Caroline Burckle Named Swimming and Diving Honda Award Winner

GAINESVILLE, Florida, April 3. FOLLOWING her double-national championship performance and after writing her name all over the Florida record books last week at the NCAA Championships, senior Caroline Burckle of the women's swimming and diving team, has been named the top collegiate woman swimmer and winner of the Swimming and Diving Honda Sports Award for 2007-08. Burckle will now be placed on the 12-athlete ballot that will determine the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and winner of the Honda-Broderick Cup.

Burckle joins the likes of Rennee Laravie, Tracy Caulkins and Nicole Haislett as the only recipients of the award in Florida's history. She is the 12th overall candidate and joined sophomore Gemma Spofforth on this year's ballot, giving Florida two of the six nominees. Burckle's win also represents the fourth straight time that a swimmer from the Southeastern Conference has been honored as Kara Lynn Joyce of Georgia, Mary DeScenza of Georgia and Kirsty Coventry of Auburn were all previous winners. Florida has only ever had one winner of the Honda-Broderick Cup, Tracy Caulkins won the award in 1982 and again in ‘84.

"I had no idea I was even up for the award," said Burckle. "It's an amazing surprise and honor. I actually met Tracy (Caulkins) about two years go, she has the attitude of a champion and I respect her for all of her accomplishments as well as personality. I feel really honored to be in her company (as a Honda Sports Award winner)."

The Louisville, Ky. native added seven more All-American honors to her already crowded list of awards after winning two national championships in the 200 and 500 freestyle, placing sixth in the 100 freestyle and swimming on four of UF's relays over the course of the three day meet. Burckle's swims were not only award winning, but also legendary as she etched her name into the top spot of three different records, setting a Florida best time in the 200 and 500 free as well as the 400 medley relay. The records did not stop there as Burckle would go on to swim with the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays that finished the meet with the second and third fastest times in school history. Burckle wrapped up her meet swimming the lead-off leg for the 400 free relay that finished with the fourth fastest time in school history.

Burckle's most impressive record setting performance came in the 500 free when the senior swam to the wall with a time of 4:33.60 to break Janet Evans' 20-year hold on the NCAA's top-time in the event. The senior had come close twice before, missing the record by .48 with a time of 4:34.87 during the SEC meet in February, setting the school standard in the event at the time. She was on pace to break Evans' time during preliminaries at the NCAA meet, but fell off the pace in her last few laps before gliding in with a time of 4:35.79.

Now a 23-time All-American, Burckle will leave Florida as a 19-time All-SEC honoree, an NCAA and SEC record holder and an eight-time SEC Champion to go along with her two national championships. Her 23 All-American honors ties her for fifth most in school history with Jane Kerr, leaving her just five behind school leaders Haislett, Dara Torres and Kathy Treible who all finished their careers with 28 honors. The senior's name appears on the UF record books a total of 29 times, holding school records in six different events. Burckle also moved herself into fifth on the all-time list in the 800-meter freestyle after winning the gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The gold medal at Pan Am's seemed to set the stage for the remainder of the year for Burckle as she will now look ahead to the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. The senior has qualified herself for four events including the 100, 200, 400 and 800 freestyle swims. Burckle will be joined by nearly the entire women's team from Florida at the June Trials and will look to be placed among some of the United States' finest swimmers.

The Honda Sports Awards are given annually to the top female athletes in 12 NCAA sanctioned sports. All 12 winners are placed on one final ballot at the end of the spring season and the winner of the Honda Broderick Cup will be chosen from those 12. The overall winner will be honored with a ceremony in New York on June 23 where she will be presented with the Cup.

Special thanks to Florida for contributing this report.