With high school swimming season about to begin, a number of Broward County’s top swimmers have been absent from their teams. A sizeable contingent of South Florida athletes traveled to Dubai to take part in the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships.
The group, representing a slew of counties, includes Team USA selection Clara Smiddy. Smiddy, who is home schooled in Miami-Dade but swims under Broward’s South Florida HEAT, is the only local swimmer representing the United States.
Smiddy qualified individually for the 50- and 100-meter backstroke events. She placed fourth in last week’s 100 backstroke final in 1 minute 1.33 seconds.
“[Smiddy] was a little disappointed. It wasn’t her best time, but it was good,” Clara’s mom and South Florida HEAT coach Julie Smiddy said. “Fourth is really good when you’re talking about the world.”
Aside from the individual races, Smiddy was selected to the mixed 400-medley relay. Swimming the backstroke portion of the race, Smiddy helped Team USA finish second in the preliminaries. Smiddy did not swim the final of the race where Team USA placed third.
Smiddy’s best individual finish was third in the 50 backstroke final. Other South Florida athletes to take the trip to Dubai include University School’s Jordy Groters, who competed for Aruba, and Pine Crest’s Tyla Martin who represented Trinidad and Tobago.
Pine Crest’s Carolyn Chaney and St. Thomas Aquinas’ Karlee Price finished second in the girls’ synchronized women 3-meter springboard at the USA Senior National Diving Championships earlier this month. Diving among much older competition, Chaney, 17, and Price, 14, were using the event as a “learning experience.”
“There were all these college divers and then there was me,” Chaney said. “My synchro partner and I got second, and that was really exciting. I wasn’t really expecting anything.”
The pair, while not placing as high as they would have liked individually, were among the highest-placed locals at the championships.
“They placed low in their individual events, but when they combined they placed second in the United States. It’s pretty remarkable,” Pine Crest diving coach Janet Gabriel said.
Although Price has still not competed at the high school level, Chaney has solidified her reputation as the best girls’ 1-meter diver in the state. Chaney, a two-time Class 1A state champion, is looking to this season to add to her already impressive medal count. The Pine Crest junior, who again is the favorite to win the state title, said the high school state meet is more about her teammates than herself.
“USA diving its very serious,” she said. “In high school, it’s important contributing those points to my team.”
News and notes
The Florida High School Athletic Association, the state’s governing body added a fourth swimming class to the state assignments. Most schools moved up a class, with large public schools making up the bulk of Class 4A. Class 1A remains the fastest group with Jacksonville Bolles expected to continue its decade-long dominance. Several small Broward schools were moved out of Class 1A, including American Heritage.
After several years in Orlando, the FHSAA state final is moving to Stuart. With the addition of a fourth class, the state meet will be split, with Class 1A and Class 2A competing Nov. 8-9. Class 3A and 4A will swim the following week.
University school coach and Davie Natadores club coach Alex Pussieldi will retire from coaching to work on a growing sports broadcaster career in Brazil. Pussieldi will officially retire Sept. 1.