Florida Tech’s Nir Barnea Makes History On Opening Day of SSC Championships In Orlando

By  //  February 19, 2016

Panthers break three school records and set nine NCAA B Cut times.

Florida Tech junior Nir Barnea receiving his gold medal after winning the 50 yard freestyle at the 2016 SSC Championships. (FIT Image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech registered solid performances across the board on Thursday during the opening day of the 2016 Sunshine State Conference Championships at the Orlando YMCA Aquatic Center, with junior Nir Barnea making the biggest statement with a historic swim.

The junior Israeli narrowly out-edged Thiago Sickert of Nova Southeastern to take the gold medal in the 50 yard freestyle with a school record time of 19.98, one hundredth of a second faster than his previous top time.

With the win, Barnea became FIT’s very first men’s gold medalist and just the second gold medalist in the history of Panther swimming, matching the feat by countrywoman Dar Raz at last season’s conference championships.

The event win was just one of many exciting moments on the meet’s first day. In total, the Panthers broke three school records and set nine NCAA B Cut times.

Justin Adrade
Justin Adrade

“It was a great start to the meet,” said head coach Justin Andrade.

“I think we are carrying a lot of momentum into tomorrow. Nir swam a great race in the 50 free. I’m so happy for the men to get their first gold medalist. The team has a lot of good energy heading into Day Two and we’re excited to see what they can do.”

Two other school records fell by the wayside Thursday. The men’s 200 medley relay team of Eric Berg, Brian Dumont, Barnea and Filip Dujmic just missed the podium, placing fourth with a 1:29.71.

Lauren Suarez was the fastest woman in the “B” final of the 50 free, breaking Raz’s FIT record after timing in at 23.97. The time was the first B Cut time of the year for the Panther women.

The Panther men took places four through six in the 1,000 free. Swimming during the morning session, Ferruccio Rossi blitzed his previous best time from the season, dropping more than 13 seconds to come in at 9:21.43 for fourth.

Yagoh Kubagawa was close behind at 9:21.82 for fifth, while Emanuele Rossi grabbed sixth with a time of 9:23.53.

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Nathan Hufnagel impressed in the 200 IM, snagging a seventh place showing after timing in at 1:51.15. FIT also received a seventh place finish in the 200 medley relay as Raz, Christie Deflumeri, Trista Phelps and Liana Soileau teamed up to register a 1:49.00.

Lauren Suarez

The Panther women also scored points in the 200 IM when Shelby Pearce garnered 15th with a 2:10.99 and Phelps followed up with a time of 2:12.72 for 16th.

At the conclusion of the first day of action the FIT men sit in third with 139 points, 12.5 points behind current leader Tampa. The Panther women are slated sixth in the team rankings with 44 points.

The championships resume on Friday with morning prelims scheduled for 10 a.m. ET and finals slated for 6 p.m.

A full recap of the day’s action will be posted to FloridaTechSports.com at the end of competition.