Hall of Fame

Graduating Seniors - Class of 2014

Dustin Rodriguez

Attending: West Point

 

   

As I look back over the years up to 2009, when I first joined the Marlins swim team, Iím tempted to think that I was always a dedicated athlete, who worked hard every single minute of training and represented the ideal Marlin as I helped imbed integrity into the core of our team. Unfortunately, this isnít true at all. Itís actually the complete opposite. I used to be lazy (and Iíll admit that I still am to a certain extent), unable to focus, and disrespectful through the amount of effort I put into my training. I was also sadly afraid to push myself mentally or physically, which became a huge obstacle blocking me from improvement. Just ask Coach Scott on that one, Iím sure heíll vouch for me. But over the years as I was given undying support in the form of verbal abuse during practices, got the privilege to visit the trashcan weekly (this doesnít happen anymore parents, I promise), and ultimately able to experience the success that results from hard work, I realized that being a Marlin is a privilege, not a right. I was finally able to learn how to push myself in all areas of life while enjoying every step of the way. So in return, the least I can do is commemorate one final thank you to the following people:

 Firstly, Coach Vargo. I wanted to thank you for realizing my potential and exploiting it to me through training that I had no idea I could get through, but you knew I could the whole time. Also, thank you for your patience; Iím sure I wasnít the most tolerable of your swimmers at times.

 Coach Wise, I wanted to thank you for your pep talks in and out of the water, which you may think go unheard, but I promise you that I was listening. It just so happens that I am now realizing the value behind them.

 Coach Scott, the first thing that comes to mind is wanting to walk out of your breaststroke sets of 500ís while you constantly reminded me that I looked like Tarzan, but swam like Jane. However, now I realize that I was being the annoying one for not putting the effort in that I should have. So looking back, you were right. Thank you for putting up with me anyways.

 Coach Sue, you have been my only real boss, but Iím sure that if I were to have had more, you would still be the toughest out of all of them. I canít thank you enough for teaching me just as valuable of life lessons as I was teaching the kids in the water.

 To all of the goons on the swim team, a.k.a my brothers, I wanted to thank you guys for all of the memories and mistakes we shared, even though those two usually fell together. Iím going to miss you guys, and West Point is going to have a tough time convincing me that there is a greater brotherhood out there.

 To my parents and Tania, I wanted to thank you guys for the support while reminding me that I can still work harder, no matter how much I am already improving. Tania, youíve made me a proud big brother, Iím counting on you to kick butt while Iím gone. Love you guys.

Thanks again to everyone for the past however many practices, meets, swim trips, etc. Itís been a blast!  ~ Dustin

 

Thomas Reilly

Attending: 

 

Four years ago I decided to join the Marlins Swim Club.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  The most swimming I had done before joining the Marlins was a couple months of High School season swimming.  So, having to come into practice at 6:00 AM came as a little shock.  However, it was not long after I joined the Marlins, that I really came to appreciate the sport of swimming.  I realized there is so much more behind swimming than just showing up to a swim meet and racing.  In swimming, there are countless hours of training and hard work put in beforehand.  I know I wouldnít have been able to get as far as I did in swimming if I didnít have my coaches always pushing me and great teammates by my side.

Coach Wise Ė I never thought I would be grateful for all of those crazy sets you gave us; but I am very thankful for them because I know they made me a better swimmer.  Iíll never forget those brutal distance Thursday morning practices either during the summer when you would push us all to our limits. 

Coach Vargo Ė You have taught me so much over the past four years, itís unbelievable.  Youíve taught me to keep pushing myself even when something seems impossible.  When I joined four years ago, I never thought I would be where I am today and I have you to thank for that.  You have helped achieve so many goals and helped me make my dream of swimming in college a reality.  Thank you for all you have done and for pushing me to be a better swimmer and person overall.

Senior 2 boys Ė You guys on the team have become my brothers and best friends.  I know all of those practices would have been impossible if you guys werenít by my side through them all.  I have always been able to have a good laugh with all you, even during the worst practices.  Remember guys, youíre on the swim team to be a better swimmer.  Have a good time, but also never stop pushing each other and yourself. 

Everyone else Ė I will never forget what we have gone through over the past four years.  I couldnít have pictured the past four years with a different group of people.    Everyone keep working towards you dreams and make sure not to drive Coach Wise and Coach Vargo too crazy when I am gone.

I want to make a special thanks to a group of people that really have become part of my family.  Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Dunne for everything you guys have done for me.  You two have become my second parents and home.  I really am going to miss you two next year. 

Now, thanks to a very special person that has managed to always be by my side.  Caitlin, thank you for always being there no matter the situation.  I donít know what I would do without you.  You have become my best friend over the years and the person I trust the most.  I love you and will miss you like crazy. 

Lastly, I want to thank my Mom and Dad for always believing in me and really just being the awesome parents you are.  Thank you for never doubting me and always supporting me through everything.    

Thomas Reilly

 

Shane Intihar

 

 

   

Senior 2 Ė Even though I have only been a member of this team for a little over 2 years, it feels as if I have known most of you for years.  We have definitely bonded on the team trips and those 3 day swim meets and there is nothing I wouldnít do for any of you.  We have all had our differences, but that is just because we are all around each other 24/7 like a family and something that all families do is fight.  You guys have done more for me than you could ever know; I can say with great confidence that I would not be where I am today had you guys not been there for me. 

Coach Vargo Ė I donít know where to beginÖ.you have been very patient with me over these 2 years.  One thing I know you have taught me that I will carry with me throughout my entire life is to be headstrong.  I remember looking up at your sets on the board and my mind would start racing with excuses as to why I could not possibly do those time buts none of them seemed to matter to you.  Because of that, you have made me a better swimmer and person.  You taught me that excuses are just petty reasons that we create in our heads as to why we cannot do something, but with a little drive (sometimes to my house because I got kicked out of practice) you can do anything you put your mind to. 

Coach Wise Ė I will probably never have a coach like you again and that makes me sad because you are one of the best coaches that I have ever met in my life.  I am lucky to have been coached by you.  Your sprint sets are what would get me out of bed of Saturday mornings because I knew that I would walk out of practice a better swimmer than I was when I walked in.  You taught me to love the pain that comes with training hard.  I will always remember your GBG sprint sets and how you would demand nothing but our best every set and the profanities you would scream at us when we were goofing off!

Senior guys Ė Like I said with Coach Wise, I will never have teammates as awesome as you guys are again.  All of the inside jokes we have made over the years and the crazy situations we have gotten ourselves into make us more like a brotherhood than teammates.

Jonathan, Lliam, Juan & Thomas Ė You guys have been great!  Life in Kentucky for me wonít be the same without you guys.  You have been great friends to me and just because Iím leaving you guys (except for Thomas) doesnít mean that weíre not still best bros.  Give me some finÖnogginÖdude.  ~ Shane Intihar

 

Wil Mintner

 

 

My journey with swimming began when I was about 8 years old.  Almost as quickly as it began, it was finished.  Little did I know then about how big a part of my life swimming would become.  6 years later I rediscovered swimming in a new way.  I found enjoyment and pleasure in both the racing and training aspects of the sport of swimming.  My path was not as direct as some; I began swimming at the Y for both my freshman and sophomore years.  Then for my Junior and Senior years, I transferred to the Marlins to pursue more competitive swimming.

At the Marlins I found a new level of teamwork, training and coaching.   I was immediately challenged far beyond any level I had previously experienced.  The team mates and coaches of the Marlins were what helped me to rise to the challenge.  Without them I would not be where I am today. 

Through good practices and bad practices they were always there, encouraging and helping me.  Itís always hard to fit in to a long standing group but this team made me feel welcome, as I was one of their own.  It is this support and camaraderie that makes leaving bitter sweet as I look forward to my college experience at Florida Southern.

