ATLANTA, Georgia, November 30.THE Florida State swimming and diving teams started the Georgia Tech Invite with a statement as three records were broken on the first day of competition. The Seminoles got off to a blazing start as they won 8 of the 12 event scheduled for today, with a plethora of career best efforts. Both teams are in the lead with point totals of 515 for the women and 609.5 for the men.
“It started with the hard work over the summer,” head coach Neil Harper said. “Our kids came back to school and focused for the fall and applied themselves. We know we're capable of great things this season and today we went out, putting four or five in the top heats and in the inside lanes. They raced teammates and other people well and I can see the confidence building as we were able to and get after it and go best times.” The finals session started off in record setting fashion in the men's 200 free relay. The team of junior Paul Murray along with seniors Trice Bailey, David Sanders and Mark Weber dropped four seconds from their seed time – winning the event with a final time of 1:16.76, setting a new ACC and FSU record. In addition, the four claimed the top spot again in the NCAA, creating a cushion of about two seconds over Louisville (1:18.48).
“These relays are something that these guys have been direct and positive with,” Harper said. “They've made it their mission. Last year, they did it well and their hard work paid off at the end of the season, but this year, they're taking it to the next level. These guys know each other and everyone did their job tonight and they got what they deserved. These guys also make the younger guys better too. They've worked hard in coming together to make it a team effort.” In the 500 free, freshman Derek Pridemore led the way for the Seminoles as he posted a career best time of 4:25.84 en route to a second place finish. Senior John Jessell followed in third with a time of 4:25.95. Junior Jack Deedrick was fifth at 4:32.02, just ahead of junior Lucas Akker who touched at 4:32.05.
In the 200 IM the Seminoles put seven in the top heat of the event. Senior Danny Ngyuen posted the top time in his career, winning the event with a 1:49.23. Following in second was sophomore Josh Friedel with a time of 1:49.43 after swimming his best time in prelims at 1:48.62. Freshman Nicholas Brown placed fourth with a 1:51.20, while classmate Kyle Doxtater took sixth with a mark of 1:52.15.In seventh was junior Jared Pike with a time of 1:52.30 and sophomore Jonathan Taddeo took eighth at 1:52.60. Junior Alex Rodriguez was tenth at 1:53.92.
Six were in the top heat of the 50 free, with three of the Seminoles swimming under the 20-second barrier, for a one-two-three sweep. Weber led the way with a career best of 19.59, just ahead of Murray who touched at 19.60. Murray led off the 200 free relay with a career best time of 19.35. Bailey too swam a lifetime best at 19.83 for third.
At the tail end of the heat, Jake Kingsford took eighth with a 20.72 just ahead of Ian Apple at 20.73. Both times were career bests. Sophomore Connor Knight was tenth at 20.82.
In diving, junior Tom Neubacher took first with a score of 363.75 with junior Mike Lewark finishing fourth with a score of 310.30, just ahead of senior Nick Klein who placed fifth at 288.00.
Finishing out the evening, the team of Friedel, Pike, Knight and Weber took second in the 400 medley relay with a time of 3:14.08.
The women started off with a victory in the 200 free relay with a team of sophomore Kaityln Dressel, junior Tiffany Oliver, sophomore Haley Powell and Katie Cook with a time of 1:31.64.
Freshman Madison Jacobi won the 500 free with an NCAA B standard time of 4:47.38 while junior Julia Henkel placed second with a time of 4:50. Both times were season bests for the ladies. Also swimming in the top heat of the 500 free was freshman Josie Cuda, who placed fifth with a time of 4:54.06 after swimming her career best time in prelims at 4:53.87. Her classmate Lauren Hine was sixth at 4:55.30 while senior Corey Allison placed tenth at 5:00.63.
Junior McKayla Lightbourn touched first in the 200 IM with a career best time of 1:59.89. Placing third was senior Jamie Barrett with a time of 2:00.91 while senior Kristine Polley took fourth at 2:02.91. Sophomore Laura Flewelling finished in sixth with a mark of 2:02.53, while freshman Kelsey Buckley following in seventh with a read out of 2:05.96.
In the 50 free, junior Tiffany Oliver won the event with a final time of 22.30, bettering her 22.51 prelim time. With that mark, Oliver tops all times in the NCAA prior to this weekend. In addition, the Southwest Ranches native set a new FSU school record, breaking the oldest breakable mark on the women's side which was set by Christy Cech in 2001 at 22.54. The oldest FSU school record can not be touched, as it was set back in 1985 by Wendy Fuller on 1-meter with an 11 dive format. Since then, the event logistics have changed and thus the record will stand forever.
“Tiffany is coming into her own as a Seminole,” Harper said. “Her confidence and her knowledge is very high. She's training hard and doing a good job applying herself. It's good to see her getting those results and she's got a great core of teammates doing great things around her. It works well together.” Sophomore Kaitlyn Dressel swam her career best time en route to a second place finish at 22.70, while Katie Cook touched in ninth at 23.60.
In the 3-meter diving event, senior Ariel Rittenhouse placed second with a score of 333.75, just over a point away from winning the event. Junior Kelsey Goodman was fourth with a mark of 327.20.
The Seminoles closed the session with a second place finish in the 400 medley relay at 3:41.28 with the team of freshman Bianca Spinazzola, Sami Pochowski, sophomore Elizabeth Pepper and Oliver.
“I happy with today,” Harper said. “They're having fun and supporting one another. We rolled the dice and it's worth giving our kids a shot to swim this well. It's fun watching our kids go best times.”
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