23 Sep Eagles Set to Open Season at UNF Invitational
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU Swim team is set to kick off the 2021-22 season at the UNF Invitational on Saturday. The Eagles will go up against the host Ospreys, as well as Georgia Southern, Florida Tech, Florida Southern, and Rollins College in the six-team event.
The day will begin at 12 p.m. from UNF’s brand new Aquatic Center with the 50-yard backstroke, the first of 16 swimming events throughout the day. There will be no diving this weekend.
“We are excited to help North Florida open its new facility!” said head coach Dave Rollins. “They have been great partners with us in terms of competition; to be able to help celebrate having a facility on their campus is exciting. However, we are more excited to be able to race. Something we missed out a lot on last year early in the season was having the ability to compete and be in a meet setting. The ladies are looking forward to competing, and competing a lot this weekend. We get to do some non-traditional events which is a nice way to enter the year, while still gaining that competition experience. It should definitely be a great weekend for the Eagles!”
FGCU is the reigning CCSA Champions after winning its 10th title last February and will look for number 11 as they return 22-of-24 swimmers from last year’s squad along with two freshmen and two transfers.
Senior Petra Halmai (Dombovar, Hungary/Lanczos Kornel Secondari Grammar School) leads the way for FGCU as she returns to the pool for her fifth year in Fort Myers after being named the 2020-21 CCSA Swimmer of the Year and swimming in the Tokyo Olympics for her home country of Hungary.
Halmai is the defending CCSA Champion in the 100-yard breast, 200 breast, and the 200 IM, but she is not the only returning gold medalist from last season as senior Wiktoria Czarnecka (Lublin, Poland/Liceum NR 10 W Lublinie) also returns for the Eagles after claiming the 50 free and 100 free titles in 2021. She also picked up a silver medal in the 100 fly.
Other returners with CCSA medals from last year include junior Michaela Sizemore (Fredericksburg, Va./Stafford Senior HS), sophomore Zuzanna Rabiniak (Radom, Poland/X Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace Mitsrzostwa Sportowego W Lublinie), and junior Claire McAtee (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy). Sizemore took home silver in both the 500-yard free and 1650 free while Rabiniak and McAtee won silver in the 100 free and 100 back, respectively.
Rollins, who is in his sixth season leading the Eagles, is joined by a new coaching staff as assistant swimming coach Taylor Loewen and diving coach Matt Ventura each begin their first season with the Green and Blue.
This weekend will be the opening meet for all five teams participating. Georgia Southern finished fifth at last season’s CCSA Championships while North Florida did not compete in the CCSAs due to COVID. Florida Tech went 2-0 in a condensed season in 2020-21 while Florida Southern went 4-2. Rollins College did not compete last year.
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HEAD COACH DAVE ROLLINS
Head coach Dave Rollins is only the second coach in program history. He was hired Sept. 1, 2016 and owns a 34-22-1 (.609) dual meet record, which includes a 13-2 (.857) mark against CCSA opponents, in his fourth season. Rollins guided FGCU to back-to-back CCSA titles (2017, 2018), as well as the program’s fourth-straight title in 2018, marking the ninth championship in 10 years before winning the 10th championship in program history in 2021. In addition, he has been awarded CCSA Coach of the Year in two of his seasons at the helm. Previously, Rollins was the associate head men’s swimming coach at The Ohio State University. Rollins brings over a decade of coaching experience to The Nest, which includes helping to develop Olympians, NCAA Champions and All-Americans, along with multiple conference champions. A native of Brockton, Mass., he was a standout collegiate swimmer in his own right and was inducted into the University of Arizona’s Hall of Fame in 2017, as a nine-time NCAA All-American, national champion, school record holder and team captain.
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FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 85 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 14+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just nine seasons of D-I postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 42 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 21, 2020-21), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2021) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as three of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green and Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the general University undergraduate population for 24 consecutive semesters. The 2019 Fall, 2020 Spring, 2020 Fall, and 2021 Spring semesters each saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher team GPA in each. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.
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