Next year I will be attending Florida Southern College where I will be swimming on a NCAA Division Two team.  I will be earning my degree in Biology for Pre-Med.  As I look toward my time at Florida Southern, I can only hope that the experience will be as fulfilling and challenging as the experience I have had with the Marlins.  I would like to thank my coaches, teammates, and the parents support group for always believing in me and helping me to become the best I can be.  And Coach Vargo thanks especially for your support and direction.   ~ Wil Mintner

 

 

Graduating Seniors - Class of 2012

Jake Tamposi

Attending: Williams College

 

   

Prior to joining the Marlins, swimming just wasn't the same for me.  Sure, I'd go to a few practices, swim a couple meets, and hope I'd get faster - but that was about it.  Over these past 2 years of swimming here, though, my outlook on swimming and my outlook on life have dramatically changed.  I've learned the importance of not just showing up at practice, but engaging myself physically and mentally; I've learned to really love the race and competition of every swim meet; I've learned to not just hope, but to work passionately to achieve my goals.  In essence, I've learned to love swimming.  I couldn't have reached this point without the combination of fantastic, passionate coaches and fun, dedicated swimmers here.

Coach Scott - thank you so much for helping to modify and cultivate my breaststroke.  Even though I would sometimes find myself thinking profanities and assuming that you were trying to kill us (500 Breaststrokes...), your passion and love for racing has helped teach me to "train how I want to race".  Coach Wise -  thank you for always being a strong, positive voice.  It's always "a beautiful day in the neighborhood", even when it's before dawn, 40 degrees, raining, and I'd rather be in bed.  Finally, Coach Vargo - I don't know the words to express how much you've impacted my attitude toward swimming and life.  Pushing me toward goals that are just a little higher, encouraging me to work through the tough sets, convincing us all to give that extra bit of effort that makes all the difference - you've created not only great swimmers, but great people.

Senior 2's - thanks for always being supportive, enthusiastic, talented, and hardworking.  It makes training so much easier and enjoyable.  You guys can accomplish anything - as long as you focus on your goals and work so hard that they become inevitable realities.  So make your goals a little more ambitious, work just a little harder.  That being said, don't leave the values you learn from swimming - hard-work, enthusiasm, passion for excellence - in the pool.  I know it's clichť, but try to be the best you can be in every facet of your lives.  You all are amazing.

Finally, I don't know what I'd do without my family.  Mom, Dad, Lou, and Joe - I love you.

Jake Tamposi

 

Matt Winfree

Attending:  Daytona State College

 

 

To my fellow Marlins and Coaches,

Wow, what a journey it has been.  I would have never imagined that I would be sitting here writing a "Farewell" letter to everyone.  It just seemed like yesterday when I first joined right at the end of my freshman year of high school swimming into Senior 1; followed by 2 and half years of incredibly driven, hard, dedicated swimming in Senior 2.  A total of 4 years that I will always remember, as well as the people I met and swam with.

Coach Vargo - thank you for all that you've done.  Making sure I'm on top of everything in and out of the pool; saying your famous catch phrase...."I'll show you lightning!" We may have butted heads every now and then, but it was only because you were pushing me to become a better person.

Coach Wise - where do I begin?  You have showed that swimming is not just a sport, it is a very competitive sport.  I can be fun at times, but when it's time to get serious, "GBG, go baby go!"....telling us to sprint our butts off & always pushing us to succeed when it was time.

To everyone else - I'm glad to have so many memories I simply cannot forget; trips, meets, etc.  It really was a crazy good time!  Being part of the Marlins is like being a part of another family.  We're always looking out for each other and occasionally picking on each other.  That's what friends are for.  With that, I wish for all of you to strive for your goals and don't give up on them.  'Till we meet again.

Most of all, thank you Mom.  For being the one who would drive me back and forth from and to the pool.  From the early hours in the days to rushing me there right after school; 'till the day I got my license.  Also, making sure I was up and awake ready-to-go.  Making sure I was at my best when going.  To my Dad, thanks for being there for the tough times and saying to me "don't give up".  Also for making sure to keep me focused and follow through with my passion.

I can't express how thankful and blessed I am for everyone to be right by my side.  Pushing, cheering and supporting me.  For that, I thank you!  I could not be where I am today without that.  Just goes to show you that you can do anything if you just put your mind to it.

Matthew Winfree

a.k.a. "Big-Win"

 

Graduating Seniors - Class of 2010

 

Katie Pheil

Attending: Indian River State College

Major: Education

   

Dear family and friends,

             Saying goodbye is never an easy thing to do, whether it is to my family, my coaches, or my teammates. Out of the six years I've been swimming on the Marlins, if thereís one thing I've learned itís to be tough. Right Coach Wise?  

  Before I say goodbye I want to say thank you. Thank you mom and dad for putting me in this life consuming sport, supporting every decision I've made, and loving me unconditionally. Thank you Coach Wise for talking me through my rough patches and always being truthful, even if it hurts a little. Thank you Coach Vargo. I can't tell you how much I appreciate everything you have done for me in the past. You've been a coach, a father, a teacher, a mentor and a manager. I have learned an incredible amount of life lessons from you that I will continue to use in my future. No matter how much I butt heads with you, I know in the future I will look back and say ďman Coach Vargo was right about EVERYTHING!Ē You never let me give up when the going got tough. I don't think I would have enjoyed my swimming career as much if it weren't for you. I owe you everything; I honestly don't know what I'll do without you next year. Expect your phone bill to be high because I'll be calling you often.

Thank you fellow teammates, you all have been so supportive, loving, and caring.   I've met some of the best people during my time with the Marlins. I will never forget you guys.   

John, I've gotten to know you within this last year and you're no longer Katie Curran's little brother. Youíre my best friend; you have all the potential in the world to do what you want. You are smart; all you have to do is use your head. I wouldnít have made it through this year without you. Thank you for being there for me, I love you.   

Sam, Iím glad that you decided not to quit, it wouldnít have been the same without you. You've got just as much talent and potential as anyone in that pool, use it to your best ability. Oh, just letting you know you're more than my best friend, you're my brother and I love you.  

Adam, stop thinking you know it all, because you don't. Listen to your dad and Coach Vargo. I promise they know what they're talking about. You also helped me better myself in and out of the pool in the past year, so thank you. You'll do great; I have no doubts about you. Good luck.    

Rachel, weíve formed a great friendship over this past year and I am really going to miss youíre crazy face expressions and the weird things you do. Make sure you come visit me a lot. Just try to feel good in the water more than once a week. I know you can do it; you're strong and you have a good heart. I love you and good luck.

Caroline, keep your head in the game, try not to think about too much at once. I know you'll end up exactly where you want to be. Don't freak out. Thank you for being the best friend you can be. War Eagle! ;) I love you and good luck.   

Caitlyn, my little sister, stay out of trouble. You've got a lot of talent you have yet to see, when youíre ready you'll be able to see it and you'll do great. I love you and good luck. 

To all the rest of the team, I didn't forget you. I just ran out of room on my paper. Good luck with your swimming, I know you'll do great!

