In their first year under Head Coach Neal Studd, the Florida State Seminoles look to be on the rise. Studd, along with coaches Ozzie Quevedo, Dan Carrington, and Tiffany Clay, seems to be making quite a bit of progress with the team so far. While the big meets of this season have yet to come, things are certainly looking up in Tallahassee after their showing the the 2016 Georgia Fall Invitational.
Prior to Studd’s arrival, the team’s performances had declined over the past few seasons. The Seminoles had fallen from their former top 5 team status in the ACC to a 9th place finish for both the men and women in 2016. At the 2016 NCAA Championships, the FSU women were unable to place, as they had no scoring swimmers or divers. The men tied with Hawaii for 31st, and their only swimmer at the meet was Jason Coombs.
The Seminoles’ outlook is significantly better at the halfway point of the 2016-17 season. They’ve already picked up a few NCAA ‘A’ cuts, and several swimmers posted times that will very likely get them an invite to the big meet in March. In addition to that, they’ve already knocked down multiple school records this year.
If there was any criticism about Florida State choosing Studd as the new head coach, it was that he had previously had most of his success coaching women in the NCAA before Florida State. He coached men and women at Florida Atlantic, but only as an assistant. At Florida Gulf Coast, he built the program from literally nothing into a nationally-relevant program and over the last few years the best mid-major women’s program in the country. But he’d never really built a men’s program into a team that has a big impact at the NCAA Championships.
So far, however, he seems to be doing just fine in that department. At the Georgia Invite, the men automatically qualified their 200 free relay for the NCAA championships. Individually, Connor Kalisz (200 back), Jason Coombs (100 breast/200 breast), Jason McCormick (50 free), and Chad Mylin (50 free) posted times that put them in contention for bids to the NCAA meet.
When he convinced the team’s best swimmer last season Jason Coombs to return from ‘retirement’ for his senior season, the men’s team was already in a better spot than when Studd arrived, and the momentum has continued to build from there.
On the women’s side, FSU has automatically qualified the 200 medley relay for the NCAA meet. Breaststroker Natalie Pierce picked up an NCAA ‘A’ cut and a school record individually after blasting a 58.37 in the 100 breast. Tayla Lovemore (50 free/100 fly) is also likely to get an individual bid based on her midseason times. The women took down 3 relay school records at the Georgia Invite, including the 200 free relay, 200 medley relay, and 400 medley relay. The school record in the 200 breast also went down at the hands of Christina Loh.
SwimSwam recently scored a mock NCAA meet for the men’s and women’s teams based on their rankings at midseason. The Florida State men were 14th overall, with Louisville and NC State being the only 2 ACC teams ahead of them. The Seminole women were 16th, and ranked 4th among ACC teams behind Virginia, NC State, and Louisville. As of now, the team has 6 individuals, 3 women’s relays, and 3 men’s relays ranked in the top 16.