The biggest highlight of Florida’s 2011-2012 season was the Olympics, and led by Coach Troy the Gators came away from London as the top performers of all college teams on both the men’s and women’s side. They’ll look to continue that momentum and translate it into success at the NCAA level. With the return of two-time Olympian Sebastien Rousseau, who took a redshirt year to train for London, the Florida men have a lot of strength going into this season.
Key Additions: Arthur Frayler (distance), Justin Kaisrlik (200/500 free, 400 IM), Adam Bull (IM/fly), Pawel Werner (free), Sebastien Rousseau (fly/IM; returns for junior year after redshirt season)
Key Losses: Matthew Norton (20 conference points, 3 NCAA relays), James Turner (9 conference points, 2 NCAA relays)
2012-2013 Recap: Florida finished eighth at NCAAs last year with a young squad filled with freshmen and sophomores. At NCAAs last year, several slightly off morning swims (which many teams experience at that meet) left Florida just outside of top 8 or just outside of scoring potential.
Free relays: The Gators lose a pair of seniors from their 200 and 400 free relay and will have to look to younger swimmers in those events–but the young talent is there. Christian Homer is among many who offer promise, in addition to those who were on the relay this year. Luckily, they boast a strong group of underclassmen–their 8free relay was comprised entirely of freshman and sophomores at 2012 NCAAs. The return of Sebastien Rousseau will offer strength to the 8free, and Florida will look to underclassmen returners to fill gaps on the sprint relay, particularly incoming freshman Pawel Werner. Werner was second at 2011 FINA Junior Worlds in both the 100 and the 200, which will be crucial for Gator relays.
Medley Relays: Each member of the 400 medley will return this season, a promising sign for Florida. The 200 loses sprinter Matthew Norton. Rising junior Bradley DeBorde anchored the 4medley in 2012 and is the school record holder in the 50, but swam fly on the 2medley last year. The talent is there, but some reorganization and support from other swimmers will be required to make up the loss of Norton.
Distance Free: Germantown Academy’s Arthur Frayler has the potential to provide immediate strength to Florida’s distance group. He’s already been 15:00.57 in the 1650, which would have placed him just outside scoring position at 2012 NCAAs. Sophomore Connor Signorin’s 15:00.09 missed top 16 by just .09, and both of them could rack up points in this event next year. Signorin’s got a solid 500 but no gators scored points. This is another event where Frayler could make a real difference–his 4:17.96 would have just missed a second swim. After a year of Florida’s distance training, he could make an immediate impact on the national level. He also has as much big-time experience as anybody in the class, as he was a member of the US 2010 Pan Pacs team.
Sprint Free: Bradley Deborde’s 19.50 in the 50 was good enough for 12th place at 2012 NCAAs and he’s been even faster. He could score some good points for them in an event where they’ll be spread fairly thin after losing Norton and Turner. But rising sophomore Matthew Curby had a great freshman year and looks ready to fill some big shoes in 2013. In the 200 free, Nicholas Caldwell was a 1:36.88, but the Gators could use someone with individual scoring potential at NCAAS. Whether this will be Caldwell, one of the new freshman, or a returner with untapped potential, that remains to be seen. Deborde also earned a spot in consols in the 100 at NCAAs, finishing 15th overall. He and Curby will be relied on for top sprinter speed, and incoming freshman Werner has potential for big point-scoring in both the 100 and the 200.
IM: The Gators will be very strong in the IMs next year, returning all of their superstars and adding back Rousseau. Rising junior Marcin Cieslak was 2nd in the 2IM with a 1:42.26, and Rousseau is close on his heels. Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez had an impressive freshman year, taking 7th in the 400. Dan Wallace won the consol heat with a 3:44.36 which would have made top 8 had he gone it in the morning. Connor Signorin’s been 3:45 in this event, and it’s not unrealistic to think that Florida could put all 3 of these men in the top 8 at NCAAs next year. Both Signorin and Wallace have been sub-1:46 in the 2IM as well, which will offer great support to Cieslak and Rousseau’s top-end strength.
Incoming freshman Adam Bull out of the Dallas area will add one more weapon to this already powerful IM group; he comes in with a best of 1:49 in the 200 IM and a 3:54 in the 400. He’s built like a modern prototype swimmer – very long arms, and a long torso. If he can handle Gregg Troy’s practices, the tools are there to be the next big Florida IM’er.
Flying High: In the 100, Marcin Cieslak’s 45.86 was good for 3rd. Rising senior Cameron Martin has been sub-47 before and will be looking to cap his collegiate career with a strong season. Cieslak took 5th in the 200 and has been even faster than he went at finals, so a top 3 finish is definitely within reach for him. Also in the hunt will be Rousseau, whose 1:42 2fly ranks him fourth all-time at UF. The two will lead a strong group of 2flyers next year: Martin was 9th at NCAAs last year and Wallace has been 1:44.
Breaststroke: Matthew Elliot had a great freshman year, and his 53.76 from this year puts him in striking distance for a top-16 berth at NCAAs next year if he keeps improving. After taking the second alternate spot at 2012 NCAAs in the 200, he’ll certainly be looking to score there as well. Incoming freshman Ryan Rosenbaum will look to improve and add depth to this group.
Backstroke: This, like the breaststroke, is an area where Florida is a bit weaker. Matthew Curby and Cameron Martin are both strong in the 100, but Florida failed to qualify anyone for NCAAs in the 200. Still, Curby provides enough for a strong first leg on the relay, and Colin Hamilton made some impressive drops his first year as a Gator and could step up for backstroke group this year.
2012-2013 Outlook: Florida has a lot to be excited for going into this year. Only losing two seniors and having a team full of young swimmers that will only improve as they gain more experience makes them a likely bet to break into the top 5 in 2013. Their small but strong recruiting class will be boosted by Rousseau’s return, making them a serious threat in both the SEC and NCAA.