Love Always,

Katie Pheil

 

 

 

Tori Petry

Attending:  Univ. of Florida

Major: Broadcast Journalism

Where do I even begin? Six years ago I was an awkward little 7th grader coming into Coach Wiseís Age Group 2.  And now, after all of the fun trips to Sarasota, Daytona, & Ft. Myers, the grueling Holiday Hostage weeks, and the hundreds of practices I pushed through till my muscles were Jello, it is time for me to leave the Marlins behind to go to college. But my memories on the Marlins swim team are ones I will carry with me for a lifetime.  How could I ever forget all of the ďCoach Comments,Ē like when he threatened he would ďShow us lightning!Ē if we claimed we saw it again. Or the hundreds of times we informed him it was time to get out of practice, and he replied with, ďWe go by my watch!Ē     To my teammates Ė you all mean SO much to me! I already miss you and Iím going to miss you even more this coming year! You guys really are my second family and some of the best friends I have ever made.  To all the current swimmers & swimmers that have already graduated, there are SO many memories Ė puke in a tree skirt, the cloud, singing Potter Puppet Pals at YNATS, LeRoy Jenkins Ė way too many to name! To the underclassmen Ė some of you are moving up to senior privileges now! No more pulling tarps, congrats!!    To the seniors this year, you guys are the best.  Katie, I just have to say, talk to me like that! Thanks for all the memories out on the lake, calling hotlines and getting scared to death! Keith, one day we will write the Keith Says the Darndest Things book and you will be forever remembered for ďpaying homageĒ and your stretched out armpits! Josue, I will never forget our Coach video and you sprinting - ďJosue itís a warm down! Idiot.Ē Haha! Dylan & Devin, I miss those morning practice days hanging out with the Westport kids & listening to ďHey You ThereĒ and stealing your car! Amanda Ė my gym partner! All those times Coach told us we would never get anything done togetherÖ some days we did, some days we didnít, but Iím so happy I got to start off my mornings with our talks! I will miss all of you so much!   Not only have I gained memories from the Marlins, but I have learned lessons that I will never forget. I am positive that no other sport could teach me the level of dedication I have learned from being involved in swimming.  Waking up at 5:30 in the morning or pressing through 8,000 yard practices was never easy, but I am sincerely glad I stuck with it. Thanks Coach Vargo for always pushing me to set goals and strive to meet them every day, no matter what obstacles I may face.  Through all the times I was so discouraged I wanted to give up, you taught me that going a best time isnít the only way to be successful. Success is always giving 100%. Coach Wise, thanks for pushing me to set my goals above and beyond the narrow dreams I could picture. I may not have made them all but they helped motivate me to push myself to my limit in every practice.  To my parents, thank you so incredibly much for your support.  None of us could be successful in this sport if it werenít for our parents! All the early morning drives, the volunteering to time at meets, the pre-practice energy snacks, and the countless swim meet meals loading up on carbs at Olive Garden Ė I appreciate it so much. I love you!    Swimming has been a wonderful chapter in my life that I will never ever forget. Thanks to everyone who played a part in writing it. And as I turn the page for lifeís next chapter, I will forever remember the memories and the lessons you have left me with.  Thank you.

 Tori Petry

 

 

Keith Foos

Attending: Univ. of Florida

 

   

I cannot express how weird it feels to be writing my goodbye letter to you guys.  I remember watching countless senior videos at the banquets and reading past senior letters, thinking how exciting it would be to go to college and start a new chapter in my life.  It is so mind blowing that it is my turn to grow up, after watching so many swimmers do so before me.

Looking back, I have no regrets for deciding to be a swimmer.  I have learned lessons in life that I would not have learned easily if I never swam; determination, work ethic, time management and perseverance.  Without these valuable lessons, I cannot imagine where I would be today- but I cannot give myself all the credit.  I would not be the person I am without the help of all of my coaches.  Coach Vargo and Coach Wise, I would like to thank you guys for never quitting on me.  I know that Iíve had some rough patches in my days, but you two motivated me to keep on swimming through them.  Your very motivational quotes (ďTrain the way you race, and race the way you train!Ē) and your philosophical witticisms (ďLightning? Iíll show you lightning!Ē) were repeated many times in my head.  Thank you for keeping me going.

I would like to thank everyone who I have had the pleasure of being a teammate with.  Every swimmer on the team gave me the motivation to be the best person I could be, in and out of the pool.  I have shared some of the best moments of my life with my team, and I am thankful that they were there with me.  I always had a blast on the Sarasota, Daytona, and Ft. Myers trips.  Without them, the whole swimming experience just wouldnít be the same.

Most of all, I would like to thank my family.  I started swimming for the Marlins at the age of 5, thanks to my older brother, Kevin.  Growing up, I always looked up to Kevin and wanted to follow in his footsteps. I still do.  He is my brother and best friend, and I cannot begin to thank him for all the things heís done for me.  But most of all, Iíd like to thank my mother.  Mom, even though you may have only been to 98% of my swim meets and driven me to practice 3085.3 times, youíve been with me 100% of the way, and youíve shaped me into the man I am today.  I love you.

As I finish off my goodbye letter to you Marlins, I cannot help but relive all of the best moments Iíve spent with the team.  Thank you for being there for me.  If I can give one parting gift to you swimmers, itís this:  Be all you can be.  Also, get to morning practice on time.  Coach likes nothing better than to spray late swimmers with the hose.

Keith Foos

   

 

 

 

Graduating Seniors - Class of 2009

Samantha Bonenclark

Attending: University of North Carolina @ Wilmington

 

   

Dear Parents, Coaches, and Fellow Teammates,

Up to this point, I donít think I had ever imagined what it would be like to have to say goodbye to my team, and now as Iím sitting here about to do it Iím almost at a loss for words. Iíve been a part of the Marlins since I moved to Ocala as a nine-year-old and since then it has been a constant in my life. Now, Iím going to college, and it almost blows my mind that now thatís going to change.

Initially, I know I owe a huge "thank you" to my parents. You guys have always supported me in both my successes and my trouble spots. I know it took a lot to drive me to countless practices and make all of my meet attendances happen over the years. Still, I canít say how glad I am that you guys did it- cheering for me the whole way. You gave me the chance to have the experience with this team that Iíve had, and itís been one of the best experiences of my life.

Secondly, I think itís only entirely appropriate that I thank the coaches. Coach Vargo, I can still remember when as a 4th grader I decided that I didnít like you because I thought you were too loud and I was afraid that you would be mean to me if I was your swimmer. Well youíre still pretty loud, but Iím definitely not scared of you any more, and I will very much miss you as my coach. Coach Wise, I donít know if I will ever be able to fully block out some of the practices that I have had under your coaching. Still, even though I hated them (and even cried a few times) I cannot deny that they made me better. You two have helped me to reach as far as I have in swimming, and have in some ways not only been swim coaches, but life coaches as well.

Finally (and I had to save the best for last), I have to say my farewell to my teammates. My mom said once that there are "comrades found in misery" and looking at us she couldnít have been more right. Over the years that I have spent here, I can say that sometimes the only thing that made me come to the pool at all was that my teammates would be "suffering" alongside me too. With all the inside jokes (I wish I could include some, but it would make this way too long), with the laughing and talking that got us into trouble, and then with the support and the listening ears that were always there if I needed them, I donít know where I would be today without you guys.

Itís always strange when a class of seniors leaves-like there is a hole in the team that never quite gets filled up again. You guys might feel that, but you should know that Iím going to feel it too-and Iíll definitely have to come back and visit. Devon, Scott, Sean, Mike, and Phil, Iím so excited to see where we all end up and what we end up doing. I look back and I can remember when we were all in middle school, brought together for the first time under Coach Tarn. Now, as we stand at the brink of one of the biggest transitions in our lives so far, I can only say to you guys and the people that we are leaving behind: "Iíll miss youÖand Good luck!"

~Sam (a.k.a. Beatrice, Sambo, Dirty Pirate)

 

 

 

Sean Darby

Attending:  University of South Florida

 

 Being on the swim team has been an experience that I feel very fortunate to have had. It has taught me a lot of important lessons and values.There have been times when I wanted nothing more than to quit but I am glad now that I didn't. I have made a lot of good friends and met some really interesting people. I would say something to everyone but I would most likely forget one of you and then feel bad. So just know that I'll miss you guys, well most of you guys. No, I'm just kidding, I really will miss ya'll. Our team is way different from all of the other teams. Some of the stuff that we do and say is really weird, but tha's what I like about it. The coaches are pretty cool too. I have butted heads with pretty much all of them on numerous occasions but all in al, I'm grateful for them and what they do. Leaving the team will be bittersweet. Part of me wishes I didn't have to go, the other 99% of me can't wait to finally have a life. Once again, just kidding. If there is anyone in this sport who doesn't get enough credit, it is the parents. I appreciate everything mine have done for me, from driving me to all of the practices and meets to cheering me on in the races. Well I guess tha's all I have to say.
 

