Saturday December 6, 2008No. 6 Florida Finishes U.S. Nationals Strong
Senior Laurabeth Guenthner (Wellington, Fla.) and freshman Teresa Crippen (Conshohocken, Pa.) headlined the final day of the 2008 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming Short Course National Championships at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center Saturday for the Orange and Blue. Guenthner captured the national title in the 1650-yard free, while Crippen returned to finals of both the 200 back and 200 fly.
As a whole, the Gators walked away from the 2008 U.S. Short Course Nationals with over 70 season-best times, 12 career-best times, over 25 NCAA provisional marks, and one automatic qualifying mark from junior Gemma Spofforth (West Sussex, England) in the 100 back (51.62) as the leadoff leg of the winning 400-yard medley relay.
Guenthner rallied for the national title in her best 1650-yard free of the season with a first-place finals swim of 16:07.80, while junior Kristen Beales (Arlington, Va.) swam to a 10th place time of 16:26.79 for a new season and career best in the event, claiming an NCAA provisional mark and surpassing her fastest time from the 2008 SEC Championship meet last spring.
Crippen secured a NCAA provisional mark in preliminaries of the 200 back Saturday (1:57.20) to place fourth to advance to the final showdown. Crippen sped to a 1:55.55 mark in finals, improving to third place. Junior Stephanie Proud (Durham, England) joined Crippen in the “A” final after also clocking a provisional mark (1:57.75) mark in prelims, and shaved two seconds off the prelim time to finish fourth overall (1:55.90).
Another freshman in Anna-Liisa Pold (San Diego, Calif.) was the third and final Gator to advance to finals on the last day of the three-day championship meet. Pold joined Crippen in the 200 fly after hitting the wall in 2:02.28 in prelims to advance to the “C” final. Crippen rallied for seventh place (1:48.43), clinching yet another NCAA provisional mark. Pold improved upon her preliminary time to finish second in her final (2:01.20).
One other UF freshman, Kirsten Smith (Cary, N.C.) recorded a season-best swim in the 200-yard breast after finishing 38th overall in the prelims session with a time of 2:21.01.
In the men’s 1650-yard free, sophomore Logan Storie (Corvallis, Ore.) (15:23.13) took almost 11 seconds off his season best time to reset the mark with 12th place, while junior Ryan Crete (Sarasota, Fla.) improved his previous season best by eight seconds (21st, 15:33.09). Senior Cody Kauffman (Harrisburg, Pa.) additionally shaved nearly 10 seconds off his season best time to record a 16:33.90 (25th) in prelims.
In other men’s action, two Gators in Brett Fraser (George Town, Cayman Islands) and Mike Joyce (Voorhees, N.J.) clocked career-best times in the 100 free and 200-yard fly, respectively. Fraser cruised to a 46.11, placing 60th overall in the 100-yard free field, while Joyce finished 42nd (1:51.49) in the 200 fly with the season and career-best mark.
Junior Roland Rudolf (Budapest, Hungary) was UF’s top finals qualifier in the 200-yard back, swimming a 1:46.34 to advance to finals, while senior Rex Tullius (Port Orange, Fla.) tapped in at a 1:47.16 preliminary mark. Rudolf improved his time to 1:45.48, finishing fifth in the “B” final, while Tullius clocked a 1:45.73 to finish first in the “C” final. Both swimmers swam season-best times.
Veteran Clark Burckle (Louisville, Ky.) represented the Orange and Blue in the 200-yard breast, finishing prelims in 12th (2:00.67) to advance to the “B” final, where he took second with a time of 1:59.31.
In 400-meter free relay action, the “A” Gator relay swam to a provisional time of 3:17.84, the ninth fastest time in Florida history in the event. The relay, composed of junior Stephanie Napier (Chattanooga, Tenn.), freshman Shara Stafford (Topeka, Kan.), Spofforth and freshman Lily Ramirez (Gainesville, Fla.) captured a second-place finish. Napier’s leadoff split of 49.96 was a season-best time.
The men’s 400 free relay, led off by junior Shaune Fraser (George Town, Cayman Islands) with a split of 43.40, finished fifth overall with a time of 2:55.10, an NCAA provisional mark. Fraser’s split served as both a season and career-best mark.
Once again, Florida alum Ryan Lochte exploded as the top finisher in the 200-yard back (1:38.49), claiming the national title, while picking up fourth (41.99) in the 100-yard free. Ricardo Monasterio swam to a 13th place (15:23.90) in the 1650-yard free.
While competition in Atlanta at the U.S. National meet concluded Saturday, the 40-member Gator squad in action at the Princeton Big Al Open continues the three-day invite Sunday for the final day of competition in Princeton, N.J.
For complete statistics from the 2008 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming Short Course National Championships, click HERE.
A recap and complete results from the Big Al Open will be located on www.GatorZone.com following the conclusion of the evening session.