Florida's Burckle recognized as top female swimmer

Florida senior Caroline Burckle won the Honda Award on Wednesday as the top female college swimmer.

Burckle broke Janet Evans' 18-year-old record in the 500 freestyle at the NCAA championships last month. She eclipsed the record of 4 minutes, 34.39 seconds, finishing in 4:33.60 to win by nearly 6 seconds.

Burckle, who was selected NCAA swimmer of the year, also defeated defending champion senior Lacey Nymeyer of Arizona by 0.23 seconds to win the 200 freestyle in 1:43.10.

The All-American also earned three titles in the SEC Championships.

Tracy Caulkins was a three-time Honda award winner for Florida in the 1980s and a role model for Burckle. Caulkins also was a two-time winner of the Honda-Broderick Cup.

"I actually met Tracy about two years ago, she has the attitude of a champion," Burckle said. "I respect her for all her accomplishments and her personality, so I feel really honored to be in her company as a Honda Sports Award winner."

Burckle has been training for the Olympic trials in June.

"I'm just trying to focus on the process," she said. "I know that striving forward and performing my best is the most I can do, but it sure would be exciting if I make the Olympic Team."

She is eligible for the Honda-Broderick award, which will be announced in June.