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Wednesday February 7, 2007Swimming Opens SEC Championships, Men's Relay Wins 800 FR for Sixth-Straight Year

Lexington, Ky.

The University of Florida swimming and diving teams made a strong statement on the opening day of the 2007 Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships, as the eighth-ranked Florida men dominated the 800 freestyle relay for the sixth-straight year, and the sixth-ranked Florida women collected two NCAA automatic-qualifying times on Wednesday in Lexington, Ky. The men remained in second place following last weekend’s diving portion of the conference meet, and the women climbed three places to sit in sixth place after day one at Kentucky’s Lancaster Aquatic Center.

 

For the sixth time in as many years, the Florida men’s relay team earned the SEC title in the 800 free relay, as the four-man squad comprised of junior Grant Johnson (Clearwater, Fla.), sophomore Lucas Salatta (Sao Paulo, Brazil), freshman Shaune Fraser (George Town, Grand Cayman) and freshman Roland Rudolph (Budapest, Hungary), posted an NCAA automatic-qualifying time of 6:22.31, which marked both the nation’s fastest time of the 2006-07 season (according to CollegeSwimming.com) and the eighth-best time in Florida history. With the mark, the Florida squad also posted a new Lancaster Aquatic Center pool record, which was previously set by Auburn in 1999. Lead off swimmer Johnson just missed an ‘A’ cut in the 200 free by three-tenths of a second as he touched the wall in 1:35.87.

 

The Florida men’s quartet of Omar Pinzon (Bogota, Colombia), Bradley Ally (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Fraser and Daniel Penniman (Pensacola, Fla.) opened the meet with a third-place finish in the 200 medley relay after clocking in a ‘B’ time of 1:27.41, which topped Florida’s previous season-best by nearly two seconds. With the time, the relay team captured the eighth-best all-time ranking in Florida’s record book.

 

“This was a good night for us. Both relays were probably good enough to qualify for the NCAA meet, but unfortunately, the men opened the meet with what could probably be considered their weakest relay,” Florida head coach Gregg Troy said. “Overall, we were happy with the splits we swam, and it was a good night.”

 

The women’s 800 freestyle relay team of juniors Caroline Burckle (Louisville, Ky.), Natalie Pike (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Leah Retrum (Columbus, Ind.), as well as freshman Elizabeth Kemp (Potomac, Md.), eclipsed the team’s previous season-best time of 7:30.09 to notch a 7:08.30, good for fourth place, an NCAA automatic-qualifying time, and to tie Florida’s seventh-best all-time mark. Burckle posted the Florida women’s first ‘A’ cut in the 200 free while swimming the lead leg in a time of 1:46.54

 

The women’s foursome of Samantha Vanderbilt (Nashville, Tenn.), Burckle, Lauren Winter (Dalkeith, Australia) and Stephanie Napier (Chattanooga, Tenn.) began the postseason with a NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 1:40.35, marking a season-best and also ranking eighth all-time in the Florida annals, en route to a fourth-place finish in the 200 MR. 

 

“We thought we might be a little bit better in the women’s 800 free relay, but again, we made the NCAA standard, and that’s what we needed to do. This is a four-day competition, and we need to get a good night of sleep and come back tomorrow ready to go,” Troy added.

 

During relay time trials held earlier in the afternoon, the 200 MR men’s quartet of Salatta, Bill Mrazek (Tallahassee, Fla.), Tim Hughes (Winter Park, Fla.) and Ron Ballatore (Gainesville, Fla.) notched a ‘B’ time of 1:28.71 in the event, while the women’s foursome of Jenne Ballatore (Gainesville, Fla.), Sarah Peterson (Franklin, Tenn.), Kristen Beales (Arlington, Va.) and Elizabeth Goldson (Glen Cove, N.Y.) recorded a provisional time of 7:20.54 in the 800 freestyle relay. Ballatore also recorded an individual ‘B’ cut, as she led off the relay with a 200 free time of 1:49.46.

 

The Gators return to SEC action Thursday with day two of the conference championships. Live results can be seen via live scoring by visiting www.ukathletics.com. A full recap, scoring summary and quotes from Gator finals swimmers will be available following the conclusion of each day at www.gatorzone.com.

 

Men’s Standings

Place

Team

Score

1.

Auburn

251

2.

FLORIDA

144

3.

Georgia

110

4.

Alabama

107

5.

Tennessee

92

6.

South Carolina

89

7.

LSU

77

8.

Kentucky

23

 

Women’s Standings

Place

Team

Score

1.

Auburn

164

2.

Kentucky

159

3.

LSU

155.50

4.

Tennessee

109

5.

Georgia

102.50

6.

FLORIDA

76

7.

Arkansas

70

8.

Alabama

67

9.

South Carolina

52

10.

Vanderbilt

32

 

Day One Event Winners

M 200y Medley Relay

Auburn

1:24.63^

W 200y Medley Relay

Auburn

1:38.97

M 800y Freestyle Relay

Florida

6:22.31

W 800y Freestyle Relay

Auburn

7:04.12

^ - Denotes SEC record

 

SEC Championships Schedule for Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007:

Preliminary Competition

10 a.m.         500 Freestyle

                   200 IM

                   50 Freestyle

                   200 Freestyle Relay Time Trial

 

Finals Competition

6 p.m.           500 Freestyle Final

                   200 IM Final

                   50 Freestyle Final

                   200 Freestyle Relay Timed Final

 

*Events are both men’s and women’s at scheduled time, unless otherwise noted.

 

-UF-

 

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