All-American distance freestyler Nicholas Caldwell has parted ways with the Florida Gators swimming program, he confirmed this week, leaving head coach Gregg Troy without the centerpiece of a very strong sophomore class.
Caldwell took his exit shortly before the recent Ohio State Invite, and says that he’s going to take the break to weigh his options with his family before deciding to move forward. We reached out to Florida for comment, but received no response.
Caldwell was the #6-rated recruit in the high school class of 2011, coming from the big-time distance program at the Sarasota YMCA. In his year-and-a-half with the Gators, he battled several injuries including a bad back problem coming out of high school; for the first part of this season, he was swimming in a cast as well (there’s been no official reveal about what the nature of that injury was).
Despite the adversity, however, Caldwell showed how dangerous he can be when he’s healthy. He swam a 15:15 in the mile and a 4:21.0 in the 500 free: two events where training interruptions can be hugely difficult to recover from. He also split a 1:36.3 as a member of Florida’s 7th-place 800 free relay at last year’s NCAA Championships.
Caldwell, if he chooses to continue his career, will be a hot-ticket for a possible mid-year transfer, if not for next season. He has a ton of potential, and one of his former Florida teammates that we spoke with described him as both being “really serious about working hard” and “a genius”. He should have no shortage of offers if he chooses to transfer.
This is the second such situation we’ve seen this year that will have a big impact on the top-10 of the men’s race at NCAA’s; Texas’ All-American breaststroker/IM’er Nick D’Innocenzo, the 2012 Most Outstanding Swimmer from the Big 12 Championships, left that program this semester as well.