April 28, 2004
LONDON, England –
Turn the clock back to 2000 and Florida State University women’s swimmer Emma Dutton is on her way to the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, a change in philosophy four years later is keeping the 2004 ACC Swimmer of the Year from fulfilling her dreams.
At the English Olympic Trials, Dutton (Bradford, England) scored two top ten finishes. Her best race was the 50-meter freestyle where she touched in at 25.90 to take second. She also added marks of 1:11.18 in the 100-meter breaststroke (sixth place) and a 13th-place time of 57.07 in the 100-meter free.
In previous years, the second-place finish in the 50-meter free would have been all Dutton needed to punch her ticket for Athens, Greece, and the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad. However, for this year’s trials, England changed its selection process, requiring swimmers to finish in the top two of an event as well as posting a specified qualifying time.
“She was so close,” FSU head coach and former British Olympian Neil Harper said. “In most of the countries they take the top two, but Britain is chasing a higher standard and she didn’t meet the standard they set for team criteria. To be in the top eight of two events is outstanding.”
From the time the season began in October all the way up to the NCAA Championships, no conference swimmer has dominated the water the way Dutton did. During the dual meet season, she was a perfect 21-of-21, winning every race she entered. Throughout the year, she recorded seven NCAA automatic qualifying times in four different events. Every time she swam the 100 breast she posted at least an NCAA “B” cut with eight of her ten swims in the 50 making national consideration time.
“It’s a great accomplishment for her considering that she was at the end of her taper,” Harper added. “She had to taper all the way through ACC’s, the NCAA Championships and was holding on for this meet. Emma was a great ambassador for Florida State. She sent a message to any international swimmers who are thinking about coming to Florida State that you will improve over your four years here.”
Given her record in the dual meet season, Dutton was poised to have a great performance at the ACC Championships, but few could expect the type of results she produced. Only two other swimmers in the history of the ACC have done what Dutton did over four days in Charlottesville, Va. Every time the senior took to the blocks, she came up with gold, winning three individual races and taking part in four triumphant relays. For her efforts, Dutton became the first Seminole to earn ACC Swimmer of the Meet honors and later became the first FSU women’s swimmer to be named ACC Swimmer of the Year.
Once again the breaststroke events showcased her talents as she came home with a pair of All-America awards in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the NCAA Championships. During the course of becoming just the 12th swimmer in school history, and the first in 14 years, to earn a pair of All-America honors, Dutton reset both of her school records. In addition, she also took part in four relays that captured Honorable Mention All-America accolades.