September 25, 2006 - by
Florida State Swimming and Diving Season Preview

Sept. 25, 2006


After an outstanding 2005-06 season, the Florida State swimming and diving teams have what it takes to contend for not only a conference title during the 2006-07 season but to make some noise on the national stage. Now entering his eighth year, Head Coach Neil Harper and his staff have created a well established program with some of the best student-athletes in the country. A new pool is on the way for the Seminoles and once complete, it will only raise the level of success that this team and program will experience.

Men’s Team

The men’s team comes into the 2006-07 season prepared to contend for their first Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. Last season the Seminoles made great strides and proved that they were a legitimate contender for the title after recording 685.5 points to finish second for the third consecutive year and just a mere 8.5 points outside of first. The Seminoles bring back four Honorable Mention All-Americans from a year ago including three of four members of their 400 free relay that finished 15th. They also return their first student-athlete to earn individual All-American honors of any kind in Steve Roof, who took 15th in the 1650 free. FSU brings back six All-ACC performers including three of four members of the their winning 200 and 400 free relays as well as their only individual champion Jarryd Botha, who won the 200 back.

Sprint

The sprint group will be anchored by senior captain Alex Kennon. Last season Kennon put his name on the top half of FSU’s all-time lists recording the Seminoles third fastest time ever in the 50 free and fourth in the 100 and 200 free. Kennon will be joined by Ed Denton who currently possesses the third fastest 100 free and fourth fastest 200 free in school history. The two, along with junior Jarryd Botha, return from the Seminoles 2006 Honorable Mention 200 free relay and their winning 200 and 400 free relays at the ACC Championships.

Harper’s Outlook – “We lose Joel (Roycik) and Stephan (Connor) but we feel that we have some youngsters who will step up. Alex Kennon will keep that group together. He is our go to guy. He is obviously the most experienced being the team captain. He has had a lot of success at the ACCs.”

Distance

The distance group returns two of the best distance swimmers in Seminole history in senior Steve Roof and junior Kyle Young. Both athletes come into the 2006-07 season after qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Trials in the 1500 free.

Last season, Roof shattered the school record in the 1650 free in route to becoming the first individual All-American on the team since 1999 as he finished 15th to earn Honorable Mention accolades. Roof also broke the school record in the 500 free which was previously held by Olympic bronze medalist Steven Parry.

Young had a strong showing at nationals finishing 24th in the 1650 free. He earned All-ACC honors taking third in the 1650 free and in the process recorded what currently stands as FSU’s second fastest time ever in the event. Young also sits fifth on the school’s all-time 500 free list.

Freshman Nick Graves and Shawn Erickson, who were both high school All-Americans in the 500 free, will help add depth for the Seminoles’ in the distance events.

Harper’s Outlook – “We kind of felt that during the transition over the last five years, that this has been the area of biggest improvement. I made a commitment to go out after a few dual meet loses and get some good distance swimmers that would complete us as a well rounded team. Steve (Roof) has been here three years, this is his last year and he is the main stay of that group. He is a returning individual All-American in the 1650 but he has got all he can handle in terms of training partners and teammates to race, obvious with Kyle (Young) who is an NCAA and Olympic Qualifier. We have got a few rookies in terms of Nick Graves and Shawn Erickson. We feel that the four of them will try and out train each other and learn from each other. We expect some big things out of that group.”

Stroke

The stroke group will be bolstered by a strong group of returnees and will feature several newcomers who will provide support. The breaststroke will feature lots of veteran leadership and experience with junior Billy Jamerson and senior Paul Erben. Jamerson is one of FSU’s fastest breaststrokers in history as he currently ranks second in the 200 breast and third in the 100 breast. Erben is also one of the top breaststrokers of all-time at FSU as he holds the sixth fastest times in the 100 and 200 breast. Erben earned All-ACC honors last season for his second-place finish in 100 breast.

The 200 fly will feature three returnees who scored points at last year’s ACC Championships in senior Mark Nicholls and juniors Michael Rice and Ian Powell. On the all-time list at FSU, Powell currently sits sixth while Nicholls is eighth. Kennon will provide the Seminoles extra support in the 100 fly as he and Rice scored points at last year’s ACCs.

Botha, the 2006 ACC 200 Back Champion, returns to defend his title in the conference. He is one of the top backstrokers in FSU history as he sits third all-time in the 100 and 200 back. Powell is also another top returnee in the backstroke events as he sits fifth in the 200 back and 10th in the 100 back all-time at FSU.

