- Written by Sharon Robb
McKnight, Torres Lead American Heritage Past University School, Four SOFLO Swimmers Compete
PLANTATION—The countdown is nearing for high school swimmers and divers for the always-exciting Nov. 11-13 FHSAA State Swimming and Diving Championships in Orlando.
Eleven days of the regular dual meet season remain before district meets begin the week of Oct. 25.
For many it’s “crunch time” for swimmers and coaches to decide on what events to compete in for district meets.
American Heritage and University School used Wednesday’s dual meet to fine tune for the upcoming Class A qualifying meets, arguably the most challenging class in the state.
“It is crunch time,” said American Heritage coach Nobutaka Tan. “My main focus now is to try and get a little more fine tuning especially in the relay exchange.
“I think they are well-focused on the big meets. Kids are kids. They are not always well-focused on the smaller meets especially when they are winning by a lot. They tend to go through the motion and forget that everything they do counts.
“They need to understand that it doesn’t happen the day of the meet they are focusing on. The day of the meet the excitement takes over, the only thing they are thinking of is they want to go right now because they have the lead. If they don’t start thinking about it now, they are going to have a hard time.”
On Wednesday afternoon under overcast skies and led by South Florida Aquatic Club’s Lindsey McKnight and Luke Torres, American Heritage swept University School in both the girls, 122-61, and boys, 120-64, meets at the Patriots’ pool.
McKnight won the 100-yard butterfly in a season-best 58.31 and 100-yard backstroke in 1:02.40 and swam anchor leg on the winning 200-yard freestyle (1:44.81) and 400-yard freestyle relays (3:50.31).
McKnight has successfully bounced back from a disappointing summer. The junior and two-time High School Swimmer of the Year has yet to finalize her events for districts but is leaning toward the 100-yard freestyle and 200-yard individual medley.
“I am still toying with events,” McKnight said. “I am definitely going to swim 100 free, it’s just between the 200 IM and 100 breast.
“This is definitely crunch time but I am not really worried how I do in these meets right here because we’ve had hard practices,” McKnight said. “At this meet I worked on my stroke and relays and not DQ them like I did.”
McKnight has worked hard with six-time Olympic coach Michael Lohberg and her SOFLO teammates in training sessions at Coral Springs Aquatic Club to get back to where she once was.
“I feel like I did before the summer and I am very happy with how things are going,” McKnight said. “I am getting excited about districts, it’s getting close. I always love districts, regionals and states. It’s fun to do and seeing everybody from different schools. The relays are going to be the best.”
McKnight has enjoyed her transition from Douglas to American Heritage this past season and looks forward to the tougher Class A competition. She transferred over the summer.
“I think I get more support here,” McKnight said. “Everyone is always cheering and trying their hardest. I definitely see the difference.”
Torres won the 200-yard freestyle (1:57.40) and 100-yard butterfly (54.50) and was a member of the winning 200-yard medley (1:46.28) and 400-yard freestyle relays (3:23.78).
“Now it’s win our next dual meet and bring out a good attitude and good momentum going into districts,” Tan said. “They know every point will count.”
SOFLO’s Emily and Allison Kopas led University School.
Freshman Emily Kopas won the 100-yard breaststroke in a season-best 1:07.12 and second in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:14.18 behind U.S. national junior team member Lauren Driscoll of American Heritage (2:07.68).
Sisters Emily and Allison Kopas were also members of the Suns’ runner-up 200-yard medley (1:59.12) and 200-yard freestyle (1:50.15) relay teams.
Allison Kopas, a sixth grader, was third in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:09.96 and 100-yard backstroke (1:09.37).
Tan was impressed with University School predicting that the program will be among the best in another few years.
“Emily Kopas is awesome,” Tan said. “It is a fairly new team and they have a lot of young, good talented kids. They are not old enough to become one the ‘big boys’ but in two years when my kids graduate then that’s the dual meets we are going to have to bring in everything I can come up with since the tables will turn. That’s part of the fun.
“For us we have been fortunate the last five years we have had a good group of kids to win most of our dual meets but I know it goes in cycles and soon it will be University School’s time.”
The meet lasted only one hour and 18 minutes, one of the fastest meets held this season.
