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Piranhas compete in meet

Posted on 24 December 2016 by LeslieM

sports122216By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach Piranhas swim coach Jesse Vassallo is looking forward to the future of his program.

Vassallo, a member of the 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team, is a former World Record holder in the 200 and 400 meter individual medleys. He points to the success of Raphael Santos and Tyler Zuyus at the 26th annual Florida Gold Coast Speedo Winter Championships recently at Plantation Aquatic Complex.

Santos, 14, was third in the high point standings in the boys 13-14 division, while teammate Tyler Zuyus, 16, was second in the high point standings in the 15-16 boys division.

Santos won the Boys 13-14 100-free; the 100-IM; the 400-IM, the 200-free; and placed third in the 500-free; the 200-IM; the 1,650-free and fourth in the 50-free.

Zuyus captured the Boys 15-16 50-free; the 50-fly; 50-back; the 100-free; the 100-fly; and was second in the 100-back and third in the 500-free.

Tyler and Raphael swam really well,” Vassallo said. “We brought 21 swimmers to the Winter Champs. Our team is a little bit smaller. We have some younger kids coming up.”

We are doing well,” added Vassallo, who has nearly 180 swimmers in the program. “I am very proud of them. They sacrifice a lot and the commitment is huge. I would still like more (swimmers to come out).

Azura Florida Aquatics successfully defended its Winter Champs team titles in combined (1,390 points) and men’s (908.5 points), while Pine Crest defended its girls’ title (701.5 points). The Pompano Beach Piranhas placed 11th overall with 306 points and eighth in the men’s competition with 237 points.

Other top performers for Pompano included Lilia Blanco (6th in the Girls 10-Under 200-free; 5th in the 200-IM; 6th in the 100-free) and Marcus Sazbo (10th in the 10-Under 50-free; 8th in the 200-IM; 9th in the 50-fly; 9th in the 100-free).

Emilio Barrantes, 13, was ninth in the Boys 13-14 500-free; 7th in the 1,650-free; sixth in the 13-14 100-fly; ninth in the 200-free; Alex Marquez, 14, was 10th in the Boys 13-14 500-free; 10th in the 1,650-free; fifth in the 200-back; eighth in the 100-back; Jake Schulte, 12, was fifth in the Boys 11-12 500-free; sixth in the 200-IM; third in the 200-fly; third in the 400-IM; Shane Schulte, 15, was 10th in the Boys 15-16 100-breast; Summer Schulte, 13, was seventh in the Girls 13-14 50-free, 10th in the 50-back; 10th in the 100-back; Kelly Gest, 17, was 10th in the Women’s 50-breast; was sixth in the 200-free; and Alicja Zielinski, 16, was sixth in the Girls 15-16 50-breast.

Pompano Beach had several teams in the top 10 in the relays, including the Women’s 200-free relay (Summer Schulte, Adriana Rodriguez, Alicja Zielinski, Kelly Gest), which placed seventh; the same group made up the 200-medley relay that placed sixth; the Women’s 400-free relay (composed of Alicja Zielinski, Summer Schulte, Brooke Gest, Kelly Gest) was seventh; the Women’s 400-medley relay (composed of Summer Schulte, Mia Marquez, Alicja Zielinski, Kelly Gest) placed sixth.

The Boys 13-14 200-free relay (Emilio Barrantes, Paul Spada, Alex Marquez, Raphael Santos) placed fifth; and the same group made up the eighth place team in the 13-14 200-medley relay.

The men’s 200-medley relay composed of Tyler Zuyus, Alejandro Quinones, Kelly Schulte and Taylor Barton took ninth; the Men’s 400-free relay composed of Kelly Schulte, Shane Schulte, Taylor Barton and Tyler Zuyus took seventh; and the men’s 400-medley team (Tyler Zuyus, Raphael Santos, Kelly Schulte, Taylor Barton took ninth.

Meet Director Jimmy Parmenter, who is also the head coach of the host Plantation Swim team, said there were a little more than 1,100 competitors in the meet.

This has probably been the best one yet,” Parmenter said. “We are trying to put on a good show for the kids. That’s what it is all about.”

