Jan. 31, 2004
BATON ROUGE, La. –
No matter how you sliced it, one of the teams close to Florida State University swimming and diving head coach Neil Harper was going to lose. Fortunately for the Seminoles, Harper’s current team was able to beat his alma mater as both the men and women came away with victories over Louisiana State University on Saturday (January 31).
With the 137-100 triumph, the women’s team set a school record for single-season wins as they improved to 15-2. In a meet that came down to the final race, the men’s team prevailed 122-121, ending the regular season with a 9-2 ledger.
“It’s a little bittersweet, but I would much rather have us come out on the winning end,” Harper said. “I want nothing but great things for LSU, but I don’t want their great season coming at the hands of us. We wanted to finish the regular season strong and go into the conference meet on a positive note. I got to see some old friends and it was a great weekend, but it’s that much better because we got two victories.”
The typical swim meet takes about two and a half hours, but the outcome of the men’s contest was determined by just over two and a half seconds. During seven different races, Florida State out-touched LSU by 2.55 seconds and the difference was 12 points in the Seminoles’ favor.
Even though the host held an 8-to-5 advantage in victories, Florida State made up ground in the second, third and fourth place finishes. The Seminoles hit the wall second, third or fourth 23 times, compared to LSU’s 14 for a 24-point differential.
“The thing I’m most proud of, and it was more evident in the men’s meet, is that instead of getting out-touched for fifth, we picked up those points,” Harper noted. “It was one of those meets were everyone’s points counted and it was the guys like Andrew Skaggs in the 1,000 picking up fifth that made the difference.”
Florida State did its damage in both the sprint and distance freestyle events, winning four of the five races. Michael Paulus (Somerset West, South Africa) producing a winning 20.68 in the 50 free, while Joel Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.) hit the wall in the 100 free with a top time of 45.13.
For the past few years, the distance events have been the FSU’s Achilles’ Heal, but that is no longer the case with the arrival of freshmen Thomas Bishop (Houston, Texas) and Steve Roof (Canton, Ohio). The rookie duo went one-two in the 1,000 and 500 freestyle with Bishop taking the longer distance in 9:15.63 and Roof securing the 500 blue ribbon in 4:31.13.
“During the meet I said to (associate head coach) Andy (Robins) that it’s so nice to look forward to the 1,000 and the 500,” Harper remarked. “It does wonders for our team, especially those guys who have been around for a while and have never looked forward to it. Now they know that we are going to be in those races and it takes some pressure off the rest of the team to win all the other events.”
While the men’s meet may have had all the excitement, the women continued to roll along through another opponent. The Seminoles have won six meets in a row, with their last lost coming on November 11. Florida State was first to the wall in 11 of the 13 races, with two double winners.
Senior Emma Dutton (Bradford, England) finished the dual meet season undefeated in the 50 freestyle and the breaststroke events. She notched an NCAA “B” cut time of 2:17.15 in the 200 breast after winning the 50 free in 23.59. Classmate Andree-Anne LeRoy (Nanaimo, British Columbia) won the 200 individual medley (2:04.85) and 200 backstroke (2:03.88).
Florida State swept both diving events, with freshman Brittany Lerew (Orlando, Fla.) taking the three-meter (305.33), followed by junior Tiffany Manning’s (Mission Viejo, Calif.) winning 289.87 on the one-meter. Emily Breen (Savannah, Ga.) -100 free (51.66), Loren Hansen (Pensacola, Fla.) – 200 free (1:52.40) and Lisa How (Preston, England) – 200 butterfly (2:02.95) each added individual wins.
“This is our best women’s team ever and they proved that today by setting a school record with their 15th victory,” Harper added. “It was a good all-around performance. Andree-Anne swam particularly well, Emma did her usual thing, Emily Breen led off the medley and won the 100 and the divers did a great job.”
With the regular season complete, the Seminoles turn their focus to the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships. Hosted by Virginia, the women’s meet is February 18-21, while the men’s is Feb. 25-28.