Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
Keeping a team afloat after losing Caeleb Dressel isn’t easy. It’s even harder when you lose Jan Switkowski, Mark Szaranek and the nation’s highest-scoring class. Throw in the loss of underclassman Michael Taylor to surgery, and you’ve got a recipe for disappointment.
But coach Anthony Nesty‘s Florida Gators still found a way to win their 7th-straight SEC title. That was thanks in large part to a 375.5-point freshman class, more than double what any other freshman class in the SEC scored. In fact, the Gator freshman scored more than the next two best freshman classes in the conference (Mizzou, 184 points; Texas A&M, 160 points) combined.
Nesty helped rookie Kieran Smith win an SEC title in the 200 IM (1:43.13). Fellow freshman Robert Finke won the mile (14:23.01) and the two went 1-2 in the 400 IM (3:40.94 for Finke and 3:41.50 for Smith). In addition, junior Maxime Rooney broke through with a 45.06 win in the 100 fly and the team won an 800 free relay title, getting 1:32 splits from juniors Khader Baqlah and Rooney and from the freshman Smith.
It’s unlikely that Florida can replicate its 5th-place finish from last year. But they are on pace to absolutely obliterate their 16 returning points from a year ago, and perhaps challenge for another top 10 finish. That’s thanks to some impressive rookie-year coaching from Nesty.
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