COLUMBIA, SC — Summer Jackson and Mariann Fulop took two wins each as the University of Arkansas opened the 2006-07 swimming and diving season at South Carolina on Friday evening.
While Arkansas was outnumbered in the pool with a short squad of only 11, the Lady Razorbacks more than made up with quality by taking five races and qualifying two divers for the NCAA Zone Diving Championship in the the season opener.
First-year head coach Jeff Poppell was excited about his team’s debut despite the 149-89 score.
"We’re really happy to get such a great start considering the numbers we have," Poppell said. "We had a lot of personal best times and times that were better than last season for several athletes. To have that in the first meet when we’re still training hard is a great accomplishment."
A perfect example was senior Kristen Thibodeaux in the 500 freestyle. Not only did Thibodeaux win the event, providing Arkansas with its fifth race win, she did so ina lifetime PR of almost five seconds with her 5:04.36. The win also was the first of her career against a Southeastern Conference opponent.
Jackson swept the 100 and 200 freestyle events, posting a 52.81 in the 100 and 1:55.03 in the 200. Fulop’s victories came in the 200 IM with a 2:08.09 and the 200 backstroke with a 2:05.81 to beat her nearest competition by almost four seconds.
On the boards, Arkansas went 2-3-4 on the one and three meters. Brieanne Kushner scored a 311.78 for second in the three meter and a 258.45 on the one meter for third. Teammate Madison Palmer was second in the one-meter with 283.80 and was third on the three with 300.38. All four performances qualify the Lady’Back duo for the zone meet in March.
The Lady’Backs return home this weekend and have next weekend off before traveling to Lincoln, Neb., to face Nebraska on Oct. 28.