It Feels Good to Be Home

Sharyn Mason

After an extremely lengthy hiatus from hosting swim meets at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex, with the last being the Michael Lohberg Invitational in June of 2023, CSSC finally returned home, to host the Coral Springs Closed Invitational, April 19-21. Coral Springs Swim Club, which is the best in the business in terms of efficiency, proficiency, and hospitality invited eleven Florida teams, as well as teams from the Bahamas and Jamaica to compete during the debut of the newly renovated pool venue.

Fittingly, the winner of the first event on Friday evening was CSSC’s own Mariana Montes, who took gold in the women’s 400-meter freestyle by a very slim margin of 0.30 seconds. In fact, five members of Coral Springs Swim Club grabbed top ten spots in that event, which in addition to Montes included Madison Laski in sixth, Carolyn Levy-Powell in eighth, Carly Chin in ninth, and Emma Baker in tenth.  The men’s version of the 400-meter freestyle featured Roman Kondrashov in the fifth spot with a new best time by almost eight seconds, and John Albornoz in seventh.  The other event on Friday evening, the 400-meter individual medley, highlighted one CSSC swimmer, as Anastasiya Jordan remarkably finished in seventh place in the women's event after entering with no time.

Moving onto the weekend sessions, CSSC was led by Carolyn Levy-Powell, who earned five gold medals for the home team.  Levy-Powell earned the top spot in the women’s 50- and 100-meter butterfly, 50- and 100-meter backstroke, and 50-meter freestyle with a new best time.  She truly needed that new personal best, as her margin of victory in that event was just 0.05 seconds. Additionally, Carolyn finished second in the 200-meter backstroke and eighth in the 400-meter freestyle mentioned above.

Also victorious in the women’s events during the weekend was Mariana Montes, who, in addition to her win in Friday’s 400-meter freestyle, took home the gold in the 800-meter free, swimming that event just tenths off her previous best time. Other top ten results for Montes at the long course meet were third in the 50-meter butterfly, sixth in the 50-meter backstroke, seventh in the 50-meter breaststroke (a new event for Mariana), and ninth in the 50-meter freestyle.  Her success in both the sprints and distance events portrays the exceptional versatility that Montes displays.

Laski, Chin and Baker, who each earned a top ten spot in the women’s 400-meter freestyle each gained additional high placings during the course of the weekend.  Madison Laski was the fourth-place finisher in the 800-meter freestyle with a new best time, and eighth in the 200-meter freestyle.  Carly Chin grabbed a host of top tens, including fifth in the 800-meter freestyle (also a personal best), sixth in both the 200-meter freestyle and 50-meter butterfly, and tenth in the 100-meter butterfly and freestyle events.  Emma Baker earned the fifth spot in the 200-meter breaststroke, sixth in the 800-meter freestyle, and ninth in the 100-meter breaststroke.

In addition to the tremendous swim of Anastasiya Jordan in the 400-meter individual medley, Jordan also grabbed fifth place in the 50-meter backstroke with a new personal best time. Alexa Anthony finished ninth in both the 100- and 200-meter backstroke events, dropping large amounts of time in both.  Addison Palumbo took seventh in the 800-meter freestyle, followed closely by Addie Gardner, who touched the wall eighth with a new personal best time. Lastly, Samy Carvajal posted two ninth place results, with those coming in the 50- and 200-meter breaststroke events.  In both races, Carvajal was entered with no time.

John Albornoz had an exceptional swim meet for Coral Springs Swim Club, earning one gold medal, five top ten results, and five new personal best times.  Albornoz was victorious in the men’s 50-meter breaststroke, improving his previous time to take the top spot by 0.34 seconds.  He was also second in the 50-meter backstroke with a new best time, just missing the top spot by 0.18 seconds, and third in both the 800-meter freestyle and 100-meter breaststroke (new personal best). Rounding out top tens for Albornoz was his seventh-place finish in the 400-meter freestyle as mentioned above.  In the two events in which he did not place in the top ten, the 50-meter freestyle and butterfly, John dropped a combined six plus seconds to round out an incredible amount of improvement during the course of the swim meet.

Roman Kondrashov showed improvement of his own at the Coral Springs Closed Invitational as evidenced by his 400 meter freestyle swim.  Roman also took fifth in the 800-meter freestyle with another best time, and seventh in the 200-meter butterfly after entering the event with no time. Anthony Palumbo was the third-place finisher in the 50-meter backstroke, earned a personal best by 22 seconds to finish sixth in the 800-meter freestyle, and took eighth in both the 100- and 200-meter backstrokes.  Jayden Guo swam to a new best time in the 800-meter freestyle, improving his time by almost 15 seconds to touch the wall in seventh, and Kamran Varghese swam to the tenth spot in the same event, a new event for Kamran.

With the meet formatted as an open competition, it made it extremely difficult for 12 & under swimmers to break into the top ten in an event, as all of the above-named athletes are 13 years of age or older. That would be difficult, but not impossible, as displayed by eleven-year-old Hayley Cohen who finished eighth in the women’s 200-meter individual medley to be the youngest top ten finisher in that event.  Cohen improved her time in the 200 IM by almost eight seconds to earn that spot. In fact, only two other eleven year old swimmers from any team finished higher in an event than Hayley did during the course of the meet.  Cohen was also the top 12 & under CSSC finisher in the 50-, 200- and 400-meter freestyles, the 50- and 100-meter butterfly, and the 100-meter backstroke.  Lastly, Hayley earned 100% personal best times, for an extremely successful weekend of swimming.

In addition to Cohen, many other 12 & under swimmers performed well for Coral Springs Swim Club.  The following lists the swimmers in that age category who finished the highest for the home team in their events. For the women, Skyla Carroll in the 100-meter freestyle (best time) and 200-meter backstroke (entered with no time); Sarah Perez in the 50-meter breaststroke (entered with no time); Leah Ortega in the 100-meter breaststroke (best time); and Elizabeth Gonzalez in the 50-meter backstroke. 

On the men’s side of the heat sheet, Dylan Ehrlich was the top 12 & under CSSC finisher in each event in which he was entered, including the 50- and 400-meter freestyles, 50- and 200-meter backstrokes, 50- and 100-meter breaststrokes, and the 200-meter individual medley.  In each event, Ehrlich earned a new personal best time.  Also finishing high for Coral Springs Swim Club were Oscar Lans Mendoza in the 100- and 200-meter freestyles, and 100-meter butterfly (all best times); Matias Quintero in the 200-meter breaststroke (best time), Matias Tiani in the 100-meter backstroke; and Michael Tiani in the 50-meter butterfly (new best time.)

CSSC Coach Brittany Bellomo was extremely pleased with the performances of her swimmers and gave the following recap: “White & Blue Group swimmers earned 114 new best times, 34 new BB cuts and 22 new AGC cuts! Silver Group featured eight swimmers participating in the meet and took home 25 new best times. Sofia Zolghadr earned her first ever BB cuts in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events! Ana Sofia Mogollon Velasquez who just joined the team a couple of months ago and very recently turned 7 years old, swam her first ever meet and did amazing in the 5 events she swam! She gave 9–10-year-old competition a run for their money!”

Long course season continues with the next meet for Coral Springs Swim Club, which will be the 2024 IMR/IMX Challenge, hosted by Sunrise Swimming, April 26-28. Session one begins Friday evening at 5:30 p.m., with sessions two and three taking place at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings. The meet will be held at the Sunrise Civic Center pool, with admission being $5.00 per session.

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