Welcome to Willemstad, Curaçao!

The motto for our competition has always been “swimmers without borders” – and we are delighted to bring our event to the Caribbean this year. Bulado Swim Club is proud to invite you to Willemstad, Curaçao from the 14th-16th of October, 2016 for the 11th year of our unique swimming competition!

Considered one of the best-kept secrets of the Caribbean, the island of Curaçao is not only known for its beautiful beaches and gorgeous natural landscapes. Capital city Willemstad, on the east side of the island, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich history dating back to the 17th century. During your time off from the pool, you can explore the city’s heritage, do some shopping, hang out at a café or experience Curaçao’s dining scene. Alternatively, you can get in touch with nature on the west side of the island – known for its small fishing villages, secluded beaches and the 1800-hectare Christoffel National Park.

Hosting the EU Swim in Curaçao during October will allow you to take advantage of the lower costs that accompany the off-season. There are non-stop flights from the United States and from the Netherlands in Europe, with connecting flights available to any part of the world, so the island is easily accessible! If you want to combine your holiday with a trip to the United States, Miami is only a three-hour direct flight from Curaçao. Check out the Curaçao Tourism Board website here to plan the perfect holiday!

The recently renovated Asiento facility boasts an 8-lane 25 meter pool equipped with non-turbulent lanelines, a separate smaller pool for warmup purposes and ample spectator seating for family, friends and supporters. We’ve divided the meet into 4 sessions with timed finals only on Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and afternoon and Sunday morning. This will allow you to have a wide range of events to choose from so that you can have ample time for sightseeing in between sessions.

Teams who wish to make their trip to Curaçao into a training camp experience prior to or after the competition are welcome to contact the organizers for arrangements at [email protected].

We are very excited to be working with the Bulado Swim Club for the 2016 edition of this event. More details will be made available soon. Join us on the island this October and enjoy a weekend of fast swimming and fun in paradise!

Paris 2006
Liege 2007
Slupsk 2008
Aarschot 2009
Neuchatel 2010
Miskolc 2011
Tampere 2012
We have been to…

This year, we’re headed to…

  • Willemstad, Curaçao!

Instructional swimming videos, customized workouts, technique tips, swimming reviews, and more!


A Conversation with Azura Florida Aquatics Coach Guilherme Ferreira

By Julia Galan

Hailing from Colombo, Brazil, Azura Florida Aquatics coach Guilherme Ferreira has been immersed in the world of swimming since he first started competing at the age of 10 with the newly-formed Amaral Swimming School. During his 8-year career as a competitive swimmer, Guilherme was ranked among the top 5 swimmers in Brazil for the Age Group and Junior Nationals, and achieved state champion status over 40 times in his respective age group.


Guilherme began coaching for his home team in 2004, assisting his former coach and leading swim lessons for both children and adults. In 2006, he became Head Coach. Under his guidance, the team achieved the best results in its entire history, becoming Senior State Champions and placing second in the Age Group State Championships.

In 2008, Guilherme moved to Moscow, Russia, where he graduated from the Russian State University of Physical Education, Sports and Tourism with a Master’s in Athletic Training and Preparation. He came to the United States in 2011 to continue his coaching career in Florida. We caught up with Guilherme recently to talk about his coaching experience in the United States, and his goals for the future.

JG: Tell me what your coaching experience in the United States has been like so far?

Guilherme (top row, 2nd left) with some of the  Azura Florida Aquatics team.

Guilherme (top row, 2nd left) with some of the Azura Florida Aquatics team.

