University School junior Patrick Groters had the meet of his life at the June 29-July 4 XXI Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships in Nassau.READ MORE: Florida Dems Call Out Politicians Quoting MLK On Holiday But Support Voter Restrictions
Representing Aruba, Groters won four gold and four silver medals overall. He took two gold and three individual silvers and two gold medals and one silver on relays. He broke eight national open records, one individual and two relay CISC records.
Groters, 16, won the 15-17 400-meter individual medley in 4:35.48 and 200-meter individual medley in 2:06.19. He also swam the 50, 100- and 200-meter backstroke and 400- and 800-meter freestyle relays and 400-meter medley relay.
“That last night I was tired but it was worth it,” Groters said. “I think this was a breakthrough meet and confidence-builder for me. I was very happy.”
“I was really surprised with my 200 IM,” Groters said. “When I saw I went 2:07 in the morning and wasn’t that smooth I thought if I went a little harder I would go 2:05 or 2:06. Thanks to my breaststroke I finished first.”
Groters, a defending high school state champion in the 200-yard individual medley, competes for University School during high school season and trains club with Pine Crest Swimming. His next meet is the Aug. 4-7 USA Swimming Futures Championship in Atlanta.
“I am looking forward to high school, I hope the target on my back stays there,” Groters said. “I am hoping to carry over this success to the high school season.”
The meet was bittersweet for Groters who watched his older brother Jordy, a University School alum now at Missouri, just miss making the 2016 Rio Olympics for Aruba by 4/10ths of a second in the 100-meter breaststroke. He was two seconds off in the 200 breaststroke.
“I was there to cheer him up,” Groters said. “He was really upset after his race. I knew he needed support. I was there to hug it out. He was so close. He will get there.”
At the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Clara Smiddy and Marta Ciesla were South Florida’s top finishers. Smiddy, a South Florida Heat alum now at Michigan, was sixth in the 100-meter backstroke in 1:00.12 and qualified for the senior national team. She finished ahead of Olympians Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin. She was also tenth in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:10.74.
“I was more excited than nervous,” Smiddy said. “It was a fun 100 race. All the greats were out there. That was my first final at Trials.”READ MORE: 5000 Role Models Of Excellence Holds 29th Annual MLK Day Scholarship Breakfast Virtually
Defending high school state and junior national champion Ciesla, who will be a senior this fall at Pine Crest, was 19th in the 50-meter freestyle in 25.59 and 86th in the 100-meter freestyle in 57.49.
“It’s not time-wise where I wanted to be,” Ciesla said. “My field was really, really, really tight. It was great racing against these girls. I really love it. They put up such a fight. It felt great.”
TRACK AND FIELD TRIALS
St. Thomas alum Arman “Geno” Hall of the University of Florida finished fourth in the 400-meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. to make his first Olympic team as a member of the 4×400-meter relay team. Hall finished in 45.09.
Coconut Creek alum Maya Pressley of Georgia Track Club tied for eighth in the high jump with a jump of 6-feet, ½ inch.
“The fact that I am here and just participated in the U.S. Olympic Trials high jump is a milestone for me,” Pressley said. “Everyone knows it’s the hardest team to make.
“No matter the end result, I can say I confidently pursued a dream I truly believed could be possible with everything I had. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t my time.”
Another St. Thomas alum, Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richard-Ross announced her retirement at age 31 after she re-injured her hamstring during the 400-meter prelims and was forced to pull up. She had pulled her hamstring two weeks before the Trials in an Atlanta meet. She left the track teary-eyed to a standing ovation.
“I wish it could have gone better,” Richards-Ross said. “I will always remember how the crowd reacted, so this will be special for me. This has been a great journey.”
The Jamaican-born Richards-Ross’ career ends with four Olympic gold medals and one bronze. The three-time Olympian said she and husband Aaron, a free agent cornerback, plan to start a family and finish her autobiography.
Still to compete at the U.S. Trials are Olympians Bershawn (Batman) Jackson, a Miami Central alum and favorite in the 400-meter hurdles as defending champion and top seed, and Walter Dix, a Coral Springs alum, in the 200-meter dash. Dix was 24th in the 100-meters in 10.18. They both compete in Thursday’s prelims.
At the June 30-July 3 Jamaica Senior National Championships and Olympic Trials at National Stadium, Boyd Anderson alum Kali Davis-White, 20, of Tennessee was third in the 200-meter dash in 22.94 and would have qualified for the Rio Olympics had Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce (toe) and Elaine Thompson (hamstring) not applied for medical exemptions. If both runners are unable to prove their fitness by the end of the July, Davis-White will go to Rio. Davis-White was eighth in the 100 meters in 11.37. Another Boyd Anderson alum, Michael Frater, 34, of Racers Track was eighth in his 100 semifinal in 10.35.
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Pompano Beach-based Boomers Volleyball Academy 16s team took the bronze medal at the June 24-July 3 USA Volleyball Junior Girls National Championships in Indianapolis. St. Thomas Aquinas had three players on the team: Derry Costigan, junior setter; Jade Gardner, junior middle hitter and freshman setter Kelsey O’Loughlin. The tournament featured 1,263 teams, 13,000 athletes and 400 college coaches on hand to scout prospects.