Sean Darby

Phillip Hall

Attending:  Johns Hopkins University

 

   

Dear Marlins,

This is a weird feeling, writing a goodbye letter to the Marlins. Over the past decade this pool and the people here have become such a huge part of my life, I canít imagine life without all this. Moreso than almost any other influence, swimming has made such an impact on my life and helped shape me into the person I am today. I will always fondly remember all the thousands of hours Iíve spent in practices and meets.

Coach Vargo, I canít describe all the gratitude I have for all the years youíve put up with us and still show up every morning at 6, obnoxiously happy to watch us jump into the freezing pool. As you like to say, you have certainly owned a good portion of my life. Thank you for all that you give to us, your time, efforts, and advice. I will miss your nonsensical Ďcoach commentsí.

Sam, lifelong friends are hard to come by. Weíve endured a lot of long hours in this pool, and enjoyed many more otherwise (at the beach). Thanks for being my best friend throughout it all, every practice, meet, and year. I will definitely miss our numerous surf trips and analyzing every aspect of life.

Devon, what would I do without you? You switched schools with me, and weíve had a great 3 years. From our parties to river trips, weíve been through a lot. Youíre going to do amazing next year. Oh and God loves you.

Sean, you were my first friend when I moved to Ocala. Its been more than ten years since then and its been an awesome decade. All our childhood ventures and lake days. Wakeboarding and doing triathalons. Its been fun. Thanks for being my friend.

Scott, I remember when I was faster than you and we used to compete at every meet. And of course thereís the many phases we went through with you, me, and Sean. Legos, skateboarding, paintball, you name it. Good luck with swimming and thanks for the laughs.

To all the older generations, we all miss you. Aaron, Caitlyn, and especially Matt, Jordan, and Lauren, the pool is not the same without you guys. Thanks for bringing me up in the team.

Keith, you are the funkiest guy I know. You keep it real. Keep up the surfing and weíll have to hit up the beach whenever I come back on break. Mike, I love you. Katie, remember who youíre married to, Iíll beat up all youíre boyfriends, donít think I wont. Tori, watch those toes. And good luck with IB next year. Amanda, Iíll miss your office, and I will NOT miss your laugh. Devin, try and make it through a whole season without getting sick or something and youíll do awesome with swimming. To all the rest of the team, good luck next year and in high school I wish the best for all of you.

And of course, Mom and Dad, I thank you for putting up with my many practices and meets. I know weíve sacrificed a lot of trips and vacations for swimming and I appreciate it more than you can imagine.

I really donít want to say goodbye, because I know Iíll never find another group like this one. Iím excited to go study and swim at Johns Hopkins next year, but I will always miss the CF pool. I canít imagine swimming at a different pool with a whole other group of people. Iíll miss you guys next year and Iíll see you all on my breaks.

Phillip Hall

   

Scott Sommer

Attending:  University of Florida

 

 

 

Dear Everyone,

Swimming has taken up my whole entire life and I wouldn't have it any other way.  The Marlins Swim Club has shown me many life skills that I will hold onto forever.   Swimming has opened doors for me, and because of it I know I have a bright future.  My family has played the most important role in my swimming.  They were there for every swim meet cheering me on.  I know my mom almost passed out at States. I want to thank Coach Vargo (I'll show you lightning) and Coach Wise (if you do it right, you all will get out 15 minutes early), for everything you have done for me, in and out of the water, the talks, lectures and all that good stuff.  Also, all my teammates who supported me throughout my swimming career, THANKS!!!!!!  I hope when I come down from college everyone will be training hard and keeping up the good work.

Sincerely,

Scott Sommer

 

 

Devon Coquillard

Attending:  Florida State University

 

   

My Dearest Marlins,

Oh myÖwhat a daunting task; to write a letter summing up my years of swimming as a Marlin. Please know that no words can describe how I feel about the pool, this team and the wonderful time I have spent here. These past 9 years you guys have been my teammates, friends, and best of all, my family. However dysfunctional we are, we work and I could never imagine my life without any one of you. All of my favorite memories and stories are here with you all, as a Marlin.

Oh course, my coaches. Coach Vargo. I canít tell you how much youíve helped me grow as a swimmer and person. Your encouragement and guidance has made me the swimmer I am today. My confidence in myself has grown because you believed in me. Coach Wise, What can I say? Youíve been with me since I joined the team 9 years ago. I cannot express how big an impact youíve made in my life. I am truly a better swimmer and human being for having you in my life. I cannot tell you how much your advice and support has helped me all these years. Phillip. Youíre truly one of my closest friends. I can honestly say I donít know what I would have done without you. I am so grateful to have you in my life. Sean. Youíre honestly probably one of my favorite people, EVER. You are one-of-a-kind. You are one of the funniest, most genuine people I know. I am grateful for you everyday, and will miss you dearly. Scott. We have so many memoriesÖ that I canít pick a favorite. Itís been awesome to see you excel in the pool, I am excited to see your talent grow as a Gator next year. I am truly glad to know you, and always enjoyed myself in your company. Samantha. Thanks for being there for me I am truly grateful for our talks and your support through the years. Mike. What can I sayÖThanks you so much! I never had to say anything and you would know exactly what was wrong. Thanks for being you! Tori. Two words: CLOUD TIME! I have loved every minute Iíve spent with you whether we were crying or laughing. You are truly an amazing person and donít know what I would have done without you. Keith. I enjoyed driving you so much, you donít even understand. Youíre so real. You donít change for anyone, and I admire you so much for that, and thanks for listening to me, even when I didnít make sense. I will miss you next year immensely. Devin. I have enjoyed being your ďbig sisterĒ and I canít say Iíve enjoyed sharing my name more with anyone else! Amanda and Katie. Iíve enjoyed watching you two become amazing and beautiful swimmers and women. I am truly grateful to know both of you. Caroline, Rachel, and Little Ann, you all are beautiful inside and out. I have enjoyed all of you immensely. You all will do great things in life. John, I look forward to your hugs everyday, and have enjoyed watching you grow into who you are today. The rest of Senior 2, I wish I could name all of you! Please know I love you all and have enjoyed swimming with you more than you could ever imagine. You all are amazing people.

To all those who have graduated before me, thank you. You have served as more than role models, but big brothers and sisters. Thanks for everything. Especially, Matt. Thanks for being one of my closest friends. You have seen me at my worse and still love me for it. Words do not describe how much you mean to me.

It really is true when they say it takes a village to raise a child. Iíd like to thanks all Marlin parents for being there at the swim meets and doing all you do to make this an amazing program! The Darbyís and Sommerís. Thank you for the numerous car rides and support along the way. I truly enjoyed the time I have spent with you. The Hallís and Petryís. Thank you for everything. You have opened you home and hearts and I truly appreciate you letting me be a part of your family.

Lastly my family! Mom, Dad, Alexis and Kristen. Thank you so much for your love and support all these years. I love you guys and couldnít have done it without you! You are always cheering for me whether Iím first or last and that makes the difference!

As my time here draws to an end, I look back fondly to everything I have learned and accomplished as a Marlin. My life is much richer because I have known all of you. I am proud to say that I am a Marlin, you guys are the best family anyone could ask for and forever occupy a special pace in my heart. You guys mean more than you know. Thank you again.

