Several local athletes brought home gold from the Rio Olympics this summer, including Ransom Everglades alum Ashleigh Johnson in water polo.
Senior swimmer Kyla Valls hopes to do something similar in the not-too-distant future.
Valls, a state champion last season in the 200 freestyle and state runner-up in the 100 free with Miami-Dade County’s fastest time, competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in four events over the summer and improved her times in each of them.
She entered the 2016 season being recruited by several top schools including Stanford, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan and Duke.
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Valls, whose family has had a tradition of swimming success at Ransom, is poised to add some more state championship gold to her collection this season.
Valls and her Ransom teammates trained in Hawaii over the summer and have one of the county’s best squads, including sophomore Camryn Grussmark and eighth-grader Mattie Barfield.
Ransom will look to improve upon its 10th-place finish at last year’s Class 1A state meet.
AIMING FOR THREE-PEAT
Gulliver’s girls have won back-to-back state titles in Class 2A.
The Raiders graduated their top two swimmers in Kelly Fertel and Nikki Urquidi, and freshman Andrea Santander transferred to Pine Crest in Fort Lauderdale. The Raiders nonetheless return a strong squad led by senior Brooke Ellis and sophomores Emily Cordovi and Sarah Abril.
Ellis and Cordovi will make a formidable force in the butterfly, while Abril will be tough in the freestyle races. All three should boost Gulliver’s relay teams.
Several more individuals including Hialeah Gardens’ Jessica Rodriguez, a state runner-up in the 100 breaststroke and La Salle’s Paloma Sanchez will contend for individual gold.
Coming off its first state championship, Doral Academy returns several key swimmers, including senior Diego Faucher, a top-10 finisher at state in the 100 freestyle. Faucher led the Firebirds to a state title in the 200 freestyle relay and a state runner-up finish in the 400 free relay.
Their toughest competition figures to be Belen Jesuit, which again has a team capable of contending for the Class 3A state title. The loaded Wolverines team is led by senior Alejandro Carriazo and junior Aitor Fungairino.
Gulliver’s Miguel Cancel should again be in prime shape to contend for individual state titles as well as Mater Academy’s Julio Horrego, a state champion in the 200 individual medley and a runner-up in the 100 breaststroke.
Miami-Dade and Broward swimming season overview
Saturday: Bolles Invitational.
Sept. 24: Let’s Make a Splash Invitational at Gulliver.
Sept. 30: FSPA Invitational at Stuart.
Oct. 1: Catholic Invitational in Orlando.
Oct. 4-6: GMAC championship.
Oct. 8: BCAA championship.
Oct. 17-22: Districts (Classes 4A-3A).
Oct. 24-29: Districts (Classes 2A-1A) and Regionals (Classes 4A-3A).
Oct. 31-Nov. 5: Regionals (Classes 2A-1A).
Nov. 4-5: Class 4A-3A state meet at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart.
Nov. 11-12: Class 2A-1A state meet at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart.
2015 STATE CHAMPIONS
Boys: Class 4A: Sarasota Riverview; 3A: Doral Academy; 2A: Plantation American Heritage; 1A: Jacksonville Bolles.
Girls: Class 4A: Gainesville Buchholz; 3A: Gainesville; 2A: Gulliver; 1A: Jacksonville Bolles.
TOP RETURNING MIAMI-DADE BOYS
Miguel Cancel, Gulliver, Jr. (500 free); Alejandro Carriazo, Belen, Sr. (100 backstroke); Diego Faucher, Doral Academy, Sr. (100 free); Aitor Fungairino, Belen Jesuit, Jr. (200 free); Max Garcia del Pozo, Belen, Sr. (100 fly, freestyle); Julio Horrego, Mater Academy, Sr. (200 IM, 100 breaststroke); Julius Petzold, Miami Beach, Sr. (50 freestyle); Javier Samuell, Belen Jesuit, Jr. (diving); Felipe Urrutia, Ransom Everglades, Jr. (200 free, 500 free).
Others to watch: Adrian Moya, Doral, Sr.; Adrian Aguilar, Doral, So.; Trey Gribble, Gulliver, Jr.; Juan Ramirez, Belen, Sr.; Daniel Simpson, Belen, Sr.
TOP RETURNING MIAMI-DADE GIRLS
Sarah Abril, Gulliver, So. (100 free, 200 free); Mattie Barfield, Ransom Everglades, 8th (100 back, 200 IM); Emily Cordovi, Gulliver, So. (100 fly, 100 back); Brooke Ellis, Gulliver, Sr. (200 IM, 100 fly); Camryn Grussmark. Ransom Everglades, So. (100 fly, 200 free); Jessica Rodriguez, Hialeah Gardens, Sr. (100 breaststroke); Paloma Sanchez, La Salle (50 free); Kyla Valls, Ransom Everglades, Sr. (100 free, 200 free).
TOP RETURNING BROWARD BOYS
Zach Allen, Cardinal Gibbons, Sr. (diving); Logan Downey, South Plantation, Sr. (diving); Patrick Groters, University School, Jr. (500 free); Joao Pereira, Pine Crest, Sr. (freestyle); Christian Soderberg, Pine Crest, Jr. (freestyle); Philippe Marcoux, Fort Lauderdale, Sr. (freestyle); Sebastian Vargas, American Heritage, Sr.; Nicholas Pacitti, American Heritage, Jr.; C.J. Kopecki, American Heritage, Jr. (freestyle).
TOP RETURNING BROWARD GIRLS
Jessica Nava, Westminster Academy, Jr. (100 fly); Johanna Holloway, Westminster Academy, Jr. (diving); Mary Smutny, South Florida HEAT, So. (200 free, 500 free); Catharine Cooper, American Heritage, Jr. (50 free, 100 free); Kathleen Golding, Cooper City, So.; Maia Goldstein, University School, Fr. (diving); Karlee Price, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sr. (diving); Marta Ciesla, Pine Crest, Sr.; Marissa Brannan, Pine Crest, Jr.; Jamie Flores, Pine Crest, Jr.; Andrea Santander, Pine Crest, Fr.