Kyle Cormier Joins SOFLO Coaching Staff As Lead Age Group Coach

By Sharon Robb
PEMBROKE PINES, July 18, 2022—When asked about his passion for swimming, Kyle Cormier gave two great examples.

“Just ask my wife about what my passion is,” he said. “Our wedding was in May because I’m too busy with swimming to try and do it in the fall.

“Our honeymoon was in an Olympic year and it had to be shorter than we wanted it to be since I had to get back for some boys who were graduating from our club and were making Olympic Trials.”

And yes, Cormier and his wife Alexis are still happily married and expecting a baby girl in January.

Cormier, 36, hopes to bring that passion to his new job as lead age group coach for South Florida Aquatic Club and volunteer assistant at Florida International University. His first day at SOFLO is August 15.

Cormier is currently head coach and CEO for the City of Mobile (Ala.) Swim Association. He is finishing up with his team that is competing in the Southeastern LSC Championship in Huntsville, Ala.

“I am really looking forward to getting down there and get going,” Cormier said. “The team itself seems like it’s incredibly well put together and well-resourced. I feel incredibly lucky that I had this opportunity handed to me.”

Cormier will work with SOFLO’s 11 and 12-year-olds.

“I am really excited about that, ” he said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve coached that age group. I have been coaching senior and college kids for the last ten years.

“I am looking forward to getting back to that age group and to having some kids that still have the twinkle in their eye, getting to practice as much as they can and just wanting to get out there and race and be at practice with their friends.”

The Pensacola native is a 2004 graduate of Gulf Breeze High School where he earned a swimming scholarship to University of South Carolina. He was an NCAA All-American, SEC Academic Honor Roll member, former school record holder in the 100 and 200 freestyle and 200 IM and team captain. He went on to earn his Master of Science and Administrative Studies in Sports Management at Missouri State.

Cormier competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2008 (while in college) and 2012 (as a post-grad pro athlete).

Before he was hired by the City of Mobile Swim Association in August 2017, he was lead sprint coach at Missouri State (2014-2016). He also took a job as a business development executive with the Atlanta Hawks pro basketball team from 2016-2017 to be closer to his family in Pensacola and Atlanta.

“When I left Missouri State I wanted to see what I could do outside of swimming,” Cormier said. “Being in sports but not in a coaching realm was something I wanted to try. From 4 years old to 30 I hadn’t done anything besides swimming. I really loved that job. It was a great time and fun to go to work for sure. But I had the opportunity in Mobile to get back into coaching which is something that I knew I ultimately wanted to do.”

Cormier said he hopes to bring “good synergy” to SOFLO.

“I have been a head coach. I know that part of your job of being a good assistant is to be able to assist what the head coach is trying to establish for when the kids matriculate through the development chain.

“I understand the importance that I have working with 11 and 12-year-olds about making sure that technique, body position and the groundwork for the choices as far as time management and discipline, going up the ladder to get the most success out of their swimming as possible for when they are swimming for Chris or the head senior coach. I’m doing my part in the development chain.

“I have a good understanding of that from being on both sides of it. I think my experience level as far as things I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to as an athlete as well as a coach can help with perspective of where to spend your energy and where not to get so worked up about it.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Florida Gators Defend SEC Men’s Swimming And Diving Title; Tennessee Wins Women’s Crown; Patrick Groters Breaks USC School Record

By Sharon Robb
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., February 20, 2022—University of Florida men’s team won its tenth consecutive Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championship Saturday night at Jones Aquatics Center.

The Gators won with 1,414 points, a 476-point cushion over Tennessee and Alabama. It was the fourth time in team history the Gators cracked 1,400 points.

And the Gators did it without defending SEC champions Bobby Finke and Dillon Hillis, both scratched from the meet because of COVID-19 protocols.

The Gators swept all the men’s relays. In individual events, Olympian and senior Kieran Smith led the Gators’ winning the 400-yard individual medley. Sophomore Adam Chaney won the 100-yard backstroke, breaking Ryan Lochte’s school record in 44.51.

The Gators dominated the final day of competition taking seven of the top nine spots in the 1,650-yard freestyle.

Winning for the Gators were:
200-yard medley relay: Adam Chaney, Dillon Hillis, Eric Friese, Alberto Mester, 1:22.06, SEC record.

800-yard freestyle relay: Kieran Smith, Trey Freeman, Oskar Lindholm, Alfonso Mestre, 6:08.00, SEC record.