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Pompano junior lifeguards enjoy successful summer

Posted on 01 September 2016 by LeslieM

sports090116By Gary Curreri

When it comes to the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguards, summer and surf equals success.

Team Pompano turned in stellar performances this year at the three Junior Lifeguard competitions – Regional meet in Hollywood, State meet in Fort Lauderdale and then the 2016 USLA National Junior Lifeguard Competition at Hermosa Beach, California.

Summer Schulte, 13, an eighth-grader at Pompano Beach Middle School, turned in a career-best performance at the recent National Junior Lifeguard competition. Schulte won four events in the B Group Division (12 and 13-year-olds) and placed second in her other event to pace Pompano.

Schulte won the Surf Swim (Distance Swim), Paddleboard, Rescue Relay and Ironguard and was just edged out at the line in placing second in the Run-Swim-Run. She said winning her first event – the surf swim – gave her a lot of confidence for the rest of the competition because she had never won that event before.

It felt really cool,” said Schulte, who was doing exhibition races with the junior lifeguards at age 8. Competitors need to be 9 to officially compete. “I didn’t think I was going to win that many (events at Nationals)…I learned a lot at this year’s camp and practiced in the California waters before the race so when I got to the actual race I knew which spots would work better. There were a lot of holes and the other girls were falling because they didn’t know where to go.”

The competition in California was difficult with approximately 4,500 Junior Lifeguards in Los Angeles County alone. Competitors from this county had to compete in a “prelims” event so that only the top competitors were able to compete at Nationals.

Notwithstanding, Team Pompano prevailed as National Champions in five events and Team Pompano won 25 medals at nationals (the top five finishers in each event earn medals). Team Pompano was the most medaled Florida team.

In the Girls B Division, Bella Taylor took first in the Rescue Relay; second in Ironguard, third in Run-Swim-Run and fifth in both the paddleboard and Surf Swim (Distance Swim). In the Boys C, Jake Schulte won the Ironguard was second in the Run-Swim-Run and was third in the Surf Swim (Distance Swim). Juliana Freire was fifth in the Distance Run and Alejandro Quinones took fifth in Surf Ski.

The “A” Division Swim Relay (Ronald Hache, Shane Schulte, Mia Marquez, Alex Marquez and Aaron Blanco) placed fourth, while the U-19 Swim Relay (Taylor Barton, Kelly Schulte, Alejandro Quinones, Ala Zielinski and Victoria Zielinski) was third.

We were up against the best of the best on their home turf and we did really well,” said Nemia Schulte, president of the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguard Association. She has been president for the past four years of the group and has five children in the program, including Julia Schulte, 20, who represented the United States in Australia (2012) and in France (2014).

Team Pompano, with 208 total junior lifeguards in the program, won the state competition by more than 100 points over runner-up Fort Lauderdale.

At the state competition, winners included Grace Parnas (paddleboard, beach flags and surf-swim) in the C Division; Jake Schulte in the C boys division with wins in the distance swim, paddleboard, run-swim-run; Bella Taylor (distance swim, paddleboard, run-swim-run) in the Girls B Division; Victoria Scarpinito won beach flags for Girls A group and third in ironguard girls; the Under-19 ironguard swim relay also won. The team was composed of Mattheus Santos, Kelly Schulte, Tyler Zuyus and Victoria Scarpinito.

Another strong performance at state came from the C Division Ironguard: Yvonne Lane, Jake Schulte, Reese Andres, and Grace Parnas, who finished third. Two brothers also did well at the state competition as Alejandro Quinones finished third in Paddleboard in the U-19 Division, while his younger brother, Christian Quinones (B Division) also came in third in both the beach flags and paddleboard.

Fort Lauderdale’s Jackie Nava, 13, won the B Girls Beach Flag event at both the Regional and state competitions. It is only her second year competing.

There is a lot of competition, but you just have to be more competitive,” said Nava, an eighth-grader at Westminster Academy. “This (program) teaches you that you have to be a good teammate and they support you. It is also good to win.”

Other top performances at regionals included: Shane Schulte (Pompano, Boys A), Alejandro Quinones (Pompano, Boys Under-19), Summer Schulte (Pompano, Girls B), Nicolas Calice (Boys B), Grace Parnas (Girls C), Reese Andres (Girls C) and Bella Taylor (Pompano, Girls B).

