Hinds, Gators set 3 school records to open NCAA championships

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 11:52 p.m.

Minneapolis, Minn. — The Florida women's swimming and diving team started off the NCAA championships with school records in the 200-freestyle relay, 400-medley relay and 50 freestyle on Thursday's opening night of the three-day event. Sophomore Natalie Hinds had her hand in both record relays and also set the school record in the sports' shortest event.

The Gators responded at night by winning a pair of consolation finals after missing some swims in the morning and are in eighth place with 57 points after Day 1. Florida will look to improve in the team standings with some of its stronger events slated for the second day of competition but will need to secure championship final swims with a strong morning session Friday.

“A little bit mixed emotions," UF coach Gregg Troy said. "We got started slow, didn't swim that well on the first relay and our 500 freestyles weren't very good. And then we got rolling. You've got to give the girls credit. They came back and raced tough."

The 400-medley relay team of Sinead Russell, Hilda Luthersdottir, Ellese Zalewski and Hinds broke the program mark in prelimaries with a swim of 3:29.67. Russell led off and recorded a 100 backstroke split of 51.99 and was followed by Luthersdottir, Zalewski and Hinds. Hinds posted an anchor of 47.20.

In the championship final of the 400-medley relay, the same group from prelims placed fourth overall with a time of 3:30.27.

Zalewski, Hinds, Russell and Ashlee Linn raced to the win in the consolation final of the 200-free relay in a UF record time of 1:27.54. Hinds delivered a monster 21.07 split on the third leg to give the Gators open water, and Linn cruised to the wall with a 22.09 anchor.

“I'm really pleased with the school records," Troy said. "Both relays were outstanding. Tremendous splits from Natalie Hinds. She had the fastest split on 200 freestyle relay, one of the fastest swims ever. Great day for her. She had the second fastest time in the 50 free but wasn't quite as sharp this morning and missed the final. She's going to get better in those things.”

Zalewski, Hinds, Russell and Lindsey McKnight were 10th after prelims in the 200-free relay after posting a time of 1:28.41. The mark ranks as UF's fifth fastest all-time swim.

Hinds ended her 50 freestyle run in ninth place for the second consecutive year after touching in a school record mark of 21.66, which bodes well for the sophomore who is one of the top seeds heading in the 100 freestyle on Saturday. The Midland, Texas native made the 'B' final after a prelim mark of 22.15. Hinds' swim of 21.66 was the second fastest swim recorded in the event.

Senior and two-time NCAA champion Elizabeth Beisel will swim in her first event of the meet tomorrow. Beisel is the reigning national champion in the 400 individual medley and is the top seed heading into the event.

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