After a 45-year hiatus from collegiate sports, the College of the Florida Keys dove back into athletics on Feb. 5 with the debut of its first-ever women’s and men’s swim teams competing at their first meets. Five student athletes — four female and one male — traveled to Fort Pierce to compete in the 2021 Stanton C. Craigie Memorial Swim Invitational Meet, hosted by Indian River State College, Feb. 5-7.
Sophomore Ericka Augst emerged as the star. She won her heats in the 50-yard butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle races. Her performance qualified her for national-level competitions in multiple categories and set the bar for future CFK swimmers with nine school records. Junior Sarah Pietraszka also qualified for nationals in the 50-yard butterfly and 200-yard backstroke events and established three school records.
Sophomores Miranda College and ikola Pavlicek, who are new to the sport, swam competitively for the first time at this meet. Pavlicek now holds three school records. The event marked a return to the pool after many years for sophomore Janna Moran, the team’s most experienced swimmer. All CFK athletes established personal best times, which will serve as a baseline for growth in this season and in the future.
“We’re excited to have our first competition under our belt,” said coach Lori Bosco, CFK’s aquatics director. “The students have been training hard and it showed. The experience is valuable as we all work to grow and improve our new athletic program at the college.”
Despite pandemic-related delays, CFK’s swim teams have been training in the college’s junior Olympic-size pool since mid-January. With ample space in and out of the water for social distancing and no contact required, there is minimal risk associated with the sport.
In 2019, CFK joined the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), which is key to operating and competing in sanctioned, structured athletic events. The college is on track to join the ranks of colleges across the state and nation to compete for high-level recognitions by 2022. Eventually, the swim teams will compete in regular seasons against other Florida colleges and against colleges and universities from outside the South Florida region.