Swimming Teams Have Record-Breaking Weekend in N.C.
BATON ROUGE — This past weekend was a record-breaking one for the LSU swimming teams, as 37 athletes set personal-best times and several school records were broken at the 2002 Nike Cup Invitational held Friday through Sunday in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Junior All-American Stephanie Smith led the way on the women’s side, breaking three school records in the freestyle, two of which were her own records set last season. Smith had a career-best time of 4:49.79 in the 500-yard freestyle, which is the second-best mark in school history and was also a “B” cut for the 2003 NCAA Qualifying Standards. Smith also swam the 1650-yard freestyle in a time of 16:21.41, a personal-best time and was an “A” cut time. Smith is the first Lady Tiger to record an “A” cut since Mandy Leach at the 2002 Southeastern Conference Championships.
“Stephanie had an awesome meet this past weekend,” said LSU assistant coach Lars Jorgensen. “The goal of her meet was to get her Automatic NCAA Qualifying time out of the way and she did that, so now it is much easier for her to focus on the NCAA meet.”
Smith’s time in the 1650 is the best in LSU history, breaking her time of 16:25.47 set at last season’s NCAA Championships. She also swam the 1000 freestyle in a time of 9:50.51, the best time of her career in that event and also a school record. Smith was an honorable mention All-American in the 1650 free at the NCAA Championships a year ago.
“Breaking three school records in one meet is an awesome achievement for Stephanie,” said Jorgensen. “She has a lot of work to do to take her swimming to the next level, but she can do it because she works very hard and more importantly, is a very determined athlete. Her future is going to be outstanding.”
Eight Lady Tigers set personal-best times in the 50-yard freestyle during the weekend, including junior Donna Leslie’s time of 23.46 which is the third-best all-time in school history and qualified her for the NCAA Championships for the first time in her career with a “B” cut. Sophomores Margaret Anne Moore, Margaret Beadle, Bethany Cottingham, Cindy Martinez and Lindsay Staak all set personal-best marks in the 50-yard freestyle at the meet. Junior Laura Jo Leininger and red shirt freshman Heather Brand also scored personal-bests in that event.
Leininger swam the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 55.06, making the “B” cut and qualifying for her first-career NCAA Championships. That time is also the third-best in school history. She also swam personal-bests in the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard butterfly Staak swam the 100-yard backstroke in a “B” cut time of 56.16, the third-fastest in school history. Senior Cissy Schepens swam a “B” cut in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:16.95, the second-best time of her career in the event. She previously swam the event in a time of 2:15.99 as a sophomore. Schepens also swam the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:04.50, a career-best mark.
Martinez also swam the fastest time of her career in the 50-yard backstroke (27.07) and Moore swam the 100 free in 53.11, the best of her career. Brand also set personal-best times in the 100 free and 100 fly. True freshman Hannah Martin had two personal-best times in the 200-yard freestyle (1:55.70) and the 200-yard butterfly (2:08.26), while fellow true freshman Jenna Molinski recorded a personal-best time (4:28.35) in the 400-yard individual medley. Cottingham also had a career-best time (52.78) in the 100-yard freestyle.
Junior All-American Evan Martinec was one of 10 Tigers to record personal-best times in Chapel Hill. The Tacoma, Wash. native, made a “B” cut in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 47.76, breaking his school record of 47.79 set a season ago. He also set a personal-best mark in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:51.89. Martinec will participate at the NCAA Championships for the third-straight year this March. Sophomore Jan Minartz set swam personal-bests in the 500-yard freestyle (4:28.81) and the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:40.85. Francisco Paez made a “B” cut in the 100-yard freestyle (44.79), which was a career-best, and had another best time (20.88) in the 50 free.
Jared Strecker had personal-bests in both the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard fly, and Robbie Moon in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle. Robbie Leininger, Neil Lowe, Chris Stanczyk, Matt Rucker and Martin Latz all posted career-best times in the 50-yard freestyle. Freshman Matt Coenen swam a personal-best time of 2:05.12 in the 200-yard individual medley.
“This was really an outstanding meet for several of our swimmers in terms of making so many cuts for the NCAA’s and setting so many personal-best times,” said assistant coach Amanda Norton. “It was great for Laura Jo (Leininger) and Donna (Leslie) and people like that to qualify for the NCAA’s for the first time, and especially for so many of our athletes to swim so well because this was a tough meet and no doubt tougher than it was last season.”
“We still have 12 weeks to go before the SEC Championships so that gives us a lot of time to improve and work harder to qualify more people, but at this point I am surprised and happy that we have gotten so many qualifiers.”
The LSU swimming and diving teams return to action on Dec. 16 when they travel to Tampa, Fla., to face the University of Tampa and the University of Indianapolis.