GF: I started out in 2011 with the Davie Nadadores Swim Team, where I gained an amazing experience working with Masters, age groupers, high school swimmers and elite-level swimmers. In addition to swimming, I worked with some of the groups on specialized strength training. Among the many successes Davie Nadadores had, we brought the age group team from 37th place to 2nd in the Summer Junior Olympics. We also saw the emergence of several high school state champions and 2 medalists at the World Championships: a silver by Dylan Carter at the World Junior Championships in 2013 and a bronze by Felipe Lima at the World Championships in Barcelona 2013. From the base to the top, my coaching experience has been extremely satisfying. In September 2013, when Davie Nadadores finished its swimming activities, Coach Gianluca Alberani created the new Azura Florida Aquatics. At Azura, I coach the Masters, Elite, and Age Group teams and direct the Strength Training program.

JG: In addition to being a coach, you’re also a Masters swimmer! What are your favorite events?

GF: Although I consider myself more of a Masters Coach than a Masters Swimmer, my favorite events are the 200 backstroke and the 200 IM. As a swimmer I used to swim 200 and 400 IM, 200 back, 100 fly and back, sprint, middle distance, open water. I actually like every distance and stroke!

JG: Where do your swimmers train? Do you sometimes combine Masters with other groups?

David Posnack JCC Pool

David Posnack JCC Pool

GF: We swim at the JCC in Davie, Florida (30 minutes from Miami). The Masters program is connected to the Azura Florida Aquatics. Practices are early in the morning: 5:30 to 7:00. Sometimes we combine some sets together with our High School Swimmers, which is an exciting challenge for our Masters swimmers.

JG: What competitions do you participate in?

GF: Our age group teams participate in local, regional, national and international competitions. Our Masters team participates in local Masters Meets and we are also planning to attend the World Masters Championships in Canada next August.

JG: Azura Florida Aquatics just started as a new team in September 2013. What recent accomplishments have you had as a team so far?

Azura coaches holding the 1st place team award for the Boys' 11-12 age group at the Junior Olympics

Azura coaches holding the 1st place team award for the Boys’ 11-12 age group at the Junior Olympics

GF: We just finished competing in the Spring Junior Olympics in Coral Springs, Florida, where our 11-12 boys’ team placed 1st overall and we received 4th place overall in the combined team scores. We also had 12 finals out of 15 events at the Junior Nationals, with two top 5 finishers. We had a High School State Champion and several medalists. Brazilian Olympian Felipe Lima, who swims for Azura, won 6 medals in the World Cup Circuit and placed 3rd at the BP Challenge in Australia. Honestly, we are proud of these stunning results, but our biggest motivation is to develop every single swimmer in order to reach their personal best in swimming and in life, regardless of their level. From this perspective, I am sure we are accomplishing our goals.

JG: What are your short-term and long-term goals as a swimmer and as a coach?

GF: As a swimmer, I just want to enjoy swimming and swim the fastest I am able to. As a coach, I want to help my swimmers fully enjoy this sport and the sportsmanship involved. I want them to reach the maximum potential of their abilities with joy and fair play.

JG: Does this also reflect your coaching philosophy?

GF: Yes, it does. My coaching philosophy is to develop the individual abilities of every swimmer, and let them enjoy the sport. On the pool deck I try to give the swimmers practices that take them out of their comfort zone, both physically and mentally. I want them to know that every lap counts and every stroke is taken with a purpose and for a reason.

JG: What has been your most rewarding experience as a swimmer and a coach?

Guilherme with some of his swimmers at the Santa Claus Meet in December.

Guilherme with some of his swimmers at the Santa Claus Meet in December.

GF: As a swimmer the most rewarding experience I had was all the friends I made in the pool and all the camaraderie and friendship I found over the years. As a coach, helping the kids to reach their goals and enjoy this amazing sport has been my most rewarding experience.

JG: Any favorite drills or workouts you want to share?

GF: That is a tough question! But I like drills that “force” the swimmer to swim correctly without thinking too much about it, and after the drills have the swimmer incorporate the technique that he learned from the drill.

JG: Thanks for your time, Guilherme! We wish you and the Azura Florida Aquatics all the best!

