April 22, 2013
Tallahassee, Fla. — The Florida State men’s and women’s swimming and diving team wrapped up its season with the annual awards banquet on Saturday.
“It was great to recognize the team,” associate head coach Andy Robins said. “These student-athletes work extremely hard both in and out of the pool. We had a great season and it felt good to have so much support from the parents and staff on Saturday.”
The coaching staff handed out awards for the most valuable swimmers and divers as well as the most improved swimmers and divers from each squad. The Coaches Award, the Strength and Conditioning Award and the Academic Award were also given out.
“We were proud to give out these awards,” Robins said. “We had a lot of people accomplish great things this year, but the staff thought these athletes really stood out in each category.”
Junior Tiffany Oliver took home the Most Valuable Swimmer for the women after earning two individual gold medals in the 50 and 100 free at the ACC Championships. The Southwest Ranches, Fla. native went on to the NCAA Championships and earned All-American honorable mention accolades in the 50 free as well as a part of the 800 free relay. Oliver holds the FSU record in the 50 and 100 free and is member of the 200, 400 and 800 free record-setting relays from this season.
Pavel Sankovich was named as the men’s swimming MVP. A two-time Olympian for Belarus, Sankovich arrived in January and rewrote the record books for both the FSU and the conference. All told, the Belarusian set a total of ten records over the course of six events at the ACC Championships, while earning four gold medals. Sankovich went on to capture a pair of individual All-American honorable mentions in the 200 IM and the 100 back as well as a part of the 200 medley relay. He owns the school records in the 100 back and 200 IM in addition to the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay.
“Tiffany really came into her own this year,” Robins said. “She was such a key asset for us in so many events and so was Pavel. For an mid-season addition, Pavel really enabled us to accomplish some great things and he really stood out at ACC’s and won Swimmer of the Meet.”
After a solid junior season, Ariel Rittenhouse was awarded the women’s Most Valuable Diver. At the ACC Championships, Rittenhouse earned gold on 3-meter, setting a new school record of 369.55. Rittenhouse was awarded the ACC Diver of the week twice throughout the year and played a major role in the upset over Florida.
Tom Neubacher was given the men’s MVP for diving. After becoming just the sixth Seminole ever to earn All-American accolades on 1-meter with a seventh place finish at the NCAA Championships, Neubacher also captured an honorable mention on Platform with a 13th place finish. In addition, Neubacher took home his second-straight bronze medal on 1-meter at the ACC Championships. He was fourth on 3-meter and Platform at ACC’s.
“Tom and Ariel had such a great year,” head diving coach Pat Jeffrey said. “I was extremely proud of what both of them accomplished this year and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them next season.”
The Most Improved Swimmer for the women went to Grace Hoffman. Although she was not on the ACC team that competed in Greensboro, N.C., Hoffman went on to compete at the NCAA Championships as a member of the 200 and 400 free relays. Hoffman went best times in the 50 free (22.78) and 100 free (50.49) at the Bulldog Invitational.
Although it is rare to find an improved swimmer among the nation’s elite, Paul Murray was awarded the Most Improved Swimmer for men. Murray stepped up his game and dropped significant amounts of time in the sprint events from just a year ago. At one point in the season, Murray held the top time in the 50 free at 19.35. This season, Murray won gold in the 100 free and took silver behind Mark Weber in the 50 free at the ACC Championships. He was also a part of a relay that defined FSU and ACC history in the 200 distance by posting a time of 1:16.76 mid-season. The team of Murray, Trice Bailey, David Sanders and Weber claimed three ACC golds and two conference records during their career.
“Grace has been battling some adversity,” Robins said. “There are still a few things she can’t do in practice, but she’s worked through it and earned a spot on the NCAA team. Paul was such a key swimmer to begin with, but this year he really dropped a lot of time and put himself into that elite category of college swimming.”
Kelsey Goodman was the Most Improved Diver after she qualified for her first-career NCAA Championships. Goodman earned her spot in the meet after taking second on 1-meter at the Zone B qualifier. The Moultrie, Ga. native placed seventh on 1-meter at the ACC Championships and 11th on 3-meter. Goodman is gearing up for the 2013 World Championship Trials on May 15-20, which will be hosted at FSU’s very own Morcom Aquatics center.
In his last season as a Seminole, senior Nick Klein was awarded the Most Improved Diver for the men. Klein accomplished several firsts in his final year – winning an event in a dual meet as well as scoring in all three diving events at the ACC Championships. Klein was fifth on platform at ACC’s this year.
“I knew Kelsey could do it,” Jeffrey said. “It was just about doing those big dives in the big moments and she did that well this year. For Nick, it was a remarkable year. He did so much that he’s never done before and I couldn’t be more proud. He was a great part of this team and we’re going to miss him.”
Wilson earned second swims at the ACC Championships in the 100 fly and 100 free, while Weber grabbed his first -career individual gold medal in the 50 free at ACC’s before moving on to take 14th in the event at NCAA’s. Weber was the anchor of the sprint relays for a near-three years, claiming both FSU and ACC records in both the 200 and 400 free distance.
“Hannah is the epitome of a team player,” Robins said. “She was put into a captain’s role this year and she’s done everything that she was asked to. Mark’s ability to pay attention to detail is what made him such a great swimmer. He came to Tallahassee out of high school with so much raw talent and he found a way to better himself each day and now he’s leaving with a ton of success.”
Wilson was also given the strength and conditioning award along with Rachel Harrington and Murray. This honor was given to the athletes that stood out in the weight room.
Cole Hensely and Sara McMahon won the Academic Award.
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