Key Losses: Cameron Martin (18 individual NCAA points, 1 NCAA relay), Jason Taylor (1 individual NCAA point).
Key Additions: Andrea D’Arrigo (Free – Italy), Quinn Cassidy (Breast/IM – Florida), Eric Stobbe (Back – NJ), Emiro Goossen (Free – Florida), Blanke Manganiello (Free/Back – Florida), Daniel Spas (Free – Florida), Alex Dehner (Free/Back – Florida), Jack Blyzinskyj (Free/Back – Massachusetts), Dalton Goss (Florida – diving)
The Florida Gators had a fantastic 2012-2013 season. Not only did they finish 6th place at the NCAA Championships, they won the SEC Championship, ending Auburn’s 16-year SEC winning streak.
The Gators brought a team of 15 to Indianapolis for the NCAA Championships, and had the second-most seeded points coming in.
Their 6th place finish was a group effort, led by junior, Marcin Cieslak. Cieslak had three individual 2nd place finishes in his individual events at the NCAA Championships. He swam the 200 IM, 100 butterfly, and the 200 butterfly. In the butterfly events, He finished one spot behind Tom Shields, who is now graduated. David Nolan was the only other person who beat him in the 200 IM. With another year of eligibility remaining, Cieslak could be the rising star that pulls Florida into the top three as a team, especially without any incoming freshman (save maybe Jack Conger, if he’s pushed into the butterflies) who can challenge him there.
Florida finished with 285.5 points, 2.5 points behind the fifth place, Texas Longhorns. USC, the fourth place finishers, earned 289 points, only 3.5 ahead of the Gators. The Arizona Wildcats finished in third with 313.5, only 28 points ahead of the Gators.
Those tiny margins are why there’s so much push for the Gators to be in the top three next season – especially with relatively few graduations.
Florida is still a very young team. The team only graduated two seniors from their NCAA roster: Cameron Martin and Jason Taylor. Martin was responsible for 18 individual points at the NCAA Championships and was a member of the 200 Medley Relay. Taylor earned 1 point at the NCAA Championships. Cameron Martin swam the backstroke leg on the 200 medley relay.
The backstroke was their weakest stroke last season. Freshman Corey Main, who was originally supposed to be a freshman during the 2013-2014 season, joined the squad mid-year to at least patch that hole up for a year. He finished 13th in the 200 backstroke and led the 7th place 400 medley relay off in 47.73.
Another possible point scorer and All-American, Nicholas Caldwell, decided to transfer mid-year to the University of Wisconsin. He was a member of the 800 freestyle relay at the 2012 NCAA Championships. Caldwell’s split from the year before would not have made the 800 freestyle relay in 2013. The splits of the 800 freestyle relay that won the NCAA Championships were all between 1:32.8 and 1:33.6.
The overall performance of the team last year is very exciting looking forwards to next year. All but one of their NCAA relay swimmers are returing, and all of the top performers in each of the disciplines will be back. Cameron Martin was the biggest loss for the team, but three other butterfliers scored individually at the NCAA Championships in either the 100 or 200. An impressive eight 2013 All-Americans will be back in action along with two other swimmers who received Honorable Mention All-American honors.
The Florida Gators are young!!! The 200 medley relay was the only relay without at least one freshman. On top of that, the 200 medley relay was also the only relay to not finish in the top 8 at the NCAA Championships. Every other relay had at least one, if not more, freshman on the team and they all scored in the top 8.
The 800 freestyle relay team of Pawel Werner, Sebastian Rousseau, Marcin Cieslak, and Dan Wallace were the National Champions after winning the event in a time of 6:13.27. All four swimmers were between 1:32.8 and 1:33.6, as mentioned, showing both explosiveness and depth. All four will be back next year, but so will all four of Michigan’s 800 freestyle relay members, including Olympian and World Championship Team member, Connor Jaeger.
It will be very exciting to watch how this relay progresses all season and then matches up with the other big dogs at the end of the year.
The sprint freestyle relays will benefit from another year of experience. Although they were both top 8, the 200 freestyle relay was 8th and the 400 freestyle relay was 6th. Some may see this as great, but there are still a lot of points up for grabs in this relay and Florida will have a huge opportunity to sneak in and take the extra relay points. They have a full year to get stronger, faster, and perfect their take-offs with everyone returning.
The Sprint Group: is led by senior-to-be Brad Deborde. He gets better-and-better, and while he’s on a bit of an island of pure speed, he’s a very good piece to have for the Florida medleys, especially.
