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Friday March 21, 2008Spofforth and Burckle Win National Titles on Day 2 of Swimming and Diving Championships

Columbus, Ohio

Gemma Spofforth and Caroline Burckle each picked up the second national championships of their careers on day two of the women’s swimming and diving championships to lead the University of Florida women’s swimming and diving team to a sixth place in the standings with a total of 178 points. 


Burckle won the Gators first national championship of the day, and her second in as many days (winning 500 free Thursday), breaking the UF school record in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:43.10.  The swim was the fifth fastest in NCAA history and just .02 seconds off NCAA record time.  The senior becomes the first Gator to win the 200 free title since Nicole Haislett did so in 1994 and also becomes the first Gator to win two national championships in the same year since Mimosa McNerney won the 500 and 1,650 freestyle championships in 1995.


Spofforth’s time set a new pool record and became the fourth fastest swimmer in NCAA history with a time of 51.78.  Spofforth out-touched second-place finisher, Hailey Degolia, of Arizona by .11 seconds to earn her second career national championship.  The sophomore becomes the first Gator to win a national championship in back-to-back years since McNerney accomplished the feat, winning three titles in 1995 and returning to win one in 1996.


“Caroline and Gemma Spofforth, you can’t say enough about them,” said head coach Gregg Troy.  “They beat world class athletes in the last legs of the race and had great patience, they did all the little things the right way.”


Spofforth and Burckle both picked up their second All-American honors of the day as part of the 200 medley relay team.  Spofforth led off the Gators’ seventh place finish and was followed by Amanda Hartley, Colleen Healy and Stephanie Napier.  The four-some finished with a time of 1:38.98, just .02 seconds off their preliminary time of 1:38.96 that became the second fastest in school history.  After swimming the breaststroke leg in the preliminaries, Burckle was replaced by Hartley in the finals. 


Stephanie Proud was the third individual championship finalist for the Gators, finishing seventh in the 400 individual medley with a time of 4:12.50.  During the morning preliminary swim, Proud moved up to fifth on Florida’s all-time list with a career best time of 4:10.52.


Samantha Vanderbilt joined Spofforth in the finals round of the 100 back, swimming to second place in the consolation final with a time of 53.77.  Her time during preliminaries of 53.75 was a new career best as well and improved upon her fourth fastest time in school history.


The Gator quartet of Natalie Pike, Burckle, Leah Retrum and Liz Kemp touched the wall with a time of 7:06.22 in the 800 freestyle relay to finish seventh in the third heat and seventh overall.  The time was good enough to place the foursome third on the all-time UF standings.


“We had a very good day,” said Troy.  “We swam really well this morning and came back and had a couple instances where we were ninth instead of eighth, but for the most part we were really good today.  We took a bit of a risk in changing up the relay, but it’s probably what allowed Caroline (Burckle) to win the 200 free.”


Monica Dodson and Jeana Bartell had strong showings on the three-meter spring board, finishing 18th and 23rd during preliminaries respectively.  Bartell led the way, totaling 286.30, while Dodson followed with a score of 271.40.  Both women will compete on the platform during tomorrow’s final day of competition.


Laurabeth Guenthner joined Proud in the morning preliminaries of the 400 individual medley.  Guenthner clocked in with a time of 4:18.76 to finish second in her heat and 32nd overall.  Julianne Lago improved upon her sixth fastest time in school history with a career best swim of 53.66 in the 100 fly.  Lago finished third in her heat and finished 30th overall.  Healy also went on to improve upon her fourth fastest time in school history during morning prelims, touching the wall with a time of 53.33 in the 100 fly to finish 18th overall.


In the preliminaries of the 200 free, Burckle was joined by Elizabeth Goldson, who finished second in her heat with a time of 1:48.79, while Kim Larson was sixth in her heat with a time of 1:50.11, Elizabeth Kemp was fourth in the fourth heat with a time of 1:47.99, a career best, and Pike clocked in with a time of 1:46.99 to finish fifth in the final heat of the event.  Hartley was the lone representative for the Gators in the 100 breast, clocking in with a time of 1:02.26 to finish fifth in her heat, while Vanderbilt and Spofforth were joined in the preliminaries of the 100 back by Healy who clocked in with a time of 55.66 in the second heat of the day. 


The Championships will wrap up tomorrow with preliminaries beginning at 11 a.m.  Finals will begin at 7 p.m. with the national champion being crowned following the final relay.


Florida Winners:

Caroline Burckle        200 Free        1:43.10 (New school record)

Gemma Spofforth      100 Back       51.78


Top 10 Teams Following Day Two:

1. Arizona                361              2. Auburn                244

3. Texas A&M           227              4. Stanford              212

5. California             203              6. Florida                 178

7. Georgia               133              8. Tennessee           120

9. Indiana                110              T10. Michigan          82

                                                T10. Washington      82


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