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Saturday February 10, 2007Women Finish Third in SEC Championships After Starting Out Behind

Lexington, Ky.

A trio of Florida swimmers claimed Southeastern Conference Championships titles on the final night of the 2007 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships to lead the eighth-ranked Florida men to a second place finish in Lexington, Ky. The Florida men tallied 10 medals, more than any other school, during Saturday’s finale at the Lancaster Aquatics Center on the campus of the University of Kentucky. On the women’s side, the sixth-ranked Florida women completed their climb from ninth place after last weekend’s diving championships and closed the conference meet in third place.

 

“Our program has always felt that the last night of the conference championships is our trademark night,” Florida head coach Gregg Troy said. “We swim the 200’s very well, and we’re a very strong middle-distance team. We’ve qualified most everyone for the upcoming NCAA meet on both the men’s and women’s sides, and that’s what we’ll begin focusing on now.”

 

For the second time in three nights, the Gator men completed a 1-2-3 sweep and sophomore Lucas Salatta (Sao Paulo, Brazil) collected his second SEC title of the meet. Salatta’s A-cut winning time of 1:41.30 in the 200 backstroke was not only a career best, but it also ranks him third all-time in Florida’s record book and stands as the second fastest time in the country this season (according to CollegeSwimming.com). Freshman Roland Rudolph (Budapest, Hungary) clocked a second-place, automatic-qualifying time of 1:43.54 to finish second and mark a new career-best, and freshman Omar Pinzon (Bogota, Colombia) completed the sweep with a third-place, ‘B’ time of 1:44.58. Sophomore Rex Tullius (Port Orange, Fla.) and junior Kevin Nead (Ithaca, N.Y.) also competed in the championship final and finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in provisional and career-best times of 1:45.63 and 1:46.41.

 

On the women’s side of the 200 back, freshman Gemma Spofforth (West Sussex, England) made her second trip to the medal stand in as many days, as her automatic time of 1:55.29 was good for second place. Junior Leah Retrum (Columbus, Ind.) finished a second later in a time of 1:56.36 to also notch an ‘A’ cut and collect her second individual bronze medal of the meet. Sophomore Kelsy Smith (Cary, N.C.) touched the wall in a career-best time of 1:58.07 for a provisional cut in the championship final, and junior Samantha Vanderbilt (Nashville, Tenn.) took fourth in the B-Final with a time of 2:01.84.

 

“The women’s team set goals every day of this meet, and they came each day prepared to accomplish those goals. They worked very hard, and we felt that we finished up where we expected to,” Troy added.

 

The Florida men sent a trio of swimmers to the championships final of the 200 breaststroke, where sophomore Bradley Ally (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) picked up his second gold medal after defending champion Vlad Polyakov of Alabama was disqualified for a dolphin kick 75-yards into his swim. Bradley swam a career-best time of 1:56.69 in the event, which ranks second in Florida’s annals. Senior Luca De Matteis (Naples, Italy) improved his ninth-place finish in last year’s meet with a third-place time of 1:57.60, and freshman Clark Burckle (Louisville, Ky.) turned in a time of 1:57.72 for fifth place. Senior Bill Mrazek (Tallahassee, Fla.) touched the wall in a career-best time of 1:58.09 to win the consolation heat, and finished eighth overall following the DQ.

 

Junior Amanda Hartley (Tallahassee, Fla.) was the lone Gator to compete in the women’s 200 breast finals, and her consolation-final time of 2:18.18 marked a season best and was nearly two seconds faster than her preliminary time of 2:20.05.

 

Florida placed three swimmers in the men’s 200 butterfly, where freshman Shaune Fraser (George Town, Grand Cayman) claimed his second SEC crown with a personal-best, ‘B’-cut time of 1:44.98. Junior Tim Hughes (Winter Park, Fla.) touched the wall a half-second behind Fraser with a career-best time of 1:45.51 for the bronze, and junior Dustin McLarty (DeLand, Fla.) clocked a career-best time of 1:50.15 to finish third in the consolation final.

