Piranhas take 13th in senior swim champs

Posted on 25 August 2016 by LeslieM

sports082516By Gary Curreri

While the overall results weren’t exactly what he wanted, Pompano Beach Piranhas swim team coach Jesse Vassallo still received some outstanding performances in the recent Florida Gold Coast Long Course Senior Championships at the Coral Springs Aquatics Complex.

Vassallo, who has been with the program for the past five years, brought just 12 swimmers to the Senior Championships. The Piranhas finished 13th as a team with 317.50 points, just a dozen points behind Westminster Academy Swim Club (329) in the combined standings.

We did have some good swims from Sloan Sizemore, Tyler Zuyus and Mateos Santos, but I expected a little more from the kids,” Vassallo said. “This group is an 18-Under group and I wanted to come here and get lower times.

We took a smaller group (10) to the (14-Under Florida Gold Coast Long Course Junior Olympics) meet in Stuart the week before and they actually impressed me,” Vassallo added. “I was very, very excited about the new ones.”

Vassallo gushed over two new swimmers in the 10 and Unders who performed well Lilia Blanco, 9, and Steven Gary, 10.

Steven got into the finals in all seven of his events,” Vassallo said. “Lilia swam 9 events and got into three finals. We also had some good swims from Raphael Santos, 13, who finaled in five of his events, which is pretty good because that is a competitive age group.”

Pompano Beach Piranhas has 143 swimmers in the program.

We have been up and down,” Vassallo said. “We are a little low. It is healthy to be about 160, and 180 would be great. I hope to go up a little bit after the Olympics when kids get excited about swimming again.”

The swimmers abilities in the program range from beginners to swimmers hoping to go on to college.

You are talking about kids who are learning to swim, to learning the different strokes and starting to compete,” Vassallo said, “to these kids who are age group elite level.”

One such swimmer is Sizemore, 16, who finished 8th in the high point standings for Girls 15-16 with 71 points. She was eight points out of fifth place.

Competitions like this are very important,” Sizemore said. “We taper for them and I mentally get ready myself for them. I imagine myself beforehand what I am going to do and how I am going to swim my races.

I like that it is new each time,” added Sizemore, a junior at Boca Raton High School, who has been swimming half her life. “You meet new people each time. You have a new experience each time and you get to do a new stroke each time.

She said the camaraderie on the pool deck is important. Pompano Beach is where she has been swimming for those eight years.

I like how we always have get-togethers and we are not afraid to ask for help,” Sizemore said. “We are all close in a way and what I like about it is it’s different from other groups. We do a minimum of 8,000 yards each day up to 10,000 yards each day for each practice and we do doubles (two practices a day), except Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays during the summer when we don’t have school.”

The best part about swimming is getting up on the blocks and having a happy feeling that you are going to do your best,” she added. “That you are going to go all out and not have any regrets.”

Zuyus, 16, was third in the Boys 15-16 high points with 87 points, just two points behind third place finisher Grant Dodge, 16, of the North Palm Beach Swim Club. Santos, 15, finished 10 with 70.50 points.

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