Friday December 5, 2008Gators Conclude Successful Day Two at U.S. Nationals
Thirteen individual Gators and eight Florida relays competed in finals at day two of the 2008 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming Short Course National Championships Friday. Gator great Ryan Lochte also headlined finals from the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center with two national title finishes in the 200-yard free (1:32.40) and 100-yard back (45.37).
Once again, the Orange and Blue jumped out of the blocks with superb relay swims, the Florida “A” 200-yard medley relay, composed of junior Gemma Spofforth (West Sussex, England), freshman Lindsay Rogers (Fishers, Ind.), sophomore Julianne Lago (Miami, Fla.) and junior Stephanie Napier (Chattanooga, Tenn.) raced to a season-best time of 1:39.32 to finish second overall with an NCAA provisional mark and the fifth-fastest time in UF history in the event.
The UF women also returned in the final event of the evening to place second in the 800-meter free relay (7:09.79) with a quartet of freshmen Shara Stafford (Topeka, Kan.) and Teresa Crippen (Conshohocken, Pa.), junior Stephanie Proud (Durham, England) and senior Laurabeth Guenthner (Wellington, Fla.), a season-best.
On the men’s side, the Gator men swam to a second-place finish in the 800-yard free relay (6:25.25), a season-best mark and NCAA provisional mark. The quartet of Bradley Ally (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Shaune Fraser (George Town, Cayman Islands), Roland Rudolf (Budapest, Hungary) and Balazs Gercsak (Budapest, Hungary) were out-touched by the University of Michigan, a team the Gators faced in the first match-up of the season.
The UF men additionally clocked a 1:29.00, season-best, in finals of the 200-yard medley relay under the watch of senior Rex Tullius (Port Orange, Fla.), junior Clark Burckle (Louisville, Ky.), Fraser and Ally.
Two freshmen women led the Lady Gators in individual events with NCAA provisional qualifying marks in their respective events on the second day of competition. Stafford, who already solidified an NCAA B cut in the 100 back (55.13) at the first meet of the season against Michigan/Stanford, secured her second provisional qualifying mark of the season in preliminaries of the 200-yard free Friday morning, clocking a 1:47.71, 13th-place finish to continue to the “B” final. Stafford rallied for a seventh-place finish in the final event, clocking a 1:48.13.
Crippen was UF’s highest finisher in the women’s 400-yard IM, improving her NCAA provisional mark in the event from 4:17.20 to 4:14.66 to finish prelims in fifth place and advance to the “A” final of the event. Crippen turned around a 4:15.46 finals time to maintain fifth after the final session.
Also joining Crippen in finals of the 400 IM was Proud and freshmen Anna-Liisa Pold (San Diego, Calif.) and Kirsten Smith (Cary, N.C.). Proud, Pold and Smith all recorded season-best times in the event, finishing ninth (4:13.85), 13th (4:14.00) and 16th (4:17.20) respectively.
Napier swam a career-best mark in preliminaries of the 200 free, clocking a 1:51.07, surpassing her previous best, 1:52.45. Napier collected a season-best time and NCAA “B” cut Thursday in the 50-yard free (22.60) as the leadoff leg of the winning 200-yard free relay.
A total of 19 season-best times were collected by the Gator women in Friday’s action in Atlanta, including three women who represented Florida in the 100-yard fly preliminaries. Napier (56.89), Spofforth (57.49) and Rogers (59.69) all achieved season bests, while freshman Sarah Bateman (Orlando, Fla.) (55.40) finished the morning session tied for 26th. Lago (55.55) was Florida’s representation in the final showdown. Lago finished seventh in the “B” final after clocking in at 54.54 in morning preliminaries.
Florida stacked the depth in the 100-yard back under Spofforth’s watch, returning three swimmers, including Spofforth, Crippen and freshman Lily Ramirez (Gainesville, Fla.) to finals. Both Crippen and Ramirez secured season-bests in prelims. Spofforth returned to finish fourth in the “B” final (54.95) after swimming a 54.91 in prelims. Ramirez shaved a second off in the “C” final to finish first in the heat and secure an NCAA provisional mark with her 54.67 finish. Crippen tied for seventh in her heat of finals (55.39).
In men’s swimming action, Burckle returned as UF’s top competitor in two events, the 400-yard IM and the 100-yard breast. Burckle’s preliminary mark in the 400 IM served as a season best. Burckle improved upon his season-best 56.39 prelims mark in the 100 breast to finish fifth in his finals heat with a time of 55.98 and continued the fast tradition in the 400 IM. Burckle finished fourth in the “B” final of the 400 IM, clocking a 3:52.55, good for a NCAA provisional mark.
Sophomore Mike Joyce (Voorhees, N.J.) joined Burckle in finals of the 400 IM, finishing fourth in the “C” final with a season-best 3:55.42. Also stepping it up on the men’s side was Tullius who was UF’s lone finals qualifier in addition to Lochte. Tullius tapped in at 49.98 after swimming a 49.21 prelims mark.