 

“We’ve got the best freshman class in the nation on the men’s side, and that showed throughout this meet. Our underclassmen did a good job of stepping it up in their events,” Troy said.

 

In women’s butterfly action, Florida swimmers finished sixth and seventh in the championships final, as sophomore Stephanie Cota (Granite Bay, Calif.) and senior Ashley Carusone (High Springs, Fla.) clocked times of 2:02.02 and 2:03.02, respectively.

 

Junior Caroline Burckle (Louisville, Ky.) led the Florida women with a fifth-place showing in the 100 freestyle championships final, where her time of 49.60 was 15-hundredths of a second off of her preliminary A-cut time of 49.45. Junior Natalie Pike (Boca Raton, Fla.) finished seventh in the same heat with a time of 49.77, after also punching her ticket to the Big Meet in the morning prelims (49.42). Freshman Elizabeth Kemp (Potomac, Md.) was fourth in the women’s consolation final with a time of 50.38, and junior Daniel Penniman (Pensacola, Fla.) finished eighth in the A-Final on the men’s side with a time of 45.77.

 

In the men’s 1,650 freestyle, junior Tobias Work (Falmouth, Mass.) improved on his fourth-place finish a year ago in the conference meet with a second-place, NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 15:19.47. Sophomore Cody Kauffman (Harrisburg, Pa.) touched the wall less than two seconds later for third place (15:21.32), and junior Grant Johnson (Clearwater, Fla.) also notched a ‘B’ time of 15:21.32 for fourth place while swimming the event for the first time this season. On the women’s side of the 1,650 free, junior Katie Ball (Cincinnati, Ohio) narrowly missed the medal stand, as her provisional time of 16:25.16 stood as the fourth-fastest in her heat. Sophomore Laurabeth Guenthner (Wellington, Fla) finished fifth with a season-best, ‘B’-time of 16:26.94.

 

The four-day competition concluded with the 400 freestyle relay, where the men’s quartet of Salatta, Fraser, Ally and Rudolf finished second with a provisional-qualifying and season-best time of 2:55.56. The Florida women followed with a third-place showing, as freshman Stephanie Napier (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Burckle, Pike and Kemp recorded an ‘A’-cut and season-best time of 3:18.90.

 

Next up, the Gators will compete in their final meet of the season before the NCAA Championships at the Georgia Bulldog Last Chance Meet, which is slated to begin on Feb. 16 in Athens, Ga. The Florida swimming squads will close out their seasons in Minneapolis, at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center, as the women compete in their national meet Mar. 8-10 and the men follow with their competition Mar. 15-17.

 

Men’s Standings

Place

Team

Score

1.

Auburn

934

2.

FLORIDA

819.50

3.

Georgia

395

4.

Tennessee

349.50

5.

Alabama

282

6.

LSU

276

7.

South Carolina

261.50

8.

Kentucky

240.50

 

Women’s Standings

Place

Team

Score

1.

Auburn

899

2.

Georgia

671

3.

FLORIDA

580

4.

Kentucky

384

5.

Tennessee

349.50

6.

LSU

254.50

7.

Alabama

214

8.

South Carolina

190

9.

Arkansas

143

10.

Vanderbilt

82

 

Day Four Event Winners

M 1650y Freestyle

Sebastien Rouault, Georgia

14:52.82

W 1650y Freestyle

Hayley Peirsol, Auburn

15:56.37

M 200y Backstroke

Lucas Salatta, Florida

1:41.38

W 200y Backstroke

Alek Putra, Georgia

1:54.81

M 100y Freestyle

Cesar Cielo, Auburn

41.85^

W 100y Freestyle

Kara Lynn Joyce, Georgia

47.62

M 200y Breaststroke

Bradley Ally, Florida

1:56.69

W 200y Breaststroke

Julie Stupp, Auburn

2:13.44

M 200y Butterfly

Shaune Fraser, Florida

1:44.98

W 200y Butterfly

Kristen Hastrup, Auburn

1:57.10

M 400y Freestyle Relay

Auburn

2:51.31

W 400y Freestyle Relay

Auburn

3:15.33

^ - Denotes SEC record

 

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