TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State women’s swimming and diving team made strides under first-year head coach Neal Studd.
“I thought it was an awesome first year,” Studd said. “We took a lot of steps forward and I am very proud of the team and what we achieved. We still have a lot more to go and I’m excited where this team is heading.”
The Seminoles collected a pair of diving honors for the first time in school history. Third-year head diving coach John Proctor was named the ACC Female Diving Coach of the Year while freshman Molly Carlson was tabbed as the ACC Female Diver of the Year.
Natalie Pierce headlines NCAA Championships
• The Seminoles took nine athletes to the 2017 NCAA Championships at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis, Ind. Juniors Natalie Pierce, Christina Loh and Tayla Lovemore along with Molly Carlson and Ayla Bonniwell all qualified individually while juniors Alexi Smith and Ariel Barber in addition to freshman Nika Blank and senior Lydia Ware contributed on three relays.
• Pierce made FSU history after placing fourth in the 100 breast in school record timing of 58.26. It was the highest finish by a Seminole in the race at NCAA’s and the highest individual finish at the national level in any event since Katrina Young was fourth at the 2012 meet.
• Lovemore set a new school record in the 100 fly with a time of 51.60 taking down Chelsea Britt’s mark of 51.79 that she set back at the 2014 NCAA Championships. She finished in 12th place earning All-America honorable mention.
• Bonniwell capped off her freshman season with an honorable mention finish on 1-meter at the NCAA Championships, placing 16th with a score of 274.85
• Carlson also took home an All-America honorable mention on platform, after taking 13th with a score of 241.25.
• Florida State competed in three relays at the meet, placing 23rd in the 200 free relay with a time of 1:29.73 behind Ware, Lovemore, Blank and Smith. The Seminoles also qualified for the consolation heat of the 200 medley relay after lowering the school record to 1:36.36 in prelims, however were disqualified for a faulty relay exchange.
• Loh also finished 45th in the 100 breast (1:01.51) and tied for 30th in the 200 breast (2:11.45).
• All individual swimmers and divers were first-time qualifiers. Pierce and Smith also swam on relays in 2014. After not scoring in 2016, Florida State finished 28th at the meet and was the highest placing school from the state of Florida at the meet.
Rookies Qualify for NCAA’s By Ways of NCAA Zone B Championships
• Molly Carlson was the first to qualify for the NCAA Championships by ways of a fifth place finish on 3-meter with a total of 605.50. Nine of her 12 dives scored above 50 points. She was able to qualify for a full list at NCAA’s after adding a 12th place finish on 1-meter and third place showing on platform.
• On the second day of the meet, Ayla Bonniwell qualified for the NCAA Championships after scoring a total of 562.05 in sixth place.
Diving Leads the Way at the ACC Championships
• The Seminoles were highlighted by Molly Carlson, who took home the ACC Diving Meet MVP honor. It was the first time FSU captured the honor with all three boards being contested.
• Carlson opened the meet with a fourth place finish on 3-meter (335.10) and followed that performance by taking bronze on 1-meter (307.65) before winning the title on platform at 285.05.
• Florida State had three women compete in the finals of 1-meter. It was the most in a final for the Noles since the 2014 meet when Katrina Young, Ariel Rittenhouse and Kelsey Goodman competed in the final on 3-meter.
• Ayla Bonniwell brought home the gold on 1-meter with a score of 320.85. The Ithaca, N.Y. native fought back from missing her second dive to win by a margin 12.35 points.
• Junior Blaire Mulka was the third FSU finalist on 3-meter, finishing sixth at 281.00.
• Natalie Pierce, Tayla Lovemore and Christina Loh competed in the championship finals of their best races. Pierce finished fifth in the 100 breast (59.87), Lovemore was fourth in the 100 fly (52.28) and Loh was fifth in the 200 breast (2:13.00).
• Every member of the ACC team contributed towards the team total either individually or on relays.
• The Seminoles opened the meet in Atlanta, Ga. with a fourth place finish in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:36.41, lowering their school record they set back at the Georgia Invite in December.
• Florida State had 24 individual scoring swims at finals. The Seminoles improved from the 2016 meet to finish eighth in 2017.
