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Sarasota Athlete of the Week: Luca Simon

The Sarasota High senior boys swimmer wants to lead his team to a state championship four-peat.

Sarasota boys swimmer Luca Simon.
Sarasota boys swimmer Luca Simon.
Photo by Ryan Kohn
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Luca Simon is a senior on the Sarasota High boys swim team, as well as the Sarasota Tsunami club swim team. As an individual, Simon won the 50-yard freestyle (22.28 seconds) and finished second in the 100-yard fly (53.22 seconds) at the 2023 Tri-County Championships, held Sept. 30 at the Selby Aquatic Center. Simon and the Sailors also won the 200-yard medley relay (1:38.71) and the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:13.23). The Sailors boys have won three straight state titles and are in the hunt for a fourth.

When did you start competitive swimming?

I started swimming when I moved here from Nashville, Tennessee, at 8 years old. My family wanted me to be able to swim well at the beaches around here, so we joined the community pool (at Arlington Park) and I took lessons. Some of the (Tsunami) coaches here realized I had some potential and eventually I moved onto the competitive team. 

What is the appeal to you?

It provides a family-like community. I have grown up with these people for about half my life. I love the team. It also helps in terms of getting into college, so I'm training for that. 

Where is your college recruitment right now?

I want to go to an Ivy League school. Columbia might be my top choice right now. I would like to go to a strong academic school that still provides me with a little bit of social time in between swimming and school. I'd like the swim program to be strong as well. 

What is your favorite swimming stroke?

It has changed a lot. When I first started I was solely a freestyle swimmer. As of one or two years ago I started swimming breaststroke, then later I got good at butterfly. Right now I would say freestyle and butterfly are my two top strokes. 

What have you been working to improve?

I have had some shoulder injuries and struggles in the past. I have been working to maintain the strength in my shoulders so I can compete at a high level without getting hurt. 

What is your favorite swimming memory?

My sophomore year at the state meet. That year, I was the only one to shave my head for the meet. I think it was the first time someone on our team went completely bald. Everybody, before and after states, would put their hand on my head as a good luck charm. And we won, so it worked. 

What is the team's outlook for the 2023 state meet?

We're feeling confident. Now that I'm a senior I have stepped up as one of our leaders. I want to make sure we get that four-peat, so I can say I won every year of high school. A big part of it (leadership) is keeping team morale at an all-time high. Like, before the 200 IM at the Tri-County meet I was telling the other swimmers on the relay that I wanted us to win that race all the way through states. We need to keep the energy high. 

What is your favorite food?

My mom's (Monica Simon) pasta dishes. She's Italian so everything is homemade. She actually used to live in Costa Rica and had a restaurant there called Monica's Pasta. She makes the best pasta out there. Before every swim meet I have her Bolognese. 

What is your favorite school subject?

I'm pretty well-rounded, but I have learned to like the sciences a lot, especially biology. 

What is your favorite movie?

I have to say "The Godfather." Being raised in an Italian household, a lot of that movie is relatable. (Laughs.) It's also just a great movie. 

What are your hobbies?

Going to the beach is the biggest thing I do. I like to go with a large group of friends. On Sundays we have started playing spikeball and that has become competitive. 

Which superpower would you pick?

The ability to fly. It would save gas money, plus I could go anywhere and go fast, which I like. 

What is the best advice you have received?

I read Michael Phelps' book ("Beneath the Surface")  and he said he never tried to be the next best swimmer. He just wanted to be the first Michael Phelps. That stuck with me. I have had a lot of idols but I realize now I don't need to copy and paste what they did. I can use them more as guidelines on how to act as I grow up and be myself. 

Finish this sentence: "Luca Simon is …"




Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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