For the first time this season, and the first time ever under new head coach Andy Robins, the Florida Southern swimming teams will have a chance to compete in their own pool as the Moccasins host Emory University at the Hollis Wellness Center Friday at 4 p.m. The men's team goes into that meet ranked No. 13 in the January 9 CSCAA National Poll, and the women are ranked No. 17.
Florida Southern was on the road for all six meets during the first semester, which concluded with the Spartan Invitational in Clearwater just prior to Christmas break. The Mocs continued building toward the postseason with 11 swimmers hitting NCAA provisional qualifying times in Clearwater, giving them a total of 13 swimmers with at least one of those times this season. The Moccasins have three dual meets over the next two weeks, giving them three more opportunities to improve on those numbers before the Sunshine State Conference Championships begin on February 21. Two of those three meets are at home with the Mocs also hosting Indian River State on January 18, in addition to this Friday's meet with Emory.
The women's team has had five NCAA provisional qualifiers up to this point, with seniors Krystal Karas and Katie Moore leading the way. Karas did not compete in the Spartan Invitational but had already earned a team-high three "B" times in the 50, 100, and 200-freestyle events. Moore, who has been the Mocs' top distance swimmer, has turned in national top-10 "B" times in the 200-free and 500-free, and was a little over two seconds short of that mark in the 1,000. She also leads Florida Southern with five individual wins on the season.
Another senior and veteran of the NCAA Championships, Haley DeGrace, has posted provisional qualifying times in both breaststroke events. She holds the No. 9 position on the Division II national list in the 200 and is second to Moore on the team with three individual wins.
Junior Malin Wallen is the only Moccasin so far with NCAA "B" times in two distinct categories, picking hers up in the 100-free and 400-IM. Both of those came during the Panther Invitational and her time in the 400-IM ranks 14th nationally. Wallen also 0.07 seconds away from a provisional time in the 200-free, and a little over one second away in the 200-IM.
Junior Kyra Fraser joined the list of possible Florida Southern qualifiers with her second-place finish in the 200-backstroke at the Spartan Invitational. She was one of three Moccasins who were barely over one second away from a "B" time in the 100-back.
On the men's side, eight Moccasins are already in the book with NCAA "B" times, led by senior Matthew Holmes who has done that in seven events across the freestyle, individual medley, and breaststroke. He has national top-five times in the 200-free (fourth), 200-IM (second), and 400-IM (third), and leads the Moccasins with six individual wins.
Senior Luka Planinc is second on the team with four NCAA "B" times, with all of them coming in middle distance or distance events. Planinc has been Florida Southern's top performer in the 500, 1000, and 1650, and ranks seventh nationally in the 500-free. He also anchored their 800-freestyle relay team that achieved an NCAA "B" time at the Spartan Invitational.
Senior Nico Campbell, and sophomores Brandon Dyck and Matias Lopez all have provisional times in three events. Campbell has been the Mocs' top sprinter with their number one times in the 50-free and 100-free, while Dyck and Lopez are the top Mocs in the backstroke events. Lopez also has NCA "B" times in both individual medley events.
Charles Gotsch (500-free), Daniel Rodriguez (1650-free), and Miguel Bernotti (200-fly) also have NCAA "B" times this season. Gotsch is less than two-tenths of a second away from another "B" time in the 200-free, less than one second away from that mark in the 1650-free, and was part of the provisional qualifying 800-freestyle relay team that included Planinc, Holmes, and Campbell.
In Friday's home opener, the Moccasins will be squaring off against one of the nation's best college swimming programs. The Emory women have won the last nine NCAA Division III National Championships, and the Eagles have finished no worse than fourth at any of the last 18 D-III national finals, winning the title 11 times during that span and coming in second on two other occasions. The Emory men have placed in the top-five of the Division III National Championships 19 years in a row, and were the D-III runner-up last year after winning the national title in 2017.
Florida Southern is one of three Sunshine State Conference women's swimming teams that are nationally ranked in the January 9 poll. Tampa sits at No. 6, Nova Southeastern is No. 9, and Florida Southern is No. 17. Though not in the top-25, Lynn was among those schools receiving votes.
Moving up to No. 1 in the first poll of the calendar year is Queens (N.C.), which made the jump from No. 3 in mid-November. Rounding out the top-five are Drury (Mo.), former No. 1 Cal-San Diego, Indianapolis, and West Chester (Pa.).
The Sunshine State Conference has five men's swimming teams that are nationally ranked in the January 9 poll, with Tampa at the top of that list as well. The Spartans are ranked No. 4, though the Moccasins defeated them in a dual meet on October 26. After Florida Southern in the No. 13 position are No. 15 Saint Leo, No. 18 Nova Southeastern, and No. 19 Florida Tech. Florida Southern and Nova Southeastern will go head-to-head in a dual meet this Saturday at 1 p.m. in Davie.
Remaining No. 1 in the CSCAA Division II men's poll is Indianapolis, with Queens (N.C.), Grand Valley State (Mich.), Tampa, and Delta State (Miss.) completing the top-five.
Following their meet with Emory on Friday, Florida Southern will face Nova Southeastern on Saturday in Davie at 1 p.m. before wrapping up the regular season at home on Friday, January 18 against Indian River State at 3:30 p.m.