Florida Gators Sweep Ranked Tennessee Squads to Finalize Regular Season
By Ben Schmitz
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Florida men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams had a strong finish to the 2016 regular season as the No. 3 men and No. 9 women each posted wins over a pair of ranked Tennessee squads on Saturday inside the Allen Jones Aquatic Center. The Florida men took a 185-115 decision over UT’s 12th-ranked men’s lineup while the Florida women came away with a 170-130 decision over the 13th-rankeed Lady Vols.
The Gator men (6-4, 2-2 SEC) opened their day with the 200-yard medley relay, which turned into a close race as the Orange and Blue edged the Volunteers by .04 seconds. The quartet of junior Jack Blyzinskyj and sophomores Mark Szaranek, Jan Switkowski, and Caeleb Dressel touched out with a time of 1:26.27.
Dressel continued to shine throughout the meet as he paced the Florida men and finished with four wins. The Green Cove Springs, Fla. Native added top finishes in the 100-yard breaststroke (53.07), 50-yard freestyle (19.41), and 200-yard IM (1:46.40).
Mitch D’Arrigo kept the lead with a first-place showing in the 1,000-yard freestyle, posting a time of 9:04.77, which currently ranks 12th nationally. Arthur Frayler finished shortly behind in second-place (9:04.88).
The Florida men, who now own an eight-year winning-streak over the Vols and a 23-20 lead in the all-time series, would finish the afternoon taking wins in 11-of-14 swimming events.
On the women’s side, the Gators found their groove early, taking wins in three straight races following a close second-place finish in the opening 200-yard medley relay.
Senior Jessica Thielmann found success in those early wins, posting the 11th-fastest national time in the 1,000-yard freestyle this season (9:47.50). The Newcastle, England, native also posted an additional win in the 500-yard freestyle (4:49.53) later on.
Senior Natalie Hinds, the returning SEC Swimmer of the Week, had a strong showing on Saturday, swimming to a pair of wins in addition to a runner-up finish. The Midland, Texas, native took her first victory by .01 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle over Tennessee’s Faith Johnson, edging Johnson with a time of 22.48. Hinds later went on to win the 100-yard freestyle, touching out with a time of 48.72 — just .15 seconds ahead of Johnson.
The Orange and Blue wrapped up Saturday’s competition with wins in 10-of-14 swimming events while lengthening their all-time dual lead over Tennessee to 28.2.
In the diving well, the Gators were led by Senior Kahlia Warner who won both the one and 3-meter events with scores of 344.40 (3-meter) and 292.88 (1-Meter). Newcomer Samuel Smith had a pair of top-3 finishes, coming in third off the 3-meter (310.50) and second off the 1-meter (358.88).
Head Coach Gregg Troy on the Day:
“We saw some good things out of our men’s and women’s teams today. We finished well in close races and put up good performances across the board.
“Caeleb Dressel had another good day this afternoon taking all four of his events. On the women’s side, Lindsey McKnight stuck out as well (two wins: 200 IM, 200 Free). Having come back from two broken legs, what she’s doing in the pool is incredible.
“Overall we some good things and we know what we need to clean up before the SEC Championships. We’re looking forward to it.”
Head Diving Coach Dale Schultz:
“Kahlia Warner stuck out today in the diving well — diving to a pair of wins off the one and 3-meter was big. Sam Smith also had a strong performance on both boards. Even though he finished second off the 1-meter, he put up a good score (358.88) and that second-place finish was to last year’s SEC Champion. Overall I was pleased with what I saw today.”
Up Next: Both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams return to action on Tuesday, Feb. 16 when they open up the Southeastern Conference Championships in Columbia, Missouri.
Florida Swim Network