WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
Caroline Kuczynski didn’t know what to expect.
The 19-year-old, coming off a successful freshman season at Arizona State, is home for the summer and training hard with the South Florida Aquatic Club.
So on Friday when she qualified third in the 50-meter butterfly in 28.61 seconds during morning prelims of the Texas Senior Circuit Swimming Meet, Kuczynski was happy and surprised.
Six hours later when she won the 50 butterfly event in a career-best 27.76 at the Texas A&M Student Recreation Center Natatorium in College Station, Tex., she was ecstatic.
Her strong opening swim sets her up nicely for Saturday’s 100-meter butterfly which she is seeded ninth in (1:02.53 seed time).
Her first place and the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay’s third place buoyed SOFLO to a fifth-place finish on Day One of the three-day meet.
SOFLO had seven individual swimmers and both 400 freestyle relay teams qualify for finals in its national debut.
“I was pretty happy with the swim,” said Kuczynski, a 2012 Canadian Olympic hopeful. “I didn’t expect much from this meet because we weren’t rested and in full training. This was just a meet to race.
“I felt good in the water,” she said. “Going into the final as the third seed surprised me. I was expecting a fight to make it into the finals so that helped me feel pretty confident for finals.
“I am very happy swimming my best time I got. That event isn’t in every meet. It was a good race for me. My stroke felt amazing. It definitely is a confidence-booster for the 100. I just need to have one more lap.”
Kuczynski also swam the third leg of SOFLO’s 400-meter freestyle relay that finished seventh in 4:06.10.
The only other SOFLO swimmer in the 50-meter butterfly, Lucia Morris, 16, was 42nd in the 50-meter butterfly in 33.82 in her national meet debut.
SOFLO’s 400 free relay team of Luke Torres, 16, Brandon Goldman, 15, Zain Qali, 22 and Tyler Sell, 18, finished third in 3:45.76 to pick up 32 points.
In the men’s 50-meter butterfly, Qali, was fifth in 26.54 seconds. He was seeded sixth after his morning prelim swim of 27.12.
Also in the 50 butterfly, Alex Rodriguez was 25th in 29.18.
SOFLO had eight swimmers in the men’s and women’s 200-meter breaststroke events.
Brittney Phelan, 17, finished fourth in the final in 2:41.68. she was the second fastest qualifier in morning prelims in a career-best 2:41.49.
Anne Kuczynski, 15, was 15th in finals in 2:51.13 finals. She was seeded 14th after swimming a career-best 2:49.54 in prelims. Her seeded time coming into the meet was 2:51.80.
Also in the women’s 200 breaststroke, Lucia Morris, 16, was 22nd in 2:53.59 and Jenna Moodie, 15, was 38th in 3:00.76.
In the men’s breaststroke, Ryan O’Shaughnessy, 19, coming off his freshman season at Seton Hall, was fourth in 2:28.65. He just made finals after an eighth place finish in morning prelims in 2:32.39.
Luke Torres, 16, a top swimmer at American Heritage, was sixth in the 200 breaststroke in 2:31.11 after swimming a career-best 2:30.97, fourth fastest time in prelims.
Also in the men’s 200 breaststroke, Alex Rodriguez, 19, was 17th in 2:36.71 and Marc Rojas, 16, was 29th in 2:40.04.
Florida State-bound Tyler Sell, 18, was fifth in the 400-meter freestyle in 4:12.24. Rojas was 32nd in 4:22.69.
In the women’s 400-meter freestyle, Leonie Davies, 13, was 51st in 4:46.64 and Emma Lincoln, 14, was 60th in 4:49.08. Both were making their national meet debut.
Goldman, 15, getting his first taste of national competition, was 30th in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:21.25. Sell, 18, was 34th in 2:22.33.
In the 100-meter freestyle, Texas A&M-bound Melissa Cooper, 17, was 30th in 1:01.32; Moodie was 47th in 1:02.46 and Lincoln was 64th in 1:03.90.
In the men’s 100 freestyle, Torres was 26th in a career-best 55.62, bettering his previous best of 56.05.
The Nike-sponsored South Florida Aquatic Club, making its national debut, is fifth among 24 teams with 147 points after the first day of competition.
The meet features more than 350 swimmers from around the country including host Aggie Swim Club (305), Longhorn Aquatics (231.5), First Colony Swim Team (211) and King Aquatic Club (196.5), the top four teams.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org