is one of the nation’s top companies.

TYR (pronounced tier) is named after a mythical Norse god of warriors and deity among all athletes.

The TYR brand embodies the competitive spirit of sports and is a symbol of courage, law, bravery and victory.

Since 1985, TYR has provided performance swimsuits to elite athletes.

Co-founded by 1972 Olympic medalist Steve Furniss, a USA Swimming co-captain of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team, and swim wear manufacturer Joseph DiLorenzo, TYR has been involved in full-body technical suit research and development for the past four Olympic Games.

TYR is known for its design of the customized iconic red swimsuit worn by the cast of the popular show Baywatch, featuring David Hasselhoff.

TYR is dedicated to redefining the next generation of performance and recreational swimwear and accessories.

TYR offers performance swim apparel for active enthusiasts of all ages from grass roots to masters, and interests.

TYR swim wear collections include performance, triathlon, children’s, men’s shorts and fitness.

The swim wear and accessory colors are vibrant and design is state-of-the-art. The swim wear features hydrosphere technology, speedy dry fabric and supersonic flex bonding.

TYR swim wear is made by swimmers for swimmers which makes its’ five-and-a-half year contract with SOFLO a perfect fit.

SOFLO is one of the best-dressed and well-equipped teams on the pool deck. TYR also sponsors SOFLO’s monthly TYR Swimmer of the Month.

TYR will be present at all top USA Swimming sanctioned events including the Phillips 66 National Championships, Winter National Championships and 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials.

TYR also sponsors the USA Swimming Foundation and has a key role in providing equipment at USA Swimming’s various camps and clinics.

College swimming
Pine Crest alum Brooke Bernstein of Fort Lauderdale was named to the Tufts NESCAC Conference team. The championship meet is Feb. 10-12 at Bowdoin College in Brunswick Maine. The sprint freestyler is a freshman….Adan Diaz of Westlake Prep School and Azura Florida Aquatics verbally committed to Nova Southeastern University…On Saturday morning, University of Florida will host its one and only home dual meet this season against Tennessee. The Gators will also honor their senior class before the meet…Pfeiffer University, latest member of Division III and USA South Conference, has reinstated its women’s swimming program. Amy Prior has been hired as head coach. The team will begin competition this fall.

PowerBar is featuring Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte in his new Clean Start campaign. The year-long Clean Start pledge is designed to inspire and motivate everyone to move forward from the past and better themselves in 2017. The brand is introducing the new Clean Whey Bars. Lochte is featured in 60, 30 and 15-second off-beat videos reflecting on his journey and hopes of wiping away the past and starting clean in 2017. Other Team PowerBar members will also share their Clean Start stories on social media. Lochte is awaiting the birth of his first child, a son in October with fiancé Kayla Rae Reid. Lochte, 32, is four months into his 10-month suspension from swimming for his infamous fake robbery scandal during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. Lochte expects to move with his family from Charlotte to Los Angeles to train with Conor Dwyer in the near future.

Sharon Robb can be reached at


By Sharon Robb

September 8, 2016—Javiar Roman-Martinez of South Florida Aquatic Club is busy getting back into shape at Academic Village Pool.

After taking a month off during the summer, the up-and-coming age group swimmer is looking forward to racing and dropping time.

The 13-year-old Pioneer Middle School seventh grader is working with new SOFLO age group coach Lynnette Hudnell and Silver Group. “She’s cool,” Roman said about his new coach.

Roman has been swimming since he was 4 years old. He learned to swim in his native Venezuela and when his parents moved to South Florida in 2010 he first swam for Swim Fort Lauderdale but switched to SOFLO.

“I liked the sport the minute I was in the water,” Roman said. “I started to get competitive.”

When he joined SOFLO, it was instant chemistry.

“I like everything about SOFLO,” Roman said. “I like the coaches and attitude of everyone around. Everyone likes to work and it’s friendly. Everyone is friends with everyone. It’s a great swimming environment.”

His favorite events are the long course 200 and 400 freestyles, 100 and 200 breaststroke.