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Stewart shines at BCAA, state meet

Posted on 03 December 2015 by LeslieM

sports120315By Gary Curreri

When it comes to swimming, Pompano Beach High School’s Courtney Stewart made the most of her senior year.

Stewart recently placed fifth in the 50-yard freestyle event as she clocked a 24.30 time at the FHSAA Class 2A meet at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart to cap off a stellar career.

Stewart had won the 100-yard freestyle and was third in the 50-free in the BCAA meet that featured many of the top swimmers from Broward County.

I definitely feel like I earned this race because I have been training in USA Swimming for the past three years,” Stewart said after winning the 100 Free at the BCAA competition. “I started in rec [recreational] league, and a lot of people underestimate rec league, but it really taught me how to swim and it really perfected my stroke before I got into the serious level of training.”

She admitted that starting USA Swimming in her freshman year was a little late; however, she was driven to become a better swimmer.

In my freshman year, I swam the 500 free and the 200 IM and didn’t really know what I was doing,” said Stewart, who trains with BEST (Broward Elite Swim Team) under the direction of Coach Michael Hart. It is a small program composed of just female swimmers and Stewart is the oldest.

Last year, I was third in the 100 free at the BCAA meet with a 54,” said Stewart, who clocked 53.85. “I was so close last year that I really wanted to win it this year. I didn’t even swim the 50 free last year. I wanted to try out the 50 free in my senior year and have a fun time, really sprint it out with all freestyle.”

Looking back over the past four years, Stewart is happy with her swimming path. She placed fifth at state last year in the 100 free and 14th the previous year in the 100 free.

I have loved it,” she said. “I made so many great friends over the years that I am still friends with and they are in college now. I am so close with the team now as a captain. I am going to miss it so much.

I know that, if I swim collegiate, it is going to be tough,” Stewart added. “It is still going to be an awesome experience though.”

This year, at states, she helped the 200 medley relay to a 12th place finish (2:05.42). Other members included freshman Gabriella Costello, and sophomores Sarah Gurdus and Taylor Zascavage. She was also a member of the 200 free relay that finished 13th place (1:43.79). [Additional] members of that relay included sophomores Mia Marquez, Francesca Vandersluis and freshman Gwen Bencie. The 400 free relay, of which she was also a member, picked up a 14th place finish (3:50.76) and that included sophomore Mia Marquez, and freshmen Gabriella Costello and Gwen Bencie.

Another Pompano High swimmer, Shane Schulte, also made the most of his season, yet he has three more years to go.

I did pretty well this year,” said Schulte, 14, a freshman at the school. “I have dropped a lot of my times from my USA Swim meets, so that is pretty good.

The competition is totally different from my regular USA Swimming,” added Schulte, who finished 22nd at state in boys 200 IM (2:06.92). “High school (competition) is all the way from 14 to 18 years old and, in USA, I am swimming against my own age group. Sometimes, this is a lot harder, but overall, it is pretty different and I like the challenge.”

Schulte helped the Pompano boys take 12th in the 200 medley (1:43.36). It also included his brother Christopher and fellow junior Race Wilhoite and freshman Matteus Santos.

Schulte also helped the Pompano boys take 13th in the 400 free relay (3:23.55). It also included brother Christopher and fellow junior Taylor Barton and Santos. Christopher Schulte took third in the B final of the Boys 100-yard breaststroke (1:02.51).

Other top performances by the Pompano High School team at the state meet included junior Carolyn Ehrlich, who placed third in diving (424.75), and Bencie, who won the B Final in the 100-yard backstroke (59.38). The girls finished 17th in the state, while the boys took 26th.

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Dolphins swim team dominates again

Posted on 27 August 2015 by LeslieM

sports082715By Gary Curreri

Meghan Robenhymer said swimming has taken her pretty far.

The 14-year-old Coconut Creek teenager took third in the Girls 13-14 50-yard breaststroke, second in the Girls 13-18 100-yard breaststroke, and was on two winning relays to help the Deerfield Beach Dolphins win its eighth consecutive South Florida Recreational Swim League Summer Championships recently at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex. The two-day meet was held in the Michael Lohberg Pool of Champions.