From the Baltics to the Sunshine State: A Conversation with Merle Liivand

Merle Liivand_1Merle Liivand is a swimmer on a mission. The two-time Baltic States champion and Estonian national team member has represented her country and provided swimming inspiration in the international arena at events such as the World Youth Championships, the European Olympic Festival and the World Cup. After having quit the sport in 2010, Merle realized that she just couldn’t leave the swimming world altogether and decided to make some life-changing decisions. She moved to Florida and embarked on the path to becoming a swimming coach, currently holding ASCA Level 1 certification. In addition to volunteering and coaching in Florida and back home in Estonia, Merle recently became the FINIS swimming ambassador to Estonia and the Baltics. Despite her busy schedule, Merle is determined to continue working to make a difference in the swimming world, and to keep that world growing in a positive way through coaching, volunteering, and sharing her love of the sport. We chatted with Merle recently to hear more about her story and her future goals.

JG: Merle, you’re currently an ASCA Level 1 certified coach. What team do you currently coach for and how do you contribute to the coaching world?

ML: Currently I have been learning how to be a better coach and at the same time helping young swimmers at a swimming club in South Florida. There I also learn how to be a better swimmer. I do a lot of volunteering at this club and also at clubs in Estonia when I return home for visits. I just recently assisted with baby swimming lessons and adult swimming skills lessons in Estonia. I’ve also been invited to help out with Special Olympics swimmers in Florida. I always love to take advantage of different opportunities to help kids and learn how to make the swimming world even better.

JG: When did you first move to the United States and what made you decide to stay?

Merle at the World Youth Championships in 2008.

Merle at the World Youth Championships in 2008.

ML: I moved to the States in September 2010 and I have to say that it was really the right decision. I felt I need to grow and learn more about myself. And what could be better than to live in Florida with so many other international people? I have learned about so many cultures and even had the chance to explore many different swimming methods. Thanks to the excellent Floridian weather and system, lots of different swimmers around the world have training camps there and I have been blessed to be able to meet many of them. Also, my doctor recommended I live someplace warm because of my health. I guess it was meant to live here!

JG: So what city are you based in? Do you still swim or just coach these days?

ML: I live around Fort Lauderdale in a city called Davie. I still swim there and currently I am making steps to get more coaching training. I want to continue getting ASCA Level 2 and 3 certification so that hopefully one day I can make a bigger influence in the swimming world. At least, this is the direction my heart is pulling me in!

JG: Tell me about your swimming history. When did you first start swimming, and why?

Merle with Michael Phelps at the 2009 World Cup in Stockholm

Merle with Michael Phelps at the 2009 World Cup in Stockholm

ML: I started swimming late. In October 2001, I went to my first swimming lesson at TOP Swim Club. My doctors said that my lungs were pretty weak and needed to get strengthened through swimming. My mum also thought that I should try out some type of sport and at least learn how to swim and have lifesaving skills. My main stroke became the breaststroke and currently I am still a member of TOP Swim Club in Estonia.

JG: What are your some of your most memorable swimming accomplishments?

ML: Mostly larger international competitions when I was younger. In 2008, I went to the World Youth Championships in Mexico and in 2009, I had the chance to represent my country, Estonia, in the World Cup. I feel that every single meet has had a different meaning for me. I’m glad I made the cuts to get to this level of competition. Swimming is such a sport where you have to work hard all the time and enjoy your work!

JG: How has your family influenced your involvement in swimming and how have they supported you along the way, or vice versa?

Merle and her brother Rauno

Merle and her brother Rauno

ML: It has been always a good feeling to be swimming and knowing that I am not doing something alone. But I have to say that my brother’s story is what keeps me excited in swimming as both a swimmer and a coach. My brother was born with hip dysplasia and the doctors sent him right away to water therapy. There was a chance that he would never learn how to walk. Thanks to the water therapy my brother started to run before he could walk, so to speak, and now he’s totally fine and a healthy boy! He became a competitive swimmer, and I really admire how he’s able to keep going to practice and work hard with long distance sets. He likes to work hard and at the same time he’s always calm and relaxed. I don’t need to really push him to continue training because he’s really smart and mature in both sports competitions and in life.