“I like the longer events,” Roman said. “I don’t like the way it feels when you swim the 50 freestyle all out. You are tired and out of breath.

“When you swim a 400, you work for it. When you finish and you lowered your time you feel tired, but it’s a good tired because you worked for it.”

Roman also swims the 50 breaststroke, 50 and 100 freestyles, 50 and 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley. He plans on swimming the 400 IM now that he has aged up into 13-14.

One of Roman’s best meets was this past season’s Florida Gold Coast Long Course Junior Olympics.

“We had this amazing relay on the first day,” Roman said referring to the 400 freestyle relay which Roman swam anchor on and SOFLO won. “It was my favorite. We got first in all three relays.”

Roman would love to swim in high school and college and maybe even the Olympics one day. His mom, Marilde Martinez, competed for Venezuela in its nationals championships. She now swims for SOFLO Masters.

“Right now my main goal is getting into shape,” Roman said. “I am working on that.”

Roman has compete in soccer, baseball, tennis and karate but plans on staying with swimming. He also manages to fit in playing the bassoon in his middle school band.

“Swimming has helped me manage my time,” Roman said. “It’s also helped me open myself to new people. I was shy. Now I am meeting more people because of swimming.

“Swimming is a passion that started as a hobby. When you like something you stay with it and keep it going because you like it. After I tried it I just said to myself ‘let’s keep going.’ I am excited about the future.”

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

Each TYR Swimmer of the Month will receive a free TYR mini backpack.

TYR, a USA manufacturer of recreational and competitive swimwear, caps, goggles, triathlon gear and accessories, is one of the nation’s top companies.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Aukerman, Donahue, Golding Ready For U.S. Olympic Trials That Begin Sunday

By Sharon Robb

June 24, 2016—It’s show time on the big stage for three South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers.

Claire Donahue, Kile Aukerman and Kathleen Golding will compete in the June 26-July 3 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Neb.

Making the Trials is a huge accomplishment in itself. Now they will chase the brass ring trying to make the Aug. 5-21 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

All three have opening races on Sunday: Donahue in her signature event, the 100-meter butterfly, Golding in the 400-meter individual medley and Aukerman in the 100-meter breaststroke.

The talented trio coached by veteran SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson will share the same deck with the sport’s Big Four: Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin for eight days to determine the U.S. men and women’s Olympic teams.

The top two in each final will qualify for Rio, plus up to six finishers in the 100- and 200-meter freestyle events for relays. The top six in each event also make the senior national team.

Nearly 2,000 swimmers have qualified for the Trials with the most coming from California, Pacific Coast, North Carolina and Florida. The event at CenturyLink Center is a sell out for the first time with more than 200,000 tickets sold.

Donahue, 27, a 2012 Olympian, is making her third U.S. Olympic Trials appearance and coming off a solid year of training. Donahue won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics as a member of the winning 400-meter medley relay team.

Donahue is seeded fifth in the 100-meter butterfly in 58.03.

“Not just the training aspect but outside factors,” Donahue said. “Recovery. Doing things like yoga. Making sure my diet’s right on. Making sure every aspect of my life is surrounded by swimming, helping me perform and helping me grow in the sport.”

Golding is the only high school swimmer from a South Florida public high school to qualify. At 15, she is also one of the youngest.

Training alongside Olympians and national-caliber swimmers at South Florida Aquatic Club in Pembroke Pines including four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson, a Flanagan alum, has helped her improve.

Golding qualified in the 200-meter individual medley (2:18.67) and 400-meter individual medley (4:53.68), two of the sport’s toughest events.

“It definitely helps to watch the older girls and learn from them,” she said. “They are really good.”

Golding is realistic about her expectations for the Trials.

“I am going there for the experience,” Golding said. “I want to see what it’s like and I want to see how I stack up.

“I have been really focused lately, making sure everything I do in practice counts towards trials. My coach and I are pretty confident going into. I have been swimming pretty well.”

Golding would love to advance into the semifinals in one of her events. Despite her age, she is experienced when it comes to competing at big meets.