Deborde took 5th in the 50 free at NCAA’s in 2013 in 19.40 (he was a lightning-fast 19.17 in prelims), 14th in the 100 fly (46.83), and though he missed scoring in the 100 free, his season best of 42.90 is a very good platform to build from as a senior.
Even among all of the monster names coming through Florida’s program, Deborde’s rise has been one of the great Gregg Troy success stories. He has improved every year in college, and he might even be able to challenge Marcelo Chierighini and Derek Toomey for the NCAA Championship in the 50 free.
The medley relays are very strong on the butterfly and freestyle legs, but there is still a little room to improve on the breaststroke and more room to improve on the backstroke. Corey Main did very well for the team this year, joining the squad early and swimming at the NCAA championships. The NCAA championship meet is exhausting; knowing what to expect and using his experiences from last year will make him one to watch out for next year. Matt Elliott dropped from a 53.7 to a 53.1 this year, but only split 53.03 on the relay. If he can have the same drop again this year, and nail his relay start, the potential is there for him to swim significantly faster on these relays. The 200 medley relay missed the finals, finishing 13th, and the 400 medley relay was 7th. Again, they have a huge opportunity to sneak in and grab points in the medley relays.
A LITTLE DIVING HELP, PLEASE?
The Gators finished 6th place overall without any divers at the NCAA Championships. Diving could be a huge bonus for the team, if they were able to advance any divers to the NCAA Championships. The team had several divers that made it to finals at the NCAA Zone Championships, but none of them advanced. You have to finish in the top two to move on. Any points that they can add from their divers would be greatly appreciated this year!
Dalton Goss will be a freshman this year and may be able to help out on the boards.
THE LAST MINUTE SNAG, AND FUTURE STAR:
Andrea D’Arrigo will be joining the Gators this year. He is originally from Rome, but has been in America training with the Gator Swim Club. He originally signed to swim at the University of Virginia. D’Arrigo, in a blog post, says that he began the process of requesting a release in June after he was told by the academic departments that he would not be able to participate for his native Italy at the World Junior Championships this coming week in Dubai because of conflicts with the beginning of the school calendar.
“The difficulties gradually increased until they become insurmountable when I was banned from participating in the Junior World Championships, to avoid absences during the first 3 weeks of the school year,” D’Arrigo said in Italian. “This was a blatant violation of the provisions at the time of signing the NLI, which in June led me to start the process of cancelling (my NLI) provided by the NCAA, a formally cleared by the Virginia Cavaliers .”
In the post, dated from mid-July, D’Arrigo thanked the new staff, lead by head coach Augie Busch, for granting his release.
D’Arrigo has been 1:48.9 and 3:49.2 in the 200 and 400 long course freestyles.
REST OF THE FRESH:
The rest of the freshman class is very talented, including Daniel Spas (Free), Jack Blyzinskyi (Back / Free), and Quinn Cassidy (Breast / IM). Spas has been 20.3 and 44.5 and will be able to add depth to their sprint relays. Blyzinskyi is also a sprint freestyler, with a 20.5 50 freestyle, but he can also add to the team as a backstroker. His 100 back is at 49.08 and will be used by the team who is in need of a really strong backstroker for the medley relays. Corey Mains joined the team last year and swam backstroke on the 400 medley relay, but he is a better at the 200 backstroke, rather than the 50 or 100. Cassidy will add to the IM group and is a very versatile swimmer. He has been 1:48.0 in the 200 IM as well as 56.5 in the 100 breast and has a strong freestyle and backstroke as well.
Eric Stobbe, Alex Dehner, Emiro Goosen, and Blake Manganiello are also joining the team this season.
This class is not overly deep, but by the time they’re seniors they have the potential to really help this team, not only at SEC’s, but also NCAA’s, fill some big holes.
With such small losses and the return of so many large contributors, I do not see why Florida can’t be in the top three at the end of they year. The talented freshman class will add to the current talent, leadership, and experience already on the team, creating an environment that not many look forward to competing against. An impressive eight 2013 All-Americans will be back in action along with two other swimmers who received Honorable Mention All-American honors.
This team needs to hit their taper at NCAA’s, plan-and-simple. Watch to see how they play SEC’s as the defending champs: a position they haven’t been in for a while. With Michigan being hit by huge graduations, though, this is a wide-open year for the men’s NCAA Championship – and led by Deborde, Cieslak, Rousseau, Werner, and Wallace, who keeps getting better-and-better, this team has serious title potential.
Just like we talked about with their women’s team: it would be a small surprise if the Gators ended up on top of the NCAA podium in March, but don’t be surprised if the Gators end up on top of the podium in March.