GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After three days of fierce competition at the Pinch A Penny All Florida Invite, the FGCU swimming and diving team exited UF’s Stephen C. O’Connell Center solidifying its title as one of the top-three programs in the state of Florida.
After the conclusion of Sunday’s events, host Florida took home the top crown after scoring 1,1146 points, followed by FSU in second with 798 and FGCU in third with 695. Finishing distantly outside of the top three were Miami (400), Florida Southern (346), UNF (286) and Nova Southeastern (119).
While the final rankings mirrored those of years past, the drastic gap in point totals between third and fourth place did not. In the 2012 invite FGCU finished third with 596 points, a distant 167.5 behind FSU (763.5) and only 26 points ahead of fourth-place Miami (570). This year the Eagles not only proved to be dominant over Miami, but that they, along with Florida and FSU, comfortably reign The Sunshine State.
“The weekend was a huge success for us,” head coach Neal Studd said. “We had some outstanding swims for this early in the year, which makes me excited to see how far this team can go. We had great contribution from returners and newcomers, overall a great team effort.”
The final day started with the 1650-yard freestyle where three Eagles earned points in the lengthy race. Lani Cabrera (Barbados/St. Ursala's Secondary School) led the flock by finishing in 10th place, clocking a 17:26.49. She was followed by Caroline Hamilton (Davidsonville, Md./Archbishop Spalding HS) in 14th (17:29.28) and Kellie Roedig (Huntingdon Valley, Pa./Abington Senior HS) in 16th (17:45.90).
Next was the 200-yard backstroke where Sandra Wilk (Lexington, Ky./Paul Lawrence Dunbar HS) cruised to a sixth-place finish (2:04.46), directly followed by Kira Toussaint (Amstelveen, Netherlands/Keizer Karel College) in seventh (2:04.68) and Karen Vilorio (Tegucigalpa, Honduras/Elvel School) in ninth (2:04.91).
In the 100-yard freestyle Sara Hamilton (Stonehaven, Scotland/Mackie Academy) and Emma Svensson (Uppsala, Sweden/Celsiusskolan) nearly tied as Hamilton posted a 51.50, placing her fifth, compared with Svensson’s 51.51 for sixth place. Cabrera joined her teammates in the finals finishing 11th (52.89).
The day continued with the 200-yard breaststroke where Evita Leter (Paramaribo, Suriname/Doral Academy) swam a 2:25.52 to finish seventh, while Meghan McGuirk (Plaistow, N.H./Peddie School) placed eighth (2:25.59) and Hannah Soutar (Edinburgh, Scotland/Broughton HS) in ninth (2:26.95).
In the 200-yard butterfly Nina Schiffer (Dortmund, Germany/SG Dortmund) swam to a fourth-place finish while posting a 2:05.30. She was followed by Cabrera in ninth (2:11.22) and Devon Robins (London, United Kingdom/The Grey Coat Hospital) in 13th (2:13.65).
The meet concluded with the 400-yard freestyle relay where FGCU racked up and third and seventh-place finishes. The team of Sarah Hamilton, Toussaint, Christina Tanninen (Burlington, Ontario/Nelson) and Svensson led the Eagles with a 3:28.07, followed by Victoria Ho (West Palm Beach, Fla./Seminole Ridge HS/University of Florida), Cassie Niles (Helotes, Texas/Sandra Day O'Connor), Wilk and Samantha Rahael (Trinidad &Tobago/The Bolles School) with a 3:34.98.
The Eagles will return to the pool for their first home meet of the season, Saturday Oct. 5, when they host North Florida at 10 a.m.
For complete coverage of FGCU women’s swimming and diving over the season, follow us on Twitter @FGCU_WSWIM and visit www.FGCUAthletics.com.
1. University of Florida - 1146
2. Florida State University - 798
3. Florida Gulf Coast University - 695
4. University of Miami - 400
5. Florida Southern College - 346
6. University of North Florida - 286
7. Nova Southeastern University - 119