WOMEN'S SWIMMING: Gators score impressive win

The number three-ranked University of Florida women's swimming and diving team defeated number 15-ranked Virginia to improve its record to 7-2 in dual meet action this season. The Gator women garnered 11 NCAA provisional times, while senior Maureen Farrell (Northridge, Calif.) sped her way into the NCAA Championships by earning two tickets in the 200-yard freestyle and the 200-yard backstroke.

The Gators finished in first in every event, before exhibitioning the three final rounds of competition where the Orange and Blue also recorded the event's top time.

The Gators started strong as the team of Farrell, Vipa Bernhardt (Bad Hersfelt, Germany), Candace Weiman (Castro Valley, Calif.) and Caroline Burckle (Louisville, Ky.) finished first with a NCAA provisional time of 3:41.01 in the women's 400-yard medley relay. The Florida 'C' and 'A' team took third and fourth, respectively, with times of 3:48.95 and 3:53.21. In the next event for UF, sophomore Katie Ball (Cincinnati, Ohio) clocked a time of 9:49.87 for first place in the 1,000 free. Senior Meredith Green, whose 9:57.46 effort warranted the Chapel Hill, N.C. Hill, native fourth place, followed Ball in.

After swimming in several meets and notching a team-high of 18 provisional qualifying times over the course of the season, Farrell finally secured her place at the national championships with her 1:47.21 clocking in the 200 free. Leah Retrum (Columbus, Ind.) was right behind Farrell, touching the wall in 1:48.49 for a NCAA 'B' timing. Freshman Natalie Pike (Boca Raton) took fourth in the event with a 1:51.45 effort for Florida.

One, two in the women's 50-yard freestyle was junior Mary Uhle (Sankt Ingbert, Germany) with a 23.88 time, as senior Christine Woodruff (Orlando) came in runner-up with a 23.90 swim. In the 200-individual medley, senior Katie McCann (Walpole, Mass.) was the event's fastest swimmer, clocking a provisional qualifying time of 2:02.05. Third and fourth place in the quick race also garnered NCAA provisional times, and those 'B' times belonged to Florida sophomores Ashley Carusone (High Springs) and Jamie Reid (Orlando). Carusone clocked an IM time of 2:03.21, while Reid swam 2:04.19.

On the board for UF, senior Nicole Bolt started and finished the night strong as the Orlando native captured the one-meter title and finished the three-meter with the most points after six dives. Her scores were 278.70 and 288.60, respectively. Freshman Sarah Ellerby (Oldsmar) also competed in diving, scoring a one-meter tally of 201.82 for third and finished the three-meter with 212.47 points.

Back in the pool, senior Rebecca Harper (Richmond, Va.) took home the women's 200-yard fly title as she swam the race in 2:00.86 for a NCAA provisional qualifying time. In third was McCann with a 2:03.03 effort. Senior Katie Kennedy (Ft. Myers) finished the race in 2:06.38, good for a fourth-place seat.

Florida swimmers captured two NCAA provisional qualifying times in the 100 free. Burckle captured the event's fastest time with a 50.51 effort, while Weiman was just .35 of a second behind her teammate, clocking 50.86. Both swimmers added a 'B' time to their records. In her second individual event of the evening, Farrell swam her heart out for yet another NCAA automatic qualifying time. Her clocking of 1:58.16 in the 200 back gave the senior her second ticket of the night, and her season.

One, two again for the Orange and Blue belong to Retrum and Ball in the 500 free. Retrum finished the event with a 4:47.20 effort (first), while Ball touched the wall in 4:48.75 for runner-up. Both Gators notched provisional qualifying times. In the women's 200-yard breaststroke, Bernhardt notched her third NCAA automatic time in that event this season, swimming an exhibitioned time of 2:12.78. Behind her, Kennedy clocked 2:20.44, while junior Mandy Huff (Gold Hill, N.C.) finished with a 2:23.49. Freshman Amanda Hartley (Tallahassee) was just .17 of a second behind Huff, and finished the race with a 2:23.66 effort for UF.

The women's team rounded out the final competition, the 400-free relay, with a solid performance from the team of Pike, Weiman, Uhle and Burckle. The quad notched a provisional qualifying time with their 3:22.31 combined effort, the fastest time recorded tonight in the event.

Saturday, the Gator swimming and diving team will face Southeastern Conference Rival, the Tennessee Lady Volunteers. Diving will begin early, at 11 a.m., while the swimmers will line the blocks at 1 p.m. Admission is free.

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