MELBOURNE, FL – For the second year in a row, Florida Southern's Matthew Holmes has been selected as the Sunshine State Conference Men's Swimmer-of-the-Year. Voting on the league's top individual awards was conducted by SSC coaches following the conclusion of the NCAA National Championships, with the All-SSC Team previously announced on March 8.
Since the Sunshine State Conference added swimming to its list of sponsored sports in 2010-11, a Florida Southern Moccasin has won the men's swimmer-of-the-year award six times. Jeb Halfacre was the winner three times from 2011-13 (shared in 2013 with Nova Southeastern's Oskar Nordstand), Robbie Swan won the award in 2014 (shared with Saint Leo's Matheus Assis), and Holmes has now won the two most recent awards. Earlier this month he became just the third men's swimmer in league history to be named First Team All-SSC four times.
Holmes followed an impressive junior year with an even better senior year. He was the SSC Men's Swimmer-of-the-Meet at the SSC Championships after he became just the second men's swimmer in league history to win four individual gold medals, and he followed that performance with two more medals at the NCAA Division II National Championships. His SSC gold medals came in the 200-IM, 400-IM, 100-breast, and 200-breast, and his times in the two individual medley events were new meet records. He picked up an additional SSC gold medal in the 800-freestyle relay, swimming anchor on a team that set another SSC Championship record. Holmes narrowly missed another relay gold medal when the Mocs finished second to Tampa in the 400-free by 0.08 seconds.
At the national finals, Holmes opened the meet by finishing as runner-up in the 200-IM behind only NCAA Division II record holder Marius Kusch of Queens (NC). One night later, Holmes captured the 400-IM for the second year in a row, finishing more than two seconds ahead of the field and just three-tenths of a second off his own school record that he set in winning the 2018 national title. Holmes later reached the consolation finals of the 200-breast, giving him three individual All-American awards at the meet, bringing his career total to 10. He also earned All-American status in three relay events this season, giving him nine such awards in his career.
Throughout the season, Holmes led Florida Southern with 16 individual wins, with at least one win in seven different events. He was an NCAA qualifier in eight events (50-free, 100-free, 200-free, 500-free, 100-breast, 200-breast, 200-IM, and 400-IM), and had the Mocs' top times in five of them (200-free, 100-breast, 200-breast, 200-IM, and 400-IM). He finished the year ranked number one on the SSC times list in the 200-free, 200-IM, and 400-IM, and had three additional top-five times in other events.
Holmes will graduate as Florida Southern's record holder in both of the individual medley events, and has four other top-10 times on the school's career list. He has 38 career individual wins.
Joining Holmes as SSC individual award winners this year are Nova Southeastern's Alessandro Xella and Ben Hewitt as the freshman-of-the-year and coach-of-the-year respectively. The women's individual winners are Nova Southeastern's Emma Sundstedt as swimmer-of-the-year and Sasha Maslova as freshman-of-the-year, and Tampa's Jimi Kiner as coach-of-the-year.
The complete SSC men's swimming awards can be found here.