Florida High School Activities Association Postpones All Athletic Spring Events

By Sharon Robb

March 19, 2020—The Florida High School Activities Association, the state’s governing body for all high school sports, has postponed all athletic events indefinitely.

While most athletic venues including swimming pools have been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the official announcement came after Governor Ron DeSantis announced that schools would remain closed until at least April 15.

Standardized testing was also cancelled for the school year. Online learning is set to begin on March 30.

The FHSAA’s official statement said:

“In response to Governor DeSantis’ closure of Florida Schools through April 15th, and following the Florida Department of Education Guidance Memorandum from March 17, 2020, the FHSAA has made the decision to postpone all scheduled FHSAA meetings, conferences and athletic events until further notice.

“Pending schools are back in session and afforded the opportunity to resume activities after April 15th, by Federal, State and Local authorities, the FHSAA will follow the recommendations and guidance available to us at that time regarding the continuance of all FHSAA spring sports and other planned meetings and conferences.”

The suspension of high school sports in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade started Monday.

With nine different sports including water polo, the spring season is the busiest for the FHSAA.

DeSantis said on Tuesday parents have the option to hold students back a grade after this school year, but the FHSAA added that students would not gain additional athletic eligibility. FHSAA bylaws state that students have only eight consecutive semesters of eligibility.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

18th FINA World Aquatics Championships Opens Friday; Swimming Begins July 21

By Sharon Robb

GWANGJU, South Korea, July 10, 2019—The 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships will make its debut in Korea on Friday.

The biggest FINA event, held over 17 days, will feature competitions in all six aquatic disciplines–swimming, diving, high diving, open water swimming, synchronized swimming and water polo competing for 76 gold medals.

With the slogan of “Dive Into Peace” the world championships will offer a sneak preview of what’s to come at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Several international athletes are competing for Olympic berths.

The 18th edition of the FINA World Championships has attracted the largest number of athletes in event history with 2,639 from 194 countries.

With 82 athletes, host South Korea will have the largest contingent of athletes including 29 in swimming. South Korea will make its debut in open water swimming and water polo at worlds.

Swimming, the most popular event, will not begin until July 21, at the Nambu University Memorial Aquatics Center. The U.S. team leads in medals with 208 gold medals in 17 world championships.

China is expected to dominate the diving, that begins Friday. Divers will compete for 13 gold medals.

High diving, made from heights over 20 meters, made its debut at the 2013 world championships in Barcelona and is attracting a strong fan base around the world. Male divers will jump from a 27-meter platform and women will dive from 20-meters. Only two gold medals are available. In 2017, Steve LoBue of Pembroke Pines won gold. High diving will be held July 22-24 at the Chosun University High Diving competition venue.

More than 1,097 athletes from 47 countries will compete in synchronized swimming. Ten gold medals are up for grabs. Russia is expected to dominate.

Nearly 400 swimmers from 60 countries will compete in open water swimming held at the Yeosu EXPO Ocean Park Open Water swimming venue. The July 13-19 events featuring 5K, 10K and 25K distances will award seven gold medals.

Water polo is the only competitive team sport at worlds. Hungary, Italy and the U.S. will be playing for gold in the men’s and women’s tournaments, July 14-27.

PREVIEW COMING UP NEXT WEEK: South Florida will be well-represented in pool swimming at worlds with South Florida Aquatic Club’s Olympic veterans Nguyen Vien of Vietnam and Alia Atkinson of Jamaica along with several other swimmers from around the Florida Gold Coast.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

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 sha11cats@aol.com

Cunha Wins Third 25K Open Water Gold Medal; UM Diver Dinsmore Advances To Saturday Final At FINA World Aquatics Championships

By Sharon Robb

Budapest, Hungary, July 21, 2017—In the last and most grueling of six open water races, defending champion Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil won the women’s 25K open water race for her third world title on Day 8 of the 17th FINA World Aquatics Championships Friday at Lake Balaton.

Cunha, who has frequently trained in South Florida and won the Fort Lauderdale Roughwater event, finished in 5 hours, 21 minutes and 58 seconds, a two-second margin of victory.

