TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With the first chapter of the 2018-19 season in the books, the nationally-ranked Florida State swimming and diving teams will shift its focus to its midseason meet this week – the Georgia Tech Invite starting on Thursday (Nov.15-17) at the McAuley Aquatic Center.
Prelims will begin at 10 a.m. with the top 30 swimmers and top 10 divers advancing individually to finals each day.
Women’s Teams Competing: (Rankings as of Oct. 23)
No. 10 Florida
No. 17 Auburn
No. 19 South Carolina
No. 21 Florida State
RV Virginia Tech
Florida Gulf Coast
Florida State has showed it possess depth and strength in several events and will look to see how that translates into an NCAA Championship formatted meet.
The women’s team will carry its 7-1, 2-0 ACC record into the 2019 portion of the year, however the No. 21 Seminoles will look to accomplish a few goals this weekend, while competing against some of the top teams in the country.
The Seminoles pride themselves on having strong relays and this season, FSU has the tools to field all five relays at the NCAA Championships with goals of scoring in each race. Under third-year head coach Neal Studd, FSU has qualified and earned second swims at NCAAs in the past two seasons in relays and will look to take advantage of that strength in March.
During the first part of dual meet season, FSU has competed in three of the five events, ranking within the top 25 in the country in all three.
Florida State will be looking to officially qualify its relays to NCAAs this weekend. This will be the first of two or three chances FSU will have to achieve the automatic standards. The provisional standards are also included and can help the Noles earn a spot at NCAAs.
The Seminoles will also be aiming to take down some school records, as they’ve been able to do so at the mid-season invite in the previous two seasons.
Freshman Ida Hulkko has already made her mark to qualify for NCAAs in the 100 breast, holding the third fastest time in the nation at 59.03, however a couple of Noles will look to earn their cuts and join her at the meet.
Her classmate, Nina Kucheran has made a successful transition to short course yards and her converted times prove to be her best in meters. Kucheran has turned in marks of 1:00.71 in the 100 breast and 2:12.71 in the 200, both that rank in the top 15 nationally.
Both Hulkko and Kucheran are expected to challenge the FSU records this season in both events (58.25, 2:09.05), that were set by Natalie Pierce in 2017 and 2018.
There are several others that have posted swims in the top 50 in the country and will keep working towards an individual NCAA bid.
At this meet last season, sophomore Madeline Cohen returned to her home pool and qualified for the 2017 NCAA meet by setting the school record in the 200 back (1:53.51) after dropping a near eight seconds in the race.
The Seminoles have been led by freshmen and newcomers this season. In fact, freshmen hold the top times in seven events on the team, but several of the upperclassmen have been competing very well this semester.
Junior Nika Blank has led the Noles in the 50 free (23.24) and has been a key part on relays along with senior captain Leila Johnston. Johnston holds the second fastest time on the team in the 100 free at 51.31 and has also been solid in the 100 fly (55.56) in addition to her fly leg in the top medley relay.
Senior captain Natalie Purnell has also had one of the best semesters of her career, posting a 1:02.42 in the 100 breast and a 2:16.43 in the 200 breast.
Senior Shelly Drozda also leads the team in two events, clocking 1:59.27 in the 200 back and 4:23.23 in the 400 IM. She has also added valuable depth in the 200 free (1:51.20), 100 back (55.86) and 200 IM (2:04.89) this semester.
The eighth-ranked recruiting class has been a huge boost for the Seminoles in the first part of the season. They have led and provided valuable depth in duals all season and will be expected to display their improvements this weekend in a three-day invite setting.
For a handful of newcomers, this will be the first short-course yards meet in a tech suit.
Below is a list of key newcomers to keep an eye out for:
Name, Event, Seed Time
Although the diving portion of the invite carries a different story for the weekend because there is only one shot to qualify for NCAAs, the Seminoles will look to continue their dominance on the boards.
FSU has won eight of the 10 diving events competed in duals and junior Ayla Bonniwell has taken five of her last six competed, while posting monster scores on 3-meter in three of her last four outings (349.05, 344.33, 329.18).
Additionally, freshman Grace Cable will get her second shot at competing on platform, which is her specialty.
Both Bonniwell and Cable competed at the ACC/Big 10 Challenge against some of the best divers in the nation. Bonniwell placed seventh on 3-meter with a score of 291.55 while Cable took 10th on platform at 286.50.
Live Results: http://data.ramblinwreck.com/livestats/c-swim/
Thursday, Nov. 15
Friday, Nov. 16
Saturday, Nov. 17