Aug. 1, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
While many of their peers were on vacation or working summers jobs, many members of the Florida State University swimming and diving team were busy training in preparation for the upcoming season. A select few will take on some of the best swimmers in the world when the ConocoPhillips National Championships commence this week.
Five Seminoles will take part in the meet, August 3-7, at the William Woollett, Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine, Calif. Wearing the Garnet and Gold will be Stephan Conner (Burr Ridge, Ill.), Carrie Ellis (Valrico, Fla.), Paul Erben (Panama City, Fla.), Alex Kennon (Winter Haven, Fla.) and Steve Roof (Canton, Ohio).
“USA Nationals is one of the biggest meets in the world,” FSU assistant coach James Barber said. “The entire Team USA is going to be there and they are going to be fully rested and shaved so you’re going to see some of the best swimmers in the world at the top of their game. It’s going to be a great atmosphere for the kids to compete in and be around.”
The trip to the West Coast is a special one for Conner, who will be making his first appearance at nationals. Coming off of a pair of consolation swims at this year’s ACC meet, the junior will be taking part in the 100-meter freestyle on Thursday, followed by the 100-meter butterfly Saturday. He finished seventh in the 100 free and fourth in the 100 fly at the Speedo Southern Zone Championships.
A year ago, Ellis was just dipping her toes back into the water after a two-year absence. In the past 12 months, she has won a pair of silver medals at the ACC meet and competed at the NCAA Championships. The senior’s first swim will be Thursday in the 100 free, then again Sunday during the 50 free.
“I’m not really nervous because I don’t have very many expectations,” Ellis said. “This is my last nationals so I’m just really excited to be representing Florida State. This will really kick start the year. All the hard work I put in last year wasn’t there last summer, but I was still happy with how I did at ACCs and NCAAs so I’m really excited going into this year with all the work under my belt.”
This week’s national summit will be the first of many major competitions for Erben following his performance at the Southern Zone meet. The junior punched his ticket for the 2008 US Olympic Trials when he won the 100-meter breaststroke last weekend. He’ll compete in that event Saturday after hitting the water in the 200 breast Thursday.
Building on the success from his sophomore campaign, Kennon has continued to make strides every day since coming to Tallahassee. A member of the winning 400 free relay at the conference meet, he’ll compete in the 100 free Thursday and then the 50 free Sunday. Kennon was a finalist at the ACC meet in both events.
“There is no question that swimming against the world’s best is going to help your confidence when it comes time for the conference meet,” Barber noted. “Just getting to nationals should make you feel good in that you know that you can set your goals high and then train and prepare to meet them. After lining up against a Michael Phelps or a Natalie Coughlin, the conference meet should feel like a breeze.”
The most active Seminole at the meet will be Roof as he will compete in three events. He’ll be the first one in the water when he takes part in the 800-meter freestyle Wednesday. He’ll return to swim the 400 free Saturday and finally the 1,500-meter free the next day. An All-American as part of FSU’s 800-free relay at the NCAA Championships, Roof rates in the top three on the FSU all-time list in both the 500 and 1,650 freestyles.
Preliminary heats begin Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. (PST) with finals at 6:30 p.m. Complete results will be available atwww.usaswimming.org.