WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
February 14, 2012
For several South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers, the championship season begins on Wednesday with several college conference meets around the country.
Florida State and University of Miami, both with SOFLO swimmers on their rosters, will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center in Christiansburg, Va.
The women’s swim meet begins on Wednesday. The men’s and women’s diving events start on Thursday and men’s swimming events are set for Feb. 22-25.
The four-day meet will be streamed live on ACC.com at 6 p.m.
The No. 25-ranked Seminoles finished the dual meet season with an 11-1 record, their only loss to Florida. FSU was undefeated (5-0) in the conference.
The women’s team, with SOFLO swimmers Tiffany Oliver, Melissa Cooper and Ashley Hicks hope to improve upon last year’s third place finish behind North Carolina and Virginia.
Virginia is defending men’s and women’s champion.
Oliver is seeded third in the 100-yard freestyle (49.08), sixth in the 50-yard freestyle (22.97) and will also swim the 200-yard freestyle (1:50.65) and relays. Cooper and Hicks are also entered in the 50-yard freestyle. Hicks is in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard backstroke and Cooper is in the 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard freestyle.
SOFLO’s Dana Hatic will compete in her final conference meet for the University of Miami. Hatic is entered in the 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard breaststroke and relays.
SOFLO’s Justin Grigull, a sophomore at Iona College, is the top seed in the 200-yard freestyle (1:40.20) for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Swimming and Diving Championships that begin Thursday at Erie Community College in Buffalo, N.Y. He is also seeded second in the 500-yard freestyle (4:35.67) and third in the 100-yard freestyle (46.76).
Big East Championships
SOFLO’s Ryan O’Shaughnessy is one of fifteen Seton Hall swimmers competing at the Big East Championships hosted by University of Pittsburgh at the Trees Pool Wednesday through Saturday. O’Shaughnessy, a junior, has six Big East “A” qualifying cuts. O’Shaughnessy enters the meet ranked in the Top 20 in the Big East in three events. He is 17th in the 200-yard individual medley with a season-best 1:52.53, ranks 18th in the 100-yard breaststroke in 57.73 and 19th in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:05.94. Last year Seton Hall finished a school-record sixth overall at the conference championships. Also competing will be former Coral Springs Swim Club swimmer Kevin Bandy of Louisville and twin brother Kyle Bandy of West Virginia.
Big Ten Championships
No. 12 Indiana looks to defend its women’s title when the Big Ten Championships begin Wednesday at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in Iowa City. Indiana has won three titles in a row and four of the last five. SOFLO’s Brittney Phelan, a sophomore, will compete in the breaststroke events. The men’s team will compete the following week, Feb. 22-25, with SOFLO’s Nick Schwab.
SOFLO’s Caroline Kuczynski and No. 24-ranked Arizona State women’s swim team and men’s and women’s divers will compete in the PAC-12 Championships Feb. 22-25 at the King Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash. Stanford is the defending women’s champion. The ASU men’s team will compete in the conference championships Feb. 29-March 3 at the East Los Angeles College Swim Center. Stanford is the defending men’s champion.
Patriot League Championships
SOFLO’s Gina Gautieri, a freshman at Bucknell, is coming off her first collegiate win in the 200-yard breaststroke at the Navy Invitational. She won in 2:33.63, .27 ahead of Navy freshman Samantha Brennan. She was also Bucknell’s top finisher in the 100-yard breaststroke in a season-best 1:08.91, placing her fifth on the 2011-12 Bison fastest times list. Gautieri is seeded 16th in the 100-yard breaststroke and 17th in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:29.98). The three-day conference championships begin Thursday at Navy’s Lejeune Hall. Colgate is defending women’s champion. Navy is seeking its ninth consecutive title.
Sunshine State Conference Championships
Nova Southeastern freshman Linea Cutter of SOFLO will make her conference debut Wednesday through Saturday at the Long Center in Clearwater. NSU will try and defend its men’s title against Florida Southern, Florida Tech, Rollins, St. Leo College and Tampa. NSU finished undefeated (4-0) in the conference. Tampa is defending women’s champion. Cutter is seeded ninth in the 100-yard freestyle in 54.00, 12th in the 50-yard freestyle in 24.89 and 17th in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:02.24. Former Coral Springs Swim Club swimmer and SOFLO’s Les Moore will compete for Tampa. Moore, a sophomore, is seeded third in the 400-yard individual medley in 4:05.99 and fifth in the 200-yard individual medley in 1:55.79. SOFLO swimmer Bianca Muniz of St. Leo College and Pembroke Pines will also compete. She will compete in the 50-yard freestyle (25.87), 100-yard breaststroke (1:13.64), 100-yard freestyle (56.44) and 200-yard breaststroke (2:40.16).
Southeastern Conference Championships
University of Florida are among favorites for the SEC Championships that begin Wednesday at the University of Tennessee Allan Jones Aquatic Center. The Gator women are ranked second in the nation, the highest of any SEC team. The men are ranked seventh. The Gators are led by conference champions Elizabeth Beisel and Marcin Cieslak. The men’s team is the youngest in the SEC with 17 freshmen and six sophomores including Metro Aquatics’ Carlos Omana. Both squads finished second last year. Cieslak, Sarah Bateman and Matt Elliott are the Gators only undefeated swimmers this season.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com