February 26, 2004 - by
FSU Men’s Swimming & Diving Takes on League’s Best at ACC Meet

Feb. 26, 2004

Charlottesville, Va. –

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Who: Florida State Men's Swimming & Diving
What: At Atlantic Coast Conference Championships
When: Wednesday-Saturday (February 25-28) All Day
Where: Charlottesville, Va. (UVA Aquatic and Fitness Center)

SEMINOLES TRY TO TAKE THAT NEXT STEP IN CHARLOTTESVILLE: Always a bride’s maid, never a bride. Four times since joining the league in 1992, the Florida State University men’s swimming and diving team has placed second at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, including last year. The Seminoles will try to buck that trend when they travel to Charlottesville, Va., for the league summit (Feb. 25-28), hosted by the University of Virginia.

FSU LOOKS TO CONTINUE UPWARD TREND: Last season, FSU deck boss Neil Harper showed what he could do with a team loaded entirely with his own recruits as the Seminoles finished second at last year’s ACC meet. It was Florida State’s highest finish since 1999. During Harper’s five year tenure, the Seminoles have not dropped at the ACC meet, either keeping the same placing from the year before or moving up.

FAMILY AFFAIR IS KEY TO SEMINOLES’ SUCCESS: Much of FSU’s success hinges on the performance of the five relay races. Going into the ACC meet, the Seminoles have the fastest time in the 200 free (1:20.58) and 400 free (3:00.57), while ranking no lower than third in the other three. At the national level, Florida State’s 200 free quartet is rated ninth, the highest for a conference relay.

FLORIDA STATE FINDS STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Since joining the league in 1992, Florida State has won 22 relays titles, more than any other team in the league. Only Virginia comes close at 18, while the Seminoles’ haul is more than North Carolina State (9) and North Carolina combined (12). Florida State has excelled in two events, taking seven of the last ten 200 free relay titles, while collecting five of the last seven 200 medley relay awards.

WIN NUMBER NINE COMES IN 122-121 VICTORY OVER LSU: It was a little closer than Florida State would have liked, but the Seminoles picked up their ninth win of the season when they beat LSU 122-121 in a homecoming for head coach Neil Harper (LSU ’88). Finishing the regular season at 9-2, Florida State has won at least nine meets the last three years, a feat the school hasn’t accomplished since 1960-62 under Hall of Fame coach Bim Stults.

BIG POINTS ARE OUT THERE FOR SEMINOLE SPRINTERS: What the distance program is to Virginia, the sprinters are becoming to Florida State. Going into the conference championships, the Seminoles have four of the top ten times in both the 50 and 100-yard freestyle. Senior Michael Paulus (Somerset West, South Africa)-the only return FSU swimmer with an ACC Championship-is tops in the 50 free (20.28). Sophomore Joel Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.) rates third in the 50 (20.41) and 100 free (44.88).

DIVERS HAVE SOME BIG SHOES TO FILL: Another area the Seminoles have excelled in is on the diving board. Since diving coach Patrick Jeffrey took over in 2000, Florida State has won seven of the last eight titles. During 2003, Louis Gagnet swept both boards for the second year in a row. This year the Seminoles will turn top scorers Jason Beinlich (Ridley, Pa.) and Stuart de la Rosa (Erdenhiem, Pa.)

NIENABER TRIES TO COMPLETE COMEBACK AT ACC MEET: This was the season that senior Wickus Nienaber (Simugye, Swaziland) was suppose to take over as the top breaststroker in the ACC. But sometimes everything doesn’t go as planned. Back in home continent for the All-Africa Games in October, Nienaber contracted malaria. The illness kept him away from competition until January and even then he wasn’t at full strength. Even without the benefit of a taper meet in the fall, Nienaber has posted top-five swims in both the 100 (57.04) and 200-yard breaststroke (2:03.55).

FRESHMEN RESURRECT DISTANCE PROGRAM: In the past, the sprint and stroke swimmers felt they had to push that much harder to make up for the points that weren’t there during the distance races. That all changed this season with the addition of freshmen Thomas Bishop (Houston Texas) and Steve Roof (Canton, Ohio).

One of the best rookie distance swimmers in the country, Bishop has the fourth-fastest 1,000 time by a freshman this year (9:13.97)-sixth in the league and 23rd overall in the country-while holding the number six spot (4:28.10) for NCAA freshman in the 500. He is second in the league in the 1,650 free with a time of 15:26.66. That mark already ranks him second in Seminole lore to go along with the school record he set in the 1,000 at Florida.

Joining Bishop on the league’s top ten, Roof ranks seventh in the 1,650 (15:35.81), pushing him to seventh in school history. In the league, he occupies the No. 8 spot in both the 500 (4:29.46) and 1,000 (9:20.54).

Not just purely freestylers, Bishop rates third in the conference with a time of 3:54.74 in the 400-yard individual medley. When it comes times for a third event, Roof will go to the 200 fly where he ranks second on the team at 1:51.65.

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