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Women's Swimming & Diving Headline

<i>Photo courtesy of Walt Middleton</i>

Thursday March 18, 2010Florida Claims First-Ever 200 FR National Title; Stands in Fourth After Day One NCAAs

West Lafayette, Ind.

Photo courtesy of Walt Middleton

Florida’s first-ever 200-yard free relay national title kicked off the first night of finals at the 2010 NCAA Championship meet for the Gators. Led by seniors Gemma Spofforth (West Sussex, England) and Stephanie Napier (Chattanooga, Tenn.), the UF quartet, including sophomores Shara Stafford (Topeka, Kan.) and Sarah Bateman (Orlando, Fla.), raced to a school-record 1:27.79 in the first event of the Thursday finals session to bring home Florida’s 101st national title all-time.

 

Following the first day of competition on the Purdue campus, the Gators stand in fourth place with 107 points behind Stanford (142.5), Georgia (134) and California (122).

 

“We had an absolutely great night,” head coach Gregg Troy said. “We put ourselves in a great position today. This morning we came out and swam so good in the first relay, and I think it put a little bit of pressure on us to perform well, which may have affected Gemma’s 200 IM. Regardless, tonight, we returned and swam so well. Obviously the 200 free relay was a great way to start the night, Gemma responded and swam outstanding in the IM, followed by Melani in the 500 free. Shara was also consistent for us all day. We had great relays and look forward to racing the rest of the weekend.”

 

“This is exactly what we wanted to do tonight,” Spofforth said. “We wanted to come in and set the tone this morning. We knew we needed to be good in the relays and we started the meet off great. The race that hurt the most for me after swimming both relays was definitely the 200 IM. This morning, I didn’t have as great a turn on the final freestyle wall as I wanted to, but tonight I came out and had a much better freestyle leg in the IM race.”

 

In addition to her individual medley swim, Spofforth split a 21.46 in the 200 free relay, the fastest split in the field Thursday, to give the Gators a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

 

“We knew we had to come together tonight because there is such great competition at NCAAs,” Napier said of the Gators’ victory. “We’ve been training together, training hard all season and it was a great feeling to come together and win this race. We just wanted to be as fast as possible.”

 

“It was amazing to look up and see that we won,” anchor leg Bateman said. “I really, really wanted it, but I wasn’t expecting to see it. We knew it would be tough. Last year we finished ninth and we weren’t happy about that. It wasn’t a good way to start NCAAs because everyone was in a bad mood, but this year, coming out and winning has everyone excited and ready to race.”

 

Bateman, Spofforth and sophomore Melani Costa-Schmid (Palma de Mallorca, Spain) all improved upon their individual morning swims in the 50 free, 200 IM and 500 free, respectively, Costa-Schmid clocking a career-best 4:39.66 in the 500 to place 11th overall. Spofforth solidified ninth in the 200-yard IM (1:55.61), just off her career-best school record, 1:55.39. Bateman swam a 22.32 in consolation finals of the 50 free, improving upon her 22.47 preliminary mark to finish 10th overall after entering finals seeded 16th.

 

Stafford, who represented the Gators in the championship finals of the 50 free, finished sixth overall with a 22.28 after shattering the UF record with her 22.16 leadoff split in prelims of the 200 free relay.

 

In the final swimming event of the evening, the Gators’ 400-yard medley relay squad swam to a 3:31.69, the second-fastest time in school history in the event, shy of the UF record set in 2009, 3:31.41. Spofforth, sophomores Lindsay Rogers (Fishers, Ind.), Jemma Lowe (Hartlepool, England) and Stafford touched in third behind Arizona and Stanford in first and second, respectively.

 

The Gators return to the Boilermaker Aquatic Center Friday for the second day of competition. Prelims kick off at 11 a.m. (ET), while finals of the following events are slated for 7 p.m. (ET):

200 medley relay

400 individual medley

100 butterfly

200 freestyle

100 breaststroke

100 backstroke

800 free relay

Three-meter diving

 

Gator fans can follow all the action live here.

 

2010 National Titles (1)

1. 200-yard free relay (Stafford, Spofforth, Napier, Bateman): 1:27.79

 

UF Records Set at 2010 NCAA Championships (2)

1. 200-yard free relay (Stafford, Spofforth, Napier, Bateman): 1:27.79

**Previous: Napier, Spofforth, Stafford, Bateman (2009; 1:28.15)

2. 50-yard freestyle: Shara Stafford, 22.16

**Previous: Stephanie Napier (2009; 22.17)

 

 

THURSDAY FINALS RESULTS

F – Florida record

* – Career best

^ – Season best

 

200-yard free relay

1. 1:27.79 – Stafford, Spofforth, Napier, Bateman F

 

500-yard free

11. Melania Costa-Schmid: 4:39.66*

 

200-yard individual medley

9. Gemma Spofforth: 1:55.61

 

50-yard free

6. Shara Stafford: 22.28

10. Sarah Bateman: 22.32

 

400-yard medley relay

3. 3:31.69 – Spofforth, Rogers, Lowe, Stafford ^

 

 

THURSDAY PRELIMINARY RESULTS

F – Florida record

* – Career best

 

200-yard free relay

2. 1:27.93 – Stafford (22.16 UF record lead off), Spofforth, Napier, Bateman F

 

500-yard free

15. Melani Costa-Schmid: 4:42.22 – finals qualifier*

24. Corinne Showalter: 4:44.27*

38. Jamie Bohunicky: 4:45.44

 

200-yard individual medley

13. Gemma Spofforth: 1:57.39 – consolation qualifier

45. Kirsten Smith: 2:00.79

 

50-yard free

3. Shara Stafford: 22.22 – finals qualifier * (set UF record 22.16 in 200 FR leadoff split)

16. Sarah Bateman: 22.47 – consolation qualifier

25. Stephanie Napier: 22.66

49. Liz Kemp: 23.09

 

400-yard medley relay

3. 3:32.23 – Spofforth (52.04 leadoff 100 back; pool record), Rogers, Lowe, Stafford

 

One-meter diving

20. Kara Salamone: 279.00

31. Monica Dodson: 251.60

 

-UF-

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