FGCU Swimming Hosts Liberty in Conference Showdown

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Photo: FGCU Athletics

From FGCU Athletics

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Coming off its holiday break, the #34 FGCU swimming and diving team (8-3, 2-0 CCSA) starts off the spring season with a conference showdown against rival Liberty (5-1, 1-0 CCSA) Saturday at 10 a.m. at the FGCU Aquatics Center.

Saturday marks the third and final meet against a conference opponent this season. After already claiming a pair of wins against UNF and UNC Asheville, the Eagles are now 34-1 all-time against CCSA opponents, with its lone loss coming by a one-point margin (150.5-149.5) at Georgia Southern on Jan. 19, 2008 – the program’s inaugural season.

“Liberty is one of the strongest opponents in our conference,” said FGCU head coach Dave Rollins. “Getting a chance to compete with them will be a good test for our team coming off some very strenuous mid-season training. The team is excited to compete and get into racing form again as we head into the second semester.”

CONFERENCE RIVALRY
Saturday’s meet marks the sixth dual meet in the past seven seasons between the conference rivals, with FGCU taking home each of the previous five duals against Liberty by wide margins. A year ago, the Eagles claimed a 240-67 victory against the Flames. A list of all-time results between the two conference powerhouses is included below.

FGCU and Liberty have combined to win each of the past eight CCSA Championships while also finishing first or second at the conference meet in each of the last five seasons. The Eagles have won seven of the past eight CCSA crowns, including a streak of five straight from 2009-13 and each of the last two championships. Liberty stepped in and won the title over the Green and Blue in 2014 – the only year since 2009 a program other than FGCU has won the championship – and finished runner-up behind the Eagles in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.

2015-16 W, 240-67
2014-15 W, 217-77
2012-13 W, 214-79
2011-12 W, 179-57
2010-11 W, 235-57

LAST TIME OUT
Competing for the first time in a month on Dec. 18, FGCU turned in an impressive victory against conference-opponent UNC Asheville by defeating the Bulldogs, 154-51. Despite mixing up its typical meet schedule and lineup, the Eagles finished first in 10 of 11 events and had two swimmers touch in the top-three in all 11 races, including a sweep of the podium in the 200 medley relay, 200 IM, 500 free and 200 free relay.

Individually, Fanny Teijonsalo (Espoo, Finland/Makelanrinteen Lukio) highlighted the meet with a pair of wins in the 1000 free and 100 breast – her first time competing in both events this season – while Kiley Eble (Cleveland, Ohio/Gilmour Academy), Georgiana Gardner (York, Maine/York HS) and Sommer Harris (Richmond, Va./St. Catherine’s School) won their first events of the year. For Gardner and Harris, it was also their first individual wins of their careers.

AMONG THE NATION’S (AND WORLD’S) BEST
With the fall season having come and gone, FGCU has once again placed itself among some of the nation’s best with a trio of individual and relay times that rank among the top-30 in the NCAA this season. Individually, Kaas Elmgreen’s school-record time of 1:57.17 in the 200 fly currently ranks as the 30th fastest in the country. Additionally, the Eagles program-record time of 1:29.73 in the 200 free relay registers as the 16th best while the 400 free relay time of 3:18.83 ranks 23rd.

Teijonsalo also turned in an impressive showing at the 2016 FINA World Championships (25m) in December, where she represented Finland and placed 15th in the world in the 100 IM with a time of 1:00.02. Her time was less than a second outside of finishing in the top-eight and qualifying for the finals. The sophomore standout placed 29th in the 50 fly, 34th in the 100 fly and 39th in the 100 back while also competing on a trio of Finnish relay teams that finished in the top-12 in the world.

Additionally, after representing her country in the Rio Olympics last summer, Evita Leter (Paramaribo, Suriname/Doral Academy) was named the Suriname Swimming Sportswoman of the Year prior to the New Year. She was not only tabbed the top female swimmer in her home country, but was also one of three finalists for the Surinamese Female Athlete of the Year award.

CONFERENCE HONOR QUEENS
In seven weeks of competition this season, the Green and Blue have taken home six CCSA Swimmer of the Week honors while sweeping the weekly awards on five of those occasions with senior diver Ashley Wright (Port St. Lucie, Fla./Indian River State/Lincoln Park Academy) earning the CCSA Diver of the Week award after each time competing.

Kaas Elmgreen has taken home the CCSA Swimmer of the Week honor on two occasions after most recently receiving the distinction following her record-breaking performance at the Georgia Tech Invite. Additionally, Katie Latham (Deal, Kent, UK/Sir Roger Manwood’s School), Elizabeth Zeiger (Cumberland, R.I./Homeschool), senior captain Sandra Wilk (Lexington, Ky./Paul Laurence Dunbar HS) and Harris have also earned the honor this season.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Events FGCU Season-Best Times
400 medley relay Teijonsalo, Leter, Kaas Elmgreen, Latham – 3:40.45
1000 free Liz Zeiger – 10:09.92
200 free Linda Shaw – 1:49.66
100 back Katie Latham – 54.45 (NCAA ‘B’)
100 breast Evita Leter – 1:03.82
200 fly Christina Kaas Elmgreen – 1:57.17 (NCAA ‘B’)
50 free Katie Latham – 22.57 (NCAA ‘B’)
100 free Katie Latham – 49.10 (NCAA ‘B’)
200 back Barbara Caraballo – 1:58.04 (NCAA ‘B’)
200 breast Vanessa Rivas – 2:18.26
500 free Linda Shaw – 4:50.45
100 fly Christina Kaas Elmgreen – 53.83 (NCAA ‘B’)
400 IM Liz Zeiger – 4:18.28 (NCAA ‘B’)
200 free relay Latham, Redding, Burdge, Teijonsalo (NCAA Provisional)