Feb. 26, 2005
ATLANTA, Ga. –
It was a fitting ending to a great performance. From the first day of the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships, Florida State head coach Neil Harper talked about how well his team was doing. The Seminoles put the exclamation point on the end of the meet as the 400 freestyle relay captured the league title on Saturday (February 26).
Florida State easily collected its third-straight second-place finish at the league meet, scoring 580 points, the most ever during Harper’s tenure and the most since the 1999 when FSU total a school-high 697.5 points. Virginia claimed its seventh-straight league title with a total of 726.5 markers. Host Georgia Tech moved up to take third, posting 429 points.
“Everything just came together today,” Harper said. “We’re a very young team and some times were in aw of Virginia and some of the great swimmers the other teams have and it wasn’t until the last day that our kids realized that `hey, not only can we compete with these guys, we’re better than most of them and we need to aspire to that.
“We did great job this morning and we did every better tonight. All our youngsters finally realized that this is what it’s all about and if we all get together and pump each other up that we can do some great things and we had a great evening.”
Going into the final event, Florida State had yet to stand at the top of the awards stand. The drought ended with the 400 free relay as the quartet of Joel Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.), Alex Kennon (Winter Haven, Fla.), Michael Averett (Davie, Fla.) and Ed Denton (Maidenhead, England) brought home the gold medal. The foursome posted a new Georgia Tech Aquatic Center record with an NCAA “B” cut time of 2:57.26. It was the first time since the 1999 season that the Seminoles won the race.
“The relay was awesome because they were the ones that inspired us in the morning,” Harper noted. “It was a great, great way to finish. Those four basically trained well together, they’ve really given it their all in the pool and in the weight room. To get together as a foursome, they all went 44’s, was just a great effort and for us to get our first win in the last event sort of culminated a great year for us.”
Since 1994, Chip Haberstroh held the school record in the 1,650 freestyle until it was broke three times in less than two hours on Saturday night. When the water settled the new record holder is Thomas Bishop (Houston, Texas). The sophomore earned his first All-ACC honors with a new standard and NCAA “B” Cut of 15:08.47 to take third. Not only did Bishop take down Haperstroh’s record, he reset his own 1,000 free mark during the race with a split of 9:07.98.
For and hour and a half, the 1,650 record belong to Bishop’s classmate Steve Roof (Canton, Ohio). During a timed final, he moved up to sixth overall with a career-low 15:16.48, a NCAA provisional time. Had it not been for his teammates, Kyle Young (Oviedo, Fla.) himself would have broken the school record with his 11th-place swim. The freshman produced an NCAA “B” time of 15:23.50 that rates third in school history.
“That was amazing,” Harper commented. “We knew they were swimming well, just like everyone else was and they had it in their mindset. Steve and Kyle got it set up; both of them broke the school record and threw the gauntlet down for Tommy. He rose to the occasion and didn’t step down from the challenge. Those three have trained hard with the girls and (assistant coach) James (Barber) and I’m so glad to see their hard work pay off.”
The medal stand is becoming a familiar place for rookie sensation Billy Jamerson (Savannah, Ga.). The freshman picked up his second individual award, and fourth overall, with an NCAA “B” Cut of 1:59.52 to take second in the 200 breaststroke. “What’s good about him is that he’s a freshman and for him to be here and compete at the level is just great, he’s competing against some who’s an NCAA finalist,” Harper noted.
“He got after it and gave it his all. He was on course for a new school record at the 150, he’s got guts. That was the theme for tonight. He was the one that we basically knew had made the NCAA meet before he came here so I didn’t rest him that much and you could see. He wasn’t totally fresh because he’s got bigger fish to fry and we want him to score at NCAA’s.”
Giving the Seminoles a trifecta in the freshman All-ACC department was rookie Jarryd Botha (Worcester, England) in the 200-yard backstroke. The semester addition put his name down as the third-fastest in school history with his NCAA provisional time of 1:46.26 to take third. Not since the trio of Stephen Parry, Brendon Dedekind and Matt McVittie collected all-conference honors in 1996 has FSU had three rookies accomplish the feat.
“With Jarryd I was just hoping and praying that it was coming,” Harper admitted. “You look at him, he’s a big specimen with raw talent and we’ve been working with him as hard as we can to hone those skills. He got in the mood. He saw the milers do great things, knew the four 100 guys were coming up so he thought `maybe it’s my turn.’ He almost got second, he lost to a past champion and ACC Swimmer of the Year so we’re really proud of everything he’s done and I can’t wait for the next three years with him.”
Florida State’s most bountiful haul of points during the individual events came in the 100 freestyle where the Seminoles had four of the top eight entries. Earning his second all-conference accolade in as many nights was the co-captain Roycik. The junior lowered his career-best time from the prelims for an NCAA “B” cut time of 44.34 that place his third all-time in FSU history.
Also registering a “B” cut was Denton as he placed sixth in a mark of 44.83 to earn him the eighth-fastest time in school history. The third Seminole under 45.00 was senior captain Averett as he produced a career-best 44.91 to take seventh. The fourth career-best time of the race belonged to Kennon with a new personal standard and eighth-place time of 45.08.
“You want to get all your guys in the finals and to get your top four in says a lot, especially at this level it is a credit to them,” Harper added. “For them to improve and go faster at night, they’re big gamers. To turn around 45 minutes later and get together as a team and win the final event in a great time is a tribute to them and their character and the team in general.”
Equaling his career-best time during the finals 200 backstroke was freshman Ian Powell (Guernsey, Channel Islands) as he registered a sixth-place time of 1:47.63. Capturing a career-best time that rates as the eighth-best in Seminole lore was junior Jared Heine (Honolulu, Hawaii) with his time of 1:49.40 to take 12th.
Taking 11th overall in 200 breaststroke with a personal-best time of 2:02.87 that got him the last spot on the Florida State all-time top ten was sophomore Paul Erben (Panama City, Fla.). Taking part in the bonus heat, freshman Dan Keeling (Westminster, Colo.) posted a time of 2:07.10.
A pair of seniors ended their careers with season-best marks in the 1,650 freestyle. Alan Ribeiro (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) touched in with a time of 16:14.74. Close behind was his teammate Andrew Skaggs (Jacksonville, Fla.) as he wrapped up his four-year tenure at 16:18.49.
With the conclusion of the league championships, the Seminoles will now wait to see which swimmers with NCAA provisional times will make the national championships, March 24-26, in Minneapolis, Minn. FSU’s divers will take part in the NCAA Zone Qualifier in Atlanta, March 11-13, for a spot in the NCAA meet.