JG: Tell me about your work with FINIS Inc? What is your role with the company?

ML: Yes, this is something new in my life and I’m more than happy that FINIS’ vision is the same as what I hold dearly- to swim SMARTER. As a swimmer I always felt that this is the key, but that I was always missing something. Now I have a chance to be the FINIS ambassador in Estonia-Baltic States. I also help them in European swimming! I am thrilled to have this blessing and I have to say they are moving in the right direction in the swimming world overall. Lots of good and interesting changes are ahead. Swimming will be more interesting than we have been seeing up until now!

JG: Any thoughts for the future?

Merle is the FINIS swimming ambassador in Estonia

Merle is the FINIS swimming ambassador in Estonia

ML: I don’t consider myself to be the best of the best in the swimming, but what is for sure is that I consider myself to be a person who wants to help the swimming world and the people who enjoy this sport. I have been there and done that, and have turned my initial negative thoughts about swimming and training into a love for the sport and a desire to help further that sport as much as I can.

Thanks to Merle Liivand for her time and we wish her all the best in the future!


Taisia Kolesnikova: Russian Rising Star


Taisia Kolesnikova

At just 8 years old, Taisia Kolesnikova is already at home in the swimming pool. Hailing from St. Petersburg, Russia, the young swimming phenom has already competed in several international events in Finland and Estonia, most recently participating in the Tallinn Swimming Invitational/Kalev Open this past November. Taisia is ranked number one in Russia for the 2004-2005 age group and frequently competes fearlessly with swimmers several years older than she. A bright, enthusiastic young girl who shows a maturity beyond her years, Taisia is able to achieve her best thanks to the support of her coach and her family.

Below is a conversation with Taisia and her coach, Andrey Zelenyaev, on her love of swimming and her hopes for the future.

Taisia winning gold at the Tallinn Swimming Invitational.

Taisia winning gold at the Tallinn Swimming Invitational.

AZ: When did you first start swimming ?

TK: I started swimming when I was five years old. Then, it was like just a practice at a fitness club. There were my first starts.

AZ: Do you like to compete and win?

TK: Yes, I like to swim and love to swim at meets. Usually there are a lot of people and parents, who are worried about their children. I love winning and showing good swimming technique.

AZ: How often do you practice?

TK: I swim four times a week, usually about 1600 meters per day. Typically, this is a lot of technique work and some fullstroke sets.

Taisia with her parents and brother, Nikita

Taisia with her parents and brother, Nikita

AZ: Do your parents support your passion ?

TK: My mom and dad are really involved in my daily schedule – school and training. They devote a lot of time to me. Also it should be said, that my brother Nikita, goes to workouts with me. He is only five years old, but he swims very well.

AZ: Who is your coach and what future plans do you both have in terms of swimming goals?

TK: My coach, Andrey Zelenyaev, is a very well-known person and a great specialist. His swimmers have many medals from the Olympic Games, World and European Championships. I know that our goal right now is to develop a great swimming technique , starts, turns and kicking under water. The next big goal, is the Olympics in 2020, when I will be 15 years old. After that at the 2024 Olympics I want to win a gold medal!

AZ: How often do you have meets and some medals now ?

TK: Unfortunately , in Russia there is almost no meets for kids my age, and I have to swim with the 10 years and younger age group, at competitions abroad. My last victory was at the Tallinn Swimming Invitational in Estonia and the Speedo Cup in Espoo.

Taisia_2AZ: Did you like Tallinn and would you like to take part in the EU Swim Series annually?

TK: Yes, I liked Tallinn, and I will always be ready to start with the EU Swim Series.

Thanks to Taisia and Andrey for taking the time to speak with us. We wish them all the best for the future!

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