200-yard freestyle relay: Adam Chaney, Eric Friese, Kieran Smith, Macguire McDuff, 1:15.18, SEC record.

400-yard individual medley: Kieran Smith, Senior, 3:39.33.

400-yard medley relay: Adam Chaney, Amro Al-Wir, Eric Friese, Kieran Smith, 3:02.61.

1650-yard freestyle: Trey Freeman, Junior, 14:39.74.

200-yard backstroke: Kieran Smith, Senior, 1:39.51.

400-yard freestyle relay: Macguire McDuff, Adam Chaney, Eric Friese, Kieran Smith, 2:46.91.

It was the 43rd overall title for the Gators. Florida is now primed for the March 23-26 NCAA Men’s Championships in Atlanta.

In the women’s competition, Tennessee won its second women’s title in three years. The Volunteers won with 1,313.5 points ahead of Kentucky with 1,043 and Alabama, 1,038. The Gators were fifth with 905 points. It was Tennessee’s highest point total in team history.

Freshman Ellen Walshe became the third woman in the team’s history to win three individual events in a single SEC Championships.

Walshe won the 400-yard individual medley in 4:01.53, second fastest in NCAA history this season, and 100-yard butterfly in 50.34. She also won the 200 IM in 1:52.97. She was a member of the winning 800-yard freestyle relay.

The Vols also picked up a win from freshman Julia Mrozinski in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:35.95, third fastest in the NCAA this season.

The Volunteers won the 800-yard freestyle relay and finished runner-up in the remaining relays. All five relays were under NCAA A cuts.

Other Tennessee winners were:
800-yard freestyle relay: Julia Mrozinski, Ellen Walshe, Trude Rothrock, Tjasa Pintar – 6:56.81, pool record.

100-yard breaststroke: Mona McSharry, 57.50.

1650-yard freestyle: Kristen Stege, 15:42.37.

Among Florida Gold Coast swimmer results:

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Kathleen Golding, a junior at University of Florida, competed in three events. She was 18th in the 200 IM in a best time 1:57.63, seventh in the 400 IM in 4:11.14 and 21st in the 1,650-yard freestyle in 16:27.95. She dropped 1.32 second off her previous 1:58.95 200 IM.

Florida freshman Anna Auld was 33rd in the 500 freestyle in 4:48.87; 11th in the 400 IM in a best time 4:11.02 and 10th in the 1,650-yard freestyle in a best time 16:16.87, dropping 10.25 seconds.

SOFLO’s Molly Golding and Miguel Cancel did not compete.

In his SEC debut for University of South Carolina, Aruba’s Patrick Groters competed in three events. The former NSU University School and Pine Crest swimmer broke the school record in the 200 IM C-final with a best time of 1:43.77. The previous school record was 1:44.00 by Tomas Peribonio in 2018. Groters finished first in the C-final and was bumped up from 17th to 15th place after two swimmers were disqualified from the A-final. He was 18th in the 400 IM in a best time 3:47.17, dropping 1.12 and 13th in the 200 backstroke in 1:43.24, also a best time dropping 1.93.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Aruba’s Patrick Groters Wins, Breaks First Record At Junior Pan American Games Twice; SOFLO’s Gaby Banks Swims Best Time

By Sharon Robb
CALI, Colombia, November 27, 2021–Patrick Groters of Aruba made history at the inaugural Junior Pan American Games Saturday at Hernando Botero O’Byrne Swimming Pool.

Groters, 22, broke the first Pan American junior record in the 200-meter backstroke prelims in 2:03.55, the fastest morning qualifier. He came back at night to break it again and win the event in a best time 2:01.78, a 0.54 drop.

Groters, now at University of South Carolina, swam at NSU University School and Pine Crest Swim Club. He is a member of Aruba’s national team and 2024 Olympic hopeful. He has the 100 backstroke, 400 IM and 200 IM left to swim.

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Gaby Banks, 18, of Florida State who represents Jamaica internationally, was 22nd in 200-meter freestyle in a best time 2:13.26, dropping 0.04.

Uruguay’s Nicole Frank, 17, who trains with Azura Florida Aquatics, was seventh in the 200-meter freestyle in a best time 2:05.90, a 0.57 drop. She qualified seventh in 2:06.77.