Forever,

Devon Coquillard

     

 

 

 

 

 

Graduating Seniors - Class of 2008

Emily Vrotsos

Attending:  University of Central Florida

 

   

   I have always believed that new beginnings were the hardest. Then why, I wonder, are endings the situations that bring on the sincerest of smiles, the most consuming of emotions, and the most heart-wrenching tears? I am afraid of leaving everyone that led, molded, and guided me. I am afraid of the unknown, of change. I do not want to forget or be forgotten.
   Participating on this team has given me experiences and friends I will never forget. These kids have been my family. What was always extraordinary was that we did not need to understand how we fit together, we simply knew that with all the time we spent with one another, we could always belong somewhere. We have feuded, but at the end of the day it always boiled down to how much I loved these kids. Every one of them has an exceptionally unique fire burning inside of them, may it never go out. They were reasons to get up in the morning and try again; one smile was all I needed. I will miss you all.
   Coach Vargo, Coach Wise, and Coach Chris have always made it a worthwhile goal to better myself, mind and body. They were a constant source of inspiration and motivation to strive for one more try. John Maloney was a friend and a mentor whenever needed. I am so grateful for all the times he took just to listen, and to believe in me. All four of you have had an immense impact on my life. I will be eternally thankful for all you have done for me, starting with giving me a chance.
   My parents taught me dedication and persistence. They were a lesson in being who I am and loving myself. I trust and love them completely. I need them and their support, now more than ever. My brother has become my friend and my confidante. He understands me, and I want him to know how much I love him. Aaron and Sherah Aiken loved and supported me, come rain or shine, and are the truest friends on could ever hope to find. All of the team parents have looked after me as if I were their own. Their love and generosity never went unnoticed or unappreciated.
   In writing this, I have found my question's answer. Endings are the hardest because they implicate the need to move on, to let go. It is a long and winding road of which I cannot see around the bend to the future. I am leaving the love and the familiar, for what? You all hold a special place in my heart, and I promise I will never forget where I have come from, and I will never disregard the people that built me up to get me where I needed to go. Maybe, I'm not so afraid after all.
 
 Emily Vrotsos

Lauren Nightingale

Attending:  Boston College

 

 

Dear Marlins Swim Team, coaches, and parents,

  I never thought the day would come when I would be standing on the brink of a new and exciting chapter of my life where I would have to say goodbye to the people and places I love. The time has come though when I must leave everything behind and start all over again with a new home, new pool, and new swim team. The pool has been my home away from home in every sense since I started swimming here 10 years ago. I couldn't have imagined my life would be so changed by my coaches (second parents) and my teammates (brothers and sisters). With the encouragement and love from members of all my "families", I have overcome many challenges and I thank all of you.
  Coach Vargo, I was not kidding when I said that you are like my second dad. I think I spend more time at the pool than at home, anyways. I have learned so much about my sport and myself thanks to your guidance. You made practices so much easier to do because you are so funny without meaning to be and you always offer your support. Because of you I'll always be known as Freckles.
  Coach Tarn, you were my first true coach and mentor. You allowed and encouraged me to become the swimmer I am today. So many times I almost gave up, but thanks to you I have accomplished and will continue to accomplish so many great things through swimming in my life.
  To my teammates, you have allowed me to find out who I really am and where I belong in my life. I am so honored to have spent this time with you, learning lessons from you and sharing my lessons with you. I could probably write a book full of memories and experiences I have had with all of you. I will look back on them when I need a laugh or am feeling lonely.
  Jordan and Emily, I know we will all succeed in our future because of our years on the team. We spent so many years under the "remarkable" regimes of upperclassmen, it seems like we need more time as "top dogs" on the team.
  Sam, I could not have survived high school season without you. I can't imagine surviving college without such a great friend and someone that listens to even the stupidest stories. Phillip, thanks for saving me at dances and thanks for being such a great twin. I could not have imagined sharing the same words, likes, and dislikes with such a wonderful person. Just remember, "Never eat zebra cakes while eating". Devon, my newest friend, you give me so much inspiration by the way you act and the things you say. I didn't think I would ever find someone who would listen and then respond to even my craziest moments. Thank you and never stop speaking what you truly feel.
  Tori, you are so funny and upbeat that you always put me in a good mood. You have been the best competition and friend I could have asked for. Katie, keep being your happy self and don*t be afraid to strive for success. The same goes for you Amanda. I have gotten to know you better and you really are a kind and beautiful girl. Sean and Scott, I think I have almost puked 100 times because of the hilarious and ridiculous things you do and say. Please never ever stop. Max and John, you saved me from a boring car ride and I hope you keep up the singing in cars tradition, Max. Mike, I don't think I have gone a day without a hug from you and you really are a sweet person once you get past the "tough" exterior.
  Lastly to my sister Emily and my parents. Thank you for always being there for me and putting up with everything. Emily, don't be afraid to speak up and always crack a joke with kindness because it will be what you are remembered for.

  Thank you and I love you all,
  Lauren  - a.k.a. Freckles

Jordan Welbes

Attending:  University of Tampa

 

   

 My Lords, My Ladies and All You Other People Here Not Sitting On a Cushion,

  I have been swimming for a decade now, and as with every swimmer I know it takes up the majority of our time. It has become an obsession and no matter what I'm feeling it makes me a better person at the end of the day. I remember when I first started swimming I was short, round, and pudgy. Now I am almost the complete opposite. (I mean I still have a little bit of pudge) but I was also probably one of the most hyperactive, out-of-control kids around but it has let me become who I am today; still a little hyperactive and a little bit out-of-control but getting better as I get older.  I started swimming thinking it was just for fun. When I was 11, I started taking it more seriously. I looked at it as something I had to do, like a job of some sort. Take my advice train seriously and race hard, but always have fun no matter what. If the coaches are yelling at you for some reason take their advice, but don't let it get to you on an emotional level. Swimming is a sport like any other, accept it's harder than any other sport. Do it for the love of it and have fun. Life's short, take advantage of the opportunity in front of you.
>  The people you swim with now will be the people you remember  for the rest of your life. If it wasn't for the team, I don't know where I would be today. Every person I have met from the people in Senior 2 to the little kids have made an impact on me. Sean and Scott acting like "gangsters", Sam and me yelling at each other, Lauren showing me the lighter side of life, I wish it would never stop.
> Phil and Devon - thanks for putting up with me at school and everything that comes out of my mouth. Katie you've made me feel better no matter what and have been amazing since I have known you, you have a lot of potential don't waste it. Mike and Max you guys have been like the brothers that I never had. I don't care what anyone says about either of you I'll think highly of both of you until I die. Sean all I've got to say is "valentine's cake" and "doily or maybe doiler". Amanda you've been a good friend to me and I hope you won't change. G-money you owe me a dollar. Johnny Q keep up your game. Devin you had better be rich and successful when you're older or else. Keith you are too much sometimes but that's what makes me say look me up when you wanna chill in the future. Hey Tori! What have I told you about hangin' out with a crowd like that?
> Coach Vargo I saved the best for last. As much as I hate to admit it, and you know I hate to, you have made a large impact on my life. You have kept me going these past few years; even though we butt heads you have taught me to be a better person. No matter what anyone says I think that you were the best boss I could've asked for. One who will put up with my forgetfulness.
> I'm swimming for the University of Tampa next year, I can't wait to start but wish I could take the team with me. You all have been my world and my best friends. I can only hope that the team I'm going to is similar to what I'm leaving. You all know I'll be back, Tampa's only two hours away. (One hour if I drive fast and don't fall asleep.)

