April 19, 2005
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - With the 2004-05 season complete, the Florida State University swimming and diving team took time to look back at all the accomplishments from this season at the annual team banquet. The Seminoles handed out eight awards and named their captains for the upcoming campaign.
A junior and senior shared both the men's and women's Most Valuable Swimmer awards. Splitting the men's award were captains Joel Roycik (Winter Park, Fla.) and Michael Averett (Davie, Fla.), while Emily Breen (Savannah, Ga.) and Carrie Ellis (Valrico, Fla.) went halves on the women's honor.
"Mike and Joel have been basically inseparable," FSU head coach Neil Harper said. "They've been great training partners, captains together, swam the same three events at conference and were on the same relays that were so successful for us. They were invaluable.
"Carrie and Emily both had a great year and as a staff, we couldn't separate one as being more valuable than the other. For Emily it was a culmination of four great years and you don't realize how much we're going to miss her until you realize just how much she's meant to us. She has three awesome strokes that can score anytime any year at conference. Carrie had a delightful year, coming back after taking two years off to be our top sprinter, it was an unexpected bonus."
Two of the more predictable winners were the recipients of the Most Valuable Diver and Rookie of the Year accolades. All-American Courtney McClow (Jacksonville, Fla.) was the natural choice for women's diving award, while NCAA Zone participant Alex Tilbrook (Largo, Fla.) received the men's. After taking part at the NCAA meet in their first season, Billy Jamerson (Savannah, Ga.) and Lindsay Kenney (Plano, Texas) were logical selections for the Rookie of the Year awards.
Good all-around seasons were highlighted even more by the performances of the Most Improved Award winners at the Atlantic Coast Conference meet. Sophomores Alex Kennon (Winter Haven, Fla.) and Katie Ronan (Pensacola, Fla.) were named Most Improved Swimmers to along with Derek Jones (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Brittany Lerew (Orlando, Fla.) who honored for their strides on the diving board.
"For the fourth year in a row we had over 124 lifetime bests," Harper noted. "When you have that many people contributing to that number it mean's you have a lot of people moving in the right direction and at this level it's almost unheard of. Alex kept improving throughout the year and had personal bests in dual meets, prelims and finals. Katie Ronan worked hard every day and it paid off for her. She hadn't had a lot of improvement the last few years until she came here and then something clicked and she's had huge drops in all of her events."
Kennon and McClow picked up their second awards as selections for the Coaches' Award, along with freshman Elise Hatfield (Merritt Island, Fla.). Returning to the water at the end of the year earned Mark Nicholls (Charlotte, N.C.) and Andrew Castro (Miami, Fla.) the men's Comeback Award and Ellis' renewed love of the sport made her the women's honoree.
"Andrew, Mark and Carrie were three people who overcame a lot of big things in their lives," Harper admitted. "For Carrie she walked away from the sport for two years and didn't want anything to do with swimming. Being on a new campus and watching the team here as she worked at the Leach Center she saw that we do things a little bit differently and the team is closer and more like a family. For her to take off two years then come back in seven months and be back at the top of her game to the point where she's All-ACC and representing us at NCAA's was a huge inspiration to the team.
"Andrew had to have a cancerous tumor removed from the base of his neck and was out of the water for six weeks. He let us know that all he wanted to do was get back with the team and help represent us at the conference meet and he did. Mark had a lot of trouble with an irregular heartbeat and rhythms and he had to have a surgical procedure to correct it. We kept him out of the water for a long period of time and just like Andrew he wanted to come back and represent the team at the conference meet. In the face of adversity they really made the team a priority."
The Captain Awards went out to Averett, Roycik and Peter Crane (Fairport, N.Y.) on the men's team with the women's accolades for Breen, McClow and Lisa How (Preston, England) for their work as captains during the 2004-05 season. In addition, Jared Heine (Honolulu, Hawai'i) and Stephan Connor (Burr Ridge, Ill.) were named the men's captains for next year while Ellis and Ronan will serve as the women's.
For the fifth year in a row, Florida State had an All-American at the women's meet with a diver earning that accolade for the fourth-straight trip as McClow picked up Honorable Mention plaques for the one-meter (tenth) and platform (13th). The men had their first All-Americans in the pool since 1999 as Jamerson, Thomas Bishop (Houston, Texas), Steve Roof (Canton, Ohio) and Kyle Young (Oviedo, Fla.) took 16th in the 800 free relay to capture the Honorable Mention award.
"When we vote on the Coaches Award as a staff, we look for people who are very coachable, open to critiquing and put in the extra time in order to improve," Harper commented. "They basically prioritize swimming and diving and are the first ones here and the last ones to leave. They're they people we use as an example when we say if all of us were a little bit more like Alex, Elise and Courtney that our team would be even better."
At the ACC meet the Seminoles return from Atlanta with three titles. Lerew broke her sister's record on the three-meter on her way to the gold medal while Lauren Brick (Culpeper, Va.) picked up FSU's third 100 breaststroke title in a row. The men concluded their best league summit under Harper with the quartet of Averett, Roycik, Kennon and Ed Denton (Maidenhead, England) winning the 400 free relay.
All told the Tribe had 15 swimmers and divers earned all-conference honors as Florida State and Virginia are the only two schools in the league to combine for at least 15 certificates over the last three years. The men took second at the ACC meet with 580 points--the most scored during Harper's six-year tenure - while the women tallied 433 points to take fourth.
"We had some great freshmen and in any other program they would have stood a chance, but Billy and Lindsay stood out above the rest," Harper added. "They had great years during the dual meets, were All-ACC and represented us proudly at the NCAA Championships. We had some great freshmen, but these two just took it a little bit farther."
In addition to the honors and championships, Florida State broke seven records during the year. Along with Lerew's new three-meter record, McClow took down the platform mark at the ACC meet. Kenney reset a ten-year-old record in the 200 butterfly, while Romy Altmann (Cape Town, South Africa) holds the fastest 200 backstroke time in school history. Both Kenney and Altmann were members of the 800 free relay that set a new mark at the ACC meet. Roof broke the 1,650 free mark in Atlanta, but Bishop did him one better an hour and a half later and in the process broke his own 1,000 free standard.
During the dual meet season, both the women's and men's teams reached the ten-win mark as the women posted a 13-4 mark, 4-1 in the ACC, to go along with the men's overall record of 10-3, 4-0 ACC. Since Harper took over the program six year's ago, the women's 71 dual meet triumphs are the most in the league, as are the men's 53 victories.