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Freshman Gemma Spofforth and junior Leah Retrum captured two of the top four spots in the 200 back.

Saturday March 10, 2007Spofforth's First NCAA Title Caps Championships For Women's Swimming

Minneapolis, MN

Freshman Gemma Spofforth and junior Leah Retrum captured two of the top four spots in the 200 back.

University of Florida freshman Gemma Spofforth (West Sussex, England) won the 200 back with a University Aquatics Center and UF-record time of 1:52.96 on Saturday night at the 2007 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, becoming the first Gator in 17 years to claim an individual national title in a backstroke event. She is also the first UF freshman to win an NCAA crown since Allison Wagner won the 400 IM in 1995.

 

The Gators finished in seventh place with 203 points, marking their eighth top-10 finish in head coach Gregg Troy’s nine years at the helm. The 14-member UF squad garnered an individual national title, 30 All-America honors, four school records, 16 career bests and 10 times that rank in the program’s all-time top-10.

 

“I’m really proud of this group of girls,” Troy said. “They did a great job all season long and they faced a lot of adversity. No one complained, and they put it all together this weekend. This is a really great group of girls.”

 

Spofforth, who finished fourth and established a school record in the 100 back on Friday, captured the Florida women’s first NCAA title since 1996, and the program’s 79th overall crown. Kristen Linehan was the last Gator to top the field in a backstroke event at the NCAA Championships, having won both the 100 and 200 back in 1990. Spofforth turned in four school-record performances over the three-day meet, breaking the 200 back record on Saturday and establishing a new mark in the 100 back three times. She earned four All-America honors at the meet, adding accolades in the 100 back, 200 MR and 400 MR to her title in the 200 back.

 

“This is pretty amazing,” Spofforth said. “Before I came to Florida, I missed an entire year because of illness, and everything was going wrong. This year has been amazing, and the team atmosphere at Florida is fantastic. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

 

Spofforth’s time of 1:52.96 broke the school record of 1:54.06 held by current UF junior Leah Retrum (Columbus, Ind.), who exactly matched her former record en route to a fourth-place finish in the 200 back. Florida was the only school to send two swimmers to the championship finals of the event. Retrum’s All-America honor was her third of the meet and the ninth of her career.

 

Gemma is a tough competitor, and that was an amazing performance tonight,” Troy said. “She really gave us a boost and the others were able to feed off of what she did. It’s an honor to be an NCAA champion, and she is the type of person who will carry that honor well.”

 

Junior Kim Larson (Longwood, Fla.) also earned her third All-America honor of the meet behind a 12th-place finish in the 1,650 free. Larson’s time of 16:15.91 not only shaved nearly 20 seconds off of her previous career best, but also catapulted her to eighth place in UF history in the event. Sophomore Laurabeth Guenthner (Wellington, Fla.) placed 20th in the mile with a career-best time of 16:24.17, while junior Katie Ball (Cincinnati, Ohio) recorded a time of 16:27.09 that was good for 23rd place. Sophomore Stephanie Cota’s (Granite Bay, Calif.) career-best time of 16:28.21 earned her 25th place and rounded out the UF contingent in the 1,650 free.

 

The team of junior Caroline Burckle (Louisville, Ky.), junior Natalie Pike (Boca Raton, Fla.), freshman Elizabeth Kemp (Potomac, Md.) and freshman Lauren Winter (Perth, Australia) posted a time of 3:17.80 to finish seventh in the 400 FR. The same quartet turned in the fourth-fastest time in school history during morning session, going a 3:17.09 to qualify for finals in the sixth slot. Burckle’s leadoff split of 49.14 in the prelim race was a career-low time in the 100 free, and bettered her own seventh-place standing in school history.

 

“Caroline Burckle gave up an individual event because we needed her to swim that relay tonight,” Troy said. “She went to the blocks a lot of times for us, and she was good in each of them. Natalie Pike and Leah Retrum did the same – it was just a great team effort at this meet.”

 

Five Gators competed in the 100 free during prelims on Saturday, and Pike finished best among them with a 21st-place showing (49.45). Kemp was the next-best UF swimmer in the event, turning in a career-best 50.03 to place 37th, while Winter timed out at 50.66 to finish 54th. Freshmen Sarah Peterson (Franklin, Tenn.) and Stephanie Napier (Chattanooga, Tenn.) took 65th and 69th with times of 51.10 and 51.56, respectively.

 

Senior Ashley Carusone (High Springs, Fla.) and Cota also represented UF in the morning session, as both went to the blocks for the 200 fly. Carusone turned in a 28th-place performance with a season-best time of 2:00.37, while Cota established a new career with a mark of 2:00.62 that was good for 31st.

 

Auburn won their fifth women’s NCAA team title in the last six years with a total of 535 points, while the Tigers’ co-head coaches David Marsh and Dorsey Tierney-Walker were named NCAA Women’s Co-Coaches of the Year. Georgia’s Kara Lynn Joyce was selected as the NCAA Women’s Swimmer of the Year, and Stanford’s Cassidy Krug earned NCAA Women’s Diver of the Year accolades.

 

Final Team Top-10

1. Auburn – 535 pts.

2. Arizona – 477

3. California – 372.5

4. Stanford – 333

5. Georgia – 290

6. Texas – 220

7. FLORIDA - 203

8. Texas A&M – 198

9. Michigan – 191

10. Tennessee – 127

 

Day Three Event Winners

Event

Name (School)

Time

1,650 Free

Hayley Peirsol (Auburn)

15:45.92%

200 Back

GEMMA SPOFFORTH (FLORIDA)

1:52.96%

100 Free

Kara Lynn Joyce (Georgia)

47.24%

200 Breast

Rebecca Soni (Southern California)

2:08.23%

200 Fly

Elaine Breeden (Stanford)

1:53.02%&

Platform

Jessica Livingston (Texas)

357.85

400 FR

Silver, Reilly, Hardy, Vollmer (California)

3:12.13^@#%

^ - Denotes NCAA record

@ - Denotes American record

# - Denotes US Open record

% - Denotes pool record

& - Denotes NCAA meet record

 

Day Three Prelims Winners

Event

Name (School)

Time

200 Back

GEMMA SPOFFORTH (FLORIDA)

1:54.42

100 Free

Lacey Nymeyer (Arizona)

47.50

200 Breast

Yi Ting Seow (Wisconsin)

2:09.85

200 Fly

Elaine Breeden (Stanford)

1:54.24

400 FR

Denby, Marik, Ewing, Kukors (Auburn)

3:14.83

Platform

Jessica Livingston (Texas)

350.20

 

Florida Finishes

1,650 Free

12. Kim Larson – 16:15.91

20. Laurabeth Guenthner – 16:24.11

23. Katie Ball – 16:27.09

25. Stephanie Cota – 16:28.21

 

200 Back

1. Gemma Spofforth – 1:52.96

4. Leah Retrum – 1:54.06

 

100 Free

21. Natalie Pike – 49.45

37. Elizabeth Kemp – 50.03

54. Lauren Winter – 50.66

65. Sarah Peterson – 51.10

69. Stephanie Napier – 51.56

 

200 Fly

28. Ashley Carusone – 2:00.37

31. Stephanie Cota – 2:00.62

 

 

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