>Jordan Welbes

>a.k.a. Turtleman
>a.k.a. J-Hasty
 

   

 

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Graduating Seniors - Class of 2007

Caitlyn Lambert

Attending:  Florida State University

 

   Dear Marlins Swim Team, Coaches, and parents,

  It's hard to believe that four years of high school is coming to an end and even harder to believe that I have been swimming for over a decade. However, most difficult for me to fathom is the fact that I will not be returning to the Marlins Swim Team next year. The Marlins is a second family to me and before I make that first major transition in life from high school to college, I would like to take the time to thank everyone for helping me in becoming the swimmer and person that I am today. I have wanted to quit swimming many times in the past but because of the love from my parents and the help, support, and encouragement from my coaches and teammates I was able to overcome adversity and for that I truly thank all of you.
  Coach Tarn, you were the first great influence in my swimming career and helped me so much in so many ways when I was younger. I know I was difficult to deal with at times but thank you so much for laying the foundation for me to succeed and teaching me the importance of hard work. I will definitely miss all of your jokes.
  Coach Chris, you're an awesome dryland and weight coach and an even better person. I don't think that I will ever encounter another dryland coach quite as tough as you. I have learned so much from you about weights, nutrition, and life in these past couple of years that has improved not only my swimming, but also my well-being.
  Matt and Aaron, I've literally grown up with you two. Thank you for looking after me and for all the memories. I know both of you will be very successful and go on to do great things in your lives. Good luck in college!
  Jordan and Sean, both of you make me laugh and smile when I'm having the worst of days. I'm going to miss seeing you guys around.
  Lauren, you are a really neat and eccentric person. I hope you never change. I'm really happy I got to know you a little more personally. I've watched you grow and improve so much as a swimmer. Keep up the hard work!
  Alexis, I really enjoyed working with you on your swimming technique and I hope it has helped your swimming. Never stop asking questions because that is how you learn and improve in all that you do. I have a great deal of respect for you because you made an honest and sincere effort to want to improve yourself further.
  Scott, you have so much natural ability and talent. I know that you can become a great swimmer one day if you just set your mind to it and work hard. Listen to Coach Vargo because he only wants to make you a better swimmer.
  Lastly, to Katie: Even though you are four years younger than me you are one of my best friends. You remind me so much of me: full of ambition and very headstrong. Don't ever give up on your dreams or let anyone tell you you can't do something or achieve a goal you've set for yourself. I know it is difficult to see the long term results in swimming and at times you just want to give up, but believe me, it is worth all you put into it and more. When you come to a point where you want to quit look to your teammates, coaches, and parents for support. Trust me, you won't regret the decision to continue because I know that in your heart you truly love to swim.
  Even though I will be starting a brand new life in a couple of months I will never, ever forget my time spent with everyone here on the Marlins Swim Team.
 
  Take Care,
  Caitlyn Lambert

Matt Wollenschlaeger

Attending:  Duquesne University

 

 

 My first time at the pool was for swim lessons. Never could I have imagined that these times in the water would be the first of many, the beginning of some kind of obsession. Since I joined the team in the third grade, I have spent countless hours at the pool, making it my new home for almost 9 years and one of the most important places of my life. Over the years, friends from the pool have morphed into one giant family, with Coach Tarn and Coach Vargo being our parents.
  When I was young, I never really took this sport serious; I always wanted to play around and rarely did the work that I was supposed to. But, with the help of my coaches, things got serious. Practices were no longer for fun, but to actually develop strokes and to become a better swimmer. This transition was hard, I didn't really want to be serious, and quitting was always at the forefront of my thoughts.
  Coach Tarn had the gruesome task of helping me through this stage; he worked through my sarcastic remarks and bullheadedness. Eventually, he turned me into a well-oiled machine that was churning up the water. I must thank you for that, you have helped me through some of the toughest times and have played a vital role in life.
  Coach Vargo has further developed my ability and shown me my place in the swimming world. He has worked through the times of my bad swimming and embraced my personality; his truck was one of the first cars I drove. He has become family to me and has helped me to become the person I am today. You taught me how to make it through the tough practices and still come out smiling.
  My teammates, family members, have always been there for me, through the good and the bad. There had never been a day that I haven't wanted to go to the pool, not to swim, but to see the team. You guys have picked me up when I've been down. Practices would be unbearable without the good stories and jokes making things interesting. Aaron, I wish you good luck with the Navy, I know its what you wanted to do and I will greatly miss you. Caitlyn, there are no words to express how much I will miss you next year. I don't know what I will do with out you, without the good advice that we exchange and the life stories that tend to keep things interesting. I wish you the best and know that I will never forget you. I would also like to thank my parents, especially my dad. Without him, none of this would be possible; swimming would not be a part of my life.
  From the time I was little until now, my perceptions of swimming have done a complete 180. I have gone from the kid who swims because his mom makes him, to the person that can't get enough of the pool. My swimming career has begun to pull me in a new direction, college swimming. Next year, I will be traveling to Pittsburgh to attend Duquesne University and to become a member of their swim team. I can only pray that their team is a close a family as ours is here. Thank you to everyone, for all your support, I will never forget you and will always remember my times at the pool.
 
  Matt Wollenschlaeger
  aka "BooBerry"

 

 
Aaron Aiken

Attending:  United States Naval Academy

 

For the past thirteen years the pool has been a part of my life, and a very important one at that. When I first started I never expected it to become such a large part of my life. I was just out there having fun and always wanting to be in the water. Thankfully that attitude, for the most part, has carried through to today. To me that has been the best part of my club swimming experience. The ribbons, medals and awards have been cool but without the fun I find in swimming the accolades mean nothing. The fun for me is in the racing, the technique, the power of swimming. When I am in the water I feel more natural than when I am walking. When I am pushing through the final laps of a practice the sense of accomplishment overrides the feeling, or lack thereof, in my body. When I feel bad in the water, it's generally because I haven't pushed to my limit, when I have only given enough effort to hurt and not enough to accomplish anything. This is when the friends and coaches I have had over the years have helped by stepping in and pushing me when I am not myself. People from my swimming past like John Maloney, Eric Hilgenfeldt, and Derrick Taylor, have all had a part in getting me to where I am now. I remember chasing Eric especially, when I was a freshman and he a senior. Now that I am a senior I am the one who has to swim hard to stay in front, or the freshmen will be beating me. Many of my best friends I have met through swimming, and they are worth all the time and effort I have put into swimming alone. Some of my best friends live all across the state, and I have grown up with them. I will see some of them once or twice a year but when I do we pick up right where we left off. The friends I have on the Marlins team are like a family to me. If any of them ever needed anything I would do all in my power to make sure they had it. We have swum together, sweated together, traveled together, fought each other, and fought for each other. We are a team in the best sense of the word. To you all, good luck, and I wish you success. Coach Vargo, Coach Tarn, the two of you have been just as much of my life as any other adult, barring my parents. You've pushed me to excel even when I just want to go home. When I say excel I mean in every part of life, not just in the pool. You've taught me more than just how to swim, you've taught me the meaning of patience (dealing with me). When I am grown with kids of my own, you can be sure stories of you will be passed on to future generations. Now that I am heading off for the Naval Academy, the pool will still be a part of my life, but a different pool with different people. If my new pool, and pool family, are half as good as the one I have now, I will have a better situation than most kids could dream of as they go off to college.
 
 For everything, thanks
 Aaron Aiken
 
   

 

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Graduating Seniors - Class of 2006

Christie Driscoll

Attending:  University of North Florida

 

   Since my first day on the Marlin Swim Team at the age of 6, little did I know how many years I would be spending at the pool, and how important swimming would become in my life.
    I would like to thank Coach Thompson and Coach Vargo.  You taught me technique, goal setting and speed, discipline and respect.  Sometimes it feels like I spent just as much time with you guys and the team than with my own family!  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  I have loved being a part of the team, and as I have watched team members graduate and move on, I realize it is now my turn.
    Thank you Lauren for being such an awesome Harry Potter fan with me, no one could ever memorize movie lines as superb as you do.  You always make morning practice a little more fun!  Thanks for not only being such a great team mate, but also for being such a great friend.  Marc, thank you for all those heart to heart talks and thanks to Matt for being there for me through those many tough situations.  Andrew, just keep being your sweet self.  Christina, you gave me so many rides and were always there to lend an ear and laugh with, thank you.  Jordan, never lose your charm and Aaron, follow your dreams because you are one terrific athlete.  Caitlyn and Amber, keep having fun...just not too much fun and Sam, dance like no one's watching.
    Thank you to all the parents who ran fundraisers, fed us, and drove us to all those meets.  I want to also thank my mom and dad who supported and believed in me.  Not all families are willing and able to give up their weekends to hotels, lawn chairs and chlorine.
    As I look to the future and the opportunity to swim at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, I want to say "good luck" to you all.  Thank you for all the fun, support and wonderful memories.  Each and every one of you will forever have a place in my heart.
 
