KNOXVILLE – With every lap, every practice and every race of the entire season being a preparation for the next four days, the FGCU swimming & diving team heads to the 2014 Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) Conference Championship with one thing on its agenda: hit ‘em six.
As all 13 CCSA members will look to post their best marks of the season, the Eagles hope to do the same while upholding their reputation of excellence by claiming a sixth-consecutive CCSA Championship title. Action begins Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the Allan Jones Aquatics Center on the campus of the University of Tennessee, and will continue through Saturday, Feb. 22.
“The team is really looking forward to getting this meet started,” head coach Neal Studd said. “It’s been a tough year with our pool issues but I am so proud of how our girls have dealt with the adversity. They are ready to race and be competitive for another championship.”
FLASHBACK OF FIVE
Last year, FGCU claimed its fifth-consecutive CCSA victory after touching first in 13 of a possible 20 events and setting five program and conference records during the three-day meet. The Eagles finished in the No. 1 spot with 712 points, followed by Liberty (609), Georgia Southern (482.5), College of Charleston (353.5) and Gardner-Webb (349) to round out the top five teams. Studd was named Coach of the Year for the fourth time while David Boyko was dubbed Diving Coach of the Year in just his first year with the Eagles. Emma Svensson (Upsala, Sweden/Celsiusskolan) garnered Most Outstanding Female Performer of the Meet after winning the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke.
The Eagles will look to Svensson, distance-freestyler Lani Cabrera (Barbados/St. Ursala's Secondary School) and freshmen Kira Toussaint (Amstelveen, Netherlands/Keizer Karel College) and Evita Leter (Paramaribo, Suriname/St. Brendan HS) to set the pace for FGCU during the championships. In her first season with the Green and Blue, Toussaint has set conference records in both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke. Cabrera and Leter have consistently led the team throughout the season with Cabrera posting three of the Eagles’ fastest times and Leter recording two.
NO POOL, NO PROBLEM
When emergency renovations to the FGCU Aquatic Center were started 14 weeks ago, the Green and Blue were left without a pool to call home as the most important part of their season was quickly approaching. With meets being canceled and practice locations varying, it would be easy for teams to lose motivation, but not FGCU. After three months of keeping attitudes positive and focus strong, if the Eagles return home with another first-place trophy they will have reached the top after starting 2014 literally at the bottom of a pool with no water.
The Eagles opened their campaign solidifying their title as one of the top-three programs in the state of Florida with a comfortable third-place finish in the All-Florida Invite, sitting behind Florida and FSU. Continuing to make noise and beat high-major opponents, the Green and Blue took home second place at the Georgia Tech Fall Invite, beating Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, James Madison and FAU, while Tennessee finished at the top. FGCU finished the season with a head-to-head record of 5-3 after wins over North Florida, Miami, Oregon State, FIU and FAU and losses to Florida State, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara.
The Eagles haven’t lost a dual meet to a conference opponent in an astonishing 2,221 days. Since joining the league in the fall of 2007, FGCU holds a 25-1 CCSA record with its only loss dating back to January 2008 against Georgia Southern.
FOLLOW THE EAGLES
The CCSA Championship races get underway on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Events will begin daily at 10 a.m. for the duration on the championship. For live scoring, video streaming, ticket prices and other championship information, please visit www.TheCCSA.com. For complete coverage of FGCU women’s swimming and diving over the weekend, follow us on Twitter @FGCU_WSWIM and visit www.FGCUAthletics.com.