Jan. 31, 2005
GREENSBORO, N.C. –
When the Florida State University swimming and diving coaching staff set out to find a breaststroker to replace Atlantic Coast Conference Champion and school record holder Wickus Nienaber, they knew that Billy Jamerson would be a good successor.
Like most they couldn’t have expected Jamerson to take over the mantel of being one of the top breaststroker in the league and school history in such a short time, but the accolades keep coming. Jamerson (Savannah, Ga.) became the first Seminole in program history to earn ACC Performer of Week honors twice in one year as the picked up his second award on Monday (January 31).
“There were a lot of good times around the league this weekend, but I think this is a reflection of us going head-to-head with the top team in the country and Billy coming out with three wins,” FSU head coach Neil Harper said. “It’s good for the program and a great reflection on a great weekend of swimming for Billy.”
With the Seminoles taking on the number one team in the country, defending national champion Auburn, Jamerson was at his best. The rookie captured a pair of individual victories in the breaststroke while being a member of the winning 200 medley relay, a race that Jamerson turned around single-handedly.
After the first leg of the race, FSU found itself a full second behind the Tigers. That is until Jamerson hit the water. Not only did he make up the one-second deficit, he gave the Seminoles the lead by nearly a half a second. FSU maintained the lead the rest of the way and posted its best time of the year at 1:29.88.
“That, in particular, was an eye opening experience,” Harper noted of Jamerson’s performance in the relay. “Here we are swimming the No. 1 team in the country and they had in a lead after the backstroke that was to be expected. But then to reverse that and be ahead was a huge boost. That gave us a huge moral boost and set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.”
If that wasn’t enough, the rookie came back to win both breaststroke events. Jamerson was one of only two Seminoles on either team to win a pair of events and accounted for two of the men’s three individual wins against the top team in the land.
In his premier event, the 100 breaststroke, he went out with nearly a half-second lead then expanded that advantage on his way to an NCAA “B” cut time of 55.32. Jamerson returned for the 200 breaststroke, an event he has emerged in the last two months, for a come-from-behind win. After leading for the first 150 yards, Jamerson found himself behind on the final lap. He used a burst of speed in the final five yards to beat Sean Osborne by 0.01 of a second, posting another NCAA “B” cut with his 2:00.80.
“The great thing about Billy is that he takes success in stride and looks for areas where he can do better,” Harper noted. “When you’re hungry like he is, that’s a great temperament to have and a great way to lead by example. He always going to strive to get better and see what else he can learn this week. From a coaching standpoint it’s great to have some who tries to get the most out of every set and every workout you give them.”
A four-time NCSA Junior National Champion in 2003 and 2004, Jamerson has only improved since he arrived in Tallahassee. In only his sixth collegiate meet, he put his name down in the FSU annuals with a pair of top-ten breaststroke times against third-ranked Florida.
His breakthrough meet came at the prestigious Georgia Fall Invitational where he won both the 100 and 200 breaststroke with the fourth (54.49) and second (1:58.74) fastest times in school history. Needless to say, both marks are the fastest FSU lore by a freshman. Three of the names ahead of him on the 100 breaststroke list, including Olympian and FSU Hall of Famer Brendon Dedekind, won the ACC title in that event.
“I don’t think we’ll realize the limits of his potential until he has the perfect race and is done as a senior,” Harper admitted. “He has the ability to qualify for NCAAs this year, that’s a huge possibility and that our goal. We want him to continue to have those goals and aspire to be an NCAA champion. It’s a lofty goal, but right now it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.”
On a national scale his efforts are even more impressive as he holds the second-fastest times in both events by a freshman this year, trailing only Arizona’s Ivan Barnes. Overall, his 200 breaststroke time rates 11th in the country, while his 100 mark is 13th. Both times place him second on the ACC list.
The rookie picked up his first weekly award on December 6 following two wins at the Georgia Invite. Jamerson shares this week’s award with Virginia’s Luke Anderson while Georgia Tech’s Laurissa Prystaj took home the women’s accolade.
Florida State has completed its dual meet schedule for the year with the ACC Championships in Atlanta on the horizon. The women compete February 16-19, with the men taking their turn one week later.