In the men’s 200 freestyle, Joaquin Vargas of Peru was fifth fastest qualifier in 1:53.92; Gabriel Araya of Chile was seventh fastest in 1:54.82; and Miami’s Brandon Vives of the Dominican Republic was 18th in 200 freestyle in 1:58.02. Vargas came back in finals to place fourth in 1:50.86; Araya finished seventh in 1:53.64; and Vives was 12th in 1:56.64. Vives was also 26th in the 100 butterfly in 59.21.

Maria Munoz, 22, of Peru and Azura, was 13th in the 100 butterfly prelims in 1:03.95 and 12th in finals in 1:03.42.

Cali, the capital of Valle del Cauca, is hosting the first-ever edition of the Junior Pan American Games.

It is a key event in the lead-up to the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games and Paris 2024 Olympics, allowing up-and-coming athletes a new level of competition they didn’t have in past years.

Approximately 3,000 volunteers, 1,400 technical officials and 1,142 other officials are participating along with 4,806 athletes from 41 countries and territories affiliated with Panam Sports in 39 sports. The meet is for ages up to 22.

Neither the U.S. or Canada, the region’s most successful countries, sent swim teams to the event although they are competing in other sports. Brazil (25), Colombia (25), and Mexico (26) have the largest delegations of swimmers.

The Games were initially scheduled to begin on June 5 but were postponed to September 9 to 19. It was further delayed because of COVID-19 before moving to late November and early December.

200-meter freestyle:

  1. Ana Carolina Vieira, Brazil 2:02.15, 2. Maria Yegres Cottin, Venezuela 2:02.16, 3. Karen Durango Restrepo, Colombia 2:03.09.

100-meter butterfly:

  1. Clarissa Maria Rodrigues, Brazil 1:00.19, 2. Luana Alonso, Paraguay 1:00.30, 3. Valentina Becerra, Colombia 1:00.82.

200-meter backstroke:

  1. Athena Meneses Kovacs, Mexico 2:15.64, 2. Jimena Leguizamon Leal, Colombia 2:16.85, 3. Fernando De Goeji, Brazil 2:17.94.

200-meter freestyle:

  1. Breno Martins Correia, Brazil 1:47.46, 2. Juan Manuel Morales Restrepo, Colombia 1:49.70, 3. Santi Corredor, Colombia 1:49.80.

100-meter butterfly:

  1. Kayky Marquart Mota, Brazil 52.81, 2. Matheus Ferreira De Moraes Gonche, Brazil 52.83, 3. Jorge Eliezer Otaiza Hernandez, Venezuela 53.76.

200-meter backstroke:

  1. Patrick Groters, Aruba 2:01.78, 2. Diego Salgado, Mexico 2:02.29, 3. Erick Oswaldo Gordillo Guzman, Guatemala 2:03.00.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SWIMMING NOTEBOOK: SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Awarded Honorary Doctorate

By Sharon Robb
PEMBROKE PINES, August 23, 2021—Five-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson has added another honor to her never-ending resume.

The South Florida Aquatic Club world short course and national record holder joins comedian Oliver Samuels, poet/author Linton Kwesi Johnson and philanthropist Gary “Butch” Hendrickson as this year’s recipients of honorary Doctors of Letters or Laws from the University of the West Indies Mona Campus in St. Andrew.

They will be honored November 4-5 for their outstanding contributions to regional and international development. Samuels and Johnson will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree while Atkinson and Hendrickson will receive honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

They join a list of more than 450 honorary degree recipients awarded by the regional university since 1965. The awards presentations during the college’s annual graduation ceremony are expected to be held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atkinson previously received an Order of Distinction, Commander of Class, from the Government in 2018.


Former NSU University School and Pine Crest Swimming Club swimmer Patrick Groters of Aruba will be competing for the University of South Carolina after spending two seasons at Denver.

“It’s amazing,” Groters said on his Instagram account.

“I am beyond thrilled for the opportunity to continue my college swimming career at University of South Carolina under Jeff Poppell. I know this is my chance to improve, to get to the next level in my races.”

Groters is a 2020 Summit League champion in the 200-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley. He trained with his older brother Jordy for nine months at his club team Giants Aquatics Aruba before transferring.

Groters swam his best time in the 200 IM (2:01.62) at the 2019 U.S. Open. He missed the standard for selection to Aruba’s Olympic Team, but was the only Aruban to swim an Olympic B-standard during the pandemic, in 2:02.95 and 2:01.96 in the 200 IM at the 2021 Bahamas National Swimming Championships.