Freshmen Corey Swanson and Matt Skinner will provide added depth in the breast and fly events while classmate Robert Padgett will help out in the backstroke and IM events.

Harper’s Outlook – “We are good in a lot of areas. In the breaststrokes we have Billy (Jamerson) and Paul (Erben) who come back with a lot of experience. Both have medaled at ACCs. It is Paul’s senior year so we are expecting big things from him. He made great strides last year and was one of our most improved, especially in the IM. I think that Billy has matured and continues to mature. He has learned from certain mistakes and feels confident about where he is at. The breaststroke should be a strong area for us. The butterfly will be good in the 200 with Mark Nicholls and Michael Rice and then in the 100 Alex Kennon can help us with that. Ian Powell is also a great 100 and 200 butterfier. The backstroke is another strong area. Jarryd Botha will be the go to person there, being the returning ACC Champion in the 200 back. Ian is there for the 100 and 200 backs as well.”

Diving

The diving team returns four student-athletes, all of which scored points at the ACC Championships last season. Junior Alex Tilbrook was FSU’s top scorer at the conference as he finished fourth on the 3M and fifth on the 1M. Tilbrook also made history as he broke the 25 year old school record on the 1M.

Sophomores Scott Derner and Dan Frebel both experienced exceptional rookie campaigns. Derner capped off his season as he qualified for the NCAA Championships. Frebel comes into this season after coming off a strong showing at the US Senior Nationals where he placed 10th on the platform.

Senior Derek Jones provides solid depth for the Seminoles as he has scored points at the conference meet during his three previous seasons at FSU. Freshman Terrence Horner is the only newcomer to the squad. Horner brings with him a list of accolades which including winning two Florida High School State Championships.

Jeffrey’s Outlook – “I feel that our men’s team this year is as strong a men’s team across the board as we have ever had. Scott (Derner) and Dan (Frebel) are doing great. Dan was a finalist for Senior Nationals and Scott qualified for NCAAs last year. I think we have gotten past teaching them the basic skills that they were lacking when they got here and now we are going to see an increase in their degree of difficulty and their consistency. Alex Tilbrook is a junior and I think he is going to do really well. The addition of Terry Horner is a really big score for us. Terry has world level talent especially on the one meter board. Derek Jones comes back for his fourth year and last year he scored at the ACC Championships and it came down to eight points so him sticking out his senior could be the difference at the conference meet. His points are going to very valuable for us this year.”

Women’s Team

The women’s team enters the 2006-07 season coming off their best season ever in team history, which was highlighted by winning their first Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and capped off with their 16th place finish at nationals, the highest in school history. After all of that success, the Seminoles only lost one student-athlete from that team in current graduate assistant and former All-American Carrie Ellis. That means they return three of four members on their All-American 200 medley relay that finished third at nationals and also three of four members on their Honorable Mention All-American 400 medley and 400 free relays as well as four ACC Champion relays. The Seminoles also return individual All-Americans in senior Lauren Brick who earned the honor taking eighth in the 100 breast and sophomore Christie Raleigh who earned honorable mention honors taking ninth in the 100 fly. On top of that, the Seminoles return winners of five individual events at the ACC Championships and seven All-ACC members.

Sprint

At the forefront of the sprinters will be Raleigh, who earned Women’s ACC Freshman of the Year. Raleigh is the reining 50 free champion in the ACC and sits in third place on FSU’s all-time list in both the 50 and 100 free. Junior Abbie King is another strong returnee as she was a part of the winning 200 free relay at the ACC Championships a year ago. She also has the 10th fastest time in school history in the 100 free.

Freshmen Leigh Ann King, Lindsey Guers and Jessie Carr bring lots of potential and will provide quality depth to the sprint group.

In the 200 free, the Seminoles return senior captain Romy Altmann who won the ACC Championship in the event last season. Altmann has the third fastest time in the 200 free in FSU history. Sophomore Georgia Holderness, who swam on the winning 400 free relay at ACCs, will round out a group of solid sprint freestylers.

Harper’s Outlook – “We are excited about the whole team because the only area that we lost was in the sprint with Carrie (Ellis) who was our captain last year and an All-American, but for a team that only loses one swimmer, we are really happy. Christie (Raleigh) had the most success in that area but we also return Abbie King to bolster that group. At the 100 and 200 level, we have Romy Altmann and Georiga Holderness. We feel that is a strong area for us and each of those swimmers can help us out in other events.”