American Heritage 122, University School 61
200-yard medley relay: 1. American Heritage (Lauren Driscoll, Dania Banks, Chantal Bouthillier, A. Pacitti) 1:57.59, 2. University School 1:59.12, 3. American Heritage 2:20.50.
200-yard freestyle: 1. Jessica Randolph, AH 2:01.75, 2. A. Pacitti, AH 2:11.84, 3. Bedley, US 2:20.18.
200-yard individual medley: 1. Lauren Driscoll, AH 2:07.68, 2. Emily Kopas, US 2:14.18, 3. Robinson, US 2:21.02.
50-yard freestyle: 1. Dania Banks, AH 25.96, 2. Gomes, AH 27.25, 3. Sands, US 27.71.
1-meter springboard diving: 1. Knaby, US 183.30, 2. Walker, AH 166.15, 3. Outler, US 131.05.
100-yard butterfly: 1. Lindsey McKnight, AH 58.31, 2. Chantal Bouthillier, AH 1:02.71, 3. Basch, US 1:18.81.
100-yard freestyle: 1. Lauren Driscoll, AH 55.43, 2. Ana Rodriguez, AH 1:00.34, 3. Bess, AH 1:04.31.
500-yard freestyle: 1. Jessica Randolph, AH 5:24.87, 2. Robinson, US 5:28.12, 3. Pacitti, AH 5:48.06.
200-yard freestyle relay: 1. American Heritage (Dania Banks, Jessica Randolph, Ana Rodriguez, Lindsey McKnight) 1:44.81, 2. University School (Sands, A. Kopas, E. Kopas, Robinson) 1:50.15, 3. American Heritage 1:57.37.
100-yard backstroke: 1. Lindsey McKnight, AH 1:02.40, 2. Gomes, AH 1:08.93, 3. Basch, US 1:18.06.
100-yard breaststroke: 1. Emily Kopas, US 1:07.12, 2. Dania Banks, AH 1:13.40, 3. Chantal Bouthillier, AH 1:15.87.
400-yard freestyle relay: 1. American Heritage (Lauren Driscoll, Jessica Randolph, Chantal Bouthillier, Lindsey McKnight) 3:50.31, 2. American Heritage 4:22.21, 3. University School 4:37.44.
American Heritage 120, University School 64
200-yard medley relay: 1. American Heritage (Yousef Alaskari, Jose Serra, Luke Torres, Branca) 1:46.28, 3. University School 1:55.84, 3. American Heritage 1:59.84.
200-yard freestyle: 1. Luke Torres, AH 1:57.40, 2. Oberndorfer, US 2:00.12, 3. Lynn, US 2:00.87.
200-yard individual medley: 1. Digby Nothard, AH 2:08.46, 2. Y Al- Mussalam, AH 2:30.00, 3. Meles, US 2:34.75.
50-yard freestyle: 1. Daniel Spas, AH 22.34, 2. Zalduondo, US 24.62, 3. Alex Bronca, AH 26.06.
1-meter springboard diving: 1. David Sager, US 245.70, 2. Laurence, US 244.20, 3. Osborn, US 137.30.
100-yard butterfly: 1. Luke Torres, AH 54.50, 2. Digby Nothard, AH 56.58, 3. Witcher, AH 1:03.
100-yard freestyle: 1. Jose Serra, AH 52.31, 2. T. Osborne, AH 55.53, 3. Zalduondo, US 1:00.63.
500-yard freestyle: 1. Yousef Alaskari, AH 4:42.81, 2. S. Oberndorfer, US 5:19.56, 3. N. Oberndorfer, US 5:37.90.
200-yard freestyle relay: 1. American Heritage (Bronca, Serra, Nothard, Spas) 1:37.59, 2. American Heritage 1:54.34, 3. University School 1:59.21.
100-yard backstroke: 1. Daniel Spas, AH 56.53, 2. Lynn, US 1:04.87, 3. N. Oberndorfer, US 1:09.0.
100-yard breaststroke: 1. Jose Serra, AH 1:00.90, 2. Yousef Alaskari, AH 1:10.28, 3. Y. Al-Mussalam, AH 1:15.53.
400-yard freestyle relay: 1. American Heritage (Luke Torres, Digby Nothard, Yousef Alaskari, Daniel Spas) 3:23.78, 2. University School 3:44.84, 3. American Heritage 3:55.28.