Groters has qualified for both the 2021 FINA Short Course World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi and 2022 FINA World Aquatic Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. He will represent Aruba in December at the Junior Pan-American Games in Cali, Colombia in the 100 and 200 backstrokes, 200 and 400 IMs and 400 freestyle.


Five-time Olympic gold medalist and her husband, former University of Texas swimmer Hayes Johnson, announced the birth of their daughter on Instagram.

“She’s more perfect than anything we could have ever imagined,” the post reads. “We love you so much Caitlin.”

Sarah Caitlin Johnson was born on Aug. 11 at 4:17 a.m., a birthday she shares with her grandfather, Franklin’s dad.

Franklin was one of the sport’s biggest stars when she captured four gold medals and a bronze as a 17-year-old high-schooler at the 2012 London Olympics. She competed at the 2016 Rio Games, where she was plagued by shoulder injuries but still managed another gold medal as a relay swimmer.

“I began to realize that my greatest dream in life, more so than Olympic gold, has always been becoming a mom,” Franklin said. “Swimming had been such a huge part of my life for as long as I could remember, but it was not my entire life.”


Four-time Olympian Ryan Lochte, 36, of Gainesville underwent successful knee surgery after he suffered a torn meniscus during an inflatable kids water slide accident while playing with his two kids.

Lochte posted a selfie to his Instagram account from his Orthopaedic Surgery Center hospital bed in which he was giving the thumbs up, underneath the caption which read, ‘Surgery was a success.’ “Hey everyone, surgery went amazing, I’m all good, I feel great right now,” he said.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

South Carolina Hires Jeff Poppell As Head Men’s, Women’s Swimming, Diving Coach

By Sharon Robb
COLUMBIA, S.C., April 11, 2021—After only three seasons, Jeff Poppell is leaving University of Florida for University of South Carolina.

Poppell was named University of South Carolina head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach, pending approval of the Board of Trustees, Gamecock Athletics Director Ray Tanner announced on Friday.

Poppell was head women’s swimming and diving coach at University of Florida for the past three seasons, replacing Gregg Troy who retired from college coaching. Poppell coached several top UF swimmers including South Florida Aquatic Club’s Kathleen Golding.

“I am excited to welcome Jeff and his family to the University of South Carolina and our athletics program,” Tanner said in a statement. “Jeff brings an outstanding coaching resume and coaching philosophy that will greatly benefit our student-athletes. He knows what it takes to move our swimming and diving program to a championship level.”

Poppell replaces McGee Moody, who stepped down after 14 seasons with the Gamecocks.

Poppell has been coaching for 27 seasons including 13 seasons in the Southeastern Conference, 13 seasons at Bolles and four seasons at Gulliver Prep.

“I’m both honored and thrilled to have been named the new head swimming and diving coach at South Carolina,” Poppell said.

“On my visit earlier this week, I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the campus, the highly ranked academic programs offered, as well as the strong commitment made by the Gamecock athletic administration to help build and sustain a championship caliber program at the University of South Carolina.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us in the future however I can’t wait to get to Columbia, meet the teams, and begin this exciting new journey.”

South Carolina’s swim program is back on firm footing. In December, school president Robert Caslen had suggested that the school may have to cut some Olympic sports programs including swimming to save money during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Gamecocks are the only Division I swimming program in South Carolina after rival Clemson cut its swim teams after the 2012 season, and College of Charleston cut its program in 2015.

Poppell was also head women’s swimming and diving coach at Arkansas from 2006-12 as well as an associate head coach of the combined men’s and women’s program at Florida from 2016-18 and women’s head coach from 2018-21.

The Gators finished second in the SEC Championships in all three seasons of Poppell’s tenure at Florida and had an overall dual meet record of 18-3.

The Gators finished 17th at the 2021 NCAA Championships, the highest finish for the program since 2015. Florida had the most NCAA qualifiers of any team in the nation this season.

At Gulliver Prep, he guided the program to consecutive 2A FHSAA High School State Swimming Championship titles in girls swimming after winning the school’s first state championship in swimming in 2014. In 2015-2016, Poppell guided Gulliver Swim Club to its first Silver Medal Award, which recognizes the Top-100 swimming clubs in the United States.

Sharon Robb can be reached at