July 29, 2005
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. –
Seventeen current and future Florida State University swimmers participated at the 2005 Speedo Southern Zone meet last weekend with some great results. Several Seminoles qualified for next week’s US National Championships and one even earned a spot at the 2008 USA Olympic Trials.
“Obviously we’re very pleased with how everyone performed,” FSU assistant coach James Barber said. “It was some tough circumstances to swim in, it was really hot outside and they weren’t complete rested so you’re taking a gamble trying to balance getting them qualified with having them rested for nationals, but they all really stepped up big.”
The biggest individual race of the weekend came from Paul Erben (Panama City, Fla.) as he stamped his ticket to the Olympic trails. The junior won the 100-meter breaststroke in a time of 1:04.28 to earn his way to the trials and this year’s US Nationals. He took fourth in the 200 breast at 2:21.61.
Classmate Alex Kennon (Winter Park, Fla.) posted a pair of top-eight performances and qualified for nationals in the 50 and 100 free. He took sixth in the 100-meter butterfly (56.80) and seventh at the 200 free (1:55.73). Senior Stephan Conner (Burr Ridge, Ill.) qualified for nationals for the first time in his career with a 52.14 in the 100 free during a time trial before taking seventh in the event at 52.90. His fourth-place 56.22 in the 100 fly is also a qualifying mark. Connor rounded out his meet with a 24.08 to take fifth in the 50 free.
“Alex Kennon may have had the meet of his life, he had several strong performances,” Barber noted. “He and Stephan both qualified for the 100 free in a time trial, which is tough to do. We’re really proud of Stephan who qualified for nationals for the first time in his career. Paul Erben had the best individual performance of the meet, winning the 100 breaststroke and qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Trials. He also had a huge time drop in the 200 breast.”
Putting together a trio of top five swims was sophomore Dan Keeling (Westminster, Colo.). He took third in both the 200 and 400-meter individual medley with times of 2:08.73 and 4:35.62, respectively. Keeling also touched in at 1:06.97 to take fifth in the 100-meter breaststroke to go along with taking part in two top-five relays.
Some of the top relays at the meet feature a trio of Seminoles. Junior Brett Irvin (Boca Raton, Fla.) swam on the second-place 200 free and medley quartets for the Pine Crest School club team as well as the third-place 400 free relay. Senior Bobby Langsett (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) was on five top-ten relays for Fort Lauderdale Aquatics, including the second-place 800 free team. Highlighting Matt Hammond’s (Daytona Beach, Fla.) trip was a fourth-place performance during the 400 medley relay.
“(Head coach) Neil (Harper) always talks about competing at the highest level and these individuals are what we expect out of FSU swimming,” Barber commented. “They’ve step themselves up for a great fall and spring and they’ll be leaders for the entire team.”
Success wasn’t limited to the men’s team as several women’s competitors turned in strong performances. Sophomore Katie Metka (Largo, Fla.) nearly reset a personal best as her fifth-place 27.13 in the 50-meter free when converted to yards is just 0.14 off her lifetime best. Metka also swam on the second-place 200 and 400 free relays for West Florida Lightning Aquatic.
The best individual finish by a female came from incoming freshman Christie Raleigh (Boca Raton, Fla.). The rookie posted a 1:05.77 to take fourth in the 100-meter backstroke. She added a 12th-place 1:04.74 in the 100 butterfly. Fellow newcomer Kelly Dean (Longwood, Fla.) took 11th in the 200 fly at 2:21.14.
“We can’t say enough about the way everyone performed,” Barber added. “This really shows what persistence and dedication are all about. A lot of other college swimmers are sitting at home on vacation or working jobs, but these guys are showing up at 6 a.m. to swim then come back in the afternoon to swim aginst after lifting weights.”
Many of the swimmers competed for Club Seminole, a summer club with no affiliation to the university. Club Seminole took 22nd in the overall standings with 171.50 points. The men’s team took 13th at 133.50 points while the women were 29th at 38 markers. Irvin’s Pine Crest team won the overall title with 1801.50 points, beating the next closest team by nearly 800 points.