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Florida Swimming and Diving Announces 2002-03 Team Awards -- October 6, 2003

GAINESVILLE, Fla. THE University of Florida men's and women's swimming and diving teams announced the team awards for the 2002-03 season at their banquet Friday evening.

Former Gator All-American Renate duPlessis and sophomore Ryan Lochte (Daytona Beach, Fla.) were honored with the Skip Foster Award, which is presented to the most valuable men and women's swimmers. duPlessis earned six All-America honors for the Gators as a senior in 2002-03 as she helped lead Florida to a fifth-place showing at the NCAA Championships. Lochte earned five All-America honors as a freshman and was the SEC Male Swimmer of the Year as well as the SEC Freshman Swimmer of the Year.

Senior Sara McLarty (DeLand, Fla.) and senior Chris Kellam (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) were named the recipients of the Giovanni Linscheer Award, which is presented to the male and female swimmer who have contributed the most to the overall success of the team in the categories of dedication, leadership, attitude and performance. McLarty and Kellam each earned five All-America honors for the Gators last season.

Senior Blair Beard (Sarasota, Fla.) and juniors Katie Kennedy (Ft. Myers, Fla.) and Zach Wilcox (Yarrow Point, Wash.) were honored with the Donald Gibb Award, which is presented to the student-athletes who performed above and beyond expectations. Beard finished 27th at the NCAA Championships in the 400-yard individual medley, while Kennedy swam career-best times in the 200-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley at the 2003 SEC Championships. Wilcox became just the second diver in Florida history to earn multiple All-America honors in the same season after doing so in each of the three diving events: one-meter, three-meter and platform.

Wilcox also was honored with the Bill Harlan Award, which is handed out to the diver who has brought national recognition to the Florida diving program.

Sophomore Vipa Bernhardt (Bad Hersfeld, Germany) was honored with the Tracy Caulkins Award, which is given to the women's swimming freshman based on outstanding performance at the NCAA and SEC Championships. Bernhardt earned five All-America honors at the NCAA meet, while picking up four All-SEC honors.

Seniors Kristen Connor (Gainesville, Fla.) and Scott Schultz (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) received the Academic Award, which is presented to the student-athletes who have achieved academic excellence. Connor, a wildlife ecology major, also earned All-SEC academic honors and was the high Florida finisher on the three-meter at the NCAA Diving Zone meet. Schultz, a zoology/pre-med major, was also an SEC Academic Honor Roll selection and earned All-America honors as part of Florida's 400-yard freestyle relay team that placed seventh at the 2003 NCAA Championships.

Former Gators Anna Chapman, Cara Teague, Diane (Tennison) Sherrard and Philip Norris were given the Senior Leadership Award, which is handed out to the senior Gators whose leadership was instrumental to the team's success. Chapman earned three All-SEC honors as a senior last season, while Teague and Norris each earned two All-America honors with Sherrard picking up one.

Janet Ellis and Cathy Kupizszewski were both honored as the recipients of the Tiger Holmes Award, which is given to the most outstanding supporters of the Florida swimming and diving program each season.

The 2003-04 women's team kicks of its season by hosting Michigan and Florida Atlantic Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The men open the following day by co-hosting the Florida Invitational with the women's team. The meet is set to begin at 11 a.m.