Christie Driscoll
aka "CD"

Christina Gennari

Attending:  James Madison University

When I was transplanted here from Ohio, right in the middle of high school, I knew that learning the ways of and fitting into a new swim team would be one of my tough adjustments.  A lot of people might have thought that a girl from out-of-town might find it hard to jump into such a close-knit group, but the people here made it so easy for me.  I have learned so much more than just swimming technique - I've learned how to be tough and stand up for myself and how to push myself to the limit when I feel like I can't go on anymore.  In two years, I would never have believed everything this team had to offer to me.
    The swimmers of Senior 2 are who I have to thank for all of my great times.  I've had some awesome memories of being silly and stupid with Lauren and Christie, some crazy times with Caitlyn, and I'll never forget singing in the car everyday with Sam.  Jordan, Matt, and Marc have never failed to surprise me and make me laugh, even at early morning practices.  I've laughed so much with everyone.  This whole team makes up such a unique, wonderful group of people, and I could never forget them.
    Most of all, I've learned that Coach Vargo, the brains behind the operation, really knows what he's doing!  He may seem hard on the outside, but when you get to know him, you'll learn he's really just a little teddy bear.  Thanks Coach for all of the smoothies, dinners, life lessons, etc. that you've given me over the last two years - I really appreciate it.  Also a special shout out to Coach Tarn and Coach Chris... Not only are you guys smart, you really know how to make a team work!
    I will never forget my Marlin experience.  The last tow years have been amazing.  With as much time as we have spent together we've grown into our own dysfunctional family, so you will all definitely hold a special place in my heart.
Thank you!
Christina Gennari

 

 

 
Amber Pheil

Attending:  Indian River Community College

 

 

First of all, I would like to say that my past two years on this team have been great.  I have learned alot, and made a bunch of great friends. Coach Vargo, you have been my greatest mentor, and I have been the biggest pain in your rear-end, and always will be.  Caitlin, you are awesome, and always made swim practice something to look forward to.  Stacey, you're like a little sister to me, I love you.  Sean and Scott just keep being yourselves.  To everyone else keep swiiming in your heart, I promise it's worth it.  I love you guys, and had a blast with all of you.

 
Love Ya,
 
Amber Pheil

 

 
Marc Wollenschlaeger

Attending:  Florida State University

Major:  Premed 

For the past nine years, up until this past November, I have been a member of the Central Florida Marlins family. My coaches have always been there and supported me. The most notable would be Coach Vargo and Coach Thompson. Now that it is the end of my senior year my new journey has begun. Although swimming will not be included within my life plan, I will always cherish the times I have had at swimming. Into my college years I have decided to become a member of Florida State University. I now have plans to go into the pre med program and then into a medical school and onto a plastic surgery program. I will always hold onto the times that I have had at the Central Florida Marlins pool. I especially would like to thank Coach Vargo and Coach Thompson for being there for me and giving me the great advice over the years. Good luck to all of the swimmers, especially Matt, in their endeavors and also to the current seniors in theirs.

 
Marc Wollenschlaeger

 

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Graduating Seniors - Class of 2005

Sherah Aiken

Attending:  University of South Carolina

 

   

 With graduation just around the corner, I've been looking back at the past nine years. I am amazed at how much I've learned and grown through swimming. The sport of swimming has given me the incentive to be outstanding in every aspect of my life. After starting to push myself to my utmost physical limits consistently, in every practice, I found that I was likewise doing my best ever work in school. Swimming has taught me to approach everything in life with a passion, a will to succeed and to perform at the pinnacle of my capabilities. Additionally, swimming has developed in me strong character qualities, including self-confidence and determination, which will be of benefit the rest of my life. It has helped me to believe in myself, to taste success at a whole new level. I've grown from a very headstrong nine year old who thinks she knows more than nay coach, to a strong-willed seventeen year old who has slowly figured out that Coach Vargo and Coach Tarn actually do know what they are talking about!
  Coach Vargo deserves a special thank you. Coach, you not only have believed in me, but you taught me to believe in myself. Thank you for patiently listening to me for all of these years and helping me through the rough spots. I will miss you so much when I go off to college. And also thank you to Coach Tarn. You have helped me to become the swimmer and person I am today.
 I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all of the Marlins swimmers to stick with swimming. There will be tough times, discouraging and frustrating times, however, the times of success, of delight, of happiness and joy far outweigh anything else -- take it from someone who has seen plenty of both. The bonds of friendship, the discipline of practicing, and the taste of victory are the priceless experiences that I have gained from this sport. I'm looking forward to continuing my swimming career in college at the University of South Carolina in this fall. Time flies, so be sure and enjoy!
 
 Best Wishes to Everyone,
 Sherah Aiken

   

Caroline Robertson

Attending:  Florida State University

 

I can't believe that 10 years of my life have just passed by. It is time to move on, grow up, and remember the memories that I have made with the most important people in my life. I thought this day would never come. I was almost sure I had more time, but looking back, it was the best time of my life! Being a part of this swim team has given me more enjoyment than I ever thought possible. Having a support group of teammates, coaches, and parents has provided the opportunity for me to become the person I am today. Coach Vargo, to you I owe it all. You know me like no other. Your patience and determination have fueled me to achieve my best, and your sympathy and concern have nurtured my heart. You will ALWAYS be a part of my family. To my teammates, I wish you all the best. I know I haven't always been the most pleasant person, but I truly love you all. Each one of you has something unique to bring to our dysfunctional family. Keep your individuality, and never let anyone get you down. I know all of you will go far! Of course, none of us would be here without the courage and support of our parents. I have been blessed with two wonderful parents, who I know will love me no matter what. They are the reason I am here today, and living proof of what love can do. All of us have been fortunate enough to be on a team with parents who will love and care for each one of us. I know that as a member of this team, my heart will always be looked after. Thank you for giving me the most precious gift of all, your love. I know I will never find a team, friendship or family like the Marlins. You are my home, and an everlasting part of my heart.
 
 Caroline Robertson

 

 

 
John Shedd

Attending:  

 

  The past five years of my life, have been some of the most memorable times ever for me. I've had the incredible opportunity to meet some of the best people in the world. For all the things I have been blessed with since moving to Ocala, are because of this swim team. Everyone on this team has made me a better person and has also given me some of the best experiences of my life. All of you are the reason I get up in the morning, because I know you are doing the same thing with me. You've helped me to grow as a person and for that I do not know how to thank you. First, I'm going to thank the coaches. You have taken me from a small, summer Patriots swimmer, and transformed me into a small, Senior 2 swimmer. Everything that you have done has made me a better swimmer, even though I might have complained about it; it was all worth it in the end. Coach Thompson and Coach Vargo you have lead me through some very crazy times, and kept me focused on what is important in life, both of you were the key to my development into a true swimmer. Then there are the swimmers, it will be very hard for me to say goodbye. All of you are so important to me; I do not know how I would have made it through life without you guys. Caroline, you are one of the best people I have ever met, we have been through a lot together, good times and bad, and I hope you come and visit me so we can get into even more trouble. Alex (James), you are the funniest person in the world; we all get the best laughs from you. Christina, we are all so glad you moved from Ohio to be with us, you're an outstanding person, and I always hope the best for you. Caitlyn, you're the most original person I've met...ever, and for that we all over you. Caitlin, you still have to teach me how to wakeboard! The Aikens, you guys always make us want to strive for our best; I wish the best of luck to the both of you. The Wollenschlaeger's, keep being yourselves. Christie and Lauren, you guys are always riding with me in the mornings, you experience me at my best, and you two always have a place in my heart. For everyone else, you all are great people, and I hope that every stays swimming and has fun! Thank you all so much for everything, I just wish I could return the great things you have given to me.
 