This is my entire life,” said Robenhymer, a freshman at Monarch High School and nine-year veteran of sport. “I was average when I first started. The work I bring to it made myself better.”

Robenhymer started swimming at a preschool program and was told she had really good form.

They said I should tryout for the recreation league,” Robenhymer added. “I was on that team for a couple of years and then I switched to Dolphins. It’s great to be winning races. It shows that all the hard work paid off.”

Parkland’s Emily Chen also turned in a strong performance for Deerfield Beach as she won three individual events and was on two winning relays at the event.

Chen, 14, who holds 12 individual league records dating back to when she was 7, added the Girls 13- 14 100-yard freestyle and the Girls 13-14 100-yard IM records to her credit. The Deerfield Beach High School freshman started swimming when she 7.

It has just been fun,” Chen said. “It has been a really great venture. I’ve been with the same coaches the whole time and it is just a great atmosphere. The sport means almost everything to me. It is practically my life now.”

Chen hopes for a long swimming career, first high school and then college.

It is definitely a dream to think of the Olympics,” Chen said. “It is always fun to watch. From afar, whatever is best for me in the long run. The sport definitely shaped my personality — from teamwork and how to support each other to learning how to lose. I learned not to be a sore loser.”

Chen said it has helped her stay determined.

You just keep trying,” Chen said. “You just keep going. If you never try, you are never going to go anywhere.”

The Deerfield Beach Dolphins won the Large Division with 4,455 points, while the Tsunami Swim Team based in Coconut Creek won the Medium Division with 2,219 points. The Margate Motion Swim Team was fourth in the Medium Division with 1,346 points.

The victory marked the eighth consecutive summer championship victory for the Dolphins since 2007, and 20th overall during the same span when counting the fall and spring seasons.

Ninth year Deerfield Beach Dolphins coach Rafael DaSilva said the victory was huge for the program. The Dolphins have 90 swimmers on its roster and had 83 swimmers compete.

This meet is the most important meet of the year,” DaSilva said. “It is the biggest championship of all three. This is where it started. The fall and the spring championships were added later.”

There are always more people because, in the fall, you have high school swimming and, in the spring, you have water polo and some do middle school swimming,” DaSilva added. “There is a lot of competition per se to get the kids involved. The summer is where you prepare the kids for high school swimming and you have the bigger number and more quality swimmers returning. You have more teams and this is the only meet where you make the divisions based on sizes from team to team.”

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Dolphins compete

Posted on 09 April 2015 by LeslieM

sports040915Deerfield Beach Dolphins, South Florida Recreational Swim League Swim Meet, was held at the City’s Aquatic Center on Saturday, April 4. Our Deerfield Dolphins are a top team in the 3 county area.

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Piranhas finish 13th in Junior Olympic swim meet

Posted on 27 March 2014 by LeslieM

Pages 09-16By Gary Curreri

Mattheus Santos has been swimming since he was 4 years old and loves everything about it. It could be because he is very good at it as well.

The 12-year-old Santos recently finished 7th in the Boys 11-12 Division for high point with 48 points in the Florida Gold Coast 14 and Under Junior Olympics at the Michael Lohberg Pool of Champions in Coral Springs.

His performance helped his Pompano Beach Piranhas Swim Team take 13th overall with a combined total of 216 points. The boys finished 11th with 101 points, while the girls took 10th overall with 115 points.

It’s fun racing and it depends how much effort you put into it,” said Santos, a Sunrise Middle School 7th grader. “My goal coming into the meet was to go as fast as I could and I hoped to make finals.”

Mission accomplished. Santos made finals in six events and finished in the top four in most of them.

I want to go as far as swimming will take me … college and maybe the Olympics,” Santos said. “I have to put in a lot of effort in training and lots of pain.”

Santos estimated he would do 8,000 to 10,000 yards of swimming during a normal week of practice. It certainly paid off.

I’m really happy with how I did in the meet,” Santos said. “On a scale from 1-10, I’d have to say a 9.”

