March 8, 2004
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Having successfully dominated the awards stand at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, the Florida State University women’s swimming and diving team has its eyes on a bigger prize. Five Seminoles will compete against the nation’s best swimmers March 18-20 at the NCAA Championships, hosted by Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.
Making up the Florida State contingency in the pool will be Emma Dutton (Bradford, England), Emily Breen (Savannah, Ga.), Lisa How (Preston, England), Rachel Dong (Paramount, Calif.) and Lauren Brick (Culpeper, Va.). The Seminoles will add to their representation this week when the divers compete at the NCAA Diving Zone “B” Qualifier in Athens, Ga.
“We’ve never had five girls make it individual and that says a lot about the standard this team is setting,” FSU head coach Neil Harper said. “With the five that allows us to swim four really good relays and score some points. A lot of teams are still trying to get four in for a relay, but we’ve already achieved that.”
The Seminoles placed all five of their swimmers on their own merits with their qualifying times throughout the year and at the ACC meet. Florida State also qualified three of its relays – 200 medley, 200 and 400 freestyle – but since it has at least four swimmers in the meet already, FSU can enter as many as five relays.
Florida State is the only conference team to qualify a relay and Dutton is the only swimmer in the league with three different qualifying times in the top eight. Excluding the diving, the Tribe’s representation will compete in nine events, tying North Carolina for second in the league and two back of Virginia.
The only Florida State swimmer to automatically qualify for the meet was Dutton by virtue of her NCAA “A” cut times in the 50 freestyle, 100 and 200 breaststroke. The Swimmer of the Meet at the ACC Championships, she rates seventh in the 100 breaststroke with number eight times in the 50 free and 200 breast.
“Emma had a great conference meet and you would like to see her do that performance some justice by repeating it at the NCAAs,” Harper added. “She has three great opportunities to become an All-American. She’s a racer and she’s up for any meet at anytime and I think she wants this more than any other meet.”
Dutton will be joined in the 100 breaststroke by Dong and Brick with the FSU trio making up the second-highest representation in a single event, just one behind Virginia’s four swimmers in the 400 meter freestyle. Brick is the first Seminole freshman swimmer to qualify for the NCAA meet since current assistant coach Anne Blachford reach the event as a rookie in 1997.
Joining Dutton on the list of three-event participants is Breen as she will take part in the 50 and 100 free as well as the 100 butterfly. Also wearing the Garnet and Gold during the 100 fly will be How to go along with her swim at the 200-meter distance.
One thing going in the Seminoles’ favor is their familiarity with the Aggies’ pool. During the fall, Florida State took fourth at the Texas A&M Invitational. The invitational, as well as the NCAA meet, will be swum in short-course meters since it is an Olympic year.
“It’s good that we have gone there and competed well, it gives you a little piece of mind,” Harper noted. “When you go somewhere new, whether it’s superstition or rehearsal, you’re not certain how well you’re going to do, but our kids like the pool and they’ve done well there. With at least five swimmers there and then a couple of divers, there is going to be security in numbers. You don’t want to be the only one at a big meet like this.”
Florida State has had at least one All-American during all four years of Harper’s tenure in Tallahassee, including three relays in his inaugural season of 2000. Last season diver Tiffany Manning (Mission Viejo, Calif.) kept the streak alive with her accolade on the platform.