Feb. 18, 2005
ATLANTA, Ga. -
In the building that hosted the 1996 Summers Olympics, the torch has officially been to a pair of Florida State University sophomores at the 2005 Atlantic Coast Conference Swimming and Diving Championships. Classmates Lauren Brick and Brittany Lerew brought home the Seminoles' first two individual victories on Friday (February 18).
With three days of competition in the books, Florida State finds itself is fourth place with 313 points. Maryland continues to lead at 469 point trailed by Virginia (391 points) with North Carolina in third (336.5 points).
After playing second fiddle last season to ACC Swimmer of the Year and four-time champion Emma Dutton, Brick (Culpeper, Va.) claimed her first title in the 100-yard breaststroke. During the morning swim, she set the pool record at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center with her time of 1:02.49. She came back during the evening session to reset the mark with a season-best and NCAA "B" Cut time of 1:02.35. The victory is Florida State's third in a row in the event after Dutton won back-to-back honors in 2003-04.
"I'm excited that she got the win, she's got that under her belt and she's a little bit more confident," FSU head coach Neil Harper said. "It's a big feather in her cap and it's something she can build upon. There was a lot of pressure on her with Emma winning it last year and for us to keep that streak alive. She was uptight, wasn't able to swim nice and loose like she normally does, she wanted it that bad."
Even before she came to Florida State last season, Lerew (Orlando, Fla.) knew about the school's strong tradition in diving. Her older sister Chelsie Lerew was a five-time ACC Champion with a trio of gold medals on the three-meter board. Now the younger Lerew has her own three-meter gold medal and her sister's school record to boot after capturing the championships with an 11-dive total of 556.60.
"Brittany dove out of her mind, she dove great. Those are some of the best dives I've ever seen here do," FSU diving coach Patrick Jeffrey said. "I thought we had a good shot going in because Brittany's voluntaries were so strong that she was ahead. Jenna's (Dreyer of Miami) degree of difficulty was better than ours, but her divers were more difficult and she missed a couple."
Teammate Courtney McClow (Jacksonville, Fla.) picked up her second diving medal of the meet, placing third with a career-high score of 518.60. Coming in ninth with total of 423.20.was sophomore Camille Akridge (Moultrie, Ga.).
"Courtney came up with some clutch dives, she did a really good job of just scrapping through the meet," Jeffrey noted. "She came up huge on that last dive to get onto the podium and that was real important for us. It's important for us to not let Miami come in and take everything away from us because we've been the dominant force. Not to take anything away from them, but I think it makes a statement that there is going to be some really heated competition in this conference."
Joining McClow on the exclusive list as the only two Seminoles to earn All-ACC honors all four years at Florida State, senior captain Emily Breen (Savannah, Ga.) captured her fifth conference medal in the 100 butterfly. Breen posted a season-best mark and nearly eclipsed her career standard with an NCAA "B" cut of 54.48 to take second place.
"This morning it looked she was having some difficulties and we didn't know if the real Emily was going to be up to full strength," Harper noted. "She bounced back tonight and showed that `Hey I'm still here and I'm deadly.' She had a great double with butterfly and the backstroke and swam a great leg on the medley relay."
Also swimming another NCAA provisional time was rookie Lauren Sparg (Durban, South Africa) as she continued her strong run at the meet. The freshman posted a fifth-place time of 55.01. A fraction of second off her career-best time was freshman Brittany Stevens (Peachtree City, Ga.). The local product celebrated her 19th birthday with a time of 56.74 to take 15th.
Florida State just missed capturing its first relay title in the 400 medley relay. The quarter of Romy Altmann (Cape Town, South Africa), Brick, Breen and Carrie Ellis (Valrico, Fla.) broke the school record with a a second-place NCAA "B" time 3:40.93.
"We drew a blank in the 400 IM, but everything else we scored in and that was real good for us, we learned a lot," Harper noted. "We know where were at and what we need to do. Our team is confident that we can have a good day tomorrow and see what we can do."
Having missed the dual meet season, Altmann was going to be a wild card for the Seminoles. The sophomore paid immediate dividends with her performance in the 100 backstroke. Already in the FSU all-time top ten, she moved herself up to number three with an NCAA "B" cut of 55.99 to take fourth. Winning the consolation heat with a season-best time of 57.06 was Breen. Freshman Stacy Rademacher (Charlotte, N.C.) and Kate Skaggs (Jacksonville, Fla.) just missed their career-best with Rademacher hitting the wall at 57.72 to take 14th overall while Skaggs was a slot back at 58.12.
Earlier in the day Ellis moved herself into the school's top ten in the 200 freestyle and during the consolation heat on Friday night she hopped over Altmann into eighth with an NCAA "B" time 1:50.70 to place 11th overall. Renee Gajda (Queensland, Australia) improved her season-best mark to 1:51.16 to take 12th, while Altmann hit the wall in 1:53.13 for 16th.
Florida State had three girls in the bonus heat of the 200 free. Sophomore Katie Ronan (Pensacola, Fla.) is only getting better with every swim. Friday night she knocked two and half seconds off the career-best time that she set in the prelims with a 1:51.99 to take second in the heat. Senior Golda Marcus (Coral Springs, Fla.) added a 1:53.23 and Angie Leach (Leesburg, Fla.) posted a 1:55.31.
The final day of competition begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday (February 19) with the preliminary heats of the 200 backstroke, 100 free, 200 breaststroke and 200 butterfly. The finals of the 1,650 freestyle and 400 free relay will be contest during the final session.