“I have been to meets with Missy and Michael,” Golding said. “There’s going to be a lot of fast people. I have been training really hard and doing a lot more dryland work. I think I should swim best times. I know after Trials I am going to be really motivated because it’s such a motivating meet. It makes me want to go to the Olympics even more and really enforces how much I want to be better.”

Aukerman is going in with three Trials cuts and lifetime-bests in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:03.38), 200-meter breaststroke (2:17.96) and 200-meter individual medley (2:04.35). All three times he swam at the Tennessee Aquatics Invitational earlier this month.

The 23-year-old Wright State alum is thrilled to be there. After graduating college, Aukerman decided to put his career on hold to train seriously for nearly two years at SOFLO.

“I got some scholarship money and started swimming to get a good education,” Aukerman said. “As the years went on I started improving and had a good senior year. I thought maybe with long course training under my belt I could get better.

“I totally committed myself to going after it. I got my degree and everything and I will be looking for a job after this year. You have the rest of your life to go to school and work. The Trials are once in a lifetime.”

Aukerman is also realistic about the Trials.

“I want to better my time at Trials,” he said. “My goal in my mind these last two years has been I wanted my last meet to be the Olympic Trials. I want to go best times there. If I do that I will be 100 percent fine to say goodbye to swimming. It’s the best possible way to go out swimming at one of the best meets in the world.”


Aukerman: Sunday, 100-meter breaststroke, Wednesday, 200-meter breaststroke, Thursday, 200-meter individual medley

Donahue: Sunday, 100-meter butterfly, Wednesday, 200-meter butterfly

Golding: Sunday, 400-meter individual medley, Tuesday, 200-meter individual medley.

The Trials will be shown exclusively across NBC networks and mobile platforms. Prelims will be live daily at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on the NBC Sports app.

NBC Sports will live stream the Trials including both prelims and finals sessions. It will also be available on NBC Sports online at, or through the NBC Sports app available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.


Miguel Cancel, Gulliver Prep; Marta Ciesla, Pine Crest; Lauren Driscoll, American Heritage Plantation; Anya Egorova, Gulliver Prep; Kelli Fertel, Gulliver Prep; Alex Evdokimov, Taravella; Casey Francis, Pine Crest; Kathleen Golding, Cooper City; Brandon Goldman, St. Thomas Aquinas; Emily Kopas, University School; Austin Manganiello, Miami Palmetto; Blake Manganiello, Miami Palmetto; Lindsey McKnight, Plantation American Heritage; Jessica Nava, Westminster Academy; Carlos Omana, Belen Jesuit; Michael Saco, Miami Palmetto; Juan Sequera, Reagan; Clara Smiddy, South Florida HEAT; Sam Smiddy, South Florida HEAT; Niki Urquidi, Gulliver Prep; Kyla Valls, Ransom Everglades.


Reagan alum Isabella Paez, 20, of Duke will try and qualify for the Venezuelan Olympic team and University School alum Jordy Groters of Missouri will try and make the Aruba team at the June 23-26 RBC Bahamas National Swimming Championships at the Betty Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex in Nassau. Paez and Groters are former high school district, region and state champions. Foreign swimmers will have a final chance to qualify the following week at the June 29-July 2 Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships, also in the Bahamas.

Sharon Robb can be reached at


By Sharon Robb

May 10, 2016—Alejandro Mateus loves to swim.

Mateus, 11, a fifth grader at Franklin Academy Charter School in Pembroke Pines, is having remarkable success working with South Florida Aquatic Club age group coach Rose Lockie and Bronze Group.

“It is really fun,” Mateus said. “I am improving a lot. Coach Rose tells me not to give up no matter what.”

That was never more evident during the SOFLO Holiday Classic before the Christmas holidays at Academic Village Pool.

“I was really proud of the Christmas meet,” Mateus said. “Before the 100-yard freestyle I didn’t hear the starter say ‘take your mark.’ I heard the buzzer and I didn’t know what to do.

“I looked at the officials and my dad and the swimmers were already in the pool swimming. I jumped in and sprinted all the way, trying to catch up. I didn’t know where I was, if I was near them or anything.

