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Gemma Spofforth became just the second swimmer in NCAA history to swim under 52.00 in the 100 back

Friday February 22, 2008Spofforth Sets SEC and UF Record in 100 Back on Day 3 of SEC Championships

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Gemma Spofforth became just the second swimmer in NCAA history to swim under 52.00 in the 100 back

Sophomore Gemma Spofforth became just the second swimmer in NCAA history to swim under 52 seconds in the 100-yard back when she broke her own SEC and Florida record in the event on day three of the Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships.  Sixth ranked Florida trails defending champion Auburn on the men’s side with 447 points to Auburn’s 597.  The third ranked women trail by 20 points with 476 to Auburn’s 492.


Spofforth’s time of 51.57 bettered her preliminary time of 52.09, which at the time set the SEC and UF record.  She joined Natalie Coughlin of California as the only two swimmers in the history of the sport to swim under 52 seconds.  The sophomore’s time also served as a pool record for the Don Gambril Olympic Pool at the Alabama Aquatic Center.


Spofforth was joined on the awards stand by sophomore Clark Burckle and Shaune Fraser, who claimed the SEC Championship in the 400 IM and 200 free respectively.  Burckle, who swam to the seventh fastest time in school history in preliminaries with a time of 3:45.03, went on to improve upon that finish, touching the wall in a career best time of 3:44.86 to win the first SEC Championship of his career and etch his name as the sixth best time in UF history in the event.  Burckle returned to the pool in the 100 breast after setting the school record in the preliminaries, with a time of 53.79, and touched the wall third with a time of 53.87.  Amanda Hartley was the lone Gator woman to swim the 100 breast, placing third with a provisional time of 53.87.  Hartley swam to the fourth fastest time in school history in the preliminaries with a time of 1:01.68.


Fraser defended his 2007 championship, touching the wall with a pool record and fifth fastest time in school history of 1:34.23.  Fraser, who set a career best and pool record in the preliminaries went on to improve upon that time by .20 seconds. 


“Our women swam about as well as they could have swam this morning.  We came back tonight and were not quite as sharp, losing a few close races,” said Head Coach Gregg Troy.  “The men had a good day.  Obviously the 400 IM is a quality event for us and we’re real pleased with Clark Burckle having the chance to win.  He gave up one of his best events to swim the 100 breast and he broke the school record in it.  We were happy with Omar Pinzon and Fraser, obviously, winning the 200 free for the second straight year is obviously a good swim.”


The Gators were well represented in the 400 IM, claiming six of the top eight spots in preliminaries.  Junior Bradley Ally, who was last year’s Champion in the 400 IM, claimed third with a time of 3:46.00.  Ally went out quickly in the butterfly stroke while sophomore Omar Pinzon flagged him down in the backstroke leg to take the lead.  Burckle did not come on to take the lead until the breast stroke, his primary stroke, after swimming the first 50 of the stroke in 31.00 seconds.  Pinzon went on to finish fourth with a time of 3:47.38 while senior Tobias Work was fifth with a time of 3:47.47, both swims served as career bests.  Senior Kevin Nead turned in an eighth place time of 3:50.42 in his final SEC Championship meet.


Sophomore Stephanie Proud was just out-touched at the wall after leading for much of the race in the women’s 400 IM.  Proud finished with a career best time of 4:11.58 and moved herself into eighth on UF’s all-time list, improving upon her time in preliminaries by .75 seconds.  Senior Leah Retrum, who was third in the event a year ago, touched the wall sixth with a time of 4:13.26. 


Caroline Burckle and Natalie Pike each picked up automatic qualifying times in the 200-yard freestyle.  Burckle, who won the event as a freshman in 2005, was beaten in the final 25 yards of the race, placing second with a time of 1:44.25.  Despite finishing second, Burckle turned in the third fastest time in the country this year and improved upon her second-best UF time with the career best swim.  Pike touched the wall fourth, just under her career best, with a time of 1:46.42.  Pike, who stands with the eighth best time in school history, was just .41 seconds off her top time.


Rex Tullius was the only Gator to swim the 100 back for the men, turning in the fifth fastest time in school history with his career best time of 47.31 seconds to place second.


Both the men’s and women’s 400 medley relay teams turned in top UF times.  The women’s quartet of Spofforth, Burckle, Colleen Healy and Pike were just off Auburn’s SEC record time, but touched in second with a time of 3:33.40 to break the UF record.  Spofforth swam her second fastest 100 back time of the day, clocking in at 51.95, cutting under the 52 second mark for the second time over the course of the evening.


The Florida men’s team of Pinzon, Burckle, Fraser and Daniel Penniman, was out-touched at the wall by Tennessee, placing third after trading the lead with both Auburn and Tennessee through much of the race.  The Gators’ time of 3:10.86 was the fifth fastest time in school history and marked the third time that Penniman was able to write his name on the overall list.


“We have a good day ahead of us,” said Troy.  “We’re just going to have to be really good when we come in tomorrow morning.”


Florida also received strong swims from Kristen Beales and Laurabeth Guenthner in the 400 IM. Guenthner touched in fourth in the consolation final with a career best time of 4:17.29 while Beales was seventh with a time of 4:21.10.  In the consolation final of the men’s race, Joey Pedraza claimed second with a career best and provisional time of 3:49.96 while Logan Storie was seventh with a career best 3:53.58 and Ryan Crete was eighth with a career best 3:55.26.  Both swims served as provisional qualifying times.


“Overall we are pleased with our performance and have to be really good tomorrow morning to give us a chance to win the meet,” said Troy.  “By the same token we are qualifying everyone we need to for the NCAA meet and are really happy with that."


Julianne Lago was eighth with a provisional time of 54.27 in the 100 fly, falling just off her career best mark that she set in preliminaries of 53.83 seconds.  Lago’s preliminary time also served as the fifth fastest time in school history for the event.  Healy swam her way to a fourth place finish in the event with a career best and fourth fastest UF time of 52.46 seconds.  Vanderbilt swam in the consolation final and turned in a fifth place and provisional qualifying time of 54.44.  Lago also picked up an eighth place finish in the 100 back consolation final with a time of 57.15.  She was joined by Healy who swam to a career best time of 55.28.


“We had some great performances from several people.  Caroline Burckle was terrific again, but we also had some great performances from some of our down-the-line athletes,” said Troy.  “Colleen Healy was outstanding so was Samantha Vanderbilt.  Obviously Gemma Spofforth is a class act athlete and we saw some great swims from Proud and Retrum.  Overall we’re really pleased with the day.  We were great this morning and put ourselves in a great position.”


Tim Hughes and Penniman represented the men in the 100 fly consolation final, swimming to fourth and seventh place efforts with provisional qualifying times of 47.96 and 48.43 respectively. 


Liz Kemp earned a career best and fifth place finish in the 200 free consolation final with a time of 1:48.22.  She was joined on the men’s side by Rudolf and Matthew Norton.  Norton swam to a career best time of 1:37.31 for a second place finish, while Rudolf was third with a time of 1:37.34, both were provisional times.


The SEC Championships will crown its winner tomorrow as the competition wraps up.  Preliminaries will begin at 10:00 a.m. CT with finals going off at 6:00 p.m.  The Gators will attempt to win their first SEC title on the men’s side since 1993 and since 2002 on the women’s side.





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