Oct. 30, 2003
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Going into the 2003-04 season, Florida State University swimming and diving head coach Neil Harper knew that he was going to have two of his best teams. Now the fifth-year deck boss has confirmation of that as both the men’s and women’s programs are ranked in the first top 25 poll released by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America.
After reaching a peak of 20th last season, the men’s squad begins the 2003-04 campaign ranked 19th. The women start the year just one spot behind the men at 20th. During the 2002-03 season the women found themselves ranked as high as 21st.
“It’s a pleasant surprise and we’re excited about it,” Harper said. “As a staff we think it’s well deserved and there are a lot of people around the country who think we are worthy. It’s a testament to how we finished up last year. We were a strong dual meet team and I think the rankings reflect that. Now the test is to see if we can maintain it and we’re going to work hard to stay in the rankings.”
Both squads are off to a great start this season. The men boast a 2-0 record, while the women are undefeated in all four meets. Over the last two seasons the Seminoles have finished with no less than ten wins on both sides of the pool, a first for Florida State. FSU is back in action on Saturday (November 1) when it takes on Florida Atlantic and Indian River C.C. in an 11 a.m. meet at the Leach Center.
Florida State’s men’s program rates second in the poll among Atlantic Coast Conference schools. Only the University of Virginia, which checks in at number nine, is ranked higher than the Seminoles. The University of North Carolina is the third conference representative at No. 24. The women find themselves ranked by North Carolina (15th) and Virginia (17th), but ahead of No. 21 Maryland.
“In my opinion it’s a great start for us. It’s higher than both teams were ranked at any point last year,” Harper added. “When you have a number on your back you’ve got a target and it’s easier for other teams to get up for the meet. The challenge for us is to perform admirably week in and week out.”
As the Seminoles look ahead on their schedule, they find several opponents ranked in the top 25. On November 11, Florida State will face instate rival Florida with the Gators rated second on the women’s side and the men sixth. The weekend before the showdown with UF, the women will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., to take on the No. 16 Michigan Wolverines.
“We’re definitely not shying away from anyone. The mark of a good team is to race the best and you have to beat the best to show that you belong up there with them,” Harper noted. “The teams ranked ahead of us gives us a challenge and will be a good indication if we can compete with them.”
Prior to Thanksgiving, Florida State will swim its biggest meet of the fall when it travels to the Texas A&M Invitational. Six of the seven women’s teams in the event are ranked to start the season. Topping the list is SMU at number eight, followed by UCLA (11th), the host Aggies (17th), UVA and Notre Dame (19th). Texas A&M men’s team is 15th with No. 9 Virginia and SMU, who received top 25 votes, rounding out the meet.