She is only the second woman to win three world golds. Dutch swimmer Edith van Dijk won four.

Cunha also won gold at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai and 2015 in Kazan. Cunha has two silver medals and four bronze medals from past world championships. She has made the podium in every individual open water event.

“When it starts, I think of nothing, but toward the end I knew I was the only one in the leading three that had done the 25K course before,” Cunha said. “So I know the pain that would arrive at the end. This experience made the difference.”

Olympic 10K gold medalist Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands was second in 5:22:00. Arianna Bridi of Italy took the bronze in 5:22:08.

American Becca Mann, a former Clearwater (CAT) swimmer, was seventh in 5:27:06.

France continued its dominance in open water with Axel Reymond winning the men’s 25K by just 6/10ths of a second.

Swimming for more than five hours, the Frenchman defeated Matteo Furlan of Italy (5:02:47).

“When there are 200 meters left, all you think about is touching the board,” Reymond said.

Russian Evgenii Drattcev took bronze in 5:02:49. American Chip Peterson was fifth in 5:03:43.

There were 44 finishers in the race. Five were unable to finish the race. Warm temperatures were also a challenge. The water temp was 75 degrees.


University of Miami redshirt sophomore David Dinsmore finished fourth in men’s 10-meter platform semifinals to qualify for Saturday’s final for Team USA.

Dinsmore, the NCAA national platform champion as a freshman, scored 483.10 points to qualify for his first worlds final.

Dinsmore is ranked behind Aleksandr Bondar of Russia (509.10), Tom Daley of Great Britain (498.65) and Chen Aisen of China (488.55) and will be in the medal hunt on Saturday.

“It’s really exciting,” Dinsmore said. “Last time I had a good meet but there was tough competition and it didn’t work out. Especially this year after the Olympic year, I wanted to come out and dive as best I could and things worked out.”

At the 2015 World Championships, Dinsmore finished 15th in the semifinals. Earlier in the week, Dinsmore earned a bronze medal in the mixed 3-meter/10-meter team event with Krysta Palmer.

Fort Lauderdale’s Jordan Windle finished 26th in the 10-meter prelims in his first worlds competing in an individual event.

Olympic gold medalist Shi Tingmao led China to a one-two finish in the women’s 3-meter springboard final. Shi, the defending champion and Monday’s 3-meter synchro winner, finished first with 383.50 points followed by teammate Wang Han (359.40) to capture China’s ninth consecutive gold medal in the event and seventh in 11 diving events in Budapest. Canadian Jennifer Abel took the bronze medal with 3:51.55 for the second worlds in a row.

“I need to work harder in order to achieve a higher score and win more gold medals,” Shi said.

Chinese divers have won 20 of the last 21 Olympic and world titles in the 3-meter springboard since 1986.

The last two diving finals are scheduled for Saturday.


Russia won the team free title winning its sixth gold medal. Twelve teams were in the final. Russia has been the title holder of the team title since 2007. Russia scored 97.300 points. China took the silver and Ukraine took bronze.


The U.S., Italy, Hungary and Greece all advanced into the women’s quarterfinal round. Italy has won three straight games and earned an automatic berth.

In the men’s tournament, Croatia reached the quarterfinals as expected. Croatia has beaten the U.S., Russia and Japan.


In the medal tally, China leads with 16 total medals including seven golds, Russia has 13, Italy had 8 and France has 7. The U.S. has 5 medals including only one gold.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com


Forza Stefano Water Polo Tournament Begins Friday At Academic Village Pool

By Sharon Robb

The inaugural Forza Stefano Water Polo Tournament will carry on the legacy of a beloved young water polo player and swimmer taken too soon.

The boys and girls tournament, hosted by Pembroke Pines Charter athletic department, is scheduled for Friday, 2-9 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-noon at Academic Village Swimming Pool.

All tournament proceeds benefit the Forza Stefano Charitable Foundation which is helping raise awareness in teen cancer.

Stefano Dioguardi was a well-liked student-athlete. The 2015 Pembroke Pines Charter graduate was an avid swimmer and water polo player. He was the water polo team’s captain and inspirational leader. He was also a member of the South Florida Water Polo Club for five years.

