Sept. 26, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
By Jim Henry
When Florida State swimmer Christy Cech hits the water, she has but
one thought: speed. Cech really doesn’t have any other choice. Not
when your race lasts under 23 seconds, or quicker than it takes a red
light to turn green.
“In practice you focus on your form, your technique, your
breathing,” Cech said. “On race day, you let it happen.”
Cech, 22, can let it happen with the best in the country, too.
The senior from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, earned
All-America honors at the NCAA Championships last season with a
fourth-place finish in the 50-meter freestyle. She touched the wall
in a school-record time of 22.54. Cech, nicknamed “C.C.” by her
Seminole teammates, also competed in the 100 free, finishing in 15th
The 5-10 Cech is hoping to use last year’s efforts as a
springboard into the upcoming season. FSU coach Neil Harper believes
Cech has the ability to accomplish her goals, including achieving
“Christy is a natural leader for our team,” Harper said. “She
was the most successful swimmer for us last season, breaking school
records. I think her goals need to be nothing short of an NCAA title
With lofty goals, Cech has lofty ambitions.
She has been around the water and swimming as long as she can
remember. Her grandfather was an established coach in South Africa.
Cech, who can recall splashing, kicking and clinging to pool ladders
as a toddler, has matured and developed into one of the nation’s top
Cech compiled 10 individual victories in the 50 free last
season against LSU, North Carolina State, nationally ranked Arizona,
Alabama and Florida. She also contributed greatly in the freestyle
and medley events for the Seminoles.
What’s probably even more impressive than her
accomplishments, however, is Cech’s positive outlook. She’s polite,
personable and passionate about life and sport. Cech carries a high
grade-point average in graphics design and is extremely interested in
Still, it hasn’t been an easy journey for Cech, who left her
native South Africa in 1998 to attend the University of Miami. While
terribly homesick, Cech performed admirably, receiving the IBIS Award
and competing in the 50 and 100 free at the NCAA Championships. She
also was a finalist at the Pan Pacific games in the 50 free.
“A coach back home had suggested Miami, but when I arrived
they had a coaching change,” Cech said. “While I was lonely and
homesick, it did wonders for me in terms of growing up and maturing
as a person.”
On the advice of friends and coaches, Cech decided to
transfer to FSU. She has blossomed as a person and an athlete,
winning the ACC championship in the 100 free in 2000. She also fell
in love with the university and area, saying the climate and trees
“reminded me of home.”
Of course, Cech thinks daily of her parents and two sisters
in South Africa. They help serve as inspiration during twice-a-day
training sessions that can cover 7,000 yards. Cech keeps in touch
with her family through e-mails and telephone calls.
While her parents haven’t watched their daughter swim
competitively in the United States, they are hoping to attend the ACC
Championships, not to mention Cech’s graduation, next spring. Cech’s
parents are probably well-versed in watching their daughter swim.
They better not blink.
Cech’s events are all about speed.
Christy Cech File
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
TIDBITS: Earned All-America honors at the NCAA Championships
with a fourth-place finish in the 50 free last season. … Finished
15th in the 100 free. … Placed third at the ACC Championships in
both the 50 free and the 100 free. … Set school records in the 50
free with a time of 22.54 at the NCAA Championships and in the 100
free with a time of 49.36 at the Georgia Invitational. … Finished
the season ranked fifth in the nation in the 50 free and ninth in the
100 free. … Compiled 10 individual victories in the 50 free against
LSU, North Carolina State, nationally ranked Arizona, Alabama and
Florida. … Was named the team’s Most Valuable Swimmer. … Was the
ACC champion in the 100 free in 2000. … Member of the ACC champion
400 free relay. … Finished fourth in the 50 free at the ACC
Championships. … Finished 34th in the 50 free and 28th in the 100
free at the NCAA Championships. … Member of the 14th-place 200 free
relay, 16th-place 400. … Nicknamed “C.C.” … Also enjoys cycling
and photography. … Favorite food is lasagna. … Born Jan. 2, 1979.
… Majoring in graphic design.