TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – September 26. FLORIDA State University swimming and diving teams started the 2004-05 campaign with two wins against the Clemson Tigers yesterday. The men’s team won the final event of the day, the 200 free relay, to prevail 129-112, while the women won 157-85, according to reports from the home team.
Both Seminole teams begin the 2004-05 and the Atlantic Coast Conference season at 1-0 with the first victories over Clemson in the Neil Harper era. The 2004 Women’s ACC Coach of the Year had never beaten the Tigers, men or women, in his six seasons in Tallahassee. The men bounced back from a 137-106 defeat last year, while the women’s teams met for the first time in three seasons after losing a 122-121 meet in 2001-02.
“Any time you beat Clemson in season it’s a good victory,” Harper said. “Clemson is always fired up for dual meets and have great senior leadership that loves to race. Those were two great victories, especially for the men after they took it on the chin last year at Clemson. It was good to get them here in our home pool and have the fans behind us.”
Florida State jumped out to an early lead as it took the 200-yard medley relay in both meets and sophomore Thomas Bishop (Houston, Texas) increased the men’s lead by taking the 1,000-yard freestyle in 9:31.37. The first women’s individual victory came in the 50 freestyle as rookie Leah Woodard (San Antonio, Texas) won the first of two events on the day with her time of 24.17 as she led an FSU sprint charge that took four of the top five places.
The men were just as successful in the 50 as Michael Averett (Davie, Fla.) won the event by one-one hundredth of a second at 21.18 followed by two more Seminoles in the top four.
Florida State grabbed a pair of first place finishes in the diving as freshman Alex Tilbrook (Largo, Fla.) won his first collegiate event, taking the one-meter at 199.40. Senior Courtney McClow (Jacksonville, Fla.) took the women’s title at 183.45.
Co-captain Lisa How (Preston, England) picked up a pair of first place finishes in back-to-back events to put some distance between the Seminoles and Tigers. The senior came back during the last 50-yards of the 200 IM to take the event in a time of 2:07.18. After the break she returned for a winning 57.10 in the 100 butterfly.
Two more victories went to Florida State freshman, this time in the 100-yard freestyle. Woodard keyed a one-two-three finish with her winning time of 51.68. Fellow rookie Edward Denton (Maidenhead, England) captured his first collegiate victory, taking the 100 free with a top mark of 46.24.
The women continued their winning ways with Emily Breen (Savannah, Ga.) taking the 100 backstroke in 58.39 as part of another one-two-three FSU finish. Sophomore Brittany Lerew (Orlando, Fla.) gave FSU a sweep of the diving events as she won the three-meter with a top tally of 186.60. FSU’s men’s team wasn’t as fortunate as Clemson won three-straight events to pull within six points going into the last two events.
All-ACC selection Lauren Brick (Culpeper, Va.) gave the women’s team their eighth victory in nine events by taking the 100 breaststroke at 1:04.33. The men picked up valuable points as freshman Billy Jamerson (Savannah, Ga.) posted a 56.79, just outside the FSU all-time top-ten, to win the 100 breast.
“The newcomers gave us a boost whether it was from their times, cheering or out-touching an opponent to give us those extra points and some of them stepped up to win events,” Harper added. “Ed Denton and Leah Woodard were big for us and Billy Jamerson’s victory in the 100 breast was the swing event for us. Billy really stepped up and relieved some of the stress from the rest of the team with his victory.”
Following a victory by the women in the 200 free relay, the table was set for the final race with the outcome of the men’s meet hanging in the balance. FSU’s top relay was down by just .09 of a second following the first two legs, but Averett gave the Seminoles the lead and junior Joel Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.) brought home the relay and team victory.
“As a coach, when you can only swim an athlete in three events so you have to pick and choice where you’re going to put everyone,” Harper noted. “You can put everyone in early and try to build a big lead, or do what we did and spread everyone out. In the men’s meet we left it in the hands of our two captains Michael Averett and Joel Roycik. Alex Kennon and Brett Irvin did a nice job in their legs and then Michael and Joel brought it home.”
Florida State has two weeks off until its next home meet. Both squads will take on Florida A&M at 4 p.m. on October 5 in the Leach Center with the women’s team also swimming Tulane and North Florida.