In our release of the first post-holiday powerrankings yesterday for the men, we had Florida State ranked 13th on the power of their freestyle sprinters. After their tri-meet this weekend against Georgia Tech and NC State, however, a new face has emerged that might indicate even we undervalued them. Belarusian Olympian Pavel Sankovich joined the team in Raleigh for the meet and instantly fired-up their medley relay potential.
His first swim came in the 200 medley, where he led off in 22.40 to give the Seminoles over a full second lead; even without a proper taper, that would’ve knocked six-tenths off of the team’s best 200 medley of the season. Extrapolating that would’ve put them around a 1:27.0, and top-10 in the country this year.
In his next swim, the 100 back, he was a 48.72 to again easily win. The Seminoles already had a good backstroker in sophomore Josh Friedel (48.41 mid-year), but Sankovich’s addition should at least beef up the training group and help continue to push a team that has a solid three swimmers under 50 seconds already this season.
In terms of direct impact, though, Sankovich will really elevate that shorter 200 medley especially, with a pair of the best sprinters in the country at the back-end. Friedel is really a 200 backstroker (1:43.14, 13th in the country) who was being pushed down to the 100 and the 50.
Sankovich, a 22-year old, wasa 54.53 in the long course 100 back in London, which placed him 18th in the prelims and just two-tenths of a second from making an Olympic semi-final. He has some decent history in the 200 (he was a 2:05 in long course at 17), but is clearly best suited as a sprinter – he was only 5th in the tri-meet in the 200 in 1:50.78.
“Our compliance people, the NCAA, and the ACC worked their tails off to get him in,” Florida State head coach Neil Harper said. “He’s transferring in from the University of Minsk as a junior transfer: so we’ll have him for this year and next, and then we’ll have to see what happens and ask those questions after that.
“He just loves Tallahassee so far. It’s something like 20 below in Minsk today, and we were outside training in 68, 69, 70 degrees.”
After the graduation of Mateo de Angulo last season, Sankovich will now bring to this team the experience of being the only Olympian on the active roster, though graduate assistant Gideon Luow swam for South Africa at the 2012 Games.
“It’s going to be great for our team to have someone of his caliber around. We’re just really excited to have him. We’re going to whip him into shape in the next three weeks or so at Conference and try to get him down there, and then obviously try and do a little better at NCAA’s.”
This will be a quick turnaround for Sankovich from arrival to enrollment to championship, but he’s already shown in one meet that he is definitely positioned to make an impact on that 200 medley, at least.