Florida State Fires Swim Coach Neil Harper

Florida State Fires Swim Coach Neil Harper

April 5, 2013

Neil Harper, who coaches South Florida Aquatic Club’s Tiffany Oliver and Alex Rodriguez and recently recruited Florida Gold Coast swimmer Jemal LeGrand of Davie, will not be returning to Florida State next season.

FSU athletic director Randy Spetman said Friday a national search for a new coach has begun.

“The decision to make a change in our swimming program was very difficult,” Spetman said in a statement released on Friday. “We believe that our program can be more successful and at this time needs to go in a different direction.”

Harper was at FSU for fourteen years. The Seminoles finished 23rd and 31st nationally in the men’s and women’s championships and were fourth at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships.

Kuczynski Finishes Fourth At World Trials

Caroline Kuczynski missed making this summer’s World Aquatic Championships in Barcelona, Spain.

Kuczynski, 22, of Pointe-Claire Swim Club after swimming back-to-back lifetime-bests in the 50-meter butterfly (27.33 and27.44) two days earlier, finished fourth in the 100-yard butterfly in 59.70 Friday night at the World Championship Trials in Victoria, B.C.

Kuczynski, who trains with the South Florida Aquatic Club when home, had the third fastest time in morning prelims in 59.69.

“At least you can’t tell if I’m crying or if it’s my pink eye infections,” Kuczynski tweeted shortly after her race.

Noemie Thomas had the fastest qualifying time in 58.89, under the FINA standard, and just off the national record of 57.97 of Katerine Savard.

Savard, the second fastest qualifier in 59.13, won the event in 58.06. Thomas finished second in the final in 58.31.

Ryan Cochrane, 24, won the 400-meter freestyle in 3:47.08.

Armstrong Out Of Masters Meet

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong was forced to withdraw from the Masters South Central Zone Championships in Texas after FINA voiced its objection to his participation.

Armstrong, banned for life from sanctioned Olympic sport competition because of his performance-enhancing drug use during his pro cycling career, had entered three distance events at the University of Texas meet. He had been cleared by U.S. Masters swimming officials to compete.

Armstrong, 41, was entered in the 500, 1,000 and 1,650-yard freestyle events.

Since USMS falls under the FINA umbrella as a sanctioning body, it must follow the World Anti-Doping Code and bar Armstrong from the meet.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com

Miami, Nova Southeastern Make History; Florida State Finishes Third

Miami, Nova Southeastern Make History; Florida State Finishes Third


February 21, 2011

Florida State, with SOFLO’s Tiffany Oliver and Ashley Hicks, finished third at the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships Saturday at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.

Oliver finished her freshman year with a sixth place in the 100-yard freestyle in 49.58.

The Seminoles finished out the meet with a fifth place finish (3:21.84) in the 400-yard freestyle relay with Oliver leading off.

The Seminoles earned four All-ACC honors and broke two schools records on the final day. The Seminoles finished with 417 points.

“The girls that swam tonight really made the most of their opportunities,” FSU coach Neil Harper said. “We fought off Virginia Tech, Miami and Maryland to hold on to third which is a big thing for us.”

The diving team, one of the nation’s best coached by former local diver Patrick Jeffrey, finished the meet with three more All-ACC honors and two school records.

“We ended on a good note and we still have some things to swim for this year,” Harper said. “I’m really proud of the girls banding together and swimming strong on the last day.”

Virginia took a 34-point lead after the last individual event and won the 400-yard freestyle relay to clinch the women’s team title for their fourth straight ACC title and ninth overall in school history.

Virginia won with 776 points and North Carolina was second with 734.

University of Miami, with SOFLO’s Dana Hatic, earned its highest finish ever at ACC’s with a sixth place finish and 349 points.

“This week was a giant leap for this program,” UM coach Christie Shefchunas said. “We definitely taken it to another level and we plan to stay here. Now we just wait to see if we get an invite to NCAAs for our “B” cuts and look forward to being in Austin, Texas in four weeks.”

Hatic, a junior, picked up an NCAA “B” cut time in the 200-yard breaststroke touching the wall in a UM season-best time of 2:15.47.

Southeastern Conference Championships

After a week of record-breaking performances, University of Florida finished second among the men’s and women’s teams at the Stephen O’Connell Center.

The defending women’s team fell short of the University of Georgia, 720-678 and men’s team finished second to Auburn, 799-782.

“I am extremely proud of the way both of our teams competed throughout this entire week,” Florida coach Gregg Troy said. “We left a couple of points on the board, but we also had some outstanding performances that qualified performances that qualified us for the NCAA Championships in several events.”

The Gators ended the meet with 14 conference titles (10 men, four women), five SEC records and seven school records.

Gators diving coach Donnie Craine, a Stranahan High graduate, was named SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year for the third time.

NSU Men Win First Conference Team Title

Nova Southeastern University won the inaugural Sunshine State Conference Men’s Swimming Championship in its first collegiate season.

NSU totaled 956.5 points during the four-day competition that ended Sunday at the Central Florida YMCA Aquatic Center in Orlando. NSU won with a 213-point margin.

Tampa, with SOFLO’s Les Moore, finished second with 743.5.

