Nov. 1, 2003
TALLAHASEE, Fla. –
After a pair of strong showings to start the year, Florida State University swimming and diving head coach Neil Harper wanted to challenge the Seminoles in their last home meet until January. The Tribe responded exactly as the fifth-year deck boss wanted as both the women and men swept Florida Atlantic and Indian River C.C. on Saturday (November 1).
The women (6-0 overall) won 15 of 16 events on their way to a 182-106 triumph against Florida Atlantic, while beating Indian River by a score of 209-69. FSU’s men’s team improved to 4-0 by placing first in 13 of 16 races to produce a 190-83 victory over Florida Atlantic, to go along with a 209-69 win versus Indian River.
“The teams coming in today had nothing to lose and everything to gain, but I was impressed with how we responded,” Harper said. “Part of why we had the 16-even format is because I want them stuck at the meet for three hours. I want them to be here cheering for their teammates then have to get up for the last relay three hours after the meet started. I like the way we competed. The results I saw were exactly what I wanted to see.”
Both squads had their best meet of the early season with several top times posted against the Owls and Pioneers. As a team, the women produced 21 season-best times with eight of the them ranking as the best FSU swims of the year. The men accumulated 24 top times for 2003-04 with five topping the season charts.
A core of three swimmers and one diver did a majority of the damage for the women as the quartet won eight events. Junior Lisa How (Preston, England) notched the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best times of the year in her first place swims. She took the 200 butterfly in a time of 2:01.11, just 0.5 off her career-best, then came back to post a 56.24 to win the 100 fly.
Joining How in the winner’s circle was Katie Byrnes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) as she won both backstroke events with top times of 58.02 in the 100 and a 200 time of 2:03.86. Senior Emma Dutton (Bradford, England) was victorious in the 50 freestyle (23.47)-the best mark in the ACC this year-and 200 breaststroke (2:18.71). On the board, junior Tiffany Manning (Mission Viejo, Calif.) swept both events by scoring a 287.10 on the one-meter board before taking the three-meter at 315.98.
“That tells you that our top end kids are very good,” Harper added. “We’re certainly going to call upon them throughout the year. If we’re firing on all cylinders, we’re a real good dual meet team. It’s critical that the girls are up and ready for it.”
While four athletes won half the events for the women, the men spread the wealth around as nine different swimmers and divers won at least one contest. The first winner on the day, freshman Tommy Bishop (Houston, Texas) got the meet started in style as the hit the wall with a time of 15:46.51 in the 1,650 free. The top time in the ACC this year, that mark ranks ninth in school history and is the men’s best mark in the mile since the 2000 season.
Even though there were nine double winners, a pair of Seminoles did double up on the blue ribbons. Senior Matt Wheeler (Houston, Texas) had one of his best meets in recent times. The team captain won the 200 butterfly with the best FSU mark of the year, 1:53.68, then came back to win the 200 individual medley (1:58.65).
Sophomore Joel Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.) won a pair of events and took part in the wining 200 medley relay. He posted a winning time of 45.91 in the 100 free then added a 50.74, the fifth-best time in the league, to take the 100 fly. Roycik also placed second in the 200 freestyle.
“Those guys have taken charge. They’ve taken it upon themselves to step forward. They are leaders anyway and they were leaders in the pool today,” Harper said of Wheeler and Roycik. “I saw a lot of confidence out of them. Having nine people step forward and win events says something about what we’ve been emphasizing and that is that our overall strength is our depth.”
After three-straight home meets to start the year, the Seminoles go on the road now for the next two months. Next week the women travel to Michigan to take on the Wolverines and Michigan State, while the men dip into ACC competition against Clemson.