In the first-ever matchup between the two programs, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles topped Incarnate Word on Friday by a score of 175-120 in Fort Meyers. That included exhibtioning away points for the last two events. This was a CCSA in-conference dual, and both teams’ first conference meet of the season.
“We had a really great day of racing,” head coach Neal Studd said. “We performed better than I expected in a few areas as we’ve suffered some illnesses and injuries. The girls really stepped up, raced hard and showed good character today. Incarnate Word swam and dove really well and stepped up in a few areas as well. I’m sure they are going to have a successful season. As a team we were very thankful to have so many fans and Dirty Birds support us. Overall it was a great conference opener and I’m looking forward to hosting Miami next week.”
Florida Gulf Coast started the day off with a 1:41.88 win in the women’s 200 medley relay – a relay that the Eagles hold with NCAA qualification hopes. That’s the second time already this season that they’ve been 1:41, and this time it included a 28.3 split from breaststroker Evita Leter. That’s almost a full second faster than they got on the breaststroke at the All-Florida invite, which is their season’s-best so far.
In short, that puts their best relays so far at around a 1:40-mid, which is top-four worthy. That’s still far from what it takes to qualify for NCAA’s, but it is a good position to be in this early in the season.
The Eagles were led, as they will be all season, by their two Europeans Kira Toussaint and Emma Svensson.
The All-American Dutch swimmer Kira Toussaint swept the backstroke races, starting with a 55.87 in the 100 and finishing with a 2:02.44 in the 200. FGCU went at least 1-2 in both of those events, and went 1-2-3 in the 100 yard backstroke.
Emma Svensson also won two individual events. That included a 55.35 in the 100 fly (part of another dominant, FGCU finish, this time 1-4). As Toussaint has emerged as one of the best backstrokers in the NCAA, Svensson and her fantastic underwaters have pushed further toward the butterfly races, and she’s responded well.
Svensson also won the 100 free in 49.72 – ranking her 8th in the country (based on times coming into the day Friday). In the process she beat Incarnate Word’s top swimmer Lana Nguyen (52.45).
Despite that defeat, Nguyen did win her best event, the 50 free, in 23.46 ahead of FGCU’s Becky Derogatis (24.05). That leaves Nguyen undefeated in the event this season at a perfect 3-0.
Incarnate Word also got a victory in the women’s 200 free from Adrienne Morrow, who swam a 1:54.63 to win by eight-tenths of a second.
The Eagles, despite an overall dominant performance, were without two of their best swimmers. Junior Sara Hamilton missed the meet with back spasms and redshirt junior Lani Cabrera is recovering from a concussion. Hamilton anchored the team’s 400 free relay at the All-Florida Invite, and Cabrera is the defending conference champion in the mile.
FGCU will race again next Saturday when they welcome in Miami before heading to South Carolina the week after that. Incarnate Word continues a busy early-season schedule when they host North Texas next Friday.
Full meet results available here.