Another Piranhas swim team member, Victoria Miyamoto, had a solid meet, as she also placed in the top five in the high points in her division. Miyamoto, 14, took fifth in the Girls 13-14 Division with 49 points.

South Florida Aquatic Club (SOFLO) won its fourth consecutive combined team championship. SOFLO dominated the three-day meet at the Michael Lohberg Pool of Champions in Coral Springs with 1,165.50 points as the only team to break the 1,000- point barrier. Their closest rival was Metro Aquatics (617.50 points).

Pine Crest (608.50) was third, while Azura Florida Aquatic (584.50) and Coral Springs Swim Club (324) rounded out the top 10 for Broward programs in the combined race with a fourth and eighth place finish, respectively. The 14 and Under Junior Olympics followed up another event that the local swim team hosted weeks earlier. The Pompano Piranhas held its annual Friendship Invitational, which attracted more than 300 swimmers from 10 swim clubs in the tri-county area.

Pompano Piranhas head coach Jesse Vassallo, a former Olympian and multi-world record holder in the sport, said the meet serves as a showcase for swimming skills and the cultural diversity of the swimmers.

Here in South Florida,” Vassallo noted, “we have swimmers from every culture imaginable, and everyone gets along no matter where they’re from. This sport helps you make friends from everywhere.”

We want to see the event grow to around 700 swimmers and become a real international swim meet,” Vassallo said. “This is a threeday event, and it takes a whole team to pull this off.”

Miyamoto and Santos were also high point winners in that meet. Miyamoto won the Girls 13-14 Division with 133 points, while Santos topped the Boys 11-12 Division with 132 points.

Metro Aquatic Club of Miami took top honors in the combined team scoring with 5,166 points, while the Piranhas were runner-up with 2,613.50. Swim Fort Lauderdale (1,381.50) was third, while St. Andrew’s Swim Club (1,077.50) and the Miami Beach Seahawks (543.- 50) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

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Pompano takes 11th in swim championships

Posted on 27 November 2013 by LeslieM

Pages 09-16By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach Swim Team coach Jesse Vassallo hoped for a Top 10 finish in the 23rd annual Speedo Winter Championships at Plantation Aquatic Complex this past weekend.

His team had an outstanding meet and came up just a little short of its goal, and it finished 11th overall with 484 combined points. Pompano Beach took seventh in the boys’ division with 321 points, while the Piranhas placed 17th in the girls’ rankings with 163 points.

My goal was to be Top 10 this year,” said Vassallo, who took over the program 2-1/2 years ago with 44 beginner swimmers. They brought 41 competitive swimmers to the four-day meet, which ran from Thursday to Sunday. “We came in the first time with nine swimmers and we didn’t even score. The second time, we came in 19th and then 13th last year. From there, we will go down until we win.”

Vassallo, who was also a swim coach at Ft. Lauderdale Aquatics and the former president of the Puerto Rican Swimming Association, has 178 swimmers in the program.

That is extremely cool,” said Vassallo, who is the lone full-time coach and has a total of six coaches in the program. “I am really, really excited every time I step on deck because I see the growth. I have the coaches in place. I have a great coach dealing with the little ones. I have a great coach dealing with the developmental kids, and great coaches with the age group coaches. It is really coming along. To see them succeed, it fills my heart.”

Vassallo said when he first began in Pompano they were still transitioning from a recreational swim program to U.S. Swimming.

I believe the mentality is still recreational,” Vassallo said. “It is a process. It doesn’t change overnight. The motivation is there. The recreational swimmer trains maybe for an hour three times a week. The 12-unders train two hours a day every day. The rec kids do it for a couple of months, and we do it all year round.”

Vassallo was also pleased with the performance of the high school athletes in the program as nine made it the state finals for their respective high schools.

I would like to see the program grow to 250 swimmers,” Vassallo said. “I think that is the limit because it is a public pool.”

Pompano’s Victoria Miyamoto, 13, turned in the strongest performance for the Piranhas as she took third in the high point for her age division. She won the 100-breaststroke, the 100-IM event; second in the 50 and 200-breaststroke events, and was third in the 400-IM.