• The Hape Dowd Carolina College Nike Invitational was moved to February for the 2016-17 season. Redshirt sophomore McKenna Harris was victorious in the 200 breast, swimming a career best time of 2:16.36.
• Freshman Manuella Andrade Ribas posted a pair of second place finishes in the distance events, swimming a time of 4:54.87 in the 500 free and 16:50.30 in the mile. Sophomore Daniella Van den Berge followed in third in the 500 free (4:55.79) and the 1650 free (17:00.34). Both times for her were career bests.
• Natalie Pierce demolished the school record in the 100 breast, touching with a time of 58.37 in prelims – which was over two seconds under the previous mark set by Sami Pochowski in 2015 at 1:00.49. It was the second fastest time in the nation behind Olympic Champion Lilly King. It was an NCAA automatic qualifying time.
• The Seminoles also set school records in the 400 medley relay (3:33.43), 200 medley relay (1:36.58) and 200 free relay (1:28.97), qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
• Junior Christina Loh also broke the oldest breakable record in the book in the 200 breast, touching at 2:10.55 in finals, taking down Emma Dutton’s mark of 2:12.76 that was set back in 2004. Loh first swam a time of 2:12.16 in prelims, then Natalie Pierce posted a 2:11.20 in the B final of the event. Loh then went faster in championship heat.
• The Seminoles finished fifth at the meet with a team total of 403 after earning 39 second swims.
Auburn Diving Invite/House of Champions Invite
• The Florida State divers attended two diving specific invites that were held at Auburn and the IUPUI Natatorium.
• Molly Carlson was the winner at the House of Champions Invite on platform at both invites.
The Seminoles Go 6-2 in 2016-17
• The Seminoles picked up wins over Florida Gulf Coast, Florida Southern, West Florida, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and the Savannah College of Art and Design all on the road. FSU dropped contests against Florida in Tallahassee and Alabama.
• After a two-meet skid against FGCU in previous seasons, the Seminoles rebounded with a dominating effort of 203.5-149.5 on Nov. 5, 2016 in Fort Myers, Fla.
• FSU narrowly pulled off an upset in its lone home meet at the Morcom Aquatics Center, falling to Florida 157-143. The Seminoles were fueled by eight wins, including sweeps in the 50 free (Nika Blank – 23.34, Alexi Smith – 23.39, Lydia Ware – 23.44) and 100 free (Brenna Ruth – 51.43, Nika Blank – 51.51, Michelle Turek – 51.59).
• The Seminoles were ranked No. 24 when facing Pittsburgh in the Steel City, winning by a score of 193-107 behind nine individual event wins.
• Florida State picked up its second ACC victory over Georgia Tech 190-110. Lydia Ware swam her personal best time in the 200 free, touching in second at 1:49.52. Junior Blaire Mulka also won both boards scoring 335.10 on 3-meter and 297.15 on 1-meter. The Seminoles also were backed by nine individual event wins.
• Senior Lydia Ware proved to be a valuable asset for the Seminoles in relays and several individual events during the 2016-17 season. She picked up seventh individual event victories over four different races this season, but she never finished lower than third in an individual event all season whether she raced the 50, 100 or 200 free, 200 IM or 100 fly.
Odds and Ends
• 17 swimmers produced times that made the FSU All-time top 10 list, three of which were school records.
• After not breaking any records in 2016, the Seminoles set three individual records in addition to three relay records.
• The Seminoles were in the CSCAA rankings coming in at No. 24/25.
• Tayla Lovemore and Daniella Van den Berg competed at the FINA Short Course World Championships following the Georgia Invite. Lovemore competed in nine events while representing South Africa. Her highest finish was in the 50m fly, touching in 17th at 26.35. Van den Berg competed for in Aruba. She finished 26th in the 800m free (8:58.72) and 42nd in the 400m free (4:25.18).
• Molly Carlson represented Canada at the 2016 FINA Junior World Championships and placed eighth on 3-meter.
• Florida State signed nine women in the fall to join the program. Paige Schendelar-Kemp, Ana Zortea and Christi DiPaolo all arrived in January of 2017. Kemp competed at the ACC Championships while DiPaolo competed in dual meets and at the UF Last Chance Invite.
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