Ella Klyce and Nicholas “Nico” Cecchi swam the best meets of their young careers at the Florida International Invitational late last month in Plantation, continuing an upward trend for the SouthWest Stars Swim Club, the competitive swim team for SouthWest Aquatics in Winter Garden.
Klyce and Cecchi, both 10, were each recognized as the top swimmer in their age group, each besting more than 20 respective competitors from around the state. Along the way, both youngsters rewrote the record books for the team and the meet — Klyce set a team and meet record in the 100-meter fly (1:14.34) and Cecchi set a team and meet record in the 200-meter IM (2:47.86).
In the individual point standings, both Klyce (122 points) and Cecchi (121 points) each nearly doubled the total of the nearest runner-up (65 and 62 points, respectively).
“It was really exciting,” said Klyce, who attends SunRidge Elementary. “I didn’t think I would do that well.”
She wasn’t alone in her surprise, either. Though both swimmers were expected to compete for the top spot, the scale at which they were successful was a pleasant surprise for veteran coach and instructor Justin Correia.
“They definitely surprised us. They broke a few meet records — and that meet has been around for quite a while now,” Correia said. “We were hoping to go down there and do well and they did exceptionally well.”
Both Klyce and Cecchi — who is a student at Montverde Academy and lives in Winter Garden — will now try and translate that success into a strong showing at this weekend’s Florida Age Group Championships in Orlando.
Cecchi says he enjoys coming to practice each day and that the staff at SouthWest has been a big help to him.
“My coaches have probably been my biggest inspiration to swim,” Cecchi said.
The strong showing by the two standouts underscored a team performance that saw the SouthWest Stars Swim Club place second in the elite event. Though the team has had success regionally, Correia says the recent success on a more statewide level has been very encouraging for the program.
Additionally, the program just had its first swimmer compete at the United States Olympic Trials, with star swimmer Katie Schorr recording a time of 26.49 in the 100-meter freestyle. Her success has served as an inspiration for the young swimmers — and for the coaches who have worked with her for so long.
“Katie started out with us as a baby,” Correia said. “We’re trying to really move in that direction where we see full development from younger ages all the way up to teenagers to, hopefully, college.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].