“After I touched the wall with everything I had, I saw a 1:05. I didn’t look at the place, but then I saw first. Everybody was stunned. I gained time but I was happy I caught up and didn’t give up.”

Mateus, following in the footsteps of his older brother Leonardo, started competing when he was five years old. He used to play soccer but gave it up to focus solely on swimming.

“My brother and I push each other,” Mateus said. “He tells me what times to go, what to do and how I can work on stuff to improve.”

Mateus said he fell in love with swimming at an early age.

“In swiming, there are so many different things you can do,” he said. “There are different strokes and different yardage. There are people to compete against and there’s always challenges.”

Mateus has his sights set on breaking Florida Gold Coast records. “I am really close in the 100 fly, that’s my favorite event,” Mateus said.

“I am training hard and trying to improve.”

Mateus trains six days a week. After school he goes straight to the pool, works on his homework and waits for practice to begin.

“I feel different emotions in the pool at different times,” Mateus said. “If I am really feeling confident my strokes feel faster. I feel lighter and it feels like I am pulling more water.

“If I practice harder, my strokes are a little stronger. I try to kick a little more and push myself to the limit.”

Mateus was selected by the SOFLO coaching staff for his 10-and-under performances at the April 2-3 Florida-Florida Gold Coast All-Star Meet and April 29-May 1 SOFLO IMX-IMR Challenge.

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

Each TYR Swimmer of the Month receives a free TYR mini backpack.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO Hosts IMX-IMR Challenge; Atkinson, Romano Will Compete In TYR Derby Pro Swim Meet

By Sharon Robb

April 28, 2016—Kathleen Golding, Sebastian Lares and Valerie Vank are among top-seeded South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers in this weekend’s IMX-IMR Challenge at Academic Village Pool.

Several top Florida Gold Coast swimmers will join SOFLO swimmers over the next three days at IMX-IMR Challenge.

In addition to SOFLO, among other FGC clubs entered are AquaKids Sharks, Plantation Swim Team, Hialeah Swim Club, SwimFast and Flying Fish.

Among other top-seeded swimmers are Julio Horrego of Hialeah Swim Club, Isabella Chambers of Plantation Swim Team, and siblings Luke and Mary Smutny of AquaKids Sharks.

The meet opens Friday at 5:30 p.m. with the open 200-meter individual medley and 13-and-over 400-meter individual medley. The meet continues through Sunday.

Not only will swimmers get some much-need racing in but will also get a chance to see how they stack up against the rest of the nation’s age group swimmers.

The up-and-coming swimmers will compete in the IMR Challenge. All sessions are timed finals.

The USA Swimming-sanctioned meet is a fun, motivational meet to help young swimmers reach the next level in their swimming careers.

The IM (Ready) Challenge allows swimmers to see how they compare to other swimmers around the nation in their age group. Swimmers must compete in all the events required for their age group to establish a score.

Once a swimmer competes in each IMR Challenge event at least once in an official meet, swimmers and parents can check their rankings on USA Swimming’s website.

The IMX (Xtreme) Challenge is the next step-up from the IMR competition. It includes a series of five or six events. Once swimmers complete the IMX program they can also see where their score ranks nationally, among their local LSC and own swim club.


What: SOFLO IMX-IMR Challenge

When: Friday, Friday, 5:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, IMX/IMR Challenge, 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Where: Academic Village Pool, 17191 Sheridan St., Pembroke Pines

Admission: $3 per session, $3 heat sheets per session. For information call 954-538-3721.


SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson and Megan Romano left Thursday morning for Louisville, Ky. where the elite pair will compete in the inaugural TYR Derby Pro Swim Meet Friday at the University of Louisville.

It is part of a fundraising weekend for the Cardinals’ swim program.

Friday night’s pro swim meet will feature 16 of the best men and women pro swimmers from around the world.

Romano is a 2013 world champion and NCAA champion. Atkinson is a three-time Olympian for Jamaica and world short course record holder.

The pros, in addition to competing for prize money, will team with members of the Louisville swim team to hold a Drowning Prevention Clinic and also be part of a dinner with contributors.

Sharon Robb can be reached at