Feb. 21, 2004
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. –
There is only one better way Florida State University swimming and diving head coach Neil Harper would have preferred to spend his 40th birthday, but he still got a pretty good present from his team at the 2004 Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Championships.
The Seminoles were nearly beaten out for second place by North Carolina as the Tar Heels held the 623.50-611 edge. Florida State’s team total is the most points scored by the Seminoles at the ACC meet.
“It was a rollercoaster week for our kids,” Harper said. “To win four of the five relays is amazing. I’m proud of our divers, our seniors and the entire team. To score the most points in school history and the way we did it is a great achievement. This is the best team we’ve had here and it’s a challenge for other teams to come.”
In addition, Florida State claimed both of the individual meet awards as senior Emma Dutton (Bradford, England) was named ACC Swimmer of the Meet and junior Tiffany Manning (Mission Viejo, Calif.) was selected as ACC Diver of the Meet. It is only the third time in league history, and first in over ten years, that both award winners came from the same school.
“Tiffany finally put it together like I knew she could,” FSU diving coach Patrick Jeffrey said. “The place where it came together was between her ears. She’s had the talent to win since she was 15, she just needed the confidence. She’s made some changes that have made her more confident and it shows.”
When it came to event titles, Florida State cleaned up with a meet-best nine championships, the most by a single team since North Carolina recorded ten during the 2001 championships. Included in that haul was Dutton’s seven titles – three individual and four relays – equaling the record set by UNC’s Melissa Douse (1992) and Kari Haag (1996).
“The two years before I got here they were sixth two times in a row and now this is our third year in a row in third,” Harper added. “We’ve never come to the meet with a chance to win it and this year we had the opportunity. We came up a little bit short, but we’ve got a lot more to hang our hat on. For a lot of these girls, the championships season has just begun and that says a lot about our program.”
Taking to the winners stand for the sixth time during the four day event was Dutton in the 200-yard breaststroke. She broke her third school and second pool records with a time of 2:12.76, automatically qualifying her for the NCAA meet.
“Every thing she did, she got gold in,” Harper noted.” She was our go-to person. She raised the level of the other three swimmers on the relays. I don’t want to think about not having her next year. Those are shoes that no one is going to fill. I’m just excited to have her for another month and she’s taking a lot of girls with her.”
Picking up where they left off Thursday night, the Seminole diving squad dominated the three-meter competition. FSU divers took the top three spots and added sixth and 11th-place finishes. Claiming her second title was Manning as she posted a pool-record 538.75.
Finishing up in the runner-up spot in her first ACC Championships was rookie Brittany Lerew (Orlando, Fla.) with a 500.35. Rounding out the Seminoles’ top-three stranglehold was junior Courtney McClow (Jacksonville, Fla.) at 484.10. Freshman Camille Akridge (Orlando, Fla.) placed sixth a 443.85.
“In this conference, they are the standard,” Jeffrey added. “One of our biggest meets is still coming up so we have to refocus and do the same thing. The great thing about this squad is that they all have difference strengths on the one-meter, three-meter and platform so we’ve got a great chance to send two-to-five girls to the NCAA meet.”
Capping off the meet was the Seminoles’ fourth relay victory of the championships. The team of Dutton, Emily Breen (Savannah, Ga.), Rachel Dong (Paramount, Calif.) and Lisa How (Preston, England) hit the wall first with a winning time 3:21.86.
Notching her third top three finish of the championships was Breen as she tacked on another All-ACC accolade with her NCAA “B’ cut of 50.41, the fourth-fastest time in school history. Also getting into the top three was How as she hit the wall in 2:00.41 – just 0.13 off the school record and an NCAA “B” cut – to take third in the 200 butterfly.
Joining How in the finals of the 200 fly was Lauren Hansen (Pensacola, Fla.) as she notched an eighth-place finish with a time of 2:03.41. In the 200 backstroke, two top-16 performance were turned in by Katie Byrnes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) at 2:03.01 to go along with a 2:04.23 from Laura Kenney (Plano, Texas).
While Dutton is guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Championships (March 18-20), Florida State should be put together a strong contingency with the various relays. All five divers will compete at the NCAA Zone meet (March 12-13) with a shot at one of 11 spots in the three competitions.
ACC WOMEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
February 21, 2004
1) Virginia 675 points
2) North Carolina 623.50 points
3) Florida State 611 points
4) Maryland 506 points
5) Clemson 294.5 points
6) Georgia Tech 282 points
7) Duke 262 points
8) NC State 229 points
Florida State Placewinners
Event 14 1,650-yard Freestyle
17) Angie Leach, 17:12.97
18) Golda Marcus, 17:14.58 - Career Best
19) Amy Lo, 17:21.58
21) Jennifer Smith, 17:24.63 - Career Best
26) Katie Ronan, 17:35.08 - Career Best
Event 13 400 Medley Relay
1) Florida State, 3:21.85 - NCAA "B" Cut
Breen, Dong, How, Dutton