The flow of international athletes into Broward County has continued to increase over the past decade. A growing number of schools have several talented swimmers from around the world.
Sagemont has been the lucky recipient of nine international swimmers recently. Spanning from Europe to the Americas, the Lions boast one of the most diverse rosters in South Florida.
“Its one of those things. … The kids are given the choice as to what school to go to. Some decide to come here and some decide to go to other schools,” Sagemont athletic director Eric Simmonds said. “They have assimilated very well to our school. We have a very diverse student body with over 50 countries represented.”
For gifted athletes, swimming in the United States is a necessary progression. Most countries do not offer prep sports. Young athletes have a hard time finding the training needed to reach the highest levels of competition.
Sagemont senior Lucas DiBrito, from Brazil, knows the challenges international athletes face back home.
“It’s more systematic and much more programmed here,” DiBrito said. “Being able to participate is incredible.”
Sagemont, with the help of the Davie Nadadores swim club, has become an appealing place for transnational athletes looking to excel in the classroom, as well as the pool deck. Nearly all of the Lions’ international swimmers train with Nadadores. Nadadores is one of the largest swim clubs in Broward, with a number of its swimmers attending a range of schools. Nadadores helps international students find schools in the area. The athlete’s parents are given options on schools, and more are sending their kids to Sagemont.
Sagemont is starting to benefit from the influx of talent. The Lions should have several state finals qualifiers, including senior sprinter Jamal LeGrand and DiBrito, both international swimmers.
First-year coach Kevin Forbes, who previously had been an assistant coach at Miami Country Day, admits things get lost in translation at times.
“I’m hoping that they can learn from me, and I can learn from them,” he said. “I keep up with the news, and I learn about their countries.”
Relegated to the No.2 runner behind her eighth-grade teammate Daesha Rogers the past two seasons, Rachelle Alexander stepped out of Rogers’ shadow by winning the Spanish River Invitational Class 2A title in 20:07 on Monday.
Alexander capitalized on the absence of Rogers, the 2011 2A state runner-up who is scheduled for her season debut at the FSU Invitational on Oct. 6, to lead a 1-2-7 finish with Calyope Ortega (20:38) and Melissa Salazar (23:08) that propelled the Patriots to the 2A team title at South County Regional Park.
With a mile remaining, Alexander found herself in contention with Spanish River’s Ellyn Snider for the overall title before Snider pulled away late to win in 19:59.
“Being that it was my first race of the season it was a challenge but I felt I ran real well,’’ Alexander said. “Snider pulled me out which shows how much more work I have to do. I have a much better start than the past so it should set me up for better times this season.”
Alexander led a banner day for Broward runners.
Westminster Academy’s Amanda Baker (20:57) won the 1A individual title to help the Lions sweep both team titles. Meanwhile, Cardinal Gibbons’s Ross Clark and North Broward Prep’s Jack Klumpp (2A) finished second in the 3A and 2A races, respectively.