Other Top 3 performers for the program included Mattheus Santos, Fatimah Westbrook, Jake Schulte and Austin Saunders. The boys 11-12 age group 200-Free relay (Santos, Shane Schulte, Raphael Santos and Christian Henderson) also took home top honors.

Bucks, Tigers fall in football

Deerfield Beach’s quest for a perfect season came to a crashing halt as it lost its Class 8A regional semifinal football game to host Miramar, 43-6.

The much-anticipated matchup between nationally-ranked and undefeated 11-0 teams — Miramar (16th) and Deerfield (19th in this week’s USA Today poll) — was well over by halftime.

Miramar’s Nick Jeanty threw two touchdowns and ran for another to put the Patriots in the driver’s seat as Miramar scored on four of its first five possessions and ran away with the win. The Bucks’ lone score of the game came on Aeron McNeal’s two-yard touchdown run 11 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Blanche Ely also suffered the same fate, as it was also blown out with a 49-7 defeat at the hands of Dwyer in the Class 7A regional semifinals on Friday night.

Blanche Ely, which finished the season on a fivegame win streak, was unable to contain the Panthers’ Alonzo Smith, who carried 25 times for 245 yards and two TDs. The Tigers’ lone score of the game came on a 41-yard scoring toss from Nelson Ervin to Edward Walker in the third quarter, which cut the lead at the time to 28-7.

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Deerfield Beach Dolphins season championships

Posted on 26 April 2012 by JLusk

Three records were broken during the kids’ 6-10 session.

By Caitlin Lindsey
As Shakespeare once wrote, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have…” well, some have to stick it through the rain and lightning to prove greatness.

That is exactly what the Deerfield Beach Dolphins did on Saturday, April 21.

This past weekend was not ideal for swimming, but that didn’t keep the Swim League Spring Championship from happening. The Championship was split into two segments; kids 6-10 years old in the morning, and ages 11-18 in the afternoon.

During the first session, the rain delayed the meet for an hour, but Dolphins were able to sneak in a couple of first places –one was in backstroke, at about 27 seconds. The second session, also, was delayed for about a half hour. Events were: the 200 medley relay, 50 freestyle, 50 breaststroke, 50 backstroke, 50 butterfly, 100 individual medley, and 200 freestyle relay. (A medley is backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle, not to be confused with an IM: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Three records were broken in this season’s championships, all during the younger kids’ session.

No doubt this is just a sign of good things to come … not the rain, but the record-breaking.

Keep up with the Deerfield Beach Dolphins. Summer is just around the corner, featuring the Summer Championships and all that sunny weather!

Swimming Spring Championships (4-21-12)

Team Rankings


Female Team Scores

1. Deerfield Beach Dolphins

2. Palm Beach Gardens Makos

3. YMCA of Boca Raton Barracudas


Male Team Scores

1. YMCA of Boca Raton Barracudas

2. Deerfield Beach Dolphins

3. Palm Beach Gardens Makos


Combined Team Scores

1. Deerfield Beach Dolphins

2. YMCA of Boca Raton Barracudas

3. Palm Beach Gardens Makos


Congratulations Dolphins!



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Two locals highlight swim competition

Posted on 22 December 2011 by LeslieM

Emily Chen (Below in zebra swimsuit), 10, and her younger sister, Ava (above in blue), 6, help the Deerfield Beach Dolphins to the girls team championship with 675 points and 1,160.50 points overall in the South Florida Recreational Swim League Winter Championships. Submitted photos




By Gary Curreri

Two local Deerfield Beach Dolphins Swim Team members showed a little sisterly love and turned in solid performances in the South Florida Recreational Swim League Winter Championship swim meet at Palm Beach Gardens on Dec. 10.

Emily Chen, 10, and her younger sister, Ava, 6, helped the Dolphins to the girls team championship with 675 points and 1,160.50 points overall. The boys team scored 485.50 points.

Emily Chen, who swam a time of 33.57 seconds, on her backstroke leg in the 50-yard medley relay for 9- and 10-year-old girls, broke a four-year-old record of 34.29 seconds when she broke the record in the individual 50-yard backstroke competition for 9- and 10-year-old girls with a time of 33.48 seconds.