Dioguardi succumbed to Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Two days after turning 18, he learned he had the disease.

The first-year tournament has attracted an impressive field of ten teams including South Broward’s girls’ team and Pembroke Pines Charter boys’ team.

The Bulldogs (8-2), led by Emma Leto, are coming off an impressive 18-0 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas. Pembroke Pines Charter, led by Marcos Pacella, Thomas Bayer and Seth Lawrence, is coming off a 22-11 win over Plantation.

Six teams are entered in the boys’ competition. Pembroke Pines Charter and Cypress Bay are in Group A and South Broward, Spanish River and Northeast are entered in Group B.

Four girls teams are entered in the double-elimination tournament. They are Pembroke Pines Charter, South Broward, Cypress Bay and Spanish River.

Each team is guaranteed three games.

Food, raffles and Forza Stefano Charitable Foundation merchandise will be available.

The Foundation was created in Stefano’s honor to give back to the special community of water polo players and families who rallied around Stefano and his family in their time of need.

Whether it is providing funds to cover travel costs for competitions or assisting individuals that face catastrophic medical expenses such as Stefano’s. There is a profound recognition by his family of the obligation to “pay this generosity forward.”

The kindness of friends and strangers alike gave the Dioguardi family hope during their son’s battle which they are eternally grateful. The Dioguardi family hope to share some of their knowledge and experiences with Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com


AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 240: SOFLO’s Marinheiro Wins Medal On Final Day Of Pan Ams

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 240: SOFLO’s Marinheiro Wins Medal On Final Day Of Pan Ams

Written by Sharon Robb

June 12, 2013

Edileide Marinheiro of South Florida Aquatic Club Masters saved her best for last at the Pan American Masters Championships in Sarasota.

On the final day of pool swimming on Wednesday, Marinheiro, 45, finished third in the 45-49 100-meter breaststroke to bring home a bronze medal.

Marinheiro, part of a swimming family from Brazil, finished in 1:36.10, a huge drop from her seed time of 1:46.01. It was her highest finish of the eight-day meet that featured masters swimmers from Pan American countries.

On Thursday, the men’s and women’s 1K and 3K open water events will be held.

Sunshine State Games

Coral Springs Aquatic Complex will host the Sunshine State Games Water Polo Championships Friday through Sunday.

South Florida Water Polo returns to defend its’ boys 16-and-under and 18-and-under titles.

Since 2005, South Florida Water Polo has dominated the annual tournament with 34 medals including 17 gold medals. This year the club has teams competing in six of the eight divisions.

Miami Gulliver Riptides return to defend their women’s open division.

The aquatic complex will be packed with more than 750 water polo players from fifty teams competing in eight age groups ranging from co-ed 12-and-under to men’s and women’s open.

During the three-day tournament that begins Friday at 1 p.m, a total of 104 games will be played in three pools at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex.

Saturday’s action begins at 8 a.m. and is scheduled to end with the final round of games at 7:40 p.m. The final round of games are Sunday at 4:20 p.m.

Cuba To Florida Swim

Australian marathon swimmer Chloe McCardel left Cuba on Wednesday morning for her 103-mile swim attempt to Florida. McCardel, 28, is not using a shark tank or wearing a wetsuit.

The swim, so far in calm, warm waters, is expected to take about 60 hours. She hopes to make landfall by Friday night. McCardel is an experienced open water swimmer successful completing double crossings of the English Channel twice in 2010 and 2012, six English Channel crossings and 28-Mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.

McCardel and her husband mortgaged their home to pay for the historical attempt.

In addition to making history, she is also swimming to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer fourteen years ago.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 19: Croatia Wins First Gold Medal In Water Polo

OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 19: Croatia Wins First Gold Medal In Water Polo


August 12, 2012

Croatia won its first gold medal of the 2012 London Olympics on the final day.

Legendary water polo coach Ratko Rudic guided Croatia to an 8-6 upset victory over Italy Sunday in front of a packed crowd at the Water Polo Arena.

For Rudic, it was his fourth Olympic gold medal as a coach after taking silver at the 1980 Olympics as a player. Rudic coached Yugoslavia to gold in 1984 and 1988 and Italy in 1992 and now his native Croatia.

