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Women's Swimming & Diving Headline

Caroline Burckle was named Swimmer of the Year following the conclusion of the NCAA meet

Saturday March 22, 2008Burckle Named Swimmer of the Year, Women's Swimming Finishes Sixth at NCAA Championships

Columbus, Ohio

Caroline Burckle was named Swimmer of the Year following the conclusion of the NCAA meet

Senior Caroline Burckle was named Swimmer of the Year for her performance over the course of the season and last three days to lead the Florida women’s swimming and diving team to a sixth place finish at the 2008 Swimming and Diving Championships. Sophomore Gemma Spofforth defended her title in the 200 backstroke and became just the second athlete in Florida history to win both the 100 and 200 back in the same year to help lead the Gators on the final day.  The Gators finished the meet with 277.5 points.


“We are really proud of the team as a whole,” said head coach Gregg Troy.  “We had a lot of lifetime bests and a few school records.  Place wise, we thought maybe we could have done a little better, but we are pleased with the performances and proud of the girls.”


Burckle continued to earn points for her team as she went on to finish sixth in her third individual final of the meet.  Burckle’s time of 48.26 bettered her preliminary swim of 48.27 and moved the Gator into a tie for second on UF’s all-time top ten list.  Burckle tied Dara Torres’ time that has been in place since 1988.  The senior, who won two individual national championships (200 and 500 free), set one NCAA record (500 free), finished sixth in her third event and swam as part of all but one of Florida’s relay teams finished with seven All-American honors en route to her swimmer of the year honors.


“I’m really excited, I think the honor is really cool,” said Burckle.  “It was kind of sad at the end for a bunch of us seniors but is a really good feeling.  When the relay ended I waited for Natalie (Pike) to finish and we immediately started to cry.  It was exciting, happy and sad at the same time.”


Spofforth, who won the 100 back title just a day earlier, joined Kristen Linehan as the only Florida swimmers to ever win both the 100 and 200 back championships in the same year.  Linehan did it twice during her career, first in 1989 and again in 1990.  The sophomore also becomes just the second Gator, joining Linehan, to hold the Southeastern Conference and NCAA titles in both events in the same year.  Linehan accomplished the feat in 1990.  Spofforth becomes the seventh swimmer in NCAA history to hold both the 100 and 200 back title and the first since Natalie Coughlin of California did so from 2001-03.


“Last year was pretty emotional,” said Spofforth.  “I swam last year for my mom and this year was very emotional because it brought back a lot of memories from last year because it was all for her again.  It’s amazing to be a double champion and to know that I did it all for her, it feels amazing.”


The fourth individual event championship by a Gator this year, Spofforth joined Burckle as the two Gators to win a title this season.  Florida led all teams with four individual championships, only Arizona had more than one, winning two.  The fifth place finish is the highest for the Gators since 2005 when Florida finished fourth.


Spofforth was joined on the awards stand by Stephanie Proud and Leah Retrum who finished fourth and fifth respectively.  Proud touched the wall with a time of 1:54.16, moving her up to third on the all-time top 10 UF list while Retrum was just a few ticks behind, touching the wall with a time of 1:54.22.


Florida picked up another 13 points thanks to the performance of Laurabeth Guenthner in the 1,650 free.  Guenthner swam to a sixth place overall finish after taking second in her heat with a time of 16:03.74, a personal best for the junior.  She was joined in the event by Kim Larson who clocked in with a time of 16:23.97 for a 20th place showing and Elizabeth Goldson who touched the wall with a career best time of 16:28.32.


In just her first NCAA meet, freshman Monica Dodson took to the platform and dove her way to an eighth place total of 206.10 points.  Dodson stood as the fourth best diver of the morning session, finishing with a total of 273.40. Jeana Bartell finished 17th during preliminaries, just barely missing a spot in the consolation final with a total of 207.00.


Florida’s 400 medley relay team took 10th place honors after swimming in the consolation final.  The foursome of Burckle, Natalie Pike, Spofforth and Liz Kemp combined to finish with a time of 3:16.67, clocking in with the fourth fastest time in school history after swimming the ninth fastest time in school history during preliminaries of 3:18.00.


Amanda Hartley and Julianne Lago each swam as the lone Gator representative in the 200 breast and 200 fly respectively.  Hartley picked up a seventh place finish in her preliminary heat with a time of 2:15.95 while Lago touched in sixth in her heat in the 200 fly with a time of 1:58.75.  Samantha Vanderbilt also picked up a top three finish in her preliminary heat of the 200 back, finishing third with a time of 1:57.26 to finish 27th overall.


Kemp, Stephanie Napier and Pike joined Burckle in the preliminaries of the 100 free.  Kemp touched the wall with a career best time of 49.71 to win the second heat of the event while Napier clocked in with a time of 50.20 to place sixth in her heat and Pike finished fifth in the eighth heat with a time of 49.39. 


After wrapping up their 2007-08 season, the Gators will now look forward to the summer as many of Florida’s athletes will go on to attempt to make the U.S. Olympic team or their respective country’s Olympic team.


Florida Winners:

Gemma Spofforth      200 Back       1:50.70


Gator All-Americans

Name                                      Total

Gemma Spofforth                7

Caroline Burckle                  7

Natalie Pike                       4

Colleen Healy                     3

Stephanie Napier                2

Stephanie Proud                 2

Leah Retrum                      2

Liz Kemp                           2

Samantha Vanderbilt 1

Amanda Hartley                  1

Monica Dodson                   1

Laurabeth Guenthner           1



Top 10 Teams:

1. Arizona                484               2. Auburn                348

3. Stanford              242              4. Texas A&M           315

5. California             291              6. Florida                 277.5

7. Georgia               198              8. Tennessee           179.5

9. Michigan              130              10. Indiana              128



Post Meet Quotes:

“NCAA’s is a really draining and emotional meet by the end.  Having such a big senior group here, there was a lot of crying at the end.  It’s kind of bitter sweet, we had a great four years and we finished up really well.”

-Senior, Natalie Pike


“There’s a lot of pride involved with our group.  Coming in here and finishing up with pride, it was fun, but emotional.”

-Senior, Leah Retrum

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