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Women's Swimming & Diving Headline

Caroline Burckle claimed the NCAA Championship in the 500 free in record time

Thursday March 20, 2008Women's Swimming's Burckle Breaks 500 Free NCAA Record, Wins National Championship

Columbus, Ohio

Caroline Burckle claimed the NCAA Championship in the 500 free in record time

Caroline Burckle (Louisville, Ky.) broke Janet Evans’ 18 year record in the 500 freestyle, touching the wall with a time of 4:33.60 at the Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships to win her first career national championship and just the second female Gator to win a national championship in the last 12 years.


Burckle’s swim was the second of three school records to fall during the day as the 200 free relay team led off the day with a school record and the 400 medley relay team finished the day with a school record.  The Gators currently sit in sixth place with a total of 71 points on the day.


“We swam well today,” said head coach Gregg Troy.  ”Today is our weakest day, so we were happy with how we swam, improving on almost all of our seed times.  It was a good first day for us and we just have to continue to get better.”


Burckle, who swam her second fastest time of the season in preliminaries of 4:35.79 to set a pool record at Ohio State’s McKorkle Aquatic Pavilion, returned for the finals and led the rest of the field the entire way, never losing her NCAA pace.  The senior was under NCAA record pace the entire race, finishing with a sizeable lead of 5.91 seconds.  Burckle becomes the first Gator to win the 500 freestyle national championship since Mimosa McNerney won the championship in 1995. 


This is the second time that the Gator has broken the school record in a month’s time as well, bettering her swim at the Southeastern Conference Championships by 1.27 seconds.  That swim also set a new SEC record in Tuscaloosa, Ala. last month.


“Caroline Burckle is an outstanding racer and broke a tough record held by Janet Evans,” said Troy.  “We are very proud of her, she has been after this being a finalist for the last four years and to win it in that style is phenomenal.”


The Gators started the evening in strong fashion, touching the wall second in the consolation final of the 200 free relay to pick up their first 14 points of the meet, finishing 10th overall.  The combination of Gemma Spofforth, Colleen Healy, Stephanie Napier, and Natalie Pike was a changed combination of the preliminary lineup that saw the Gators finish with the second fastest time in school history of 1:29.99 after setting the school record in preliminaries with a time of 1:29.96.  Spofforth’s lead off 50 free of 22.57 was good enough for the fourth fastest time in school history, falling just .01 seconds off Nicole Haislett’s time from 1993 of 22.56.  Florida got progressively faster through the race as each swimmer shaved at least one second off the previous swimmer’s time. 


Spofforth picked up a 13th place finish just two events later, clocking in with a time of 1:58.67 in the 200 individual medley.  Leah Retrum joined Spofforth in the consolation final, touching the wall with a time of 1:59.05 to finish 14th overall.  Retrum swam a career best time of 1:58.79 to improve upon her sixth best time in school history, a place that she has held since 2005.


Natalie Pike joined Retrum and Spofforth in preliminary action this morning, touching in with a time of 1:59.01 to finish sixth in the ninth heat of the 200 individual medley for the 17th best time of the morning. 


After swimming the fourth fastest time in school history in the preliminaries of the 400 medley relay, the quartet of Spofforth, Burckle, Healy and Pike combined to finish fourth in the finals with a school record time of 3:33.94, bettering their preliminary time by 1.48 seconds.  For Burckle and Spofforth it was their second All-American honors of the evening.


On the one-meter spring board, Monica Dodson took 25th with a score of 251.65 while Jeana Bartell placed 31st overall with her score of 240.85.  Both divers will go on to compete on the three-meter spring board tomorrow afternoon.


During morning preliminaries, the Gators had several strong performances all-around.  Laurabeth Guenthner had Florida’s second best finish in the 500 free with a 17th place overall finish, barely missing the consolation final with a morning swim of 4:44.09.  Elizabeth Goldson followed with a 24th place overall time of 4:45.36 after finishing seventh in the fifth heat.  Goldson was followed by Kim Larson who touched in eighth in the same heat to finish with the 29th best time of the morning while Stephanie Proud took top honors in the first heat of the morning with a time of 4:46.06.  The swim was a career best for the sophomore and placed her 32nd overall.


The NCAA Championships will continue tomorrow, Friday, with preliminaries beginning at 11 a.m.  Finals will commence at 7 p.m.


Top 10 Following Day One:

1. Arizona                151                        2. Auburn                132

3. California             89                          4. Texas A&M           88

5. Stanford              80                          6. Florida                   71

7. Tennessee            59                          8. Texas                 51

9. Michigan              50                          10. Kentucky           47


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