Broward High Schools

Westminster Academy to have unlikely relay of Nava sisters

At some point this season, Westminster Academy swimming will field a girls’ relay team of Nava to Nava to Nava to Nava.

Westminster coach Sam Freas, who is with his 11th program, said he has never had four sisters on the same team.

But it became possible this season when sixth-grader Jackie and junior Katie joined the team.

Senior Caroline and freshman Jessica were already established stars on the team. Jessica finished second at state last year in the 100 butterfly and was 10th in the 100 backstroke. Caroline finished seventh in the 100 freestyle and eighth in the 50 free.

Katie, who also competes in volleyball, soccer, track and water polo, returned to swimming at the insistence of her mother, who wanted the “Nava Relay Team” to happen.

Caroline and Jessica said it was indeed hard to convince Katie to return to swimming.

“She used to swim when she was younger,” Caroline said, “but she hated it a lot.”

Added Jessica: “When she was little, she thought the water was too cold.”

While the all-sisters relay team is rare, it could happen again in 2017.

That’s when the Navas — who are a family of six sisters and no brothers — figure to add two more swimmers to the roster.

Lilly, now in the fourth grade, and Elle (third grade) would be eligible for the varsity by then.

Competition seems to be a strong Nava family trait, whether it’s athletic events or family planning.

Kim Nava, the girls’ mother, said her husband, Robert, wanted to have six children because he came from a family of five (all boys) and his wife also came from a family of five (three girls, two boys).

“My husband wanted to beat both our parents,” Kim said.

Robert was a baseball pitcher for Jacksonville University. The swim gene came from Kim’s side of the family.

Kim and all of her siblings swam for Westminster.

In fact, Kim said her parents, Hank and Carole Sipowski, convinced Westminster to start a swim program 35 years ago just so the kids would have a place to compete.

Now it’s the kids’ time to compete.

Last year, Westminster finished sixth at state in Class 1A, and Freas said a top-five finish is within reach this year.

Caroline is a standout who recently returned from a recruiting trip to Auburn. She is also considering Missouri, Florida State and Virginia.

Jessica and Caroline are legitimate threats to win individual state titles.

Westminster also has freshman diver Johanna Holloway, who finished fourth at state last season, and junior Elizabeth Zubero, who came in 10th.

But the Class 1A state meet isn’t until Nov. 15.

Until then, the intrigue on the Westminster swim team will be figuring out when the Nava Relay Team will make its debut.

Freas thinks it will happen in about two weeks, depending on Katie’s volleyball schedule.

Katie, not necessarily thrilled about the whole deal, said she hasn’t been on a swim team since the first grade.

“I play water polo, so I’m pretty sure I’m not going to drown,” Katie joked.

“My mom signed me up for swimming. I don’t think it will be fun, but I’ll get through it.”

Key dates

 • District playoffs: Oct. 20-25 (Class 3A-4A); Oct. 27- Nov. 1 (Class 2A-1A).

• Regional playoffs: Oct. 20-25 (Class 3A-4A); Oct. 27-Nov. 1 (Class 2A-1A).

• State meet at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatics Center in Stuart: Class 4A: Nov. 7; Class 3A: Nov. 8; Class 2A: Nov. 14; Class 1A: Nov. 15.


•  Class 4A: Palm Harbor (boys); Sarasota Riverview (girls).

•  Class 3A: Belen Jesuit (boys); Tallahassee Chiles (girls).

•  Class 2A: Plantation American Heritage (boys); Pensacola Washington (girls).

•  Class 1A: Jacksonville Bolles (both).


AMERICAN HERITAGE — Coach: Nobutaka Tan; Last year: Class 2A state champs; Top swimmers: Nico Medina (Jr.); Julian Pinon (Jr.); Taylor Eaddy (Sr.); Noteworthy: Heritage’s top swimmers are juniors or seniors.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Coach: Debbie Cavanaugh; Last year: 8th at state; Top swimmers: Raphael Marloux (Jr.); Philippe Marloux (So.); Louis Giroire (Jr.); Noteworthy: Deep team dominated by underclassmen.

NOVA — Coach: Karney McNear; Last year: 9-1; Top swimmers: David Cantu (Sr.); Sammy McGinnis (Sr.); Blake Shreves (So.); Noteworthy: Cantu, McGinnis and Shreves are returning state finalists.

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS — Coach: Marty Grady; Last year: 13th at state; Top swimmers: Gabriel Perez (Sr.); Esteban Velasquez (Sr.); Andrew Szatkowski (Sr.); Noteworthy: Won district and BCAA titles last year; second at regionals.

UNIVERSITY — Coach: Kate Byrnes; Last year: 4th at state; Top swimmers: Patrick Groters (Fr.); Daniel Pereira (Sr.); Matthew Lyn (Sr.); Noteworthy: Pereira finished fifth at state last year in the 200 IM.

WESTMINSTER ACADEMY — Coach: Sam Freas; Last year: 21st at state; Top swimmer: Jason Woodburn (Sr.); Noteworthy: Woodburn (50 free) and senior diver Alex Warters each finished sixth at state last year.


AMERICAN HERITAGE — Coach: Nobutaka Tan; Last year: NA; Top swimmers: Catherine Cooper (Fr.); Alexandra Pacitti (Sr.); Audrey Mason (Jr.); Noteworthy: Also watch out for Gabriana Banks, a seventh-grader.

ARCHBISHOP McCARTHY — Coach: Jackson Leonard; Last year: 14th at state, top at regionals; Top swimmers: Raleigh McDonald (Sr.); Cara Jacobs (Sr.); Isabel Shashaty (Fr.); Noteworthy: Sabrina Lopez is another senior leader.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Coach: Debbie Cavanaugh; Last year: 8th at state; Top swimmers: Fatimah Westbrook (Jr.); Morgan Meadows (So.); Kaitlyn Moresch (So.); Noteworthy: Deep team with just one senior among top six swimmers.

NOVA — Coach: Karney McNear; Last year: 10-0; Top swimmers: Amanda Tipton (Sr.); Aliyah Wakeland (Sr.); Laura Cantu (Jr.); Noteworthy: Tipton is a three-time state finalist.

UNIVERSITY — Coach: Kate Byrnes; Last year: 4th at state; Top swimmers: Maia Goldstein (7th); Annabella Lyn (Fr.); Allison Kopas (So.); Noteworthy: Goldstein, a diver, finished sixth at state last year as a sixth-grader.

WESTMINSTER ACADEMY — Coach: Sam Freas; Last year: 6th at state; Top swimmers: Jessica Nava (Fr.); Johanna Holloway (Fr.); Cardine Nava (Sr.); Noteworthy: Watch for junior Elizabeth Zubero.