Distance

Sophomore Meredith Martelle returns as the teams top distance swimmer from a year ago. In just her first season, she recorded the second fastest 1650 free in FSU history. Junior Lindsay Kenney returns as the teams’ top swimmer in the 500 free. Kenney holds the fourth fastest time in school history in the event.

The Seminoles also return several experienced swimmers in the distance group which includes junior Elise Hatfield and sophomore Meghan Matherly.

Harper’s Outlook – “We are excited that Meredith (Martelle) is back. She will get help from Elise (Hatfeild) and Meghan (Matherly) as well as rookies Jen Guyler and Ashley Lawyler. We feel that we have bolstered our distance core so that we have more depth and more quality too.”

Stroke

The breaststroke will be strong once again as the Seminoles return both the 100 and 200 ACC Champions in Brick and Holderness. Brick, who earned All-American honors in the event, is the second fastest 100 breaststroker ever at FSU and less than a tenth of a second outside of first. Brick is also sixth all-time in the 200. In just her first year Holderness put her name on those lists as well as she ranks second in the 200 and fourth in the 100. Sophomore Ann Cipoletti gives the Seminole added experience as she placed fifth in the 200 at the conference meet.

Not only did Raleigh win the 50 free ACC title but she also claimed the 100 fly and then at nationals recorded a ninth place finish in the event to earn Honorable Mention All-American honors. The 2006 ACC Freshman of the Year, who holds the second fastest time in school history, will be joined by returnee Lauren Sparg who picked up the bronze in the event at ACCs and also earned All-American honors swimming with Raleigh on the 200 medley relay that took third at nationals. The 200 fly is another solid event as Kenney has finished in second place at the conference meet back-to-back years and is also the school record holder in the event. Kenney will be joined by freshman Tiffany Elias who will add solid depth to the event.

Altmann, the school record holder in both the 100 and 200 back, finished in the top three in both events at the conference meet. She will be joined by juniors Stacy Rademacher and Kate Skaggs, who both scored points in the 100 and 200 at last years ACCs and both rank in the top ten all-time at FSU in the 100 and 200. Raleigh also swims the 50 back as she led off the All-American 200 medley relay from a year ago.

Cipoletti is the teams’ top returnee in the IM as she scored in both events at the ACC Championships last season. She will be joined by Holderness and sophomore Caroline Robertson who both scored points in the 200 IM and Martelle who scored points in the 400 IM. Freshman Katie Stratton will be another nice addition to the already talented IM group.

Harper’s Outlook – “We have the two ACC Champions in the breast, Lauren (Brick) in the 100 and Georgia (Holderness) in the 200. Ann Cipoletti will also help out in the breaststroke. The flies are strong as Lauren Sparg tandems with Christie Raleigh to form a great one two punch in the 100 fly. Romy Altmann is our top swimmer in the 100 and 200 back and we will get great help from Stacy Rademacher. Holderness, Cipoletti and Caroline Robertson are all strong in the 200 and 400 IM. We have a lot more depth in all of those areas so I think it will make us a stronger team.”

Diving

With only one returning diver from a year ago, Head Diving Coach Patrick Jeffrey went out and recruited a freshman class loaded with talent. Freshman Aleia Monden is coming off an impressive showing at Senior Nationals where she finished 11th in the finals of the platform. She is also a four-time Hawaii High School State Diving Champion. Freshman Katie Sirounis is a two-time Florida High School State Champion and freshman Melanie Cabassol is a two-time Texas High School runner-up. Sophomore Carissa Hanna is the Seminoles’ only returnee and with one year under her belt she is honed for a break out season.

Jeffrey’s Outlook – “We have a strong freshman class. We are young but we are talented. Aleia Monden is a senior national finalist on platform and she is very strong on spring board. We are changing some of her board work around this year to make her more consistent. Katie Sirounis is very strong. I think she is going to have a great year. She is looking to get better and I’m glad to get her back because I coached her when she was younger. Her mom was an All-American diver so she has lots of talent. Melanie Cabassol is going to be a big contributor on the conference level. Carissa Hanna is back with us as well. We spend a lot of last year ironing out basic skills that we are going to be able to build on this year.”

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