Kelly Fertel and Niki Urquidi, best friends, 2016 Olympic Trials qualifiers, Gulliver Prep 2016 classmates, and Gulliver Swim Club teammates, have signed up for another four years together: both verbally committed to the University of Florida women’s swimming and diving team yesterday. They will join fellow early commit Savanna Faulconer in the class of 2020.
“I guess the most important thing I can say is thank you to my amazing coach, Jeff, and my incredible teammates. I can’t believe that my high school swimming is almost over but I’m so excited to continue my career at UF!
“And I’m even more excited to be able to spend the next four years with one of my best friends and closest teammates, Kelly. We’re ready to bring a little bit of South Florida up to Gainesville.
“Oh and most importantly, GO GATORS!”
Primarily a mid-distance freestyler, Urquidi competed in the 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800 freestyle events at 2015 Summer Juniors in San Antonio, finishing tenth in the 400 and earning her first 2016 Olympic Trials cut. At the 2014 FHSAA Class 2A Championships last November, she placed third in the 200 free and fourth in the 500.
Her top times include:
While Urquidi’s times would have been just outside scoring range for the 2015 SEC Championships, she made strides in the 200 and 400/500 freestyle events this past season, dropping time both in short course yards (1 second and 7 seconds, respectively) and in long course meters (1 and 2, respectively).
“When it came down to making my final decision I just knew that Florida was a place I could call home for the next four years. I’m so excited to be a baby gator with my teammate and best friend, Niki Urquidi and see how far I can take my swimming at such an amazing program. I wouldn’t have been able to make this great decision without the wonderful support of my coach, parents, friends, and teammates.
“This summer was an incredible experience for me even aside from the fact that I made my trials cut, I got to race against some of the fastest girls in the country. I’m excited to start a new chapter of my life at UF!
Fertel will join a long tradition of Gator 400 IMers when she suits up in the fall of 2016. Excelling in breast and IM, Fertel swam the 400 free, 100/200 breast, and 200/400 IM at Summer Juniors, finaling in both the 200 breast and 400 IM. In the latter event, Fertel took 4 seconds off her seed time and posted the second-fastest 400 IM of prelims, earning her first Trials cut with 4:50.10. Her best events and times are:
Fertel won the 200 IM at the 2014 FHSAA Class 2A Championships and was runner-up in the 100 breast. She swam breast on the medley relay and anchored the state-champion Gulliver Prep 400 free relay that Urquidi led off.
Fertel should make an immediate impact for the Gators in dual meets and at SEC Championships, where already her 200 breast and 400 IM times would have scored in 2015.