 John Shedd

 

 
Alex Landt

Attending:  

 

 

 I have spent the past 13 years on this team and now it's my time to go. Graduation is just around the corner and then I'll be leaving for college.
 First of all, time has gone by faster than I had anticipated. It seems like I started swimming in the Senior Group yesterday, and now I'm leaving. My teammates have been my friends, companions and fellow sufferers; I will always remember them. Through good and bad times we have been there for each other. I know that it will not be the same with another team.
 Next I would like to thank all of my coaches throughout the years. My most influential coaches were Coach Vargo and Coach Thompson. They have helped me grow and mature over the years, both in swimming and in life. Without them I couldn't have come so far. I also,, thank them both for helping me learn to set goals and also to attain them.
 Also, I thank my parents for always being there for me through the good and bad times. No matter what happened, they always believed in and supported me. Lastly, to all the Marlins always believe in yourself and listen to the coaches. I will miss you all and look forward to seeing you in the future when I come home.
 
 Best Regards
 Alex Landt

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Graduating Seniors - Class of 2004

Eric Hilgenfeldt

Attending: 

 

   

Well it's getting close to graduation, and with every passing day, I sit back and think of where I would be if I wasn't a swimmer. I think about who my friends would be. I even think of who I would be as a person. Without swimming I don't ever think I would have met any of the people that make up such an important part of my life. I wouldn't have had the privilege of being mentored by Coach Vargo and Coach Thompson. I wouldn't have met my best friend and soon to be roommate. I might even be playing baseball right now,who would of thought. What I'm trying to say is, without joining the swim team and being a Marlin, my life would be totally different. I am thankful I swim and love doing it. But most of all, I am thankful of who I have met along the way. So for the rest of you youngsters, enjoy your time swimming, enjoy the friends you swim with, and have fun doing both. For all of those I leave behind, I bid farewell,don't get too exited, I will be back when school's out. Finally, young apprentice. Keep achieving your goals, stand tall, be proud, and never let anyone tell you anything different. Coach, Mom, Dad, Friends, you all gave me motivation, and I thank you all so very much for that.
 

 Sincerely,
 Eric Hilgenfeldt

Julie Kent

Attending: 

 

 

 

Dear Marlins Swimmers, Family, and Coaches,
 
 As I sit at my computer to write this letter, I wonder how Mrs. Welbes will ever be able to fit in all of what I have to say.
 
 The Marlin Swim Club has become a second family to me over the past 10 years, and a group that I will never forget: my first trip to AAU's with Caroline, Rachel, Marga, and Allison, the pain of Christmas training week and summer practices, Y-Nationals, and the Senior Group.
 
 I wish I could say something to everyone in the Senior Group, but that would take forever. To Eric and Kevin: Wow, time sure does fly! We've been together since the beginning, and I don't know what I would have done without the two of you. Good luck next year, I know we will stay in touch. To Kayleigh: I'm glad you're back...you are a friend that I could always turn too no matter what the situation. Caroline, you are such an awesome person and friend, I know you will do great next year.. Caitlyn L. I will never forget our morning rides to the pool, you always made them interesting. Christie: with me leaving, you have been designated the mother hen...have fun lol. Alex: sorry your wake up call is no more, you will just learn how to set that alarm clock for morning practice now. The the rest of the Seniors: I love you guys, you know I do. Leaving this group is going to be one of the hardest things for me to do.
 
 Coach Vargo you always believed in me even when I didn't, thank you. Without you I don't know where I would be today. I don't know what I will do without you on the pool deck next year at college, but I'll come home as much as I can.
 
 To the rest of the Marlins Swim Team: Time goes by so quickly, don't take it for granted. Good Luck next year to everyone.
 
 Love,
 Julie Kent

 
Kevin Foos

Attending: 

 

The past eleven years of my life I have been smelling like chlorine. I'm probably going to have that same aroma for four more years. This swim team has made me into the person I am today. There are so many things I have learned and friendships I have made. The lessons instilled in me will last the rest of my life.
 I'd like to thank all of my coaches from Erin Lane, Coach T, Coach McDonald, Coach Thompson and Coach Vargo. Thanks to all the swimmers who have helped inspire me along the way and to the the parents that have provided me with my numerous adopted families.
 Through good times and bad times this pool and team have had a great impact on my life. This good-bye letter won't be the last time you hear from me, because like it or not I'll be back!
 
 Thanks,
 Kevin Foos

 
 

 

 

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Graduating Seniors - Class of 2003

 

John Proctor

Attending: 

 

   

 This is the end, the end of my life with little responsibility. Now as I begin to walk away, I am forced to think about all of my memories, the good and the bad. I can remember back to swim lessons in California and the first time I swam at CFCC.
 
 Well, first of all I'd like to thank my parents for putting up with all of this swimming, from the nonsense schedule to driving me everywhere. To the coaches for being role models and helping me through times. And, to all of the fellow swimmers from my best friends Eric, Kevin and Julie and to all of the new senior swimmers. You have taught me the importance of friendship, silence, gratitude, responsibility, and many other words that mean good things. To Eric for being the one that I could always hangout with and mess around to Jules who I'd tell my problems to. Kevin was the one who'd always mess around and get me motivated. And Rachel for always fighting, except when we didn't fight I really did enjoy your friendship. Now this is the end of one chapter in my life and I am about to open a new chapter. There will definitely be a void without the Marlins.
 
 John Proctor

Marga Torres

Attending: 

 

 

Dear Marlins swimmers, coaches, and parents,
  I'm not going to start off by saying, "I can't believe it's done", because to me it's far from it. Of course, My years being in the water, having those joyous 5am, below 60| practices are over, but I will never stop thinking of the countless memories I've had with all of you. They will never be over. The Marlins was the biggest part of my life for seven years, and will continue to be a part of me. I've spent almost half of my life to this day with you! How could it just be over? I believe in the idea that one's personality is a bundle of little pieces of countless personalities of others that we have known in our lives, meaning you all are a part of who I am today. Not only have these past seven years been spent being modeled as an athlete but also being shaped as a person. I wouldn't want to have spent the first part of my life with any other group of people but you, and I'd like to thank you for your friendship, guidance, and memories of the good times and even the bad times, because they have all shaped me into being the stronger person that I am today. I do have some more learning and shaping to do in the next part of my life at UF, but because of you, I know why childhood always holds life's fondest memories, and I'll never forget them. Years from now, when I look back on my childhood, all of you will be there, making me smile. So, you see, to me, I'm not done with the Marlins. I never will be. You will always be a part of me that I cherish, and I will never forget you.

 I love you and I'll miss you,
 Marga Torres

 

 
Rachel Vargo

Attending: 

 

Dear Swimmers & Parents,
 The time has finally come for me to say "Goodbye". I will always have fond memories of each and every one of you. For the past 15 years, swimming has been a part of my life, and I never thought this day would come.
 I want to take this time to say goodbye to the parents who have watched me grow up alongside their children. The memories I have with everyone will always be a part of my life; because they were such a huge part of my childhood.
 It is so hard to say goodbye to you guys, because you are like family to me. We have all been through our "ups and downs" with each other. The smiles and laughs that we all shared will always be in my heart.
 I know I can't mention everyone but I would like to say that I have never known anyone who fought back as hard as Caroline Robertson. I only have one thing to say to you: "Girl, you're on the right track, don't stop now!" I will miss Jules' smiling face at the end of the race saying you did "GREAT", even when I thought it was a really bad swim, Eric's hugs when I was down, Kevin in all his manliness, John P. and I always fighting, Caroline making me laugh when we pushed cars at 6 a.m. and Justin always being tired. These memories will never fade; they will only grow more cherished over time.
 
 To all the swimmers who have moved into Senior II, I have enjoyed this past year with you. If I could leave you with one word of advice it would be this: "Don't take anyone on the team for granted, because one day they will really mean a lot to you."
 
 To the Coaches:
 Coach Tarn, if I could write down everything you say or record it I would, because somewhere down the road I'm sure it will come in handy. Thank you for putting up with my whining, and pushing me that extra mile. Your jokes and sense of humor will be something I will always remember. Thank you once again.
 To my dad, I would like to thank you for putting up with me in general. Swimming was one of the best things I ever did. It has taught me a lot and so have you. No one could have ever been a better coach and dad at the same time.
 
 I will miss you all,
 Rachael Vargo

 

 
 

 

 

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