Marta Ciesla made a tough decision last fall.
But it resulted in the experience of a lifetime.
Ciesla, a state champion in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle, had to forgo the opportunity to add to her collection last November when Team USA called.
Ciesla, a senior swimmer at Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest, competed for the U.S. national team in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at the World Cup Series where she won a silver medal.
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That same weekend her teammates were swimming to a state runner-up finish in Class 1A.
This season, the Panthers have their star swimmer back in the lineup.
Ciesla looks poised to finish her high school career with championships in both events and lead Pine Crest’s relays to gold as well.
Ciesla was the only South Floridian selected to the World Cup Series.
She recently displayed her talents again on the international scene when she competed for the U.S. in the Pan Pacific championships in Hawaii.
Ciesla swam a time of 24.85 seconds to once again win a silver medal in the 50 freestyle.
Along with Ciesla, the Panthers should have enough depth to again be the top girls’ team in South Florida.
Juniors Marissa Brannan and Jamie Flores are joined by sophomores Molly See and Hannah Virgin.
All four make the Pine Crest relay teams formidable contenders.
Pine Crest added depth with the arrival of freshman Andrea Santander, who transferred from Gulliver Prep.
Santander finished third at state in Class 2A in the 50 freestyle and a part of Gulliver’s 200 free and 400 free relay state championships.
Gulliver won the Class 2A girls’ team state title the past two seasons.
Several individual state champions from last season are back including Westminster Academy junior Jessica Nava, American Heritage junior Catharine Cooper, and Cooper City’s Kathleen Golding.
On the boys’ side, American Heritage will try to make it three consecutive state championships in Class 2A.
The Patriots graduated several of their top swimmers, but return a solid core led by senior Sebastian Vargas and juniors Carlos Rodriguez, Nicholas Pacitti, C.J. Kopecki and Kevin Porto.
Broward County should be strong once again particularly in the diving event.
Cardinal Gibbons senior Zach Allen and South Plantation senior Logan Downey are each coming off state championship seasons.
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.
BOYS’ SEASON OUTLOOKS
AMERICAN HERITAGE (Coach Nobutaka Tan, 17th year at AH, 21st overall). Last year: 8-2 (State champions). Top swimmers: Sebastian Vargas, Sr.; Carlos Rodriguez, Sr.; Nicholas Pacitti, Jr.; C.J. Kopecki, Jr.; Kevin Porto, Jr.
ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY (Coach Peter Hay, 2nd year at AM, 5th overall). Last year: N/A. Top swimmers: Chris Sanchez, Sr.; Wyatt Jennessee, Sr.; Andres Arias, Jr.; Oscar Gonzalez, So.
PINE CREST (Coach Jay Fitzgerald, 22nd year, 154-32). Last year: 8-4 (State runner-up). Top swimmers: Joao Pereira, Matt Petreski, Christian Soderberg, Kevin Mendes, Lyle Macaluso, Dane Gailitis, Nico Ferrara, Elvis Kotikovski, Nicholas Vale.
CHAMINADE (Coach Marc Gollet, 6th year). Last year: 2-8. Top swimmers: Christian Tortorella, So.; James Gollet, So.; Ian Hamilton, Fr.; Daniel Rodriguez, Sr.
WESTMINSTER ACADEMY (Coach Sam Freas, 9th year, 127-27). Last year: 7-4. Top swimmers: Chase Perry, Jr.; Christian Henderson, So.; Adam Warters, Jr.; Blake Shaw, 8th; Noah Sipowski, 8th.
GIRLS’ SEASON OUTLOOKS
AMERICAN HERITAGE (Coach Nobutaka Tan, 17th year at AH, 21st overall). Last year: 6-3 (Fifth at state). Top swimmers: Katherine Cooper, Jr.; Jade Grabow, Sr.; Thea McKenna, So.; Holly Weidner, So.; Chloe Grabow, So.; Julie Mason, So.
ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY (Coach Peter Hay, 2nd year at AM, 5th overall). Last year: N/A. Top swimmers: Ashley Green, Fr.; Isabel Shashaty, Jr.; Selena Smith, Jr.
PINE CREST (Coach Jay Fitzgerald, 22nd year, 154-32). Last year: 10-2 (Fourth at state). Top swimmers: Marta Ciesla, Marissa Brannan, Jamie Flores, Sandra Meszaros, Molly See, Hannah Virgin, Ali Watson, Ishani Singh, Juliette Pozzuoli, Ana Lyn, Andrea Santander.
CHAMINADE (Coach Marc Gollet, 6th year). Last year: 2-8. Top swimmers: Cristina Basulto, So.; Regina Grimaes, So.; Kayla Keut, So.; Nicole Mangiero, So.; Maya Kieski, Jr.
WESTMINSTER ACADEMY (Coach Sam Freas, 9th year, 127-27). Last year: 10-2 (Eighth at state). Top swimmers: Jessica Nava, Jr.; Johanna Holloway, Jr.; Amanda Wood, Sr.; Naomi Sanders, Sr.; Jacqueline Nava, 8th; Jo-jo Richter, 8th.