This 5th grader at Park Trails Elementary School in Parkland also won first places in the 50-yard freestyle, 50-yard breaststroke, individual medley and freestyle relay contests. In 2011, she was undefeated in all swim competitions she entered, and, in both 2009 and 2010, Chen was voted the Most Valuable Swimmer of the Year for her age group by Dolphins’ coaches.

Not to be outdone, Chen’s 6-year-old sister, Ava, a 1st grader at Park Trails, took first places in 25-yard breaststroke, 25-yard butterfly and fourth place in 25-yard freestyle for 5- to 6-year-old girls in the same competition.

The two sisters practiced swimming four times a week at the Deerfield Beach Aquatic Center under the direction of Coach Rafael deSilva.

Deerfield Beach’s Rachael Ryan captured three events as she won the Girls 11-12 100-yard IM, 50 butterfly and 50-yard freestyle events, while Michelle Bachert, Ata Aktarma, Bruna Pavan and Max Maurente each won two events. Other individual winners for the Dolphins included Sean Ragonese, Drew Novak, Adian Vinograd, Hayley Johnson, Caitlin VanDyke, Emma Leonard, James Anderson III, Larissa Anthony, Teaghan Skulszki, Gabriella Castillo, Bonnie Kohner  and Otavio Metzker.


Johnson selected

Blanche Ely wide receiver Avery Johnson has been selected to the fifth annual Under Armour All-America Game set for Jan. 5, 2012  at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Johnson was one of four South Florida football players picked to play in the event. Johnson had six touchdowns this season, helping the Tigers advance to the Class 7A playoffs.

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Paddleboard event draws more than 100

Posted on 21 July 2011 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri 

Rebekah Escuage asks where the finish is for the standup paddleboard event at recent Chick-fil-A Ocean Series on Pompano Beach. Photo by Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach Piranhas head swim coach Jesse Vassallo is hoping to build a strong swim program in the city.

If a recent fundraising event at the beach is any indication, he could be well on his way. A total of 135 competitors recently participated in a Chick-fil-A Ocean Series on Pompano Beach.

The Chick-fil-A Ocean Series was presented by the Pompano Piranhas and featured a one-mile ocean swim, a 500-meter kids swim and a half-mile stand-up paddleboard race. The top three finishers in each event won Cow trophies and medals. There were also goodie bags and door prizes provided, as well as a Chick-fil-A breakfast.

“I am really excited about being here,” said Vassallo, who took over head coaching duties a month ago after spending the previous two years at Ft. Lauderdale Aquatics. He called the Chick-fil-A event “a tremendous success.”

Vassallo, who turns 50 next month, hopes to continue to grow the swim team in Pompano Beach, which is in just its second year as a United States Swim program. It had previously enjoyed success in the South Florida Recreational Swim League.

“We started a month ago with 45 swimmers and we now have 66,” Vassallo said. “We are trying to run the most professional swim team in the area …We have recreational levels for kids who just want to lose weight or have fun. We also want to be very competitive. You can’t have one without the other.”

“I have my goals,” Vassallo added. “The Pompano Piranhas is a small team that came from the rec league maybe three years ago so it is actually a new team in the U.S. Swimming environment. First, I want this to be a solid team so we have to grow in numbers.”

Julia Schulte, 14, the first female finisher in the standup paddleboard event at the competition who finished fourth overall, likes the direction the Piranhas are taking. She has been a member of the swim program for the past six years.

“It is such a black-and-white difference (with the competition),” said Schulte, who is also a junior lifeguard with Pompano. “With (the recreation swim league), I would win the heats like they were nothing and, here, I get my butt kicked and come in dead last. It is just a whole other world. It is like you go into the Twilight Zone and you feel like you are in a whole different world.”

Piranhas’ teammate Rebekah Escuage, 17, also from Pompano Beach, agreed that the competition is now stiffer.

“Rec (swimming) was a lot of fun, but this is a higher level of competition,” Escuage said. “It is nice to see how it is going to be by competing at such a high level, even with people who are going to the Olympics. It is really different.”

“That was a beginner type thing, but when we switched here it was like a whole different world of competition and people who can beat you,” Escuage added. “Training got a lot harder, but it was more worth it and it was something to strive for.”

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