NSU’s Jorge Ospina won Male Swimmer of the Year. On the final day of competition, Ospina won the 200-yard butterfly with an NCAA Division II “A” standard time of 1:47.84.

Ospina amassed 60 points to earn the meet’s top honors. NSU teammate Armin Hornikel earned an “A” standard in the 200-yard breaststroke with a second place time of 2:01.83.

Moore made the 200-yard butterfly championship final where he finished eighth in 1:55.11 bettering his prelim time of 1:55.14. He was sixth in the 400-yard individual medley in 4:07.29 bettering his prelim time of 4:07.55.

University of Tampa won the women’s team title with 932 points. St. Leo College, with SOFLO’s Bianca Muniz, was fourth and NSU finished fifth. Florida Southern’s Mary O’Sullivan won Female Swimmer of the Year. NSU’s Ewa Jamborska earned an “A” standard time in her win in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:16.29.

Muniz qualified for the consolation final in the 100-yard freestyle and finished 16th in 55.76 bettering her prelim time of 56.92. She also made the consolation final of the 200-yard breaststroke and finished 10th in 2:41.47 bettering her prelim time of 2:50.27. She was also a member of the eighth place 400-yard freestyle relay.

Louisville Makes History, Sweeps Big East

Louisville men’s team defended its title and the women won their first team title in their short history in the Big East Conference Championships.

The men won by more than 200 points and the women won by 170 points and snapped Notre Dame’s 14-year reign as champions.

Florida Gold Coast swimmer Brendon Andrews won three events and was a member of the Big East record 400-yard freestyle relay team (2:54.04). His sister Sarah was eighth in the 200-yard butterfly in 2:04.95.

SOFLO’s Kevin Bandy of Louisville finished seventh in the 1,650-yard freestyle in a lifetime best 15:39.29. His previous best time was 15:48.68.

He was 14th in the 200-yard butterfly in 1:51.63 ahead of his brother Kyle of West Virginia, 15th in 1:51.71. and finished the 500-yard freestyle in 4:28.83.

WVU finished fourth among teams with 470 points.

Seton Hall, with SOFLO’s Ryan O’Shaugnessy, finished sixth. O’Shaughnessy was 12th in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:02.39, bettering his prelim time of 2:04.60. O’Shaughnessy was tenth in the 200-yard individual medley in 1:51.11, bettering his prelim time of 1:52.04. He was 16th in the 100-yard breaststroke in 57.03.

Big Ten Three-Peat For Hoosiers

Indiana women’s swimming and diving team, with SOFLO’s Britney Phelan, won their third straight Big Ten Championship and fourth in the last five years.

Indiana finished with 821 points. Indiana freshman Brittney Phelan swam a lifetime-best and NCAA “B” cut time of 2:15.27 to finish 12th in the 200-yard breaststroke.

No. 16-ranked Michigan, with SOFLO’s Natasha Moodie, was sixth with 367 points.

Moodie, competing in her final conference meet led the way with a sixth place finish in the 100-yard freestyle in 49.38, an NCAA “B” time. Her prelims time of 49.08 gives her the fourth-best career performance in school history in the event. She was second in the 50-yard freestyle in 22.26, a school record and NCAA “B” time.

Moodie led off the 400-yard freestyle that finished seventh in 3:20.88, another NCAA “B” time. She was a member of the winning 200-yard freestyle relay team in 1:29.44, an NCAA “A” time.

Moodie was named to the All-Big Ten team.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships

SOFLO’s Justin Grigull, a freshman at Iona College, helped the men’s team to a fourth-place finish at the MAAC Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. with 423.5 points. Grigull earned 17 points with a second place finish in the 100-yard freestyle in 1:41.94, an ECAC “A” time.

Grigull picked up another 15 points in the 100-yard freestyle with a fourth place finish in 46.93, an ECAC “A” time. He was second after the first 50 yards in 24.33. Grigull was also fourth in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:38.17, another “A” time. The workhorse was a member of the Gaels’ third place 400-yard freestyle relay that finished in 3:06.42, picking up another 32 points and member of the fifth place 800-yard freestyle relay that finished in 6:55.44. Grigull anchored his team’s fifth place 400-yard medley relay that finished in 3:27.66, also an “A” time. Loyola University men (796) and Marist College women (843) won the team titles.

Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association Championships

Florida Gulf Coast University won its third consecutive CCSA women’s crown Saturday night at the University of Georgia’s Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Ga.

The team won with 879.5 points.

Fourth-year coach Neal Studd, formerly of Florida Atlantic University, earned his third straight Women’s Coach of the Year honors

“I am so excited and blessed that we have won three post season titles in a row,” Studd said. “I am so happy for the team and the girls that started this whole thing with me four years ago. We swam lights out this weekend and it was a blast. My girls worked so hard and they saw that hard work pays off.”

FGCU picked up 13 gold medals, 11 silver and five bronze and won three out of five relay events. Florida Gold Coast swimmers Lindsey Meeder was second in the 1,650-yard freestyle in 17:05.13, Alessandra Cianci was second in the 200-yard butterfly in 2:02.90 and FGC diver Gaby Shaw was fourth in 3-meter diving with 241.80 points.

Despite earning seven NCAA provisional cut times, FGCU will not be competing at NCAAs because of the reclassifying period. The school will be eligible for the 2011-2012 season.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com