Croatia was the only undefeated team in the tournament.

“The gold medal is the reward for our high level of play,” Rudic said. “We had eight wins out of eight matches. I can’t remember any Olympic tournament where the winner was so dominant. This is a result of hard work by a team who spend days and nights analyzing the opponents with great enthusiasm.”

Maro Jokovic scored three goals to give Croatia a 3-2 halftime lead. Croatia continued to add to its lead, 5-3, and Jokovic scored two more in the fourth period for a 7-3 lead.

Croatian goalkeeper Josip Pavic was named the most valuable player of the tournament. Teammate Niksa Dobud was also selected to the all-star team.

Both teams scored four goals on man-up situations with Croatia having seven attempts and Italy, 10.

Said Croatian player Miho Boskovic, “Amazing. It’s the best feeling ever. We will celebrate very hard.”

Croatia had already beaten Italy, 11-6, in round play and had that confidence going into the gold medal game.

Croatia’s Sandro Sukno made history by winning a gold and following his father’s footsteps. Goran Sukno of Yugoslavia won an Olympic gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. “He is even happier than me,” said Sukno.

In the bronze medal game, Serbia defeated Montanegro, 12-11, despite both of Serbia’s coaches being ejected in the final minute of play. Serbia overcame a three-goal deficit in the final period.

Hungary defeated Spain, 14-6, to finish fifth.

Australia knocked off a demoralized U.S. team, 8-4, to finish seventh, its best placing in 20 years. The U.S. had won its first three matches and then lost five in a row to place a disappointing eighth.

“We had a rough two weeks, this wasn’t a very good way to finish, for sure,” said U.S. coach Terry Schroeder. “We never recovered from the losses to Serbia, Hungary and Croatia.

“We played a pretty good first game against Montanegro, but there were signs against Romania and Great Britain which didn’t look good. It’s hard to figure out right now.”

In 2008, the U.S. had won the silver medal. The 2012 team had 10 players back from the 2008 squad. The players had skipped the club season in Europe and its lucrative contracts to train together six days a week for seven months this year leading up to London.

“Eighth is definitely a failure,” said U.S. top player and team captain Tony Azevedo. “Once you start playing badly, it’s hard to get out of that mindset. But we’ll learn from this and hope the younger generation will build from the success in 2008.”

In the final aquatics medals table, the U.S. finished first with 36 medals (18 gold, 10 silver and 8 bronze) followed by China with 22 (11 gold, 6 silver, 5 bronze), Australia (1 gold, 7 silver, 4 bronze) and Japan with 11 (3 silver, 8 bronze).

The biggest aquatic disappointment was host country Great Britain with only four medals (1 silver, 3 bronze).

Hungarian Breaks Swim Record

Hungary’s Sarolta Kovacs broke the Olympic record for the swimming leg of the women’s modern pentathlon while her compatriot Adrienn Toth took an overall lead in the race for the final gold medal.

In the swimming leg, a 200-meter freestyle, the two fastest swimmers broke the previous Olympic record of 2:08.86. Kovacs set a record of 2:08.11 while Britain’s Samantha Murray clocked 2:08.20.

Laura Asadauskaite, 28, of Lithuania won the modern pentathlon gold medal. Murray took the silver and Brazil’s Yane Marques won the bronze.

1,454 Days Until Rio 2016

The United States set the gold standard at the London Olympics winning 46 gold medals and 104 medals overall.

The gold medal total was the highest for the U.S. in an Olympics held on foreign soil. It was the fifth consecutive Olympics that the U.S. has led the medal count.

“We had very, very high expectations coming into the Games and I think our expectations have been exceeded both on the field of play and off,” said Scott Blackmum, chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Swimmers won the most medals for Team USA with 31. That equaled the Beijing team’s total but the London swimmers won 16 gold medals, four more than the Beijing team.

China finished second in gold medals with 38 and 87 overall and Russia had 82 total including 24 gold.

Great Britain won 65 medals, 29 of them gold. Big contrast to 2008, when they won 47 medals, 19 gold.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com