FORT MYERS, Fla. – The four-time defending Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) Champion FGCU women’s swimming & diving team officially opens its 2012-13 campaign at the three-day All-Florida Invitational, beginning on Friday at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville.
Hosted by the Florida Gators, who finished 10th at the NCAA National Championships, the meet showcases the state's best collegiate talent and will provide an early barometer of where the teams match up. Florida, Florida State, FGCU, Miami, Rollins, FAU, Nova Southeastern and UNF will all compete at this year’s invitational. The Eagles have competed in this event the past two years and have placed fourth or higher, with their highest finish (3rd) coming last season.
The three-time CCSA Coach of the Year Neal Studd welcomes back 26 student-athletes from last year’s squad, including one mid-major All-American, five CCSA All-Conference honorees and two who competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Sophomore Emma Svensson (Upsala, Sweden/Celsiusskolan) returns to the team after being named a Mid-Major All-American by CollegeSwimming.com and received CCSA All-Conference honors last season. Svensson was the first swimmer in program history to qualify for the NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships, competing in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 back competitions.
Senior Danielle Beaubrun (Vieux Fort, St. Lucia/The Bolles School) and sophomore Karen Vilorio (Tegucigalpa, Honduras/Elvel School) both competed for their home countries at the 2012 Summer Olympics this offseason and coach Studd was the coach for St. Lucia as well.
Leading the team are seniors Jamie Akenberger (Bowling Green, Ohio/Bowling Green HS/BGSU), Beaubrun, Shannon Blizzard (Jacksonville, Fla./Stanton College Prep HS), Maegan Butler (Orangeburg, N.Y./Tappan Zee HS/FAU), Eva Lehtonen (Rochester Hills, Mich./Rochester Adams HS/Florida), Mandy Melymuka (Niagara Fall, Ontario/Harry Ainlay HS), Caitlin Pine (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge HS), Kristen Potter (Rockledge, Fla./Rockledge HS), and Regina Rodriguez (Mexico City, Mexico/The Bolles School).
Juniors McKenzie Cassidy (Lehigh Acres, Fla./Bishop Verot HS), Lindsey Meeder (Boynton Beach, Fla./Park Vista HS), Jessica Porter (Chorleywood, Hertforshire, United Kingdom/Royal Masonic) and Christina Tanninen (Burlington, Ontario/Nelson) also add some veteran leadership to this year’s team.
Newcomers to the team include freshmen Sara Hamilton (Stonehaven, Scotland/Stonehaven), Julie Leth-Espensen (Vanloese, Copenhagen, Denmark), Jennifer Morgan (Edmonton, Canada/Harry Ainlay HS), Samantha Rahael (Trinidad & Tobago/The Bolles School), Kellie Roedig (Huntingdon Valley, Pa./Abington Senior HS), Meghan McGuirk (Hightstown, N.J./Peddie School) and two transfers in Megan Wolfe (Sebring, Fla./Sebring HS/Daytona State College) and Heather Coutts (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny HS/Houston). This incoming class was ranked the 18th best recruiting class in the nation by CollegeSwimming.com.
Results and recap will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com at the conclusion of each day. Fans can also get updates from the team through twitter @FGCUSwimandDive.