Sunshine State Swimming Shines In NCAA Mock Scoring

By Abby Boone, Swimming World College Intern
LAKELAND – Midseason speculations can only go so far, but the NCAA Midseason Mock Scoring from USA Swimming puts four Sunshine State swimming teams in the top 15 on each side of the board, placing the SSC very highly as a competitive threat for the NCAA Championships.

On the men’s side, Florida Southern (3), Nova Southeastern (4), Tampa (8), and Saint Leo (10) all made the cut. For the women, Nova Southeastern (4), Florida Southern (5), Tampa (13), and Lynn (15) were on the list.

No other conference has this many teams ranked in the top 20, and this is largely due to the close nature of the conference, both in proximity and in relationship. The conference has grown in the past few years, and Florida Southern senior Luis Rojas remembers the conference’s closeness at Nationals.

“One of my favorite moments in my college swimming career was in my sophomore year at nationals when all the SSC swimmers got together to perform the loudest cheer in the competition and root for SSC swimmers, no matter their team.”

Rojas isn’t the only swimmer to appreciate the enthusiasm of the powerhouse conference. Many SSC swimmers come to Florida for the weather, but stay because they love the atmosphere of the conference.

The coaches love the same atmosphere that draws the swimmers in, and Saint Leo head coach Paul Mangen attributes much of the conference’s success to the number of strong teams in the area.

“This is probably the best conference in the country, so when we get to NCAAs, for us it’s business as usual,” Mangen said. “I’ve noticed that even freshman from this conference perform well, because we are more accustomed to high level swimming. If you want to win an event in our conference sometimes an ‘A’ cut doesn’t cut it.”

Constantly having fast dual meets and familiar competition helps the swimmers even more.

“We get that intensity throughout the season, so we are always being evaluative on a real standard of national level swimming and I believe it helps our student athletes maintain a sense of urgency,” Mangen said. “The coaches, the athletes, and the support from administrations at each school contribute to making our conference meet the best in the country.”

Florida Southern head coach Duncan Sherrard agrees, but reminds his swimmers to stay focused despite what current rankings may say.

“I think it’s cool information, but it doesn’t matter much at this point,” Sherrard said. “It’s great that we have so many teams ranked. It speaks to the depth of our conference, but it doesn’t mean anything until Nationals.”

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