MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Marking the program’s third appearance in as many years, Emma Svensson and Kira Toussaint of FGCU Women’s Swimming and Diving have touched down in The Twin Cities looking to write FGCU history in the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship, held Mar. 20-22 at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.
“I’m both proud and excited to be going back to the NCAA Championship for the third year in a row,” head coach Neal Studd said. “This is our first year with more than one swimmer competing, which is a great step forward for our program, especially when many big name athletic departments don’t have any representation.”
While the host city’s nickname suggests a desire to be paired in similarity with something else, the pair is looking to do just the opposite as they aim to make a name for themselves racing against a slate of dynastic programs. Competition will begin each day with prelims at 11 a.m., with the top 16 finishers of each race advancing to finals at 7 p.m.
“This is the fastest swim meet in the world,” Studd said. “It’s even faster than the Olympic Games, so we’re really excited to be here. Our goal is to score points for the first time in program history, and I think we have a great chance of achieving.”
After becoming the first swimmer from FGCU to qualify to the NCAA Championship in 2012, Svensson (Upsala, Sweden/Celsiusskolan) returns to the starting blocks of college swimming’s most prestigious meet for the third time of her career. Posting record finishes in both of her previous appearances, the junior will look to do it again as she races the 50-yard freestyle on Thursday.
Placing 31st after clocking a 22.37 in the 2013 championship, Svensson’s time was an FGCU-program record, and remained the fastest in school history until Mar. 1 of this year, when she posted a 22.34 at the Bulldog Last Chance Invite. As a freshman in 2012, Svensson touched 38th in the event with a 22.66.
“I am truly honored for the opportunity to represent FGCU this weekend,” Svensson said. “I’m very thankful for the chance to compete against the most talented athletes in college swimming and am ready to do my very best. I’m fortunate to have remained healthy throughout the season and enter this meet with more confidence and experience than I had years earlier.”
Shining immensely during her rookie season, Toussaint (Amstelveen, Netherlands/Keizer Karel College) hopes to cap her first year in the Green and Blue with stand-out performance in a pair of backstroke events this weekend. The freshman will begin on Friday with a 100-yard backstroke and will return Saturday to race the same stroke at the 200-yard distance.
“I’m very excited to race this weekend,” Toussaint said. “Getting to race against Olympians and World Championship medal winners is an incredible opportunity. I’m proud and very thankful to have qualified as a freshman, but my goal is to make it out of prelims in the morning and see what I can do at night.”
The Amstelveen, Netherlands native enters her first NCAA Championship predicted to standout against the nation’s best as she is seeded ninth in the 100-backstroke. Earning FGCU’s first-ever NCAA A cut, Toussaint recorded a conference and program record, 51.68, in the race at the 2014 Costal Collegiate Swimming Association Championships in February. Her record-setting ways didn’t end there as her time of 1:54.52 in the 200-yard race was good for both another FGCU and CCSA record. Toussaint’s achievements were recognized as she was named both the Most Outstanding Freshman Performer and Most Outstanding Female Swimmer of the Meet.
Finals for Friday and Saturday will be broadcast live on ESPN3. Live video and live scoring for the remaining sessions will be available here.
For complete coverage of FGCU women’s swimming at NCAAs, follow us on Twitter @FGCU_WSWIM and visit www.FGCUAthletics.com.