Since coach Frank Bradley’s arrival for the 2013-14 season, two Florida State freshmen have qualified individually for the NCAA Championships.
This time around a pair of rookies – Meg Brown and Summer Finke – will be FSU’s lone representatives at the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships in Atlanta, Ga. from March 17-19.
“We need more athletes like Meg and Summer,” Bradley said. “They both have terrific attitudes, they have the right mindset and they both adapted to major changes and continue to make adjustments in order to get to where they are now. This meet is only a start to what they can do over the next three seasons. They’ve established themselves on the path we want to take our program and if they continue to grow and allow themselves to be coached, they’re going to be some of the best athletes to ever come through FSU.”
Hailing from Chelmsford, Mass., Brown is the most versatile swimmer on the roster, competing in individual medley events, fly and back races throughout her freshman season.
Meg Brown swims the 400 IM at the ACC Championships.
“My goal for coming here was to show everyone what I could do,” Brown said. “I wanted to make an immediate impact on the program and I knew I could, but it was so frustrating sitting out the first meet. So I think all of that was just bundled up and when I finally got the opportunity I just went for it.”
From her first race as a Seminole, Brown provided the spark that was desperately needed; the first to establish an NCAA inviting mark in her first meet with a 4:09.82 in the 400 IM at the SMU Classic in October. In addition to posting the second-fastest swim in school history, Brown was also selected as the meet’s high point winner.
“When Frank sent us our goal times, I put down I wanted to go a 4:12 and I thought that was a reach,” Brown said. “So when I went a 4:09 I was really shocked. I was surprised and happy. I thought I would make NCAAs towards the end of my career here, but not in my first meet and my very first collegiate swim.”
Suffering an injury which left her unable to do a flip-turn for months was frustrating, but Brown’s toughness and the support of her teammates, led to a breakthrough performance at the ACC Championships.
Pushing through the final 50 yards in both races, Brown won the B final of the 200 fly and C final of the 200 back with career-best marks, adding to her 10th-place finish in the 400 IM.
Brown was one of four swimmers from any of the Power Five conferences to score points in the 200 fly and 200 back on the same day.
“When I swam for my club team I was used to swimming a huge event list,” Brown said. “So it actually feels weird to sit out a day of the meet. It’s not that big of a deal to me to double up and swim two events. I actually feel that I do better when I’m more tired and I have more pressure and a challenge.”
Finke is a Clearwater, Fla. native and product of the St. Petersburg Aquatics (SPA) club, which is known for producing distance swimming standouts. Though she competes alongside Brown in the 400 IM – her third event – Finke’s strength is long distance swimming, specifically during the long course season.
Summer Finke finishes sixth in the 1650 free at the ACC Championships.
“Coming in I knew I was capable of making NCAA’s,” said Finke, who arrived at FSU in time for summer session and immediately went to work. “I knew it would be tough considering my long course swimming is so much better than my short course. But I kept progressing throughout the year and in the back of my mind I knew I really wanted to make it.”
Leading the distance group all season, Finke saved her best swim for last at the ACC Championships, placing sixth in the 1650 free in 16:17.54, after taking 20th in the 500 free (4:48.36).
“We found out that it [16:17] put me at the final spot to go, so I didn’t want to take that chance of being left out, so I went to last chance and went faster,” said Finke, whose 16:15.04 at the Bulldog Last Chance meet secured her spot in the NCAA field.
Finke’s NCAA experience will be unique as she will be competing against her sister Autumn, a junior at the University of Florida. The two have been swimming the same events at the same speed for as long as she can remember.
“It was separate decisions,” Finke said of her decision to become a Seminole. “I obviously took the FSU route but it’s a lot of fun to see her at meets and race her. We’re about the same time, so we’ve raced each other my whole life, and it’s fun to still do that at this level. Who knows, we’ll probably be in the same heats.”
Roommates away from the pool, Finke and Brown happily share the responsibility of carrying the load for the Seminoles in the water, and are equally excited about their years ahead as teammates.
“It’s really exciting that it’s just us two freshmen,” Brown said. “Summer and I knew each other from another recruiting trip we went on together, so I knew her before and I heard so many good things about her this summer. It’s exciting to see her make it. I was there when she made it at the last chance meet. I was her [lap] counter and I was going crazy.”
“Coming in as a freshman you always want to make a big impact on the team,” Finke said. “But it’s awesome to actually do so. I want to see what NCAA’s are like, but I want to score points. I think it’s amazing that two freshmen made it because it shows how young our program is and it definitely says good things about our team for next year.”