Wednesday March 5, 2014Florida Women Qualify 14 Swimmers to the NCAA Championships
Florida Women’s Swimming and Diving has individually qualified 14 swimmers for the NCAA Championships, as announced by the NCAA today. The Gator contingent will be made up of four seniors, one junior, seven sophomores and two freshmen.
Elizabeth Beisel, Natalie Hinds, Taylor Katz, Ashlee Linn, Hilda Luthersdottir, Alicia Mathieu, Lindsey McKnight, Megan Rankin, Taylor Roy, Sinead Russell, Jordan Smith, Jessica Thielmann, Danielle Valley and Ellese Zalewski will represent the Orange and Blue at the three-day meet beginning March 20 in Minneapolis, Minn.
“The more individual qualifiers you have, the more opportunities you have to score points,” Head Coach Gregg Troy said. “The way the field is and how the meet is always so tight, you never know if you can get a break through some place and score points above your seed time. In our conference especially, where you have a combined men’s and women’s meet, you’re used to this big supporting cast around you. Even if you have a really talented group but small group going into NCAAs, it is such a different dynamic. If you have those extra bodies at the meet, it creates more of the team dynamic that you are used to.”
Last season, the Gators placed sixth overall with 305 points, but were only 20.5 points shy of third place Tennessee. Florida returns 33 of last year’s 35 NCAA All-American swims (top-16), and are led in the pool by two-time NCAA and nine-time SEC Champion Elizabeth Beisel, nine-time All-Americans Hilda Luthersdottir and Ellese Zalewski and distance specialist and three-time All-American Alicia Mathieu.
Last season, sophomore Sinead Russell and Natalie Hinds shared the team lead with a maximum seven All-American honors apiece. Sophomores Jessica Thielmann, Lindsey McKnight and Ashlee Linn combined for four All-American honors in their debut meet last season. Five Gators will be making their NCAA debut.
“I think having a mixture of young and old together is good,” Troy said. “When you’re starting every year with people that are experienced at that highest of levels, having sophomores like Megan Rankin and Taylor Roy, a junior that has worked extremely hard every year to improve like Jordan Smith and the freshmen Danielle Valley and Taylor Katz, they start to build an expectation. That is how you end up with a strong program. Having a senior make the meet is one thing, but having a senior that has made the meet three or four times, those people are not going to crack under pressure.”
In addition to the 14 above, the Gators automatically qualified all five of their relays and have the option to bring up to three swimmers who will only be able to swim exclusively on relays. NCAA swimming rosters are capped at 17.
Florida benefited from this past weekend’s Bulldog Last Chance where Linn, McKnight and Smith improved their season best times, which ultimately led to their selections.
divers will have the opportunity to qualify at the NCAA Zone Diving in
Greensboro, N.C., March 10-12. The women’s NCAA Championship will take place
from March 20-22 in Minneapolis, Minn., and the men will compete a week later
in Austin from March 27-29.
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